Bren Gun Scandal | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Bren Gun Scandal

When Canada prepared to produce Bren guns in the lead up to the Second World War, corruption allegations against the process were published. A royal commission was set up by the government but found no evidence of corruption.


Before the Second World War, the British government was anxious to acquire new, secure sources for weapons production. The Canadian government was reluctant to co-operate, fearing isolationist opinion, especially in Quebec. In 1938, however, the deputy minister and minister of national defence recommended a Canadian appliance manufacturer, John Inglis. As a result, the British and Canadian governments awarded his firm a contract for the production of Bren light machine guns.

Corruption Allegations

An article in Maclean's alleged that there was impropriety in the process. A royal commission was appointed. Although it found no evidence of corruption, it recommended that civilian business advice be sought in future. This report helped lead to civilian control over war production in the Second World War (see Department of Munitions and Supply). Bren gun production was very successful: some 200,000 were made in Canada.