July 13, 1943 (19th Parliament, 4th Session)


Stanley Howard Knowles

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)


I should like to ask the Prime Minister a question relating to the Norway refinery of Falconbridge Nickel Mines Limited. It is a matter which has been mentioned in the house on previous occasions; in fact the Prime Minister had something to say about it on June 3. For reasons which I shall indicate in a moment, I feel that a further-statement is highly desirable.
This matter was first brought to the attention of the house by the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell) on May 11. At that time he referred to a statement included in the report to the shareholders which was made by the president of the Falconbridge Nickel Mines Limited, Mr. J. Gordon Hardy. The Prime Minister is well aware of the statement, which was to the effect that he, the president of the company, was glad to get the information that the Norway refinery was still in existence; they had received the information that it was still in operation, though under German control. Some days later, on June 3, as reported in Hansard, page 3282, the Prime Minister made a statement in which he expressed a view which I think is the view of all of us in this house. He said:
We know that the German government is very short of nickel, and it cannot be doubted that it would be to the advantage of the united nations if the Falconbridge refinery in Norway were to be rendered wholly inoperative.
I repeat that with that statement we all agree. The point is however that the statement made by the president of this company
was the very opposite of that which has been expressed by the Prime Minister. He stated in the report as president of the company:
Incidentally, you will be glad to learn-as I was-that through indirect channels it is reported that your Norway refinery is safe so far, and is being maintained. It is in operation by your Norwegian staff, under German control, on the same Norwegian nickel-copper ore production that we formerly handled on toll basis.
I do not wish to convey the impression that I think that Falconbridge Nickel Mines Limited are making any money out of the operations in Norway at the present time. The situation as I understand it, and my view is corroborated by the letter from Mr. Hardy to the Prime Minister under date of May 18, is that the company looks forward to the day, after the war, when it will be possible to regain some of the properties which have been lost because they were in countries that the nazis have overrun, and what the president was doing was to express his pleasure that, although Norway had been overrun, that plant had not been destroyed, it was still in existence; in other words, there was the possibility of the company getting possession of the plant again, intact, after the war. In the letter to which I have just referred under date of May 13 to the Prime Minister, Mr. Hardy endeavoured to say that if the context of the wording quoted by Mr. Coldwell were presented the situation would appear in a better light. However, in that letter Mr. Hardy says:
The loss of that refinery to the enemy in April, 1940, was a severe blow to this company, hence the possibility of regaining it when victory comes, has meant a great deal to this Canadian enterprise, and any news about the refinery has been most important to our shareholders.
I remind the Prime Minister again of the quotation from the report which I have already read. Perhaps a further sentence or two might be given:
In the balance sheet you will have noted an inventory item reading "Matte on hand and in process at cost". This includes the parallel item shown in your auditors' statement of assets and liabilities in Norway in-
I assume he means "in the amount of."
-$1,009.068-which has not been written off as yet, but simply covered by a claim posted with the Canadian custodian of enemy property. As a matter of fact, of course, this has undoubtedly gone into production of refined metals under enemy control, and has disappeared and hence will have to receive some sort of adjustment at the end of the war.
The point is that when your auditors give your "net working capital" at the end of 1942 as $6,238,598, the above item is included with "total current assets and metal inventories".
A reading of the context of the statement which was brought to the attention of this
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house on May 11 only stresses the point that the president of the company took a view directly the opposite of that expressed by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister said that it would be to the advantage of the united nations if this plant were rendered wholly inoperative; the president expressed pleasure that the plant was still in existence so that the company would be able to get it again when the war is oyer.
My reason for raising this again and expressing the view that the Prime Minister ought to say something further about it is this. On June 3, when the Prime Minister spoke, the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar asked if the government would not take some further steps. The Prime Minister said in reply: [DOT]
Well, I may say that the statement which I have just made will, I believe, be more effective in its results than any other measure which the government could possibly take.
Some days later, as a matter of fact on June 23, sessional paper No. 405 was brought down in response to a motion made by the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar which asked for correspondence between the Prime Minister and Mr. Hardy concerning this statement. The correspondence in the sessional paper consists of only two letters. One is a letter from Mr. Hardy to the Prime Minister, from which I have already quoted, and which endeavours to explain and to justify the statement, and the other is the reply signed by Mr. H. R. L. Henry, private secretary to the Prime Minister, in which he says:
The Prime Minister has directed me to acknowledge your letter of May 13th. regarding remarks by Mr. M. J. Cold-well, M.P., in -the House of Commons, with reference -to Falcon-bridge Nickel Mines, Limited.
Mr. King wishes me to thank you for drawing the enclosures with your letter .to his attention.
The point is that, following the tabling of this document in the house on June 23, considerable publicity was given to it throughout the country. I saw it myself in a number of newspapers from widely separated parts of the country, and, incorrect though it may be, the impression was created by the publication of the news of these letters that Mr. Hardy had made a satisfactory answer both to the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar and to the Prime Minister. It is true, of course, that this correspondence took place- -before the Prime Minister made -his statement in the house, but it was tabled later, publicity was given to it later, and I repeat that the general impression is that Mr. Hardy has given a satisfactory answer to the criticisms made by the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar and

supported by the Prime Minister. I am sure that if the Prime Minister studies the documents he will agree with me that the answer is not satisfactory, that it should be deprecated in the manner in which he did so on June 3, and I hope he will make a further statement on the matter at this time.

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