February 3, 1905

CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

We have lost our efficient chairman of the Railway Commission, now we must sit down and legislate on this business of a chief commissioner. What are the proper lines that we ought to lay down, what the conditions, what the salary in order to ensure that we shall get the very best talent we can get in this country to act as chief commissioner ? Did they sit down and first make the legislation on general principles and then seek their man according to that legislation ? I will warrant you that neither of them will rise in his place and state that that is the case. They are legislating from a particular point to the general. They' do not legislate on general principles and then choose the particular person to fit into that broader legislation. There is every evidence that they went first to find out the terms on which they could get the judge to act and then after a month or six or eight weeks of pourparlers, more or less intimate and confidential, they found out the lowest terms the judge would accept and then made legislation to suit his demands. Let me put a question to my right hon. friend. He takes credit to himself for providing that this chief commissioner shall be removed even from the rude hand of a ruthless government and placed where he cannot be removed until parliament in both its branches acts. Is that a right principle ? If so, why not apply it to any chief commissioner whether he be a judge or not. Does my right hon. friend mean to say that from this time forth no one but a judge of the Supreme Court shall be a chief commissioner ? He will not take that ground because any good government looks over the whole field to see which is the best man. This government looks over the field and says Mr. Justice Killam ; another government may look over the field and say : Here is the best man in Canada but he is not a judge of the Supreme Court. They will approach him and ask : Will you take the chairmanship-but he is told at the same time : My dear man, you are capable of filling this position, you are the ideal man in every respect, but you are not going to get as good a position as would be given to a

chief commissioner if he happened to be a judge of the Superior Court; we cannot give you the emolument or the conditions that were given to the late chairman, because he was a judge and you are not. Why should he not have the same salary and the same consideration ? I doubt very much if any self-respecting man, not a judge, will hereafter accept a chief com-missionerskip when a judge for any reason, has vacated it. unless you give him as good a position as you gave to the former chief commissioner. You may have a lawyer who knows much more law than any judge, a man who has a wide knowledge of the business of the country, who could fill the position just as well or better than any justice of the Supreme Court, and why, in the name of common justice and fairness, should he not be paid according to the work done, according to his merit and according to the value of the man who does the work. I object to this legislation because it makes a distinction where there should be no distinction, and I ask the Minister of Justice if it would not be better for him to introduce legislation by which, no matter who the chairman of the commission shall be, he shall have the very same emolument, the very same conditions of affluence, safety and permanence as a judge would have if he were taken to fill that position. Surely there can be no getting away from that. It may be that four years out of the House makes some change in a man's way of looking at things, but I do not suppose that even with the perfection to which caucus government has gone in these latter days, my right hon. friend called in all his followers together and went over this resolution page by page and got them all to say : That is the perfect thing and we will stand by you in that. I imagine that most of the hon. gentlemen who sit opposite knew nothing about what these resolutions contained until they were brought down and placed on the order paper, and it did seem to me peculiar-may be it is inevitable-that the very moment they came out, everybody on the other side of the House felt that he had to [DOT] stand by this and not urge a word in criticism of the resolutions. Not one of the vast surplusage of talent on that side of the House had a word of criticism. We saw the same thing the other day on the Seeds Bill, and to-day again on this resolution ; no man seems to think he is there for any other purpose than to say ' ditto ' to what the government says, Let us stand for every line, every dot and every vowel of what the government proposes to do. But are we not here to-day to make this measure as good as it can possibly be made ? I do not wish to do anything but to make this as good as it can be made, but I deplore the discriminations which have been introduced into this legislation. I think you should make the same legislation

for your chief commissioner no matter who he may he, a judge or anybody else, for you certainly must contend that when you appoint a chief commissioner, you are getting a man who will fill the contract and do the work. If you get such a man you ought to make his position equally as good as that of his predecessor or his successor. I am also opposed to the principle that this chief commissioner, simply because he is a judge, shall only be displaced by the action of both Houses of parliament. When you have a chief commissioner who is not a Superior Court judge he will not be in that position ; the Governor in Council may dismiss him for cause; but in the other case simply because he is a judge you make the other provision. I do not believe it will be found to work well, and I think the very same provisions that are in this legislation should be adopted for whatever man holds the office of chief commissioner, whether he be a layman or a judge from the Supreme Court. Now I am not going to carry my criticisms any further ; these are just the thoughts that came to me as I listened to the discussion and as I read the resolution. There is no use trying to import into this discussion a charge that we on this side are saying something against the judges. If the Minister of Justice had not mentioned Mr. Justice Killam's name no one would have known about the matter ; what we were discussing was simply the abstract resolution, no matter whether the appointee be a judge, a duke or simply a man of business. It is cheap party tactics to try to force on us the odium that we are objecting to the character of the judge. I am not going the least step in the direction of suggesting that Justice Killam would be influenced by the corporations, and it is idle to attempt to use that argument against us in any sense. In the first place, we want an explanation from the government as to why their appointee left the office in the way in which he did and with the haste with which he did. We have received as a parliament no explanation of that whatsoever. My second objection is to the distinctions in position which are made by this Bill where no distinctions exist in merit. I would have the chief commissioner placed on exactly the same plane and level as the other commissioners, whether he happened to come from the Supreme Court or was a man who had not been a judge previous to his appointment to the commission.

