I think my memory is reasonably good. In reply to that argument, have hon. members forgotten that their own leader and many of their party, times without number in the early years of the war complained that the war effort of this country was not being properly publicized, that it was not understood in other countries and particularly in the United States? After all this criticism and all these protests they were given what they asked for, but still they are not satisfied. I think, however, that one or two things rather indicate that this is just an excuse, not a reason. Not long ago I noticed in the press that the Conservative party, the party that promised to bury politics for the duration, the party that was not going to play politics with a war on, has appointed a party manager. I would like to know what salary is being paid to Mr. Richard Bell. In addition to that they have appointed a publicity manager, taking him from the Bank of Canada, and I understand he is being paid a salary of $10,000 a year.
I shall come to that in a minute. If this government has spent over half a million dollars to publicize the war effort of this country, to let the world know what the war effort of this country has been, to let our own people know what we are doing, the money has been well spent. Any business interest, whether large or small, seeks out the brightest men available to head its sales department and publicity department. It is generally ready to spend thousands of dollars yearly in publicizing its products in order to sell them. The Wrigley chewing gum company spends thousands of dollars annually on sales campaigns. Is the war effort of this country not of more account than the selling of chewing gum?
I thank my hon. friend for his interruption of a few minutes ago. I want to ask him now who is putting up this money for the publicity campaign the Conservative party are putting on in a time of war?
Was it the barons of Bay street, Toronto, the men who chose the puppet leader they have now? I should like to know
whether the money being spent to publicize the Conservative party during a time of war is money that should be going into the coffers of this government as excess profits to help to win the war?
As I view the matter it settles down to a simple problem. Accusations of waste of public money by the wartime information board have been made. So far as I am concerned, and I think every member of the committee will agree with me, even my hon. friends of the opposition, I contend that since the accusation has been made, the matter should be thoroughly investigated and thoroughly sifted. If there is any extravagance, it should be stopped. The whole issue is whether this problem should be referred to the war expenditures committee or to the public accounts committee.
The argument has been advanced by the hon. member for Lake Centre that the matter should not be referred to the war expenditures committee, and: he gives two reasons which I should like to discuss. In the first place, he says that the meetings of the war expenditures committee are held in camera, whereas the meetings of the public accounts committee are held in public; therefore he believes that the matter should be investigated by the public accounts committee. The reason for this sharp divergence in viewpoint, is a simple one. It all depends on the results that you seek to achieve. If you wish a businesslike investigation along the lines of British practice; if you wish a committee that will sit down and seriously study the problem, search out any extravagance that is going on and curb it; if you wish a committee that will reach a unanimous conclusion, a committee that will do all this work without giving political kudos to anyone, then refer the matter to the war expenditures committee. It may be said that I am prejudiced because I am on the war expenditures committee, but I should like to remind the house of the manner in which this committee functions.
As one illustration I shall quote from one of our reports. When we investigated the operations of the British Commonwealth air training plan in 1941 we checked the efficiency and cost of operating the elementary flying training schools and the air observer schools. The meetings were held in camera, and I have no right to refer to any evidence that was given, but I have the fullest possible right to read from the report of the committee. The short extract from the report which I shall read will indicate clearly to the house the basis upon which the war expenditures committee faces
any problem in regard to the waste of public money. I am reading from a report dated November 3, 1941, later tabled in the house, as follows:
The subcommitte has carefully considered the question of profits which will be earned by the operating companies.
This refers to the air observer schools.
Partly on account of highly efficient management and partly on account of the pupil intake as fixed by the contract being increased without proportionate increase in management costs it was found that substantial profits were being earned.
What did the committee do? Did they blazon across Canada in the press of this country that the air observer schools and the elementary flying training schools were being operated at a profit three or four times greater than they should receive? Of course we did not do that. What would that have done to the morale of the staffs of these schools which were doing such a wonderful job? We approached the problem in a businesslike manner.
The subcommittee fully appreciates the fact that the air observer schools are being very efficiently managed and that these schools are performing an important war task and also appreciates the fact that measures of economy should not be permitted to slow up our war effort but as the actual circumstances have altered sharply since the contract was first entered into the subcommittee decided that a conference should be called of executive officers representing all of the schools, that the facts should be frankly placed before them and their cooperation invited. The conference was held on June 4 and as a result the operating companies have all voluntarily offered to agree to a reduction of what is described in the agreement as flying hour profits from $1 per flying hour to 35 cents per flying hour.
That was a reduction of approximately sixty-five per cent in the profits of the air observer schools. That was done without any publicity, without any detrimental effect upon the operation of the schools. It was done immediately, and in part the reduction was made voluntarily on a retroactive basis. That is the way the war expenditures committee functions, and that is the way I submit that it should function. It is not our job to do any mud slinging; it is not our job to slow up the war effort, but it is our job to search out any waste and to see that it is cured and cured as quickly as possible.
My hon. friend made a speech, but I thank him for his interruption because it reminds me of something. I quote now from his remarks of yesterday, as reported on page 2823 of Hansard:
Expenditures of five or six billion dollars have been made, and to date the war expenditures committee has not investigated an amount in excess of ten million dollars.
I was positively shocked when I heard that statement. I could not believe my ears. From the inception of the committee I have been chairman of subcommittee No. 1 and I know something of the work of that committee. To make a statement that the whole committee in its two years of service has checked less than ten million dollars of expenditures is simply shocking. I should like to give a short account of what one subcommittee, one-third of the whole committee, has done.
This very last year, 1942, we carefully checked the aircraft programme in this country, a programme running into over 81,000 million. We called into the committee every contract for the production of aeroplanes that has been given in Canada since the outbreak of war. These contracts, totalling over SI,000 million, were divided among the members of the committee, who studied them carefully and reported individually on each contract to the committee. We were not content with that. We called in the director of aircraft production and the solicitors who helped to negotiate these contracts, also five accountants representing the three hundred odd accountants who are constantly busy in the Department of Munitions and Supply auditing, cost accounting and the like, and on top of that, Mr. Speaker, your subcommittee visited every plant manufacturing aeroplanes in Canada, except one. At the time of our visit we took evidence from the executive officers, the manager and secretary-treasurer of these plants. That whole production programme was carefully checked, and notwithstanding the fact that we had two Conservative members on the committee and one Social Credit member, all of whom made a real contribution to the work of the committee, we brought in a unanimous report.
In addition to that, we checked the work of wartime housing, -which at the time of our check ran into an expenditure of over forty million dollars, and we brought in a unanimous report on that.
I would refer hon. members to the report. Personally I think it was a complete one down to date. If my hon. friend has anything to add. I know he will not be too bashful to say it.
In spite of the fact that one-third of the membership of the committee last year checked over one thousand million dollars of expenditure, the hon. member had the temerity yesterday afternoon to rise in his place in this house and state that the reason why the present charges of extravagance should not be referred to the war expenditures committee was that we had so far checked less than ten million dollars of expenditure. I say to him in all sincerity that the temporary advantage which he obtained when making that statement yesterday afternoon is far out-weighed by the remorse he must now feel.