April 7, 1949 (20th Parliament, 5th Session)


James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macdonnell (Muskoka-Ontario):

seems strange that the minister and I have to delve into these legal matters. Apparently the government finds itself in the position where this business transaction has to be carried out. It is not a matter whether they have power or not, they just do it. The minister seems to think that by passing an order in council they can cure any difficulty in their position. I propose to read the enabling sections of the act because I believe that if hon. members will listen to it they will find out that this transaction does not appear to come anywhere near to being covered. I am reading from section 4 of the Canadian Commercial Corporation Act:
The corporation is established for the following purposes:-
(a) to assist in the development of trade between Canada and other nations, and
(b) to assist persons in Canada
(i) to obtain goods and commodities from outside Canada; and
(ii) to dispose of goods and commodities that are available for export from Canada.
I do not think anyone will suggest that what I have read covers what has been done. Section 5 under "powers" makes the situation still clearer. It reads:
(1) The corporation may do such things as it deems expedient for, or conducive to, the attainment of the purposes set forth in section four of this act; and, for greater certainty, but not so as to restrict the generality of the foregoing, the corporation may carry on the business of:-
(a) importing goods or commodities into Canada, and
(b) exporting goods or commodities from Canada, either as principal or as agent, in such manner and to such extent as it deems advisable to achieve the said purposes.
In the following year the powers of the corporation were broadened. By chapter 51 of 1947 they were given quite a broad additional power, which reads as follows:
17. The corporation may, as directed by the minister, exercise and perform on behalf of the minister, the power, duty and function vested in the minister to buy or otherwise acquire and manufacture or otherwise produce munitions of war or supplies for, and to construct or carry out projects required by, the Department of National Defence.
In other words, this section gives them certain powers to act as agent of the Department of National Defence. Previously they had certain powers with regard to assisting in the import of goods into, and the export of goods from, Canada. Does the minister suggest that what has been done comes within any of these sections? If not, where is the power? Surely the minister is not going to leave us with the suggestion that merely because the government thinks it wise to do something, they proceed to do it regardless of whether this parliament has given them
Supply-Trade and Commerce power or not. That is the position in which he has left us at the moment.

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