September 24, 1903

CON

John Dowsley Reid

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. REID (Grenville).

Well, they seemed to me to be merely political speeches. Otherwise would not the hon. gentleman have made suggestions similar to those he has made this evening ? The hon. gentleman has hardly been fair to the civil service in the past. .

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CON

George William Fowler

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOWLER.

I think it is only fair to congratulate the hon. junior member for Ottawa

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LIB
CON

George William Fowler

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOWLER.

I thought the hon. gentleman (Mr. Belcourt) was lower in the polling and that is why I called him junior. Well, it is only fair to congratulate the hon. senior member for Ottawa city (Mr. Belcourt) on his frankness in his ascribing to his hon. junior colleague the credit for inducing the government to come down from their former position and propose to increase the salaries of the civil service, as they now propose to increase them.

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LIB
CON

George William Fowler

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOWLER.

In words, in language, and in very nice language too, I thought. He stated that the credit was entirely due to the hon. junior member (Mr. Birkett).

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LIB

Napoléon Antoine Belcourt

Liberal

Mr. BELCOURT.

If my hon. friend (Mr. Fowler) will permit me-if he so understood me, he has entirely misunderstood me. I did not intend to give my hon. friend (Mr. Birkett) credit for it. because I do not think he is entitled to it.

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CON

George William Fowler

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOWLER.

I regret very much having to revise my opinion of the hon. gentleman's (Mr. Belcourt's) frankness. I thought it very refreshing to find any hon. gentleman who supports the government willing to give credit where credit is due to an hon. member on this side. I am sorry he did not mean it when he made this complimentary reference to his junior colleague.

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LIB

Napoléon Antoine Belcourt

Liberal

Mr. BELCOURT.

I thought that hon. members of this House had gumption enough to know that it was satire.

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CON

George William Fowler

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOWLER.

And I thought the hon. gentleman (Mr. Belcourt) had more candour than to mean anything else. Surely, he would not stand up before this committee and make statements with such an appearance of sincerity and honesty as that with which he made the statements I have referred to, and not mean it. But, of course, I must accept the hon. gentleman's revised statement, and must understand him as saying with Artemus Ward : ' This was spoke sarkastikul.' But, whether he ascribed the credit to the junior member for Ottawa city (Mr. Birkett) or not, the people who are the judges, and who, if the information given us this evening is true, will soon be called upon to give their verdict-the people knowing the facts, I am sure will give the credit to my hon. friend (Mr. Birkett).

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LIB
CON

George William Fowler

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOWLER.

If it is a matter of small moment I fail to understand why the hon. member (Mr. Belcourt) should be so careful to refuse his colleague credit for what he has done. His colleague was much more generous to him, for he said that the hon. gentleman (Mr. Belcourt) was welcome to all the political credit be could make out of it, that all he (Mr. Birkett) wanted was the

results oa behalf of the people for whom he was speaking. Whether the hon. gentleman ascribes the credit to the junior member for Ottawa (Mr. Birkett) or not, the fact remains that it was not until the junior member for Ottawa had placed his suggestion in the hands of the clerk that the Postmaster General receded from the position he had first taken. The Postmaster General, when he announced his first Bill, ascribed all the credit to the hon. senior member for Ottawa city. It may be presumed, and I think it is not only fair, but the only presumption, that, before this proposal was crystallized into a Bill or resolution, the senior member for Ottawa city had exhausted every argument he could bring to bear upon the Postmaster General and the government to make the Bill as wide as possible and to give as much relief as possible , to those who were affected by it. The hon. gentleman must have brought all his batteries to bear, and all that he could get, when he had exhausted every entreaty was the resolution which the Postmaster General prepared but afterwards withdrew. It was only after the hon. junior member for Ottawa city (Mr. Birkett) had placed his resolution in the hands of the clerk that the government were willing to give the measure of relief now before the committee. Therefore it does seem to me that the most superficial, as well as the most critical, observer will see that the credit for the present resolution is absolutely the due of the junior member for Ottawa city. The hon. gentleman (Mr. Beleourt) has made some other suggestions to the government with respect to the payment of pensions and allowances, in many of which suggestions I heartily concur. But this Bill does not go far enough, in my opinion. There are many officials under the government, who to-day are working for paltry salaries, whose salaries should be largely increased. Take for instance, the department presided over by the Postmaster General (Hon. Sir William Mulock) himself. Take the case of the postmasters of the different small towns scattered throughout the country, men who give their whole time to their official duties, and who are under heavy responsibility. I speak more particularly of towns like the one in which I live. The total gross income of that postmaster, is $1,200. Not only is he obliged to give his whole time to the office, but he has to pay a clerk. His total salary is $1,200, and he has to pay $500 to a clerk, which leaves him the magnificent salary of $700, not quite the salary of a third-class clerk under this Bill, and a third-class clerk has not the one-hundredth part of the responsibility of the postmaster in such a town as I speak of. A large amount of money passes through his hands, and, in this and in other ways he bears a heavy responsibility. Yet, he receives a net salary of $700, upon which he must support himself and family. Oe-

