May 26, 1908

CON

Joseph Gédéon Horace Bergeron

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. G. H. BERGERON (Beauharnois).

I have a complaint to make about the distribution office. Instructions were giveu two or three years ago by the Debates Committee that the supply of ' Hansard ' to members should he increased as it often occurs that members require more than their allotted share of two copies. There is sometimes a great demand for * Hansard.' especially for the unrevised edition which is supposed to be the more correct. However, the employees in the distribution office seem to assume that they are masters in their own house and seem to care little whether they comply with the wishes of the members of the House. I regret to have to say that members of parliament are not treated in that office as they should he. Instead of being treated as masters they are treated as servants, and an end should be put to that. I may be answered that this is a matter for the Debates Committee but I would point out that the Debates Committee is very badly managed. It has sat two or three times this session and about ten times altogether in the four sessions of this parliament. It meets to appoint a chair-

man and after that it sits whenever it is forced to, and the reports of that committee are made haphazard as for example the report which was presented the other day. I suppose some of the officials who are under that committee come to think they can do anything they like.

A few minutes ago I sent for a copy of Thursday's ' Hansard ' and I was sent one copy and when I wanted to get more I was told there were no more and to understand that there were no more. You, Mr. Speaker, should be the master of all these employees, and if you do not take means to deal with them I shall be compelled to resort to another course. I shall not allow any employee in this House or anywhere else to be impertinent to me as long as I have the honour of a seat here. I think it is in the interest of every member of parliament, whether he sits to the right or to the left of the Speaker, to see that proper treatment is accorded the members by the officials, and if something is not done to correct tlae condition of things which I have pointed out I shall have to defend myself by other means.

Mr, A. JOHNSTON (Cape Breton). The observations of my hou. friend (Mr. Bergeron) should not go unchallenged. I do not think it is fair to the chairman of the Debates Committee who is not here this afternoon, or fair to the members of that committee to say that the committee is badly managed. If that committee is badly run the members of it are to blame, for, as the hon. gentleman knows, the members of the committee receive notices to attend the various meetings and if they do not attend it is their own fault. I happen to be a member of that committee as is my hon. friend (Mr. Bergeron) and I am equally to blame with him for failure to attend regularly. I acknowledge that I have been dilatory in my attendance upon the committee, and upon inquiry I have discovered that my hou. friend (Mr. Bergeron) is in the same position in that regard as I am. The same remark would apply to many other members of the committee. We had a meeting a few days ago when my hon. friend (Mr. Bergeron) was not present, and this question of the distribution of ' Hansard ' was discussed. At that meeting there were present the hon. gentleman from Leeds. (Mr. Taylor), the hon. gentleman from Victoria (Mr. Sam Hughes), the hon. gentleman from Marquette (Mr. W. J. Roche), and myself, and I suggested that at our next meeting we should revise the present list of those to whom ' Hansard ' is sent and make a new list, because in my judgment the existing list is not a proper list. The matter will come up at the next meeting of the Debates Committee. Now, as to the officials of the distribution office, so far as I know, they have always been disposed to grant any reasonable request

made by a member of the House, but of course when they have no copy of ' Hansard ' to give they cannot give it to my hon. friend from Beauharnois or to anybody else. I can hardly believe that the officials of the distribution office are to blame as my hon. friend would seem to indicate. If there is blame to be attached to any one I feel that it must be placed elsewhere. I agree with my hon. friend that the committee should take steps to inquire into the distribution of ' Hansard.' If it is at all convenient I shall attend when the next meeting is called t>y the chairman, and I trust my hon. friend from 'Beauharnois with others will be there so that we may try to settle this question of the distribution of ' Hansard ' once and for all.

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CON

Joseph Gédéon Horace Bergeron

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BERGERON.