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LIB

Hance James Logan

Liberal

Mr. H. J. LOGAN.

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that we have all enjoyed the eloquent remarks of the hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Foster) upon this very important question, especially that part of his remarks in reference to the promotion of judges from inferior courts to superior courts. It requires a great stretch of imagination for us to believb that in the year 1S93 the hon. gentleman who now leads the opposition was one of the cabinet ministers from the Mr. FOSTER.

province of New Brunswick. It is a well-admitted fact that the judges in a province are generally appointed on the recommendation of the cabinet ministers from that province ; and on that occasion Mr. Justice Landry, who was then a judge of the county court of the county of Kent, was promoted to a superior court judgeship on the recommendation of the present hon. leader of the opposition. And yet, Mr. Speaker, we have been to-day for a considerable length of time lectured upon the enormity of the crime of promoting judges from an inferior' court to a superior court,

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LIB
LIB

Hance James Logan

Liberal

Mr. LOGAN.

My hon. friend who has said that it was in a moment of weakness, should have quoted another adage even older than that: ' Consistency, thou art a

jewel.' If there is any man in Canada who should not have a single word to say about promotion from an inferior court to a superior court, that man is the present hon. leader of the opposition ; because I believe that that was one of the few cases, if not the only case, in the Dominion of Canada in which a county court judge has been promoted to the position of a superior court judge.

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CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HAGGART.

Perhaps the hon. gentleman can tell us whether it was Sir John Macdonald who made the promotion.

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LIB

Hance James Logan

Liberal

Mr. LOGAN.

My hon. friend heard me say a moment ago that it was in the year 1893.

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CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HAGGART.

Then, the Minister of Justice was mistaken.

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LIB

Charles Fitzpatrick (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. FITZPATRICK.

I was mistaken ; but the hon. gentleman gave the explanation when he said that unusual things occur in New Brunswick.

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LIB

Hance James Logan

Liberal

Mr. LOGAN.

I will admit that it was not the government of Sir John Macdonald; but it was a government of which the present hon. member for South Lanark (Mr. Haggart) was a distinguished member, that established the precedent by promoting Judge Landry, I believe a very eminent judge, to the Superior Court.

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CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HAGGART.

Perhaps the hon. gentleman does not know the fact. I do not know that the council were ever consulted in reference to the appointment of a judge.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS

Oh, oh.

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LIB

Hance James Logan

Liberal

Mr. LOGAN.

I trust, Mr. Speaker, that there was not a bolt in 1893 as well as in 1896. I presume that the Governor General in Council made this appointment, and if my hon. friend from South Lanark was not present in council, and was not consulted in the matter, he would not presume to say that the hon. member for North Toronto

(Mr. Foster) was not consulted, lie being the minister for the pronvince of New Brunswick at the time. Many instances have been cited here to-day of the promotion of puisne judges to chief justiceships, because of the eminent fitness which they have shown for the higher position. That practice has been fairly well established in this country. Many instances have been mentioned here to-day, not only in Canada but in Great Britain. If I mistake not, the Hon. Mr. Justice King, a gentleman than whom none better or brighter ever adorned a court, was promoted from the Supreme Court of the province of New Brunswick to become a judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, on the recommendation, I presume, of the hon. member for North Toronto, who was at that time the minister from the province of New Brunswick. We might go on giving other instances; but, after all, the question whether a judge should be promoted from an inferior position to a superior one, is a question whether he possesses those eminent qualifications to fit him for the higher position.

I regret that the hon. leader of the opposition to-day endeavoured to create a distrust and disrespect in this country for the Railway Commission. He stated that two of the appointments to that commission had been made for political exigencies and for nothing else. Well, Mr. Speaker, that commission is a semi-court of this country, and we should endeavour, it seems to me. to inculcate the idea in the minds of the people that that court is one which knows what it is doing, and will hold the scales of justice even as between all parties. When the commission -was appointed, the Hon. Mr. Blair was made its chairman. Mr. Blair, I believe, was eminently fitted for that position. No man on the other side of the House up to to-day has ever risen to say that, from his knowledge of law and his experience in this House in connection with the Railway Act, he was not fitted to be chairman. The government, I know, were blamed, even by their own supporters, for appointing a man who had differed with them on a very important question ; but the government rose to the occasion, and, though he did not agree with them in regard to the transcontinental railway project, they decided to appoint him. because they believed him to be the best man for the position ; and my hon. friend 1he leader of the opposition did not complain of the appointment. But the time came when Mr. Blair suddenly, in the twinkling of an eye, while many cases were standing for judgment, resigned his position ; and my hon. friend asks the government to-day for an explanation of Mr. Blair's resignation under these circumstances. I think the answer to the question, why did Mr. Blair resign, should be given by these hon. gentlemen. The government cannot explain it-there is no question about that. It is beyond explanation on this side of the House ; but our hon. friends on the other side, who formed a partnership with a gentleman who said that he had persuaded Mr. Blair to resign, should explain to this House and to the country why it was that their political agent, their partner in political crime at that time, made that statement.

