Alexander James ANDERSON

ANDERSON, Alexander James

Personal Data

Party
National Government
Constituency
High Park (Ontario)
Birth Date
July 1, 1863
Deceased Date
June 3, 1946
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_James_Anderson
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=2a491fe5-0fd9-41c0-9a96-951b3efa94eb&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
barrister, lawyer

Parliamentary Career

October 29, 1925 - July 2, 1926
CON
  Toronto--High Park (Ontario)
September 14, 1926 - May 30, 1930
CON
  Toronto--High Park (Ontario)
July 28, 1930 - August 14, 1935
CON
  Toronto--High Park (Ontario)
October 14, 1935 - January 25, 1940
CON
  High Park (Ontario)
March 26, 1940 - April 16, 1945
NAT
  High Park (Ontario)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 23)


May 23, 1939

Mr. ANDERSON:

In doing what?

Topic:   LOAN OF S750,000,000 TO MEET LOANS OR OBLIGATIONS, TO PURCHASE UNMATURED SECURITIES AND FOR GENERAL PURPOSES
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February 1, 1939

Mr. ANDERSON:

I thank you, Mr. Speaker, and, through you, the members of the house for their indulgence. I shall not trespass too long upon the time of the house. It is strange that an hon. member should strongly recommend to the minister and to the deputy minister a group of men, the members of which he was not disposed to name apart from Major Hahn. As it turned out, in the first instance one member was a brother, and later on two brothers were in the combination. In the old days when I used to listen to political discussions in Ontario, we called that nepotism. I do not know what it is called to-day, but it is nothing but patronage being distributed to those who are related to one who happens to be a member of this house. I do not like it. I think it is objectionable. Of course the contract was not signed just at that time, but the negotiations continued.

I have outlined what took place on October 9 and October 19. On October 26, only seven days afterwards, we find the hon. member for Trinity, Major Hahn and Mr. Gordon Plaxton, a brother of the member, on the boat for England. They were following up things very closely. They did not give an opportunity to the minister or the department to inquire whether tenders could be received from other reputable concerns in the Dominion of Canada. These men reached England in the course of a few days and they endeavoured to

The Address-Mr. Anderson

interview members of the War Office with respect to a contract which they hoped to get, and which they since obtained. They kicked their heels around London for about ten days and were unable to obtain an interview. I suppose they took in the sights of Piccadilly, Hyde Park, Pall Mall, and probably a few other places. They became impatient after a while, and a telephone message was sent through to the minister asking for some assistance. That was worked through the Department of External Affairs, and that is how the Prime Minister becomes involved. He lent himself, consciously or unconsciously, to what was going on in the defence department. A letter was written and sent to the High Commissioner in London, the Hon. Mr. Massey. Through him it was handed on in the proper way to the War Office. In that letter Major Hahn was regarded as a representative of this government. I say that the Prime Minister as head of the Department of External Affairs should have been more careful. If he did not know of this; if the responsibility rested solely on Doctor Skelton, then I am sorry that Doctor Skelton, for whom I have the highest regard, has lent himself to this sort of thing.

Why was Major Hahn considered as the representative of this government in connection with contracts for munitions for Great Britain and Canada? This is monstrous. What about our industries in Canada? We hear a great deal of talk about unemployment and relief, but what efforts did they make to get something beneficial out of the money to be spent by the defence department for the manufacture of munitions? What did they do? They put this in the hands of Major Hahn and his associates, who were, unfortunately for the hon. member for Trinity, brothers of a member of this house.

Let me say a word about Major Hahn. He was a good Canadian and, while I am not sure, I believe he is a graduate of Toronto * university. He went overseas, gave good service, and rose in rank. He came back to Canada with imperial rank. He was wounded; he served his country nobly and he is entitled to every credit in that regard. As a man I do not think anything can be said against him to-day, and certainly nothing could be said about him at that time. Upon his return he decided to study law. The law society of Ontario passed a regulation to permit men returning from the front who possessed the necessary qualifications and were desirous of studying law to complete their course in two years. They were to take the same number of lectures and examinations, but the lectures were to be almost continuous.

