April 29, 1901

SALARIES OF JUDGES.


House went into committee to consider the following proposed resolution : That it is expedient to amend the Act respecting the judges of provincial courts and to provide as follows :- 1. That the salary of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the North-west Territories shall be $5,000, and of the four puisne judges of the said court each $4,000 per annum. 2. That the salary of an additional judge of the Territorial Court of the Yukon territory shall be $5,000 per annum. 3. That the salaries of the seventeen puisne judges of the Superior Court of Quebec, whose residences are fixed at Montreal or Quebec (including the judge to whom the district of Terrebonne is assigned), shall be each $5,000 per annum.-Hon. Mr. Fitzpatrick.


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The SOLICITOR GENERAL.

The first part of the resolution provides for an increase of $1,000 in the salary of the Chief Justice of the North-west Territories. There .are at present five puisng judges, receiving $4,000 each. The intention is to appoint one of them Chief Justice and increase his salary to $5,000.

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN.

Can we not press on the government at this time to give an answer to the question as to the salaries of the judges of this country generally ? I am ready to place myself on record as being in favour of a substantial increase in the sal-

aries of the judges of the Superior Court, not only of Ontario, but of every other province where it can be justified. From what X have read in the press and from conversations I have had with different parties, I have been led to understand that some such legislation was to be introduced this session. At all events, now that the session is coming to an end, I would be glad to have the government give us a statement whether or not they intend taking up that legislation this session. It has been canvassed more or less in different portions of the country, and an answer from the government would settle it in one way or the other. It is no good leaving it open. Speaking for myself, I am altogether in favour of increasing the salaries of our judges. You will get a higher class of men to take the positions if you pay them better. There is nothing in English jurisprudence which is so much in favour of England as the way she pays her judges. The large salaries she has paid them stand not only to the credit lof the country, but have secured a high class of judges. There is also a strong movement in the United tSates in favour of paying higher salaries to the judges of the United States courts, and it is supported almost from one end of the country to the other. If we are having a growing time, and if the cost of living has increased, as it has, then the argument applies not only to judges, but to others in the service, and it may have to be carried out on a rather large scale. I know it is a difficult question, and it will tax the energy of the Finance Minister to carry it out ; but I think we should have some statement from the government on this important matter now, when this resolution is going through.

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CON

Edward Gawler Prior

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. Mr. PRIOR.

I am heartily in accord with the remarks that have fallen from the lips of the hon. gentleman who has just taken his seat. If we are to get the best men to take the positions of judges, and we should do so, we should pay them salaries which will induce them to leave their ^ practice to take seats on the bench. It will be satisfactory to the country to know that the judges whom they look to as men they can implicitly trust, are getting salaries on which they can decently live. I have a resolution, passed unanimously in the legislative assembly of British Columbia on the 27th of August, 1900, which I have been requested to lay before the House. It is as follows :

Whereas, in the opinion of this House it is apparent :-

That the work of the courts of British Columbia is rapidly increasing, latterly to such an extent that it became necessary to create three new registries of the Supreme Court during the year 1899, and five new registries during the present year ;

And that the five judges of the Supreme Court of British Columbia are constantly called upon, in the discharge of their duties, to adjudicate upon matters of magnitude, especially where mining interests are concerned ;

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And that the questions coming before the said judges for adjudication are, as regards the weight of litigation in the other provinces, out of all proportion to the population in this province ;

And that, in addition to the duties above referred to, the said judges were last year constituted a court of appeal from the Territorial Court of the Yukon, without any provision having been made for remuneration for such extra duties ;

And that the judges of the provinces of Ontario and Quebec who occupy positions corresponding to those of the judges of our Supreme Court are paid by the Dominion government $1,000 per annum more than the judges of this province, although the cost of living here is much greater than the cost of living there, with the result that salaries of the judges here are, in effect, further reduced by at least 25 per cent ;

And that the principle of an increase of salary as a fair compensation for an increase in the cost of living has been recently recognized by the Dominion government in the case of the judges of the Yukon Territory by making them an extra allowance of $1,500 per annum in consequence of the great cost of living there ;

And whereas, this House is of opinion that it is unfair that our judges should, in respect of compensation, be placed on a worse footing than the judges of Ontario and Quebec occupying corresponding positions as above mentioned ;

Therefore, be it resolved that an humble address be presented to His Excellency the Governor General of Canada, praying that the judges of the Supreme Court of British Columbia be placed on the same footing, as regards salary, as the judges holding corresponding positions in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

Unanimously passed on August 27, 1900.

I would ask the right hon. the leader of the government or the hon. the Solicitor General what reason can be given why the Supreme Court judges of British Columbia should not be just as well paid as those of Quebec and Ontario. If the reason given is because the cost of living is greater in these provinces, that is no argument at all, because the contrary is the case. I do not say that the expense of living is greater than in Montreal or Toronto, where house rents are dear, but taking it all round, it is higher in British Columbia than in either of these provinces. Again, surely the gentlemen on the bench in British Columbia are equally as intelligent individually, equally as capable of carrying out their duties, as the judges of any other province. I think it is well worthy the consideration of the government that not only the judges of British Columbia should receive higher salaries, but that all the judges in Canada should have larger stipends, but in any case I feel strongly that the judges of British Columbia should be as well paid as those in the other provinces.

