March 19, 1943

PRIVILEGE-MR. COLDWELL REFERENCE TO REMARKS OF MEMBER FOR DAUPHIN IN DEBATE ON MARCH 18


On the orders of the day:


CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. M. J. COLDWELL (Rosetown-Biggar):

I see that the hon. member for Dauphin (Mr. Ward) is in his seat. Had he been in his seat when the session opened this afternoon I should have raised a question of privilege at that time. I was unavoidably absent last night, having an engagement at Rideau Hall, and therefore was not in my seat. During my absence the hon. gentleman made a speech. In that speech he quoted part of a sentence from a radio address given by me. The part he quoted was this:

What can these men think of a war effort that does not hesitate to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to assist private industry-

He placed a question mark at the end of that, whereas he should have continued-

but refuses to give 13,000 workers a couple of million dollars a year to improve their depressed and substandard condition?

He then ended with these words, and they are the words of which I complain:

He stops there.

I did not stop there, as I have shown. Then the hon. member proceeds:

The hon. member knew just as well as I do that a meaner form of misrepresentation than that statement could not possibly have been made.

He alleges that when I made that statement I knew it was a misrepresentation. That, Mr. Speaker, is entirely against the rules of the house. Had I been in my seat at the time I would have requested that you ask the hon. gentleman to withdraw that aspersion, and I so ask now.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE-MR. COLDWELL REFERENCE TO REMARKS OF MEMBER FOR DAUPHIN IN DEBATE ON MARCH 18
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LIB

William John Ward

Liberal

Mr. W. J. WARD (Dauphin):

If I am permitted to reply, I have not the press

Office Economies Control

clipping with me at the moment; it is in my office. But in the clipping there is a period after the word "industry". Why should the hon. member not have gone on and explained to his listeners over the air-

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?

Thomas Miller Bell

Mr. COLD WELL:

I am not discussing that phase of it. The hon. member could have obtained the original copy of my address from my office at any time. I ask that the accusation made be withdrawn. That is the point at issue.

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LIB

Thomas Vien (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

Do I understand that the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar is complaining that what was said by the hon. member for Dauphin is a misrepresentation of what he said, in that he did not complete the statement quoted from the hon. member's speech?

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

No, Mr. Speaker, may I correct that? The hon. member said last night:

The hon. member knew-

That is, I knew-

-just as well as I do-

That is the hon. member for Dauphin.

that a meaner form of misrepresentation than that statement could not possibly have been made.

That is, he said I knew I was making a mean misrepresentation. The hon. member's remarks are reported at page 1376 of Hansard.

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LIB

Thomas Vien (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

If the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar had been in the house at the time that statement was made and if I had been in the chair and he had asked that the statement be withdrawn, I should have had to ask the hon. member to withdraw it. I think the hon. member should withdraw that statement as being an implication directed against the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar.

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LIB

William John Ward

Liberal

Mr. WARD:

In the first place, of course, the speech was made outside of this house.

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

The hon. member's

speech was made in the house.

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LIB

William John Ward

Liberal

Mr. WARD:

However, sir, I bow to your ruling that it was not a misrepresentation. But while I am on my feet I should like to say this, that I took it for granted that the hon. gentleman was an intelligent man, and as an intelligent man he must have known it was a misrepresentation.

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LIB

Thomas Vien (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

The hon. member for

Dauphin must realize that his last statement simply accentuates what the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar complains of. The withdrawal should be unequivocal.

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LIB

William John Ward

Liberal

Mr. WARD:

Then, Mr. Speaker, I withdraw.

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OFFICE ECONOMIES CONTROL

ANNOUNCEMENT OF RESIGNATION OF COLONEL JOHN THOMPSON AS DIRECTOR


On the orders of the day: Hon. L. R. LaFLECHE (Minister of National War Services): I should like, Mr. Speaker, to make a statement. I wish to announce that Colonel John Thompson, D.S.O., K.C., has resigned from the position of director of government office economies control, and that his resignation has been accepted by order in council P.C. 2198 of yesterday's date, copy of which I should like to lay on the table of the house. When Colonel Thompson informed me that he wished to retire I asked him to carry on, but he said he could not do so. I replied that if he insisted I should have to recommend the acceptance of his resignation, which I should do with deep regret. It would seem to me to be in the national interest that I acquaint this honourable house with certain facts. My purpose is to make it possible to achieve the economies desired by the government when it created the government office economies control, to the directorship of which Colonel Thompson was subsequently called. There has been a good deal said and written around the personality of that gallant gentleman and officer, Colonel Thompson, and his activities as director of the control office in question. It would not be fair to the nation or to Colonel Thompson to fail to place these further facts on the record. It will be recalled that the incident began with a newspaper article. The article quite naturally created some considerable interest; I may say that it did so far as I was concerned, because I had not the slightest intimation of what was coming. Since then the matter has received further publicity, with some asserting and some denying but few continuing to think much of the very purpose of the control office, namely economy. Recalling that public officials cannot do justice to their duties and cannot successfully carry on the nation's business in an atmosphere such as has been created; and so that it may be possible to carry on the government office economies control, let me read into the record the contents of the following documents. Following the appearance of the article on March 4 I wrote a memorandum to Colonel Thompson as follows: An article headed "Crazy Waste Stymies Economy Director Thompson; Charges work is Hampered; 'Evasion, Subterfuge and Trickery' are being used" which appeared in the Journal this afternoon has been brought to my attention.