The usual intervals between lectures were to be eliminated. Major Hahn took that course and became a lawyer. My son was one of those who took advantage of that regulation, and the hon. member for Spadina (Mr. Factor) was another who took that course. Up to that point these men were all on a par.

Major Hahn became a lawyer, but he decided he would not continue in the practice of law. Industry had a claim on him. We will assume that the war closed in 1919 because many of the important officers did not get back until that year. In 1923, after he had been admitted to practice in Ontario, Major Hahn became interested in the establishment of a concern known as the De Forest Radio Corporation, which carried on business in the constituency represented by the hon. member for Greenwood (Mr. Massey). That company carried on for seven years, and it was represented to the minister and to the War Office as being a successful business financially.

Seven years is not long in the existence or life of an industry. It was a large industry, but when the adverse winds of the depression struck it in 1930 it began losing money. It was under the administration and management of Major Hahn, and it lost money in 1931, 1932 and 1933. The reason was, he said, that competition was so great that he found it necessary to try to sell the business to one of his competitors, which was done. That was the Rogers Majestic, in Toronto, the operators of CFRB. It bought out the De Forest concern, and the major then dropped out of business. That was in 1934. Now what about that business? It went into the hands of a receiver immediately. The claims against the concern amounted to only $140,000, which was not a large amount for a financially successful concern in seven years, and yet when they came to distribute the assets, what was the result? The creditors got the munificent return of twenty cents on the dollar. Nevertheless that is the company which is represented to the minister, to the Department of National Defence and to the War Office in London, as being a successful one. Although it had not been running since 1936, it was represented to the War Office as immediately capable of turning out war material.

I do not want to trespass further, Mr. Speaker, on the indulgence that the house has been good enough to extend to me, but I should like in conclusion to say that the government of Canada should repudiate that contract. If it goes any further, the imperial authorities will feel that Canadians are not worthy of trust in matters so important as the manufacture and purchase of munitions.

The Address-Mr. Clarke (Rosedale)

I am not saying anything against the minister. He is one for whom I have had the greatest respect, but I do say that as a minister of the crown he has not exercised that caution, care, and regard for the welfare of Canada which he should have, and which the responsibility of his office demanded of him. I consider that the work of his deputy was positively reprehensible. I shall not apply that term to the minister. I shall give him some credit for having depended on his experts, as he said himself. But how far has he depended on his experts? It has been shown that he did not depend on them at all; that he did not know with whom he was dealing; that he did not ask tenders, as suggested by the interdepartmental committee, from such concerns as the Steel Company of Canada, the National Steel Car Company, the Dominion Bridge Company and other big companies in this dominion that are capable of carrying on this work, companies that have been in existence for generations and are to-day in a strong financial position and able to carry out government contracts with precision and accuracy, companies in which one can have absolute confidence. I thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OP DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
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February 1, 1939

Mr. A. J. ANDERSON (High Park):

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the first matter referred to in the speech from the throne is the approaching visit of Their Majesties King George YI and his gracious consort Queen Elizabeth. That visit is a matter of great moment to the empire generally and particularly to this dominion. It marks the first occasion upon which a reigning monarch in Great Britain has set foot, during his reign, upon the soil of Canada or of any of the dominions. The present king has already visited this dominion, and was loyally received. His forthcoming visit will enable him to become acquainted with the changes which have taken place since last he was in our midst. On the present occasion their majesties will also proceed to the great republic to the south, having accepted an invitation to visit President and Mrs. Roosevelt at Washington. This splendid gesture will intensify the good feeling which exists between those two great democracies. It will form a striking contrast with some previous meetings in European countries, especially those which have recently taken place between those totalitarian executives the Fuehrer of Germany and the Prime Minister of Italy. Upon their visits there was a display

of armed force; the forthcoming visit by their majesties to the United States will be a display of peacefulness, harmony and goodwill which will intensify those good feelings that have existed for a long period of time. The people of Canada will hail with a great deal of pleasure the visit of their king and queen. Personally I regard it with much pleasure, and I know that my feelings are shared by everyone who resides in the constituency I represent. I hope that the welcome which will be extended to their majesties all over the dominion will be appropriate to the position they hold and to our association with the motherland.

