May 26, 1908

CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

There is not. But there is a pretty strong agitation for it. Besides, they pay at a much more generous rate of wages than we do in this country.

Now, there is another point: We have got into a habit, it has become like a burden strapped to our backs, of contracting civil servants out of even the Civil Service Act that we have. This was pointed out by the commission. In one year, for one cause or another, there were fifty cases of ' notwithstanding anything contained in the Civil Service Act.' In this way the civil servants to whom this was applied were taken out from under the law. So we had discrepancies, we had wide differences, and bitterness was left in the hearts of those who thought they were equally deserving but got nothing. That does not help the civil service. One of the worst things to import into a civil service, perhaps the one thing that saps their loyalty worse than anything else, is the mere idea that they are not being treated fairly, that some get more than they should and that some, equally faithful, get less. As long as it is a matter of exception, under the charge of the minister, these things will occur more

or less. Then there has been the re-enforcement of the patronage Influence, there Is no denying that. The patronage system was never so greedy, grasping, insistent, heartless, conscienceless as it lias been during these last years, never in the history of Canada. This is a part, I suppose, of the material growth of the country. It may not be the fault of the present government more than of the past government, but the spirit is different now from what it was. and everything that makes is looked to, and as I said, the result is that this spirit is stronger and more grasping than ever before.

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LIB

William Paterson (Minister of Customs)

Liberal

Mr. PATERSON.

Have you thought that out fully? .

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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

Yes, I have. It Is not only in the initiatory stages. Patronage today follows the-man all the way through. Will the Prime Minister let me give him a supposititious case, which is not a supposititious ease-I mention no names. A man enters the service, he passes his examination, goes into the department, does his work for years and years, does his work well and faithfully, and rises by his yearly increases. The time comes when he stands at the head of his class, the time comes when provision is made for promotions. Then he says to himself: I must

go to the man I have worked under and I must ask him to give me fair consideration. Here I stand above so and so, there is my work, it shows for itself, and I must go to my chief. He goes to his chief, puts in his plea, and what answer do you suppose he gets? Have you any political influence? Think of it, just think of it- Have you any political influence? There is a man who has done his work for fourteen or sixteen years, done it well, and there is not a black mark against him. And when there are chances for promotion, all that he wants to do is to let his work speak for itself. The work is all chucked aside, and his chief says to him: Have you any political influence? Well, no, Sir, I didn't suppose that was necessary. I supposed you knew my work, and the recommendation is in your hands, I have to depend on you. Can't you get somebody to recommend you? In the end what happened? In the end it filtered down to this, that lie had to ask the defeated candidate in the county, and the defeated candidate put it to him just as plain as this: Who

is your father? Who is your brother? Where do your people live? How have they voted? They all went against me, I believe. And he was simplv told : Let

your father and his brothers go to the parish committee and if they can get their recommendation perhaps something can be done. Now, there is no need of any comment on that. I said that I was not treating this subject in a partisan way. But there is the minister's chair, and in that Mr. FOSTER.

chair, if he were present, would be the minister who absolutely put the patronage in the city of St. John into a committee of wardworkers, called them together, and said: I cannot do this thing, you must do it, I put it into your hands. What malversation of the trust of office ! At least, for Heaven's sake, if it has to be done, can't we decently keep it under cover in some way? A man says : You better be open and above board. Yes, except for this, the infernal example of the thing, because from Vancouver to Sydney goes the teaching that the ward committee appoints to office, and every ward committee from one end of this country to the other usurps the place of government. Who is responsible for the work of the departments? The deputy head and the minister whose deputy he is. But you overturn the pyramid absolutely when you take away from them the choice, under proper conditions, and the' possibility of having proper conditions, of the very best man, and put it into the hands of a distinct and partisan patronage committee. Now, I have freed my soul as regards the patronage.

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LIB

William Paterson (Minister of Customs)

Liberal

Mr. PATERSON.

What minister is responsible for that?

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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

Is that the best the Minister of Customs has to say on that subject?

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LIB

William Paterson (Minister of Customs)

Liberal

Mr. PATERSON.

I think so. Is not the minister responsible to parliament?