Office Economies Control As I have told you several times, the task of director of economies is a difficult one. I also told you that one can best succeed in such a task by gaining the cooperation of all concerned. You have explained on previous occasions that you do not give statements to the press. Therefore, I assume that whoever wrote the article in question did so without your authority. I suggest to you that the Minister of National War Services is the person to whom you should report any evasion, subterfuge or trickery which you may encounter. It is very liable to arouse resentment on the part of departmental officials generally to read articles such as the one in question without having opportunities to explain to their superior departmental officers or minister. Without an opportunity of making known their side of the question, at the same time they are criticized publicly, can only create unrest and instill thoughts of unfair treatment. The article mentioned herein above is condemnation of officials without warning and, still more, without giving them any opportunity of bringing their explanations to attention. It is not permissible to compromise the reputation for loyalty and patriotism of officials. I have already assured you of my support but I cannot make it effective without knowing your difficulties. In this connection let me repeat that I am convinced that the members of the public service are readily amenable to conviction. Indeed, in my opinion, they would be only too anxious to learn and to implement their desire to practise every possible economy. It must be realized that work cannot be done without the necessary tools; modern administrative practice demands certain facilities without which the costs of administration would be much greater than they would be otherwise. Our job is to see that the work is well done at a minimum cost. I am sure that much can be done to make a success of the office of economies control and would like you to be guided by the principles herein set out. I think that together, you and I, we can bring to the attention of those concerned certain views regarding economy, which would be immediately accepted once known and appreciated. We can also arrange to relieve the departments of much of the pressure which is bound to make itself felt because of war time emergency, which is a very definite factor of many requirements. The fact that you are serving without remuneration is much appreciated. Should the volume of the work you have undertaken be too great a burden upon you and your present staff, then I will be very glad to give you further assistance. Should this be the case, please let me have your remarks when I shall pass them on immediately to the Civil Service Commission. On March 6 I had a memorandum from Colonel Thompson as follows: Apropos of an item I saw in the press, either last night or the night before, I wish to say that at no time has there been any interference by the government, or yourself, or any member of parliament, with this office in the performance of the duties allotted to it by order in council. Then we had an article appearing in the Montreal Standard on March 6.


CCF

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

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

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

Was there any answer to the letter to Colonel Thompson dated March 4, which the minister read?

Mr. LaFLECHE: It is like travelling

through the countryside; as we move on we see other things. I shall come to that in a moment. This article in the Montreal Standard is headed:

Thompson Not Angry Before but Boy!

Listen to Him Now.

Ottawa, March 6.-"I wuz misquoted," growled Colonel John Thompson, or words to that effect, as he wiped his forehead and reached to answer the phone.

"No, that wasn't what I said!" he shouted into the mouthpiece. "Do you think I'd use those words! There's been no interference from the government." Indignantly he banged down the receiver.

"Eleven million people in Canada and ten million are reporters and they've all called this morning," he said bitterly as the phone rang again.

I read this because I think Colonel Thompson has a right to be heard in these matters.

"Reporters," he declared as an afterthought, "it's getting so that it's not safe to say good morning to them. If they can find any way to make it come out 'good night' they'll do it."

The phone stopped long enough for the fiery colonel to launch a denial of quotations attributed to him. These quotations said that he had suffered government interference in conducting his economy drive.

The fracas started Thursday when the Ottawa Journal accredited the colonel with saying "He found it increasingly impossible to cope with all the crazy waste and extravagance, and that evasion, subterfuge and outright trickery are being used to nullify his work."

That was a natural. Gordon Graydon, house leader of the Progressive Conservatives, licked his political chops and used some strong words in the commons yesterday. He declared that Colonel Thompson should be called before the public accounts committee to tell the worst.

Whereupon, Major-General L. R. LaFleche, Minister of National War Services and Thompson's boss, arose to say that he had never heard of any interference from departments, and besides, Thompson didn't make statements to the press.

"Subterfuge! Evasion!" said Colonel Thompson this morning with the look of a man who'd like to get his hands on a certain person. "Do you think I'd use words like that? Do you?"

To make his position very clear and definite, the colonel to-day dispatched by messenger a letter to his boss, General LaFleche, in which he declared: "There has been no interference by the government or members of parliament, or yourself, with respect to the duties allotted to this office."

