January 19, 1916 (12th Parliament, 6th Session)

LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

They did not accept his offer. And why, Mr. Speaker? What I told you yesterday showed that this Government, through its Shell Committee, did not take hold of this business with a view to supplying munitions of war for the armies of the Allies at the lowest possible cost. They took hold of it rather with the view of relieving industrial depression in this country, and they were guided by the thought that, as the result of the demand for army supplies, including munitions of war, they would be able to start small in-

dustries all over this country; that they would be able, I Tegret to say, to give much encouragement to political favourites and turn much money into their pockets. Probably my hon. friend the Minister of Militia will resent that istatement. Still, Sir, I say that if that was their motive, they could not have gone about carrying it out in a more direct fashion than the way they did. Therefore, if they had started a factory themselves and turned out these munitions of war at actual cost, they would have had to reduce the price to these other factories throughout the country, many of which were merely the creations of mushroom companies which had started by reason of the giving of these war orders.
Then, the Manitoba Free Press in an article on Dec. 28, said:
It is beyond all question that the people ot Canada will be more than glad to have it proved that the shell contracts have been honestly awarded and are being carried out with reasonable efficiency. There is not a Canadian worth discussing who would not prefer to believe that Canadian manufacturers are innocent of exploiting the unbottomed misery into which * this war has plunged practically the whole human race. And, although much less important, because merely material, there is not a Canadian who would not prefer to believe that Canada's industrial capacity was equal to present war emergencies.
There is, however, a fundamental thing upon which decent Canadians of every stripe and colour are adamant. This fundamental thing is that beyond ordinary and reasonable profits on the supply of necessary and honestly manufactured war materials, private parties shall not derive advantage and that family fortunes shall not be founded, to be spent no doubt after the war in easeful and luxurious living.
With all respect to General Bertram his Toronto interview, reported in yesterday's Free Press, is just as weak as the uplifted hands of the Canadian weekly published in the same city. Mere assertions of virtue are entirely out of court. Whatever a full and fearless inquiry may disclose, grave suspicion as to extortion, and even graft, in regard to the shell contracts is at this present warranted.
The Montreal Herald, on November 30, said:
The humiliating thing is that this is the work
of a " Dominion " Shell Committee-
Let that never be forgotten. I say that this was not the work of a committee appointed by the British Government; this was the work of a committee appointed by this Government, and for whose actions this Government must be held responsible to the people of Canada. The Herald says:
The humiliating thing is, that this is the work of a " Dominion " Shell Committee, and therefore represents the national policy regarding the .manufacture of munitions. This is how our industrial resources have been ' mobilized ' to

meet the supreme need of the Empire and of civilization itself! Compare this with the policy in force with the rest of the Allied nations. Compare it with a statement for instance, of the chairman of the Steel Company of Scotland, in an address at the annual meeting of the stockholders in October:
Then follows the address, which I will read:
" You are aware that on more than one occasion I have in this place denounced government legislation as it affected the country's industries, and I may be permitted to say how heartily I approve of the principle (the special taxation of war profits) which has now been set forth in Mr. McKenna's budget, although I am not at all sure that its application is adequate. To my mind, there is something absolutely revolting in the idea of anybody making profits out of the natiori's agony-and especially so in the case of a man or company who had no extra labour or anxiety, but whose -opportunity has come solely because of an artificial scarcity created by the Government on account of the nation's need. The ideal principle of taxation is, of course, equality of sacrifice. . . . When we think of those splen- . did men of ours in Belgium, France, the Dardanelles, and elsewhere. . . who have sacrificed home, kindred, health, comfort and ease.
. . . we must feel how paltry and Insignificant is any monetary sacrifice which we, who must remain at home, can lay on the altar of patriotism. . . It may be, indeed, that before the war is ended, the Government may find it necessary to take not 50 but 100 per cent of those extra profits, and if they do, I hope none of us will complain."
In Canada some of the favoured companies are counting profits by the millions; they are gloating over prices that will run, it is declared, all the way up to 150 per cent profit on their entire capitalization. They see nothing revolting, apparently, in profiteering to the full out of the British nation's agony.
I want to pause for a moment to repeat here that the taxation of extra profits will avail nothing in so far as the relief of the British Treasury is concerned. It will present the anomalous spectacle of the members of this committee having fixed the excessive prices which will be paid to the manufacturers, including those companies of which they were the directing heads, and then by the imposition of taxes, taking the money back again, not giving it to the Imperial Treasury, but putting it into the treasury of Canada. That would be no remedy. The remedy was for this Government to have watched the work of the Shell Committee from the beginning, and have seen that they discharged their duty to the country, that they did not pay excessive prices, and that they did their duty by Canada and the Empire.
There is another very important article in the Toronto Telegram of December 22, which I trust I may be pardoned for reading. I do it because of what I conceive to be the vast importance of the subject, and because of the necessity of placing before the House the views of the public of Canada as represented by its leading newspapers. The Toronto Telegram published an article on this subject on December 22, 1915, which I will read-in full:
Exploiting War Orders-Doings of Middlemen
-Proposition is up to Premier Borden,
Declares the Contract Record of Toronto.
Down New York way they're still sending out circulars that tell of desirable investments created by filling, war orders in Canada, says the Contract Record in this week's issue. One of the latest comes from .Gilbert Elliott and Company. It advises clients to invest in Canada Foundries and Forgings Company, which has shops at Brockville and Welland.
Then there is a quotation of the figures. If I am not mistaken, Sir Henry Pellatt is
president of that company.

Topic:   '84 COMMONS
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