September 15, 1903

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The PRIME MINISTER.

Hear, hear.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

That is what I call responsibility. But I will say this to my right hon. friend: He is always inviting us to move. We have moved a great deal; we moved for a whole year for some information on this railway, and we cannot keep moving eternally. But my position on this subject is perfectly clear and it requires no motion.

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The MINISTER OF FINANCE.

My hon. friends are not going to move, they are going to stay right there.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

This is the first time I have seen the Minister of Finance get a little angry, and when he gets angry he takes our position seriously. Last evening he brushed aside the leader of the opposition for having offered some amendments, and the same with the hon. member for Hamilton (Mr. Barker). Those hon. gentlemen were serious enough, but the acting Minister of Railways brushed them aside as if they were so much trash. But to-day he seems to be more serious because he is getting angry. I will tell my right hon. friend this, that the position I take, and which I think has been taken by other members of this committee, is perfectly clear. We object to paying $100,000 to a commission of men who will be entirely dependent on the government. I say if the government are going to do the work that way through the commission, they might as well do it themselves.

But if they will give to that commission a character of independence, a character which is given in England to the judges, and which is held here by our Auditor General, a character of permanency during good conduct, and subject to dismissal only upon an address of both Houses of parliament, then I will vote for that large expenditure. Their tenure of office will then be totally different, and I will be prepared to agree to that expenditure, because the myth which the right hon. gentleman held up at the commencement of our examination of this Bill, that this project was only going to cost $13,000,000, has disappeared, we do not hear of it any more. It is going to cost $100,000,000. That is one-third of the present debt of the country ; but if it costs us $50,000,000 or $60,000,000, and that expenditure is put in charge of three independent men in the service of the government, revocable at will, then I think the money we pay them will be well spent. Now, what is the use of moving an amendment ? If the opposition were to make a motion of the nature mentioned by the right hon. gentleman, it would be brushed aside by the acting Minister of Railways and Canals, who has now recovered his good humour.

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Th MINISTER OF FINANCE.

I think I owe it to the hon. member for Jacques Cartier to tell him something that occurred during his temporary absence from the House, while the leader of the opposition and the hon. member for East York gave ns their views upon the necessity of carrying on the work by the government, and without any intervention of a commission. Their chief objection was that the government are going to shelter themselves behind this commission. What we wanted, they said, was not a commission at all; they wanted the government to do the work. Well, there is some degree of responsibility in this commission, because, as my hon. friend says, it will be appointed by the government and removable by the government. So there is government responsibility. But during the absence of my hon. friend- perhaps because he was absent-the hon. member for East York went on to explain that the attempt to carry cn the public expenditure through bodies which were not responsible to parliament, was a violation of all constitutional principles, and of the good old fashioned rule. Now, our commission will have a responsibility to government, and through the government to parliament. My hon. friend wants the commission-if he wants it at all, I am afraid he does not, at all events he says he won't move-he wants a commission which *will have all the independence of a judge. Let me tell him that -when he is teaching constitutional law' down there I am afraid, if he will permit me to advise him. that he will have to go a little further than the mere abstract theory, and he will have to Mr. MONK.

teach that this responsibility of judges to parliament is very largely a dream, because wTe know that practically there is no responsibility. There are judges who are neglecting their duties, there are judges who are too old, there are judges who are ill, and there are judges who are not performing their duties, and every man in this parliament knows it.

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CON
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The MINISTER OF FINANCE.

But it is not a practical remedy, it is not applied. We do not want that kind of responsibility in men who are going to expend many millions of public money.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

I say that if the government know of judges wrho are neglecting their duty in that way, it is the duty of the government to present their case to parliament. I am surprised to hear the Minister of Finance rise in this parliament and make the statement which he has made, and I repeat that if the government knows of such cases it is their duty to move in the matter. I think the argument which my right hon. friend has presented to the House ought to be embalmed for ever ; it is this, that the judges are not responsible to parliament because parliament has the right to remove them _ from office. That argument put in another form amounts to this, that parliament has a right to remove judges by an address to the Crown, therefore, parliament has no control whatever over the judges. That is the view presented to this House by the Prime Minister of this country. I think that my hon. friend from Jacques Cartier has not contravened any principles of constitutional law by teaching, as he says he has done for many years, the exactly contrary doctrine in Laval University.

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The PRIME MINISTER.

I am no less surprised, indeed I am still more surprised than my hon. friend, to hear the two leading lights of the opposition lay down the doctrine that the judges are responsible to parliament. The judges are removable by an address of parliament. For what cause ? Not for an error of judgment, but simply for malfeasance, for some ease of gross misconduct, and causes of that kind. But a judge is perfectly free on the bench, lie is free to do wrong, because he is responsible only to his conscience, and parliament has no power over him in the character of his judgments. Will my hon. friend apply the same d ctrine to any official of this government, or to any man wffio has the spending of public money ? If an officer of this government spends money, although he spends it conscientiously, in a manner which is not approved of by parliament, parliament can dismiss him at once for making an error in judgment. Would the same doctrine apply to a judge ? Where would be the boasted independence of British judges

if they were answerable to parliament for every decision they gave whether it should he right or wrong. A judge's decision is always held to be right and in so far as they are superior to parliament they have a distinction which is unique. We have a famous example in British history where one of the most eminent members of the British judiciary was taken to task by parliament for malfeasance. Really I cannot understand how my hon. friend, who is a leading lawyer, an excellent lawyer and a professor in Laval should take this position.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

