April 2, 1941

SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. JOHNSTON (Bow River):

I am glad of the correction; otherwise it would be a terrible state of affairs to have at this time.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

I did not say that.

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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. JOHNSTON (Bow River):

I accept the correction.

I turn now to Hansard of yesterday, and if I am wrong in my criticism I hope the Minister of National Defence for Naval Services will correct me. No one is more concerned about this problem than I am, because, as I have stated before, I think we should have one of the most efficient navies it is possible for us to build; and never on any occasion have we in this comer ever advocated any diminution in our defence. The opposite is true; we have insisted that our defence be carried on to the maximum. On page 2074 of Hansard the minister is reported as having said:

If my hon. friend can name me any yard in Nova Scotia which is capable of building ships for war purposes and has not been given an opportunity of bidding on these ships, I should like to have its name.

That is a wrong attitude. It is not up to the minister to ask any member of the house whether he can find shipbuilders who are willing to build ships. That is definitely his responsibility, and if he does not know, it is time he ascertained. He says that there were twenty-four Fairmiles to be built at an average cost of $100,000 each. There was a need for Fairmiles, for twenty-four of them, and so great was this need that the department went to special pains to send a man to Nova Scotia to investigate the possibilities of shipbuilding there. Let me read what the minister said, as reported on the next page of Hansard:

The department sent down the director of shipbuilding to examine the yards and see whether they were capable of undertaking this work.

They sent one of their own inspectors to Nova Scotia to see if they could handle this work, and he made a report to the effect that there were from six to ten shipyards there capable of making this type of ship. The government must have been desirous of getting this information, of finding out the number of shipyards that could build these ships-why? Because they needed them;

Otherwise it would be foolishness to send a man there for that purpose.

Bids were asked for, but only three tendered. Out of the number ranging from six to ten, when bids were asked for, only three tendered. Let me point this out. The situation was urgent, because, as I say, they sent an inspector to investigate the possibilities of having ships built there. I repeat, they found from six to ten yards that could and

should build these ships, and when tenders were called for, only three were received, and of that number only one was near the price. The minister said that there were in British Columbia bidders whose bids were $25,000 below that price. These people in Nova Scotia, this one who did put in his bid, did so at an excess profit of over $25,000. So the minister, rightly so, said, "I won't give you that contract." But my point is this. Here is an industry which is essential to Canada-taking the minister's own word for it-which would not take a contract unless they received, in the words of the Prime Minister, blood-money-absolutely. There is no question

about it.

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

Surely that is not a fair

interpretation. The yard was not tuned up to build that type of boat, and I have every reason to believe the men gave an honest tender. They tendered on what they thought it would take to build a boat, giving their best opinion. But it is a different matter to bid against an existing yard that has the experience and personnel to build that type of boat, and that is what they were doing when they bid against the Pacific coast yard.

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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. JOHNSTON (Bow River):

The minister said they sent an inspector to investigate before the bids were put in and found that the yards were capable and efficient enough to do the job, and as a result of the investigation an opportunity was given them to bid. When they did submit the bid they were $25,000 in excess of the company in British Columbia. The price quoted by the minister was not to exceed $100,000 for the hull. I say, therefore, that there was an excess profit, a good big one of over $25,000, in the minister's own words. There is something wrong there, and it was so astounding to the minister, he was no nearly shocked to death, that he said:

So amazed was I at the discrepancy in prices that I suggested to the Minister of Munitions and Supply and to the director of shipbuilding that Nova Scotia shipbuilders must have made some mistake, that presumably they had misunderstood the specifications, and that they should be given another opportunity.

They were given a second opportunity. If these companies could not have built these ships according to specifications, and in an efficient and economical way, why should they have been given a second chance? I am assuming that the minister investigated the matter, as he said he did, and found the companies efficient, and yet they were $25,000 over the other.

Supplementary War Appropriation Bill

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LIB

Angus Lewis Macdonald (Minister of National Defence for Naval Services)

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD (Kingston City):

May I ask the hon. member one question. Does he think that every efficient manufacturer of an article can always supply that article for the same price?

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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. JOHNSTON (Bow River):

Surely

the minister does not contend that a difference of twenty-five per cent, one-quarter additional price, is anywhere near the same price -$25,000 in excess of the British Columbia price. Make no mistake about it, the British Columbia people were making a profit of at least ten per cent; they were not doing it for nothing. They were making at least ten per cent, or they would not bid, and this company raised that price by $25,000.

People who would do a thing like that in time of war should be classed as saboteurs, and nothing else. If the statement is true- and I am assuming the minister told the truth-that would be so. If the hon. member wishes to put a different interpretation upon it, I would not contradict him. The minister says that as a result of this careful investigation and placing these bids before these companies on two different occasions, the result is that of the twenty-four Fairmiles only two are being built in Nova Scotia. What is the conclusion? The conclusion must be this, that the government wanted twenty-four of these ships built, and could not get more than two built in that particular locality. It is not because these companies were not efficient, not because they were not capable of doing the work, but merely because they charged such a price that the government could not possibly give them the order. Yet the people of Canada have to subject themselves to military conscription. They have to go overseas and fight, possibly give their lives .for their country for $1.30 a day. Then the minister asks us in the House of Commons if we would desire to have them taken by the necks. I say that is, exactly the place to take them by-right by the necks, and literally, too.

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LIB
SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. JOHNSTON (Bow River):

The hon. member will have his chance to speak.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY
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LIB

Vincent-Joseph Pottier

Liberal

Mr. POTTIER:

Has the hon. member ever been in a shipyard? Has he had any experience in shipbuilding? Has he ever gone through a shipyard?

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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. JOHNSTON (Bow River):

I do not think the Minister of National Defence for Naval Services has, either.

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

That is not an answer.

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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. JOHNSTON (Bow River):

If he has, then it brings strongly into question the capability of the Minister of Munitions and Supply, because they certainly do not agree, one with the other.

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LIB

Angus Lewis Macdonald (Minister of National Defence for Naval Services)

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD (Kingston City):

Will the hon. member point out where the Minister of Munitions and Supply and I differ? Will he give one specific instance in connection with this matter?

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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. JOHNSTON (Bow River):

Please do not ask me to point out the difference, because I should not like to go that far.

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

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An hon. MEMBER:

That is drawing a red herring across the trail.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY
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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. JOHNSTON (Bow River):

I am just stating that that is the minister's own statement in Hansard of yesterday. I am saying this, that if it is not-

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY
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April 2, 1941