Let me tell my hon. friend from Cape Breton (Mr. Johnston) that I have been present at every meeting of the Debates Committee except the last one, and I will avail of this opportunity to explain why I was then absent. The committee sat at 10 o'clock in the morning ; the House did not adjourn until 3 o'clock the same morning and as the post office was closed when I left the House I was not able to get my correspondence. If the notice of the committee were there I consequently could not receive it. When we leave here at 3 o'clock in the morning and get to bed at 4 o'clock we are not very much disposed to get up to attend the meeting at 10 o'clock. Any way I did not know anything about the meeting and it is- the only meeting I missed. About two or three years ago instructions were given by the Debates Committee that when there was an important debate the officer at the head of the distribution office should communicate with the Printing Bureau and order 300 or 600 or 1.000 extra copies of ' Hansard.' When the type is set up and the forms prepared it does not cost a great deal more to print the extra number. There is sometimes a great demand for ' Hansard ' and members should be enabled to get a sufficient supply. The press of the country, in spite of all they can do, do not give a very elaborate report of what goes on in the House, and we can only get it from 1 Hansard.' The officer of the distribution office should get extra copies printed without being told every time. When the Elections Act was under discussion, nearly every member asked for ten or twelve copies of ' Hansard,' but could only get two copies. The discussion on the Ross rifle was a very important discussion, and a good many members wanted extra copies of * Hansard ' containing that discussion, but could not get them. A good many members have complained to me of this matter, and unless there is a change, something is.going to happen, because we cannot be driven in this way by employees of the House.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

The clerk of the distributing office is not responsible for ordering more copies of 'Hansard.'

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CON
LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

I doubt that very much.

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CON
CON
?

Mr. T.@

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LIB

John Crawford

Liberal

Mr. CRAWFORD.

I have been told that some hon. members opposite sometimes get as many as a hundred copies.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

I am afraid the hon. gentleman has been told something that only exists in some person's imagination.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

It seems rather invidious to place on the chief clerk of the distribution office the responsibility of deciding whether a debate is sufficiently important to justify him in ordering an extra number of copies to be printed. I would think that a matter of that kind should be left with the chairman of the committee. The chief clerk might of course be instructed, in respect of the budget debate and other important debates that must occur every session, to have an extra number of copies printed. Apart from that, you can hardly expect him to realize the standpoint of members of this House, and decide whether'or not an extra number of any particular debate would be required. Perhaps the suggestion might be made by the Prime Minister to the chairman of the Committee on Debates to give this matter attention. It is very annoying sometimes to send for a few extra copies and not be able to procure them ; but looking at the matter from the standpoint of the chief clerk of distribution, the very demand for extra copies of a particular debate might suggest to him that other members would be likely to come for further copies, and that therefore he must not exhaust the supply. So far as my own experience is concerned,

I am bound to say that he is not only very diligent but invariably courteous in the discharge of his duties.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

The distribution office is not under the control off this House alone. It is under the control of the Printing Committee, which is a joint commute of the Senate and the House of Commons. Mr. Davidson is an active and painstaking officer, and will do whatever he is told to do, by that committee.

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THE CIVIL SERVICE SYSTEM.