I have no doubt in his youthful days, he, my right hon. friend recognized the doctrine taught so well by my hon. friend the hon. member for Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk) but it is quite evident that a long course of political life has prevented him from appreciating the doctrine which no doubt he understood in his earlier days. Who is to judge when parliament proposes to deal with judicial officers ? Is there any appeal from parliament ? None whatever. Parliament can deal with these officers when a complaint is laid before parliament. Parliament is the last court of resort in a case of that kind. Parliament can deal with judges upon any such condition of affairs arising as has been stated by the hon. Minister of Finance (Hon. Mr. Fielding) and can deal with them without further resort except the resort of an appeal to the people whenever a general election comes on.

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN.

I do not know whether this is quite germane to the subject but it is a resolution introduced into the Liberal convention of 1893, and it reads as follows :

That it is the ancient and undoubted right of the House of Commons to inquire into all matters of public expenditure, and into all charges of misconduct in office against ministers of the Crown, and the reference of such matters to royal commissions created upon the advice of the accused is at variance with the due responsibility of ministers to the House of Commons and tends to weaken the authority of the House over the executive government, and this convention affirms that the powers of the people's representatives in this regard should on all fitting occasions be upheld.

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The PRIME MINISTER.

That is sound doctrine.

Mr, MACLEAN. That may be sound doctrine, but, while specific reference is here made to the investigation of charges against ministers, it is a declaration against the reference of such questions to commissions.

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The PRIME MINISTER.

I will not read the Toronto ' World ' any more.

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN.

The right hon. gentleman is taunting me to-day with upholding Liberal doctrines and it seems to me that I am the only one in this House who stands up for wliat was preached years ago by lion, gentlemen opposite. If there is any

doctrine that they preached it was the doctrine of responsible government. Why have two instruments to carry out responsible government in this country ? If we have a responsible government why an irresponsible commission ? Why this unnecessary expenditure ? I stand up -to-day for responsible government. I stand up for holding a minister and the entire government responsible for the administration of this money and for the building of this road. We will have the work better carried out if we have good ministers. If we charge the Minister of Railways and Canals with the duty of directing the expenditure of this money we will then be able to hold the minister responsible and he will not he able to shelter himself behind a commission as be will be in this case. He will not say that this was done under a commission, a commission that can receive instructions, to use a popular phrase, on the side from the government. It will not be a commission that will have power to act independently of the government. It will be a creature of the government. Why have a commission in this case ? I justify the commission that has been established to carry out the administration of the railway law in this country and to regulate the roads. I say the government have done a good thing in bringing in the Bill providing for the creation of that commission this session, but, this is not a similar -commission. This is the creation of a commission to expend public money. If this is to be done in this case why not have a commission to take charge of the expenditure upon canals ? There is to be a large expenditure proposed this session and there will be a large expenditure proposed in the future in connection with the improvements of canals and harbours and if there is any expenditure made by Ibis parliament that cannot he justified it is the expenditure voted this session for certain river and harbour improvements. If we bad a commission above political influence that would administer an expenditure of that kind it would be justified, but it has not been proposed to appoint a commission to supervise this wasteful expenditure that is going on in connection with the harbour and river improvements. The government ought to give us a clear cut declaration whether it is their intention to enlarge tlie expenditure of money by commission. Why do we want all these ministers ? We could do with a less number of ministers if tlie expenditure were entrusted to commissioners. Is it the intention of the government to extend this principle into every department of public expenditure and if so why do they extend it to the expenditure upon canals and harbour improvements where there is to be even as large an expenditure as is proposed in connection with this railway ? Surely we are entitled to have a statement from the government upon that I point.

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The MINISTER OF JUSTICE.

I presume we are now called upon to deal with section 9 of the Bill and I want to say a word about it. Section 9 was adapted from tlie Bill which provides for the construction of the Intercolonial Railway and I would also say for the special information of my hon. friend from Jacques Cartier (air. Monk) that it was taken likewise from the Act introduced in the Quebec legislature to provide for the construction of the Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and Occidental Railway in 1S75 by the Conservative government. In respect to the Intercolonial Railway and the Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and Occidental Railway, commissioners were appointed during pleasure and it is not to my knowledge that any complaint was ever made of the tenure of office of these commissioners.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

My hon. friend said that we were dealing with section 9. I suppose he meant section 16.

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The MINISTER OF JUSTICE.

We ought to deal with section 16 but we are really dealing with section 9 because the question has reference to section 9 which provides for the appointment of commissioners and their tenure of office. We ought to be dealiug with section 16 but my hon. friend from Jacques Cartier went back to section 9 by mistake.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

At some convenient time-it does not matter when-I would like my hon. friend to reconsider for a few moments section 13. Perhaps it may be done when we dispose of this.

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The MINISTER OF JUSTICE.

We might as well do it now.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

I would move then the reconsideration of section 13.

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September 15, 1903