After this reference, the speech from the throne proceeds to deal with defence matters. At the present time defence is a rather important subject. The minds of the Canadian people are set upon the protection of Canada and the empire. In the years immediately following the war Great Britain and all the dominions were more or less concerned to reduce their armaments-a praiseworthy object. The United States and other nations were similarly disposed, with the result that appropriations for armaments were greatly reduced. In later years Britain found to her dismay that she had disarmed to a very dangerous degree. Canada did the same, but since we were living in a peaceful environment it did not impress itself particularly upon our people. Yet, whenever the defence estimates, limited as they were, have come before this house in recent years, there have always been objections on the ground that they were too large. The feeling is expressed that to grant money for the purposes of defence of the country would inspire a warlike spirit-which of course is a fallacy.

In 1937 matters in this regard became rather more important, and Canada increased its appropriation for defence. Upon that occasion we were the spectators of an unpleasant exhibition on the government side. The minister was very much embarrassed to find that supporters of the government rose in their places and objected to those appropriations. But the vote went through. May I say that the members of the official opposition made no objection to those appropriations; as a matter of fact, they supported them, and would have supported them had they been increased in a reasonable amount. In 1938 the same thing happened. The government came along with increased appropriations and the opposition supported them. Now we are told in the speech from the throne that increased amounts will be required for purposes of defence, and this statement is implemented in the estimates which have been placed on the table.

The Address-Mr. Anderson

During the last two or three years Great Britain has been faced with very difficult conditions on the continent of Europe. In the speech from the throne, the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King)-for he is really responsible for the speech-states that his government is earnestly and intently watching the situation in Europe, and that at times it appears warlike. That is very true. The best way to judge of the interest of British people in the situation is to look at what has been done. Earl Baldwin, while Prime Minister of Great Britain, was faced with danger from the continent, and took the stern position that England must endeavour to keep peace in the world. He felt that she was not strong enough of herself to play the part of international policeman, but he used his best endeavours to attain peaceful relations. When Mr. Chamberlain followed him, the same policy was pursued. He applied himself most intently to preserve the peace of the world by continuing the friendship which existed between Britain and other nations. This resolve was shown in many ways. At the time of the war between Italy and Ethiopia Mr. Chamberlain did what he could to mitigate that most unparalleled and unwarranted attack by Italy upon an innocent people. His efforts did not stop the war, and Ethiopia was overcome.

Next came the war in Spain, a war between different factions of the Spanish nation. To a great extent it is a conflict between ideals or philosophies. The loyalists or the governmental party were practically socialists, along with the communistic element. The insurgents were the old monarchical party and very much of the fascist type. The result is that this war has been going on in Spain, and other nations of Europe are to some extent taking part. Britain has been the chief agent in maintaining non-intervention between the warring factions. It has been a difficult matter to hold the French back, but it has succeeded. That cannot be said of the two great autocratic nations, Germany and Italy. They have shown their hand clearly, having assisted the insurgent body; yet, notwithstanding the difference of attitude as between Mr. Chamberlain and the totalitarian executives, Mr. Chamberlain has pursued his efforts along the line of peace. While pursuing those efforts, as Prime Minister of Great Britain he was not forgetting the necessity of increasing her armed strength in the interests of preserving the peace of the world. He was not preparing for war. No war was being waged against Britain; no war or threat or any complaint that might lead to war was urged against Britain or any of the dominions. Mr. Chamberlain's whole effort was in the direction- of

peace. His visit to the Fuehrer- of Germany was in the interests of peace. His government succeeded through Lord Perth, the ambassador at Rome, in bringing about an agreement between Britain and Italy looking to peace, and that agreement stood the world in great stead at a later date.

