June 3, 1946

PC

Douglas Gooderham Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. D. G. ROSS (St. Paul's):

Mr. Speaker, time is short, and I have only a few words to say. I rise to-night for only two or three reasons. In the first place, my honourable and jovial friend, the Minister of Veterans

Government Companies

Affairs (Mr. Mackenzie) said this afternoon that the speech made by the hon. member for Vancouver South (Mr. Green) was most stupid and fascist-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT COMPANIES
Subtopic:   OPERATIONS AND FINANCING-SUPERANNUATION AND PENSION PROVISIONS
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?

An hon. MEMBER:

No; fatuous.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT COMPANIES
Subtopic:   OPERATIONS AND FINANCING-SUPERANNUATION AND PENSION PROVISIONS
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PC

Douglas Gooderham Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. ROSS (St. Paul's):

I thought he said fascist, and I take exception to that. I must apologize if the minister did not say "fascist".

I thought my colleague from Vancouver South made a well-reasoned, plain and well-ordered speech, and my only complaint is as to the fact that the Minister of Veterans Affairs described the speech as stupid. After listening to him, the only conclusion I must come to is that the minister is much more stupid than the hon. member for Vancouver South.

Replying to the hon. member for Peterborough West (Mr. Fraser), the minister said that the bill did not allow the setting up of crown companies. Of course it does; at least as I see it it does. How can you run a company without getting money for it? That is what this bill does. It says that any of these companies may be formed under part I of the Companies Act. They can get money from this measure, up to a million dollars.

So that the minister can go on and on and on, creating company after company, without coming to parliament at all. He has the money for it right there; only it is just a million for each company. But he can have as many millions as he likes by creating companies.

I object to the bill because it is the inalienable right of a member of the House of Commons, one which dates back to the times of Charles II, to take one's grievance to the foot of the throne. Since that time a member of the House of Commons has been given that right. For instance, that is what we do when we pass the estimates, the current issue of which I hold in my hand. Why not have many more companies? For instance, let us look into these estimates and turn first to the Department of Agriculture. Why not have a company to control the experimental farm service? Had we such a company, the ministry would not have to come to parliament at all; the minister would just take the money.

Then, let us turn to the insurance branch. Let us have a little company for that branch. I could gQ on. We are keenly interested in this, because the minister says that these statements of the companies are brought down every year. I have not yet seen a statement of Wartime Housing Limited, nor do I know if one has ever been published. Of course we shall be told that everything is all right, and that we are doing it for a purpose. I do not know whether they operate at a profit or a loss.

Speaking about companies, the minister said that the system of bookkeeping was inadequate. Well, I have sat in the house for almost eleven years, and I have not yet found out whether the Post Office Department makes a profit or a loss. Money seems to go in one way and out the other. I do not know just how it is done.

Then, let us go on, because there is more here. For instance, as I have said, we shall have a little company to operate the post office, others to operate other departments. If we did, then they would not have to come to parliament for money, because they would simply get $500,000 to begin and another $500,000; that would be a million dollars between the two parts of the bill. Of course, that is just a start. When we get along a little farther they will be more ambitious; and when they find it so easy to get money in that way, without any kick from members, without any criticism on the estimates, they would just go on forming more companies.

I doubt if the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) would ever ask for a company to run his show, although I do not know about some of the other ministers. You see, first of all, we have ministers; then we have parliamentary assistants, and now the job is getting so big we are going to have boards of directors for these companies. Indeed, after a while we shall have more people directing companies than are employed by them.

I do not think we are far apart in this matter. The hon. member for Vancouver South put it plainly when he said that if the minister wishes to incorporate a company he should put it in the bill. Let him come to parliament with a separate bill for each company, in the regular way. What objection could there be to that? We could have discussion; it would always be out in the open, and no one would be subject to criticism. Then, too, we would be preserving our rights as members of the House of Commons.

I, for one, do not intend to give up my right to criticize when the government asks for money. That is a most precious right. We relinquished that right to a certain extent during the war, because at many times in those years we were very careful about our criticism of the government, and the government knows that very well. We in the opposition had to be careful of what we did, and even then we were called saboteurs of the war effort because sometimes we criticized what the government was doing.

On motion of Mr. Ross (St. Paul's) the debate was adjourned.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT COMPANIES
Subtopic:   OPERATIONS AND FINANCING-SUPERANNUATION AND PENSION PROVISIONS
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At eleven o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order. House oj Commons



Tuesday, June 4, 1946.


June 3, 1946