February 19, 1915 (12th Parliament, 5th Session)


John Howard Sinclair



I do not. I propose two years' imprisonment, which is a much milder form of punishment; but it will be fqr the Minister of Marine, if he thinks the penalty is not severe enough, to ask the House to add to it.
In the Ottawa Evening Journal of the 12th of January reference is made to a letter from a prominent Canadian officer at Salisbury, whose name for obvious reasons is withheld, in the course of which he says:
Outside of certain discomforts, we get plenty, and all that money can buy, but I would ask you to appeal to the Government contractors with a view to touching their sense of honour. It seems to me that all they care about is to produce some kind of article that has appearance. They evidently do not stop to consider that these sons of Canada are roughing it for the specific purpose of fighting, and sacrificing their all In order to defend these same contractors' factories and personal liberty. The principal trouble has been in boots, and it is not fair to the soldier to allow these contractors to reap a harvest at his expense. An officer is in a position to purchase his own equipment, but the man behind the gun must take what he is served out with. Of course, there have been some good boots issued, which have been manufactured by a certain two firms, but the others are absolutely unserviceable after a few days' wear.
No later than yesterday morning I myself received a letter from a person who wished me to inform the inspector of military stores that shoddy blankets were being manufactured for the Government at Toronto. I do not know whether that is true or not, but the person who wrote me said it was true. I did not know who the inspector was or to whom I should go. It is well, I think, to have these contractors understand that while they may be able to deceive the department and sell them shoddy and useless stuff for the present, there is a day of reckoning ahead, that these things generally come out; and, that when fraud is discovered they will be liable to criminal prosecution. I think that such a provision would deter many people from undertaking a crime of that kind. All the money that we spend should be well spent at a time like this. Money, as we all know, 20
is the sinews^of war. The Finance Minister has his own troubles in securing enough cash to carry on our share of this dreadful conflict, and every dollar should be used to the very best advantage. Everybody remembers the scandals in Europe at the' time of the Crimean war. The soldiers suffered in the trenches before Sebastopol because defective clothing, blankets and boots were furnished to them by worthless contractors in Great Britain, who were reaping a rich harvest from contracts. The facts all came out later on. People ought to be punished for a crime of this character in connection with military affairs. The German spy who secures information for his government and is paid for it suffers death; but he is a gentleman compared with the Canadian contractor who, when his country is engaged in such a desperate struggle as the present, when the life and the future of the Empire and of civilization are at stake, plots and schemes to defraud the Government by selling shoddy blankets or boots, or a spavined horse, or something of that kind.
I think that no penalty is too severe for men who do these things, and I hope the Minister of Justice will aid me in placing either this provision or a provision of this ' kind on the Canadian statute-book.

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