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CON

George William Fowler

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOWLER.

eupying a prominent position, that of the postmaster of a town of 2,500 or 3,000 people, he must keep up a certain style. It does not do for officials of the government to live in mean or beggarly style. I can understand why the Postmaster General should smile. With his wealth, he can well answer with a sneer when matters of this kind

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The POSTMASTER GENERAL.

The hon. gentleman (Mr. Fowler) is entirely unfair.

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CON

George William Fowler

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOWLER.

Well, I hope I am mistaken. I trust the hon. gentleman would not act in that manner with reference to a plea on behalf of officers who perform faithfully and efficiently duties quite as onerous, so far as they are concerned as those the hon. gentleman himself performs. I say, Mr. Chairman, that it does seem to me that a word should be said on behalf of officials such as these. There is scarcely a town of two or three thousand inhabitants throughout the country but what has just such an official as that, and I think that when the scale is being revised for the civil service, these officials should be taken into account. I believe in paying well for the service, and getting a good service. Be careful as to the class of men you appoint to fill these positions and pay them well, for if you do not pay them well you will not get a good service.

Now, Sir, I see one very serious objection in the resolutions before the committee. In nearly every instance the raise from the minimum to the maximum is dependent upon the pull that the clerk may have with the powers that be. I think that these increases should be statutory, that the salary should go up year by year from the time they begin until the maximum is reached, and that it is not right, it is not proper, it is not doing justice to the clerk to make his .increase of salary depend upon whatever political pull he may have.

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LIB

Onésiphore Ernest Talbot

Liberal

Mr. TALBOT.

Does the hon. gentleman mean to say that the statutory increase should take place any way, whether the official is worthy or not ?

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CON
CON

George William Fowler

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOWLER.

That is so, but if you have statutory increases a man is not so much dependent upon the chief. He must obey the direction of his chief, he must do his duty in that way of course ; but if you make his increase of salary dependent upon the favour of the chief, then at once you are putting a premium, upon toadying, and if the chief is the sort of man who likes to be toadied to-and a good many men are of that stripe, more or less, even the august heads of departments are not free from a certain love of flattery-but I say that in order to avoid that, make your increases satutory and then there is no difficulty. Now with regard to these appointments that are made at the present time, as soon as this election is over there will be a new government, and then these gentlemen that are appointed by this government will be dependent upon the government of another political stripe, because I take It for granted that as soon as we go to the country and the elections are over a new government will be Installed.

387i

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LIB

Napoléon Antoine Belcourt

Liberal

Mr. BELCOURT.

The hon. gentleman ist preparing a great disappointment for himself. j

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CON

George William Fowler

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOWLER.

Not so much as the hon. gentleman thinks. Notwithstanding all the attempts he has made to gain political capital for himself out of this business, he will probably find himself in the lurch. But I say that it is in the interests of the clerk himself, in order that he may preserve his independence of character, in order that there may be no temptation to him to toady to those above him, that this increase should be made statutory and not dependent, as it is now under the present resolution, upon the favour of the person who is sent in authority over him.

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September 24, 1903