At every stage where matters became serious Mr. Chamberlain was still exerting himself along the lines of peace. Then there was the Munich crisis, with the events that led to the meeting there. Mr. Chamberlain was faced with this position. Hitler had succeeded a very short time before in absorbing the Austrian nation without actually drawing the sword. He was armed and was ready, but that nation was absorbed without any warfare. Then, having succeeded in absorbing Austria, the German republic made demands upon Czechoslovakia on behalf of the Sudeten German nationals living in Czechoslovakia. This course was pursued for a while, and Mr. Chamberlain was still urging measures of peace, not only by correspondence and telephone messages but also by sending representatives to the various parties. His government consented to Lord Runciman's visit to Czechoslovakia in a private capacity for the purpose of ascertaining at close range what was the trouble there. After several weeks there he returned to England, satisfied that the blame was not all on one side. At any rate the fuehrer took courage and with his armed forces ranged along the boundaries of Czechoslovakia, and gave an ultimatum to the President of Czechoslovakia to surrender to his terms-the autonomy of the Sudeten Germans or their absorption by the German nation-or face war within twenty-four hours.

Mr. Chamberlain was put to the test. How far could he go and what would he do? He was impelled by courage and determination to do all that was possible within human power to prevent war, and that was the time when he deserved, was entitled to and was looking for a sympathetic expression from various parts "of the empire. He got it from certain parts of the empire, and it was not an expression of war or a desire to go to war; it was an expression of approval of the tremendous efforts he was putting forward personally in the interests of peace. Our Canadian nation was silent. I think the least the Prime Minister and the government might have done on that occasion was to send a message of approval and congratulation to the Right Hon. Mr. Neville Chamberlain on the wonderful efforts he was making to prevent war and to preserve the peace of the world. But that was wanting.

The Address-Mr. Anderson

That was in September, 1938. Matters have gone on since, and we find that the fuehrer is still disposed to pursue his ambitions. Britain has increased her armed strength, not that there is any demand at all upon her to use that strength either at the moment or in the immediate future, so far as any part of the empire is concerned. There is no demand upon Canada, and there is no necessity, in discussing this question of defence estimates, to say that the estimates are for the purposes of defending the empire or sending forces beyond the borders of Canada. That might be necessary and it might be justifiable, but at the moment we are mixing up the defence of Canada and appropriations therefor with a much larger question, which is the defence of the empire.

We have heard some expressions in this debate, questioning whether we are justified in passing the large appropriations of this year which look as though they were intended for the defence of the empire rather than of Canada itself. May I say that as a Canadian of Scottish descent I consider myself as good a British subject as can be found in this house or anywhere else, and I am proud of the fact that Canada is a dominion of the British empire. Not only am I proud of that fact, but I believe that as a matter of necessity the future existence and destiny of Canada depend upon our continued association with this great commonwealth of nations.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) referred the other day to a speech delivered by Sir Wilfrid Laurier back in the days of the war or before, and quoted in a work by our former associate here, Mr. E. M. Macdonald of Nova Scotia. In that book Sir Wilfrid Laurier is quoted as having said, "When England is at war, Canada is at war." Well, that is true, but it does not necessarily mean that we are in the actual reality of war. We are subject to the same conditions as Britain herself. We are part and parcel of the empire. We glory in being a part of the empire. We consider it a privilege-yes more, a right-to be part and parcel of the empire. That privilege and right carry with them a parallel duty and responsibility: the responsibility to do our part in the defence of this great commonwealth of nations. What that part will be remains to be seen when the time comes.

It seems to me folly to spend time saying that we can declare our neutrality in case of war. I was going to use the word "insanity" in describing that attitude of mind. How can we be both in the empire and out of it? The moment Canada declared its neutrality, exercising the powers which we believe we

have obtained through the imperial conference and which are embodied in the statute of Westminster, we are out of the commonwealth. If Great Britain were at war with Japan, how far would Japan listen to our protests? She did not give much consideration to the protests of the United States in relation to China or to British or French protests against the methods adopted in making war on China, methods absolutely contrary to the rules recognized in modern warfare. Japan would laugh at our protests, and say: That is nothing; you are part and parcel of the British empire, we will bomb your cities and attack your people. That would be just as justifiable and just as likely to happen as what took place in Ethiopia and is happening to-day in China and in Spain.