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The PRIME MINISTER.

This subject of the salaries of judges is not new to this House by any means. It has had the attention of several successive governments and parliaments. Sir John Thompson, in my recollection, introduced a measure, at least v twice, to provide for the Increase of the

salaries of judges, but after having introduced the resolution, he did not proceed with it for reasons which he did not indicate to the House, but I presume because of the opposition within the ranks of his own party. As far as I am concerned, at the time, when I was sitting on the opposite side of the House, I was prepared to support such a measure. But the whole subject is not without difficulties. There is a general opinion throughout the land that the present salaries, which were established some forty years ago, are inadequate to the present conditions. But while this opinion prevails, it is not at all a unanimous one, and whenever the subject was taken up in previous years there have been contradictory opinions expressed. The hon. member for East York (Mr. Maclean) thinks, perhaps with some propriety, that we should take example after England, who has not only been generous, but more than generous, in her treatment of judges. There is no country under the sun which deals with its judges as England does. The policy is on the whole a wise one, but I doubt if you would find in Canada public opinion ready to support an increase in the salaries on the scale paid in England. If we are to increase the salaries at all, it can be only on a moderate scale, for I do not think public opinion would justify anything else. The difficulty is not so much to provide for an increase as to scale such an increase. It is supposed that judges have more to do in the larger provinces than in the other provinces. Some judges in Montreal have much more to do than those in some of the other provinces. As to British Columbia I do not know how far the judges are busy, but I would presume that in such a growing province, judicial business must increase as well as every other kind, and that the judges there have a great deal more to do than in some of the other provinces which have a larger population. It is generally admitted that in British Columbia the cost of living is perhaps higher than in any other part of the Dominion. All these things are to be taken into consideration. In the maritime provinces the judges are not paid on an even scale. In Prince Edward Island they have less pay than in any other province, and it is supposed that in'that island there is less judicial litigation and business than in other parts of the Dominion. The difficulty which Sir John Thompson found, and which still exists and confronts the present Minister of Justice, is how to provide an adequate scale of increase, if there is to be an increase at all. I do not think that if the government were to introduce a measure for an indiscriminate increase of the salaries, such a measure would be acceptable. I believe that if there is to be such an increase at all, it must be graduated in some way or other and not made uniform. I do

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LATJRIER.

not know that the House would support us in a measure to increase the salaries all round all through the different provinces, $1,000, $1,500 or $2,000. Parliament would expect that there should be some degree of graduation, and there is really where the difficulty lies. I do* not know that parliament would deal illiberally. On the contrary, if I can judge by the observations to-night, parliament would be rather disposed to favour an increase of the present salaries, but the difficulty is how to graduate it. This is a matter which has been and is still engaging the attention of the Minister of Justice, but at present I am sorry to say I am not in a position to give any definite answer to my hon. friend.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

The difficulty is very much in the line the right hon. gentleman has pointed out. Some instances have been brought to my own attention iu the province of Ontario, of county court judges there who receive very inadequate salaries, considering the responsibility they have and the amount of work they perform. On the other hand, I am free to confess that I do know one or two instances at least in Canada where probably the judge gets all that is necessary, and where he enjoys a position very desirable, having regard to the amount of work he does and the amount of ability required to perform it. Therefore, as the right hon. gentleman has pointed out, if I understand him correctly, it is the very great difficulty of dealing with this matter in detail, that confronts any government that undertakes to deal with it. I might point out in this connection that the salaries of the Supreme Court judges in my own province seem to me very inadequate-and that applies also to New Brunswick where, I think, the salaries are the same. A Supreme Court judge in Nova Scotia receives just $400 more than the amount voted to-night for the senior Circuit Court judge in the city of Montreal, whose jurisdiction extends only up to the sum of $100, both in contract and in tort. The latter receives $3,600, and a judge of the Supreme Court of the province of Nova Scotia receives $4,000. It is true that his salary is augmented to some extent by some allowances for travelling which are, perhaps, in excess of what is actually paid.

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The SOLICITOR GENERAL.

He will not get rich on that.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

As my hon. friend (Hon. Mr. Fitzpatrick) says, he will not get rich on that. I think the salary is very inadequate, considering the ability called for by a position of that kind, the style in which one in such a position is expected to live, and the responsibility which such a position entails. I should be very glad to give most favourable consideration to any measure of this kind which the government may see fit to bring down, reserving, of course,

my right to criticise matters of detail, as I may think they should he criticised.

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IND

Robert Lorne Richardson

Independent

Mr. RICHARDSON (Lisgar).

