I have very strong objections to allowing a judge or a quasi judge to practise his profession. The effect is often to send people to the office of the justice of the peace or his partner in cases which might properly come before the court, but which, when they went there, never did come before it. I think the best course is to pay a good officer to be a police magistrate, and not let him touch law in any other way. If he is a good man, I am sure that is the only way of keeping him free from suspicion ; and if he is not a good man, we do not want him.
Not if he has no civil jurisdiction; but if he has, the same reason applies, and in a stronger degree; because he might be able to arrange matters as another lawyer could not. I see no reason to prevent a police magistrate practising in the civil courts if he has no civil jurisdiction; but if he has civil jurisdiction, then civil cases should not be entertained by him or his partner. In the province of Ontario, in the early days of masters in chancery in the country, masters and their partners were allowed to practise and also to occupy the position of master in chancery; but that was eventually changed, owing to troubles and suspicions that arose.
I remember very well the stipendiary magistrates in my native town having both criminal jurisdiction and also civil jurisdiction up to small amounts. That was the case for thirty years at least, and I do not remember a case in which their right to practise in the superior courts was ever questioned.
The jurisdiction is more extensive in civil matters than the jurisdiction of the county court judges of the province of Nova Scotia, who, I think, would be surprised if they were allowed to practise in the superior courts.
I wish to add my word to the view that magistrates should not be allowed to practise. If you allow a magistrate possessing this extensive jurisdiction to practise in the courts, I venture to say that within six months you will have a lot of complaints on your hands. I say, give him a good salary, and debar him from practising, especially in that country where he would not probably be required to act according to the rules of etiquette to the same extent that he would in the older provinces.
The experience demanded by this section does not appear to be very great. I suppose the hon. gentleman has considered that carefully, and has the sanction of the Minister of Justice for this provision.
I may say that it embodies the view of the Minister of Justice after careful consideration. I cannot see that a requirement that a man would be a barrister of five years' standing would be much more protection to the public than a requirement that he should be one of three years' standing.
I cannotj form any opinion as to how much work they have to do, but it does seem to me an extraordinary departure from the usual practice followed in the older provinces to give a police magistrate control over such an important amount of judicial or civil work. This certainly would require much higher qualifications than is exacted by this section. The police magistrate need only have read a small amount of law and have only practised as advocate or solicitor three years, and in that experience the majority of gentlemen likely to be up there would have acquired but little knowledge.
The chief difficulty is that the judges are very much overworked and pressure has been brought on the government to appoint additional judges. As is the case in all new districts, a large amount of litigation has accumulated, which in all probability will be pretty well thinned out in a year or two. and the government have hesitated about, increasing the number of judges, because once the number is increased it is practically impossible to reduce it. Then, except in summer there is practically no communication between White Horse and Dawson City. Dux'ing the long winter the only communication is over the ice, and the expense of sending a judge and the necessary paraphernalia from Dawson to White Horse, besides the exposure to the weather, presents a great obstacle to holding a circuit court. The idea of the Minister of Justice was to appoint a police magistrate at White Horse who would have this jurisdiction, but the police magistrate at Dawson at least after the first short while, would only have criminal jurisdiction and civil jurisdiction in trifling cases.