But no explanation comes from the other side. Mr. Blair was appointed by this government because they considered him the best man to fill the position. But why was he persuaded to resign, and how comes it that he did resign at so opportune a moment for hon. gentlemen opposite ? What are the facts, as near as we can gather them, and no doubt they will all be public within a few months. The facts are that these hon. gentlemen opposite knew of Mr. Blair's resignation before the government were aware of it. They proclaimed to the world that inside of a certain forty-eight hours be would take the stump. Why was it that the chief Tory organ in the Dominion, the 'Montreal Star,' proclaimed that Mr. Blair would take the stump. How comes it that the 'Star' knew of Mr. Blair's resignation even before the government knew it. These are questions which hon. gentlemen opposite should answer in order that the people may be on their guard against similar political bombshells that may be sent out in any future campaign. But when Mr. Blair did resign he was elevated by these hon. gentlemen to the highest of political fame. They proclaimed him the saviour of Canada. They sang his praises ad nauseam. This country was made blue by their fulsome eulogies from one end of the country to the other. Not only did they sing his praises upon every platform and in every Tory newspaper in the land, with perhaps the possible exception of the ' Toronto World.'

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IND
LIB

Hance James Logan

Liberal

Mr. LOGAN.

Not only did they do that but it is a fact, which I think will be proved in time, that these same gentlemen agreed that if the government should be defeated by their efforts assisted by the diabolical machinations of men who should have kissed the hand of the Prime Minister rather than have endeavoured to pierce his side, they would make him Minister of Railways. I repeat it is the duty of these hon. gentlemen to explain to this House and the country why Mr. Blair resigned from the railway commission.

At six o'clock, House took recess.

After Recess.

House resumed at eight o'clock.

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SECOND READING.


Bill (No. 22), respecting the Calgary and Edmonton Railway-Mr. Oliver.


BOARD OF RAILWAY COMMISSIONERS.

CON

George William Fowler

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. G. W. FOWLER (King's and Albert).

With the major portion of the resolutions before the House I have no fault to find. They are not in accord with my views respecting these matters, but they are in accord with the custom of the country as it has been ever since the Canadian colonies acquired the right of self government. But to the first portion of the resolutions I do object. I fail to understand why a resolution of this kind should be brought down to this House, 'particularly in view of the very explicit statements made to this House and to the country when the Bill to establish the Railway Commission was under discussion. ' I do not see why, because the chief cornmis-sionership is to be given to a judge of the Supreme Court, he should be treated differently from any other person who might bo chosen for that exalted position. And I fail to see why it is necessary to take a judge from a Supreme Court bench to fill this office. Surely it speaks but ill for the talent and ability within the ranks of the Liberal party, if it is necessary for the government to go to the Supreme Court for a chief commissioner. There are hundreds of men within the Conservative party as well qualified for the position as is Mr. Justice Killam, however high his attainments may be. I have not a word to say against Mr. Justice Killam. I have not heard all this debate, but I believe I am right in saying that no member on this side of the House has made any attack upon him in any way. Mr. Justice Killam's character or legal attainments are not in question here. But what is in question is the proposal to make an exception of Mr. Justice Killam's appointment to the chief railway commlsslon-ership, and, as already pointed out it seems to me that great danger lies along this line. It would be rqucb better if he were placed upon the same footing as any other person who might be offered this appointment. My own belief is that any judge appointed as puisne judge should have no opportunity ;even to become a chief justice, to say nothing of receiving political appointments. However, as I have said, it has been the custom to allow these promotions ever since this *was a self governing country, so I do not quarrel with that part of the resolution.

1 would not have spoken on this subject, had it not been for matters being dragged into this discussion which really have no place in it, though, perhaps, incidental to the subject. The hon. member for Cumberland (Mr. Logan), who spoke last, tried to connect the Conservative party with what he alleged to be a plot or conspiracy to defeat the Liberals in the late election. I wish to give a categorical denial to the charges that the hon. gentleman hurled at this side of the House. There is not one atom of truth in any of these statements. Not an ex-member or a member of this House on Mr. LOGAN.

the Conservative side, or anybody having authority to speak for the Conservative party was mixed up in any way with a scheme, plot, conspiracy or whatever these hon. gentlemen choose to call it with Mr. Blair or any person on his behalf. They ask why did Mr. Blair resign his chief commission-ership ? Why Mr. Blair has told us. He says he resigned in order to reiterate his strong opposition to that most iniquitous scheme, the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. But I would ask hon. gentlemen a question: Why did not Mr. Blair reiterate his strong objection to that Grand Trunk Pacific scheme ? Let hon. gentlemen on the other side answer that particular question.

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LIB
CON

George William Fowler

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOWLER.

If I were to ask anybody I would go to a person higher up than Mr. David Russell.

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February 3, 1905