hW GEO. E. FOSTER (North Toronto). I rise, Mr. Speaker, to move : That all the words after that be omitted and the following substituted therefor: The civil service system of Canada should be based on merit and character alone, and all the appointments thereto should be made from candidates whose competency has been established through open competitive examinations conducted unedr a non-partisan civil service commission. This motion has been a long while in finding its way to discussion in the House. 8133 MAY 26, 1908 9134 It is not necessary for me to give the reasons; I think they are patent to all who have at all followed it. Suffice it to say that I bring it to the attention of the House at the present time with a good deal of hope that the resolution may commend itself to both sides of the House and be practically agreed to as the principle upon which the civil service of Canada should be based. I am led to that from a good many indications. I think it is clear to all of us who have studied public opinion that, during the last three or four years, opinion in the country, outside of parliament and in political circles, has been paying considerable attention to the question of the civil service, the principle upon which it should be based, and the rules under which it should be conducted; and there appears to be a growing and widely distributed sentiment in favour of a better system than the present one. [DOT]Many of our most prominent daily and weekly organs have advocated the merit system with greater or less force; and it is very gratifying to know that a good many of our public men on both sides of politics have given more or less time to the discussion of the question, and that a great many very strong opinions have been expressed by men prominent in both political parties in favour of a change in the basis of the system. It is therefore in the hope that the resolution will receive practical accord on both sides of the House that I venture to make a few remarks in reference to it. I do not propose to make any apology for bringing the question before the House. It is not by any means an academic question. It is an intensely practical question, and there never has been a time in the history of Canada when it has been more practical and more vital than now. When a country is young and its operations comparatively limited, a civil service system which is not the best and the most carefully thought out, might be fairly effective by reason of a personal supervision given it by heads of departments and the general and every day supervision made by the press and the critical portion of the community. Both these tend to keep it within line and prevent abuse and lead to a fairly good carrying out of the general business of the country. But in proportion as the country widens and its proportions become more important and the amount of business grows, then it becomes necessary for the system to be the very best in principle and very strongest in regulations in order to do the work absolutely necessary. That time has arrived-perhaps it arrived years ago in the Dominion-but there can be no doubt that it has arrived now. So that in view of the public interest concerning the subjeci and its importance and practical nature, I do not suppose anybody expects to hear an apology from me for discussing it. [DOT]It would be interesting to thoroughly deal with the question historically, but that would take one over a great deal of ground; and the history of civil service reform in all countries is an open page to-day which can be easily read and known by any one who takes any interest in the matter. Therefore I do not propose to deal with the subject very largely in its historical aspect. I propose however to discuss two or three systems of civil service and the operations thereunder, to the end that what has been proved in experience and results may be made patent to our minds and we may have the conclusions which result therefrom. Of course one would not attempt any remarks on civil service systems if he did not at once refer to the system of the motherland, which has had a long history, which is full of rich results, and the lesson of which is open and available to all students of civil service reform. Suffice it to say that in the beginning, the service was entirely in the hands of the sovereign. Everything was at his disposal, and he used it for the purposes that best suited him ; sometimes for the common good, but oftener, I am afraid, for purposes of the royal family and the royal person and its adherents and favourites. After this power was taken away from the King and translated into parliament the patronage system, without any great alleviation, went into the hands of the ministry of the day and the parliament which supported that ministry. So that from the earliest time of the work of the country as carried on by what we denominate civil servants until 1855, there was a period in which patronage was absolutely supreme, in which the principles of civil service were very little adhered to if they were even acknowledged; and history shows us the results in a demoralized, inefficient and costly civil service. About 1853 or thereabouts, the first great forward step was taken and the directors of the East India Company abolished all Patr°"' age with reference to the kingdom, for it really was such which they had under their direction, and instituted an absolute and strict civil service system in which everything was thrown open to merit, and m which that merit was ascertained by means of examination. This radical improvement had its effect in the mother country. In 1855 a system of civil service was introduced against the will of parliament, absolutely against a majority vote in parliament, and was initiated by the executive itself. By judicious explanation of its motives and methods, and a judicious distribution of that information through the country, the executive worked upon public sentiment s that, within a very short time, the parliament which had been adverse to a civil service system based, on examination came to be entirely in its favour and from that



