George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)
If you want to know, the Minister of Trade and Commerce, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of National Health and Welfare are the three to whom I was referring. In wartime there have been reasons why people raise objections to secret sessions. It was suggested that in a certain secret session information was given out, but secret sessions at a time like this are quite different. Anything that is given out is not going to be given out to the press of the country, and the press would not carry it if they did get the information. Anything that came to them they would know was secret information. Certainly the press of this country have the highest regard for the importance of the things under consideration.
If we are to take seriously the suggestion that these things cannot be considered in this house, then on that basis, and on that basis alone, I urge the government to assure us that we shall have a secret session at which the state of our national defence can be fully discussed and at which every hon. member with personal knowledge of the situation, and there are many who have that knowledge, will be able to place before the Department of National Defence and the government and members of the house suggestions as to what can be done, and they will also be able to receive information which apparently they will not be given in this house.
In making this suggestion I urge the Minister of National Defence to recognize that members of this house are anxious to see something done and are anxious to co-operate. There is no desire to rake through the past; there is a desire only to make sure that in facing the future the mistakes of the past will not be continued. There are in this house many gallant members with experience in the different branches of the service who could make up as efficient a committee as I am sure could be found in any legislative body within the fellowship of free nations. Those men could be trusted to deal with this subject if they were in turn empowered by that session to proceed with the information; or if they were empowered by an open session of the house, that would be the second stage.
The first stage would be to take the step which would make it possible for all of us to get information we do not now possess and upon which the collective good sense of this house can be brought to bear in the interests of the strengthening of our defences.