I wish to say a word on behalf of the bench of Manitoba. The argument that my hon. friend from British Columbia (Hon. Mr? Prior) brought forward with regard to the cost of living in British Columbia applies with equal, if not greater, force to the province of Manitoba. Living has always been high there, insomuch that an extra allowance is made to civil servants for the cost of living. While our bench is not large, it is composed of very able men. I believe the feeling in the province is that the bench should be adequately remunerated. There are thousands of men engaged in mercantile pursuits and professional life who make two or three times what the judges make, and I do not think I do them injustice in saying that many of them do not possess a tithe of the ability that the judges do. In my opinion, an increase of the salaries of the judges would be justified and appreciated in the province of Manitoba.

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN.

I hope that the government is seriously trying to solve this problem. Even though Sir John Thompson found he could not do it, that is no reason why parliament should not approach the question and try to solve it by paying higher salaries to those who are entitled to them. I believe that a way can be found to do this with the approval of the country. But, the government should go so far as to say that they recognize that the judges should be paid more than they are paid to-day, and that at an early day they intend to bring forward a measure in that direction. I believe the country is prepared to vote the money, and I venture to say that if we do not pay our judges better than we do, we shall get an inferior class of men on the bench. If there is anything this country can rely upon it is the courts. Some of our political institutions are not improved, I am sorry to say. I would not like to see the dignity of the courts lowered or a less able class of men presiding in them. But, the only way to get good men is to pay decent salaries.

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CON

William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT.

So far as Ontario is concerned, the trouble, I believe, is in the number of county court judges. There is a strong feeling in the province of Ontario- and I am speaking as a lawyer knowing the prejudice against a lawyer speaking strongly in such a matter-against the number of county court judges. I have here the returns for the province of Ontario for last year. In the country of Oxford a junior county judge was appointed the other day. There were five cases tried with a jury, and three without a jury last year. In the united counties of Dundas and Glengarry, there were eleven actions tried in the year. There has recently been a junior county court judge appointed there also. In the county of Welland, there were only two

actions tried in the whole year. I am not sure whether there is a junior judge there or not. In the county of Lincoln there were three actions tried in the year. In the county of Victoria, five actions were tried in the year. There was a junior judge appointed there a year or so ago.

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The SOLICITOR GENERAL.

Does that return give the statistics for the division courts ?

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CON

William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT.

No. This does not include the division court. It is a notorious fact that in Ontario there are county court judges that have practically nothing to do yet they are paid these large salaries, running as high as $2,600 for the county court judge, and $2,000 to $2,4u0 for the junior judge. On the other hand, while there are Superior Court judges-and I am going to speak plainly-who, I believe, never had a professional income as high as that they now enjoy, there are others on the Superior Court bench who, if in active practice, instead of making $6,000 a year, would be making $20,000 a year. There is the difficulty of the position-how to reconcile all these things. I believe the Superior Court judges are entitled to higher salaries. But, if this increase is to be given, there should be an accompanying policy of retrenchment-and this must begin, I believe, with the county court judges.

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CON

James Clancy

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLANCY.

How could they live on smaller salaries ?

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CON

William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT.

What I propose is to reduce the number. If the matter is figured out, it will be found that some of these county court judges receive as high as $4,000 a year. The salary is from $2,000 to $2,600, and there are in addition fees in the Surrogate Court which, in the large counties, run up to large amounts. I am sure I am within the mark when I say that in the province of Ontario you will find county court judges who are earning easily as high as $3,500 a year. Now I believe sincerely that there should be higher money paid to the Superior Court judges. It will be hard to put them all into a class because they are not in a class. It cannot be expected that every man will be in the same order ; but any one who is conversant with the judges in the province of Ontario know that there are men to-day on the bench who, were they practising, would be leaders of the bar, and would easily earn an income of $20,000. At the same time, there are others who probably would not earn $5,000 in their profession. The whole trouble I believe lies In this prejudice that has been worked up in the public against these county court judges who, from one end of the province to the other, are to be found practically doing nothing most of the year round. I don't blame the present government for having made these appointments of junior judges, the last government was equally

culpable, and until we bave a reform in the matter of the appointment of judges I think we must start out and cut down the' number of county court judges, then we will have more money to pay for the Superior Court judges.

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The PRIME MINISTER.

My bon. friend forgets a very important factor in this question. He blames us for having appointed too many county court judges. But he is aware that we have no discretion in this matter. The organization of the courts is in the jurisdiction of the provincial legislature, and when a provincial legislature organizes a court and says it shall be composed of so many judges, I do not see, unless we engage in a very difficult controversy with the legislature, how we are to avoid giving effect to their legislation by appointing the judges. The constitution) in this matter is very complicated, as we know. The constitution of the courts is in the power of the provincial legislature, while the selection of the judges is in the bands of the Federal government, and their payment in the hands of the Federal parliament. So when we appoint these judges we are simply performing what I would call, not a ministerial, but a constitutional duty. If the number of those county court judges in the province of Ontario is to be reduced, the work of reform has to be done by the local legislature and not by us.

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CON

James Clancy

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHANCY.

That was done for a short period, and then you) went back to the old system. I believe there was some substantial reason for that.

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The PRIME MINISTER.

I hope they were very good reasons.

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April 29, 1901