time up to the present, that is from 1856 or 1857, the parliament of Great Britain has never wavered in its allegiance to the system of merit and examination as applied to the civil service. It was not until a good deal later, however, about 1870, that the full measure of civil service reform, so far as principle and regulation is concerned, was applied to the service. In 1870, after repeated investigations and commissions, and as a result of the information thereby gathered, the open competitive system was put into force, and the old system of appointment through patronage or nomination, the old ineffectual departmental examination and system of limited competition, were all done away with, and the principle of open competition for every British subject under proper conditions was established by the parliament of GireatJ Britain and embodied in the British civil service. The results have been, I think beyond all doubt, eminently satisfactory. That they have been satisfactory is shown by the adherence of the British'parliament and people to the system and the continuous strengthening of that system, so that, at the present time, it is, perhaps, stronger than it ever was before, and, during its history, it has served as the starting point and example for civil service systems in almost all the great progressive countries of the world. In brief, we find the system to be the establishment of a civil service commission, the granting of freedom to every British subject who complies with necessary conditions, to compete for entrance into the service and for the prizes of the service; the absolute elimination from the great bulk of the service of anything like patronage of any kind, and the utter banishment from the service of anything like political influence, either by way of assessment, intimidation, promise, or anything of that kind unfortunately too well known in other countries, our own not excepted. There are certain limited classes of positions which are excluded from this general system, namely, the classes of technical and political positions. But, even in these, the larger portion are still subject to what we call non-competitive examinations. That is, although these positions are not open for competition on the part of allcomers, yet when the head of the department, or whoever has that duty, nominates to an office, the nominees must be examined and receive their certificates of fitness from the civil service examiner, and do not receive the position unless they pass these competitive examinations; and, of course, the successful applicant, as shown by the result of these examinations, gets the position. So, in that case, merit is again defined by examination; and, although at the entrance to it, the number who may apply to be admitted to the competitive exarnin-Mr. FOSTER. ation is somewhat limited, still there are competitors and they have to pass examinations and the best man wins. There are two statements that I wish to read on this subject. One was made by Mr. Mundella, who was a member of the British cabinet at one time. He said: I stand before you the representative of the largest constituency in England, and yet have not the power to control the appointment of the lowest excise officer. The other was made by Mr. Gladstone, who was still greater in power and influence. He said : As to the clerkships in mv office-the office of the Treasury-every one of you has just as much power over their disposal as I have. - [DOT] In order that the public service might be indeed the public service; in order that we might not have among the civil officers of the state that which we had complained of in the army, namely, that the service. was not the property of the nation, but of the officers, we have now been enabled to remove the barriers of nomination, patronage, jobbery, favouritism, in whatever form; and every man belonging to the people of England, if htf so please to fit his children for competing for places in the public service, may do it entirely irrespective of the question what is his condition in life. To these two statements I desire to add a fact which I came across aud which I will give without mentioning names. A very distinguished member of the British cabinet commenced his career as a clerk in the lowest grade of the civil service. He entered through the system of examination, and made his way up to the highest, or nearly the highest executive position of the British government. I suppose there are now about 70,000 employees in Great Britain coming under the provisions of the Civil Service Act. Two or three instances might be given to show the difference between the condition, of things here and there. Take, for instance, the Inland Revenue. The Inland Revenue service of Great Britain is in charge of a board of commissioners who are appointed by the Crown and hold office during good behaviour. They have over 8.000 officials besides a large number of employees. The entrance is by examination through the lowest grade. There is no removal except for cause, and religion or politics is never a cause of removal. When a removal takes place, the cause has to be written and signified to the Civil Service Commissioners' board, and no interference from politicians, or wardworkers or ministers may interfere with the discipline of this large staff of officials and employees. Not only is there no removal except for cause, but, before removal, there must be a proper hearing. The Customs Department of Great Britain has been managed now for over one hundred years in the manner I am about to describe. A board of four commissioners is appointed, as in the case of the Inland Revenue. They have over 5,000 clerks, -besides large numbers of employees who are exactly on the same basis as under the Inland Revenue Board-no politics, no interference. The higher places are filled by promotion, and the board annually inspects each port, which I think is a most excellent feature of the system. Then there is the treasury, which is run by a board of seven managers. There is the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and others, and as these are pasing, ephemeral, there is a permanent secretary in whose hands is placed the chief business of directing the treasury so far as its officials are concerned. The Treasury Board, of course, dominates the policy. However parties may differ, the board defines the policy for the Department of Inland Revenue or Customs. But there is no political interference in any way. shape or form, nor removal except for cause, and the reason, in case of removal, is to be given in writing. The postal division is managed by a permanent non-political secretary. The post offices are divided. There is the very small and unimportant post office, which is allowed to take care of itself and is judged by its results. If the results are good it is undisturbed; if any difficulties arise, troubles or laches take place, then of course it is looked into and a remedy applied. Then there is the class of post offices which have not over £120 of income. There the clerks are nominated by the postmaster and the postmasters are selected by the Treasury Board, and are removable only for cause. Tne next class are the post offices having over £120 revenue. There the postmasters are selected from the entire service as a recognition of merit. That opens the horizon and gives scope and consequently spirit to the service. They are appointed by the Postmaster General and are removable only for cause, and any application in favour of them by members of parliament or persons in political life is a detriment, and is more likely to militate against the appointment of the candidate than to help him. Then the last are the great city post offices. These great city post offices are under the civil service entirely. All clerks enter by open competition and examination, and the same rule applies with reference to promotions and removals. Then there is the consular or diplomatic service, which is now almost entirely taken out of patronage, and a system of rigid and thorough examination prevails, combined as well with the record of the person himself, whose experience makes up a large part of that record. In the House of Lords the clerk of Parliament selects those who are to be examined for clerkships, and in the House of Commons the librarian selects them, and they have to make good by competitive examination. Any one, I think, who has the interest of the service at heart would be glad to see a system of that kind applied to both our Houses here, at least I certainly would. So much then with reference to the British service. I will have a little more to say with reference to the results of that service later on in my remarks. The next country to which I invite the attention of the House is the United States of America. Many of those who have not followed closely the track of progress of the United States in this respect are inclined to think that it is a very poor example of a civil service country to bring before the parliament of Canada, and I have noticed on two or three occasions that when some remark has been made with reference to the civil service in the United States it has provoked a smile. Well, that is not impossible of explanation. No man can keep all subjects within his ken, and until a few years ago when I gave some attention to the civil service in the United States, I myself would have been inclined to put it amongst the more backward of countries, and to conclude, as so many in our country do, that it is delivered over body and soul to the spoils systems, as it was not very long ago delivered over almost absolutely to the spoils system. But to make a long story short, the evils of their system so impressed themselves upon the better thinking public men of the United States, as they had done before in Great Britain, that methods were adopted, a plan of educational work was undertaken throughout the country and carried up into Congress, and it resulted in 1882 in the enactment of tile present civil service law of the United States. Now, wonders have been doue under that legislation, giving as it does a very large power to the president, by proclamation, to bring under the operation of the Civil Service Act such departments and such parts of departments as it may suit him. This of course he does with a full knowledge of what is needed and of what will be fairly well supported. President Cleveland began that work particularly, and he and President Roosevelt have been especially the two presidents who have done so much to widen the scope of the civil service, and by their repeated proclamations to bring constantly wider and wider areas under its scope. In operation the United States appoints a Civil Service Commission of three. This Civil Service Commission, with the president, is authorized to prepare the rules and regulations for the civil service, and what they prepare, when it is promulgated by the President, has the force of law and becomes equal to an enactment. They have the power of examination, and for that part of the civil service which is under the merit system, a careful system of examinations is carried on by