As long as we claim and admit that we are part and parcel of the British empire, just so long have we a duty to perform by preparing to defend ourselves in such way that we become a useful and efficient part in empire defence. The defence of the empire does not depend on Great Britain alone. I admit that the greater part of the burden of defence falls upon the old motherland, but every part of the empire has its duty to perform. Every dominion, every possession, as well as the motherland must defend itself to the extent of its ability and according to its importance in the empire. Canada to-day is bound, for the sake of its own self-respect and in view of its future destiny as part of the empire, to spend the money that the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Mackenzie) asks for in his estimates. As far as I am concerned I shall support those estimates quite freely.

In the speech from the throne reference was made to a defence purchasing board. This purchasing board was suggested by a recommendation in the recent inquiry. I am not at all surprised that the Prime Minister is thinking along that line. He has not forgotten how profiteering flourished during the last war, and the great abuses that took place in connection with the manufacture of munitions. While half a million men went overseas from Canada to assist the motherland when her existence was threatened, giving all they had, their lives, their homes and their property for the paltry pay of $1.10 a day, and such other amounts as officers got in addition, we had men at home profiteering, becoming millionaires through the manufacture of munitions. It is no wonder the Prime Minister has expressed himself as against such a thing happening again.

The Address-Mr. Anderson

When he was approached by an hon. member of this house and asked whether there was anything against private institutions in Canada taking contracts for the manufacture of munitions for the motherland, he was careful to say that he did not see any objection to that so long as the government of Canada was not involved. That letter is on record in connection with the inquiry that recently took place. The Prime Minister followed that up; he was afraid that it might not be enough. He appointed a committee to make certain investigations and report to him. That led to the appointment of an interdepartmental committee to inquire into these matters. That interdepartmental committee was, I believe, composed wholly of men in the civil service. Some of them were of the highest rank, such as the under secretary of state for external affairs, than whom there is probably not a more efficient officer in the service; Doctor Clark, the deputy minister of finance, and the commissioner of income tax, a very clever officer, and others. They investigated this matter of munitions and particularly the contract, known as the Bren gun contract, that the Minister of National Defence told us in rather gleeful terms had saved Canada a prodigious amount of money.

The Minister of National Defence was advised during 1936 and early in 1937 by the chief of staff, General Ashton, on three or four different occasions during the year, of the necessity of the manufacture of armaments under the control of the government. It was recommended that we should establish factories or industries for the purpose of their manufacture. In 1935 the imperial government, after four or five years' tests of this Bren gun, finally decided to accept it, and made a contract with the patentee. What did they do? The imperial government saw to it that the contract contained a clause that it would enure to the benefit of all the dominions. Another clause of that agreement, no doubt inserted at the instance of the patentee, was that these guns should be made in a factory controlled and operated by the government.

All this information was before the defence department when these Bren gun negotiations began. To what extent was it regarded or followed? I criticize the defence department in that regard. With all the information before them they pursued their own course, and what did they do? On October 9, 1936, the hon. member for Trinity (Mr. Plaxton) was in the city of Ottawa. He is a young, athletic, fine-looking chap, and one would imagine he should have a good memory. But he does not remember just whether he came to Ottawa in company with his friend Major Hahn or whether he met him here. I think it is pitiable

that a young man who has been entrusted with the franchise of a responsible constituency in one of the largest cities of Canada should have to admit that his memory did not serve him any better than that. What was he in Ottawa for? Some of his answers would indicate that he was here on departmental business, and I believe that may be true. If it is true, he remembered that. At any rate he did remember that on October 9 he took Mr. Hahn to the deputy minister's office and introduced Major Hahn to the deputy minister. Major Hahn had been interested in this matter by the brother of the hon. member, a reputable lawyer in the city of Toronto, a scion of a distinguished family. Their father was a man who served his people well; who gave his family an education and whose family to-day are upholding the splendid reputation which he enjoyed. A brother of the hon. member, Herbert Plaxton, became interested in an old building, called by some an old boiler factory, but which I shall call by its proper name, the John Inglis factory in the western part of Toronto.