Office Economies Control

Colonel's Statement

Then, calming down for a few minutes, he said:

1-Gordon Graydon went out on a long, long limb by using the Journal story as a basis for a tiff. "He got off on the wrong foot. He may look silly."

_ 2-If he felt the government interfered in his job to out down expenses he'd quit in five minutes. He's a dollar a year man, thus independent.

3-He wuz misquoted.

"I'm pretty sore about anything I say in confidence and then have that confidence violated and grossly exaggerated," he said. "What I said originally was that I wouldn't be a rubber stamp. That is, I wouldn't stand for anyone ordering something and then presenting me with the bill when my approval was needed before the order was made.

"That's happened in a couple of eases, but 'subterfuge' and 'evasion'-after all."

Besides he wuz misquoted.

The public will have the chance to determine for itself who said what.

It was announced this afternoon that T. C. Douglas, C.C.F. member for Weyburn, Sask., had made a notice of motion that the standing committee on public accounts "be empowered to investigate the statement of Colonel John Thompson charging evasion, subterfuge, and outright trickery."

I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, that I have to mention family names; but everyone will understand the reason.

I come now to a memorandum dated March 10-this month. This is the reply I received, and it is addressed to me by Colonel Thompson:

Reference your memorandum of the 4th March, I stated emphatically and distinctly to the reporter that there was no news of any sort or description to give him. It is unnecessary for me to say that I did not use the language which appeared in the Journal.

As I informed you yesterday, I did mention a couple of matters which had, a considerable time ago, been disposed of, to the effect that the Minister of Finance had saved a considerable sum of money with regard to the proposed printing of a booklet, in respect of which I had appealed to him.

I have not spoken to you about the various protests that come to me from different boards and departments, as I considered that this was a burden for the director to carry himself. If every protest which is made to this branch is to be carried to you, it would appear to me that a fourth grade clerk could easily do that.

With regard to the question of staff, it is quite correct that we require additional staff, but not the type that one could obtain through the Civil Service. I have asked Mr. Stapleton, who is the economist of the Canadian National Railways, to have an interview' with you with regard to the type of staff which we require and which, hitherto, we have been unable to induce the persons approached to give us as part time assistance.

On the 16th of this month the following memorandum was addressed to me by Colonel Thompson:

This is my resignation, to take effect on Saturday next, the 20th instant, or at an earlier date if convenient to you. My reasons for resigning are on entirely personal grounds.

I wish to add that at no time has there been any difference of opinion between us on office matters.

We come again to the newspapers, but I shall not take the time of the house to read them. Then follows a memorandum dated to-day, and handed to me late this morning. It is addressed to me by Colonel Thompson:

I enclose copy of a leter I wrote to The Honourable C. G. Power, with reference to an item in one of this morning's Ottawa papers.

I might add that I did not make any statement that I would be willing to appear before a parliamentary committee to give evidence of waste in the air force. I know nothing whatsoever about any waste in the air force.

Colonel Thompson kindly attached a copy of his memorandum of this date, which he had addressed to the Minister of National Defence for Air (Mr. Power). Here it is:

There is an item in one of the morning papers to the effect that.I said there was waste in the air force, and that I would be willing to give evidence before a parliamentary committee to that effect.

I never made any such statement and, in a brief interview, I never mentioned the air force, either directly or indirectly.

I might add that the relations between the air force representative and this office, have always been most cordial, and any questions at issue have always been discussed in a frank and open manner.

I have already laid on the table of the house a copy of order in council P.C. 2198, but may I read into the record the letter I wrote Colonel Thompson this afternoon:

Dear Colonel Thompson:

I have just received the enclosed certified copy of order in council P.C. 2198 of yesterday's date from which you will see that your resignation from the position of director of the division of government office economies control has been accepted.

In forwarding this copy of the order in council mentioned hereinabove, may I again express regret at your resignation which has resulted in the termination of our official relations and express appreciation for the services you have rendered without remuneration.

It would be of assistance to me if you would kindly let me know just when you intend to leave as I must make necessary arrangements without losing any time to see that the work of your office is carried on without interruption.

Will you please accept my very best wishes for your happiness and success in whatever further occupation you may take up. I shall not fail to take advantage of your very kind offer to give me advice in the future for the furtherance of the very purpose for which the government office economies control was set up.

Office Economies Control

Topic:   OFFICE ECONOMIES CONTROL
Subtopic:   ANNOUNCEMENT OF RESIGNATION OF COLONEL JOHN THOMPSON AS DIRECTOR
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

By whom is

that signed?

Mr. LaFLECHE: By me.

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NAT

Gordon Graydon (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. GRAYDON:

Has Colonel Thompson

received it yet?

Mr. LaFLECHE: He should have; I know the leader of the opposition understands.

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Subtopic:   ANNOUNCEMENT OF RESIGNATION OF COLONEL JOHN THOMPSON AS DIRECTOR
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March 19, 1943