April 29, 1949

PC

William Earl Rowe

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Rowe:

That is one thing that had better be left for the new parliament.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

That is one that is not covered by that undertaking. But also there is the fact that the government had bought equipment, material and other things which they had paid certain prices for. It would have been very interesting to have obtained evidence before the public accounts committee as to the fraction of the original cost of this material and equipment which was bought by the new company and which therefore made it possible in some way to give an appearance of costs on the new machines, which are not related to the actual over-all costs to the Canadian public when you go back to the beginning of the contract relating to the production of these North Star machines.

One of the witnesses who would have been called before the public accounts committee is a Mr. B. W. Moncur of Montreal who was the management engineer of that company. In February of 1947 when the management company was handed over to the Electric Boat Company, which was acquiring control through the purchase of stock, a careful estimate was made of what the total cost of this North Star aircraft would be. The figure that was estimated at that time for these forty-four aircraft was $57,500,000. Those figures were figures arrived at by a group of which Mr. Moncur was one; and Mr. Moncur would have been called as a witness beiore the public accounts committee to state

Aircraft

what these aircraft really cost the Canadian people.

The fact is that if these aircraft are being sold to T.C.A. at the figure that has been mentioned, then of course the higher cost on the other aircraft is being absorbed by the R.C.A.F. That would be the only way that this could be done.

Now that produces this result: if the twenty pressurized aircraft sold to T.C.A. had in fact cost T.C.A. $660,000 each, as has been said, that would amount to $13,200,000; and that would leave $43,800,000 as the cost to the Canadian people of the twenty-four planes supplied to the R.C.A.F. This would mean a cost per plane of approximately $1,820,000, or approximately three times what those machines could have been bought for from the Douglas company in the first place.

These are the figures and, after all, this is the sort of thing that should be examined by a public accounts committee, so that that committee could find out just how this transaction had been carried out, and how it has been that ministers of the crown have given in the house answers which suggest a very different state of affairs.

We have in this country a number of aircraft plants which during the war produced aircraft which compared favourably with any aircraft manufactured anywhere in the world.

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LIB

George James McIlraith (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Mcllraith:

The North Star compares favourably with anything manufactured anywhere in the world.

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PC
LIB

George James McIlraith (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Mcllraiih:

Yes, it does.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Obviously the hon. member has not studied the records in his own department if he says that.

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LIB

George James McIlraith (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Mcllraith:

The North Star compares favourably with anything in its line in the world. And the best evidence of that is-

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Nothing could better illustrate the need for an inquiry into this subject before the public accounts committee than that uninformed statement which has just been made.

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PC
PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Yesterday, Mr. Speaker, when this subject was before the House of Commons for discussion I urged that we have an opportunity to receive full information in regard to this matter, in view of the fact that twenty-four of these aircraft have been allocated to the R.C.A.F., and are part of the equipment of that force-except those which are in storage or are inhibited.

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Aircraft

The time has passed for any false sense of loyalty to a particular company or a particular contract to disguise what the truth really is. If the hon. member makes with conviction the statement he has just made- and I accept it on that basis-then he obviously has not been informed of the recommendation of many of the pilots flying these aircraft. Because if he were informed he would know that for some time past pilots have been recommending that the Pratt and Whitney motor be put in those aircraft so that they can give better flying service.

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LIB

George James McIlraith (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Mcllraith:

Do you want to sell Pratt and Whitney engines? Is that it?

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

That, Mr. Chairman, is exactly the type of specious argument that has hidden the truth about this thing all the way through. If the hon. member is so concerned about the use of American engines, then why does the government not give the contract now to the Rolls-Royce Company to make the Ghost engines right here in Canada. If he believes that we should have our own aircraft production, then let him urge his department, in the absence of the minister, to adopt an aircraft which today stands as one of the finest fighter interceptors ever produced, and let him urge that a contract be given for the production of Rolls-Royce engines, as has been done in Australia, as has been done in Sweden, and has been done in other countries.

In so far as these machines are concerned, the pilots and aircrew of the T.C.A. are under the same kind of restraint as that to which I have already referred. But the department knows-even if the hon. member does not know-exactly what those pilots think about the kind of engine they should have.

Because the government has refused to permit examination in detail, then it does become necessary, as a duty in this House of Commons, to state what the facts are. When the hon. member says that these North Star aircraft are giving service comparable with similar four-engine aircraft used on the air routes of the world, then he simply indicates that he is not informed as to the details which he should have in regard to the operation of these aircraft.

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?

An hon. Member:

Are you?

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Yes, I am. And he would find, if he made careful examination, that these aircraft which are being used by T.C.A. are only being used in the air about one-third of the number of hours that Constellations, DC-6's and other similar four-engine aircraft are being used today by air lines throughout the world. And if he does not already know it, then let him check the files for February

and find out how many engine failures there were in the DC-4's in that month of February alone.

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LIB

George James McIlraith (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Mcllraith:

I have checked a lot of files about aircraft and I am fairly familiar with them.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Then if that is so you might inform the house as to the number of engine failures in the DC-4 aircraft.

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LIB

George James McIlraith (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Mcllraith:

I know your record in the past about recommendations with respect to aircraft.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

If you do, then you are better informed than I thought you were. The last time I was in Vancouver, and was coming east, I had an experience which is a common experience today with those flying on North Stars. I went out for the morning flight, as usual, and found that the plane was going to be some six hours late. The explanation was that one of the engines had gone out coming over the Rocky mountains the day before. But it was pointed out that this was quite a common experience.

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PC
PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

There are at least two hon. members-

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April 29, 1949