$139 COMMONS


these commissioners, not a pedantic system which takes care simply for the literary parts of the examination, but one which is intensely practical in its end. It is carried out by men who mingle with all parts of the service in every part of the United States, who become thoroughly saturated with its needs and with its capabilities as well. They conduct their examinations on the line of getting at the best that is in the applicant, practically deciding, as far as they can, what is the best the candidate can do for the service into which he wishes to enter in any one of a dozen of different great trends that the service takes. They then carry on their examinations. All who fail to get 70 per cent on an average in these examinations fail to get their names on the register; all who make 70 per cent or over are placed upon the official register in the order of time and in the order of merit, and this is the register of certificated candidates for employment. When the head of a department requires some one to fill a vacancy he applies to the Civil Service Commission and the Civil Service Commission look over their different branches, having regard to the kind of work that this head of a department requires, and hand him the thr'ee highest names on the register in that line of work. The appointing power has then a choice between those three. He selects one and the appointee must be placed on probation for at least six months. If he fulfils the requirements he is then permanently appointed. If he does not, then the head of the department must state to the Civil Service Commission the reasons for his failure. The Civil Service Commission then give him the next three highest names out of which a choice must be made.


LIB

William Paterson (Minister of Customs)

Liberal

Mr. PATERSON.

How do the commissioners get the list?

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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

By examination.

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May 26, 1908