That was during the summer of 1936. At one time this factory was probably one of the best known in Toronto. John Inglis, the head of that firm, was a splendid man, with great business experience, who enjoyed an extremely good reputation. Unfortunately for Toronto, and probably for Canada as well, he came to the end of his earthly existence a few years ago and was succeeded by an able son, William Inglis, who in later years was known to many of us as either chairman or president of the Canadian National exhibition at Toronto. William Inglis was cut off in the prime of life and died just three or four years ago, and after his death the John Inglis factory became practically dormant. It was closed down in the early part of 1936; in other words, it was a dead industry. The Inglis money was no longer available for the purpose of carrying on that factory, and no other capitalists were interested in taking it over. The machinery and equipment were designed for the manufacture of heavy material such as boilers, turbines and so on, and in the days of its prosperity there was not a concern in Toronto that could touch the John Inglis Company in these lines. It was entrusted with some of the largest contracts given for equipment of this kind; but all that ended before or during 1936, and that was the industry which Major Hahn, through the instrumentality of Herbert Plaxton, was interested in buying.

During the course of this interview on October 9, 1936, the hon. member for Trinity believes he did tell the deputy minister some-

The Address-Mr. Anderson

thing in regard to that plant. It is rather indefinite. They met in the office of the deputy minister, where there was set up one of the two Bren machine guns that had been bought by the dominion government in 1935. The hon. member for Trinity says he does not remember seeing the gun there at all. That is another wonderful exhibition of poor memory. Major Hahn does admit that he saw it, while the deputy minister says they both saw it and examined it, Major Hahn in particular. But he adds, "I don't think either one of them ever saw a Bren gun before." Major Hahn and his associates were represented as interested in buying, or as having bought, the John Inglis property, which was said to be capable of making munitions. That was the representation which was made, not only to the deputy minister but subsequently to the War Office in London.

Let us see what was the next step. Ten days later, on October 19, 1936, the Minister of National Defence was in his suite at the Chateau Laurier. Again the hon. member for Trinity and Mr. Hahn were in Ottawa, together with a gentleman named Cameron, head of the brokerage firm of Cameron, Poin-ton and Merritt of Toronto. The hon. member for Trinity had a conversation with the minister at that tjme, leading up to the introduction to the minister of Major Hahn and subsequently Mr. Cameron. Major Hahn was there for one purpose: to see what he could do, in his own interests and those of his group, toward negotiating a contract for something in the line of munitions. Would it not be reasonable to suppose that such a visit would impress itself upon the memory of the minister; that he would remember he had met these people at that time and discussed this possibility; that these men were introduced by the hon. member for Trinity, and that he had a conversation also with a Mr. Cameron in regard to some financing which might be necessary? But what does the minister say? He says that according to his memory the first time he ever met Major Hahn was on one occasion when he, the minister, had to go to Toronto to examine thi3 John Inglis plant. That is his statement, according to the evidence. His memory also is frail. He further said in his evidence before Mr. Justice Davis-and I am quoting this subject to correction, because for the moment I am relying on my memory-that the first time he had met Major Hahn was when the contract was signed.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OP DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
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February 1, 1939

Mr. ANDERSON:

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. gentleman would submit it in writing, I should be glad to answer it. My reason for refusing to do so now is that I cannot hear him, and I do not want to make a silly answer. /

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
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February 1, 1939

Mr. ANDERSON:

He admits that Major Hahn corrected his recollection in that regard.

He still feels that whatever he said in the first instance was his memory of what had occurred, but he would have to give way to the credibility of a man who said something different. That was a gentlemanly thing for the Minister of National Defence to do in regard to Major Hahn. I want to say the same in regard to the minister as I have said in regard to the hon. member for Trinity. The minister is also a good Scot. He has a splendid war record; he is a good lawyer out in Vancouver; he is regarded as one of the best looking members in the house; yet his memory is most defective. We are being asked to depart from the regular procedure of parliament in asking for tenders from reputable contractors in connection with public contracts and to give them to a group of men, the members of which the minister says he did not know. In other words, he did not know who were associated with Major Hahn.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OP DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
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