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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

Well, leave it that way, if the hon. gentleman wishes. Now, we have in this country the semblance of an examination system, but it is only a semblance. lrou appoint your civil service examiners, you empower them to examine, and they do examine. In the first place, who comes up to the examination ? No one can enter unless he belongs to the party in power with any hope that he will get a position. The Prime Minister shakes his head. Will he deny that that is the tendency ?

iSir WILFRID LAURIER. I have no such information.

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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

But will he deny that that is the tendency? Is it not well known that all the chances are in favour of the man who belongs to the party which is in power? I think we can go that far-all the chances. Now and then one gets in, there may be the personal influence. I, as a Conservative may have a very strong friend who is a Liberal, and if I pass the examination he may secure my appointment. But that is very seldom done. I am right then in saying that the whole trend is in that way.

civil service, because they don't have much of a chance to get in. Then what is the next thing? Those who do come, having the party imprimatur, and who pass the qualifying examination, where do they go? Into an absolutely confused limbo of names. They pass the examination, and they are notified that they have passed. But where Is the register that is kept, where is the register of the dates when they passed and their standing when they pass? And where is the obligation, when the appointing power comes along, to take a man from the top or to make a choice of men from the top? There is none of that. Consequently there is no merit system at all. All that you gain is that before a man gets in he passes a small qualifying examination or a small preliminary examination, and it is not a very tedious affair to the young man or the young woman fresh from school. It would be a pretty hard thing for the Minister of Customs or myself to pass it, but those who are fresh from school easily pass.

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LIB

William Paterson (Minister of Customs)

Liberal

Mr. PATERSON.

We could have done it once.

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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

I have passed different examinations in my time, but I would not like to tackle this examination now. So we have no competitive system for making appointments. You may say we have promotion examinations. True, we have, but here is the thing about promotion examinations. If you have a good head and a good deputy you will have good square promotion examinations; if you do not, you will have a lax system so that you have no uniformity and there is contrast between one department and another, one in which there is some desire to fill the spirit of the Act, the other in which there is no desire, no uniform direction, consequently there is contrast and heartburning.

Out of this state of things comes, in the first place, lack of principle. Of course we all agree that the principle that should animate a young man going into the civil service is the desire to do his country's work and to do it well. Our effort should be to bring out the best that is in him to do that work. This can only be done under certain conditions and the present conditions are not favourable to that, so in too many cases the young man's determination degenerates into this : 1 will do my regular day's work as well as I can and get out when the hour of closing comes, or : I will try to make myself agreeable to my next chief and maybe I will get on his good side and be helped up. While the civil servant ought always to try to please his chiefs, his first aim should be to do his work, and it is foreign to all proper principles that he should simply do his work so as to please his chief with the idea that the chief will secure promotion for him. Then the loss of spirit comes verv rapidiv. What do we find, with 291

reference to the British people ? The hold they have on the world, in India and other countries is due to the general opinion that they deal justly and fairly. That is a wonderful thing for a nation, a wonderful thing for a service. Is it or is it not a fact that in this service there is a loosening and a diminution of that idea that people are dealt fairly by and a growing idea that there is partyism, favouritism and pull and that the sharpest fellow will probably get along the best. That is the tendency and of course out of that comes a lack of efficiency. That is my observation and if I should read portions of this report of the Civil Service Commission it would be strengthened and confirmed by the findings of the commissioners. To summarize, the commissioners say that the servce is deteriorating. that more inefficients are entering and fewer efficients are remaining. To that we will all subscribe. I have heard the Minister of Finance and other ministers say in this House how difficult it was to keep the best men. It is equally difficult to get the best men. If inefficients are coming in and the efficients leaving the service, it must be to the great deteriment of the service. Disclipine is affected, the commissioners say. Discipline is inevitably affected unless you have just rules, uniformly applied and carried out with fairness through the different departments. The Act is not enforced. The Civil Service Commission point to the 50 ' notwithstanding anything in the Civil Service Act to the contrary ' votes and to grading under other names.

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LIB

William Paterson (Minister of Customs)

Liberal

Mr. PATERSON.

Do the Uuited States never depart from their system ? Suppose that an officer shows exceptional merit, would they not waive the strict provisions of their system ?

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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

Yes, every system has a process by which that can be done. In the United States it is done by reference to the Civil Service Commission.

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LIB

William Paterson (Minister of Customs)

Liberal

Mr. PATERSON.

Here we do it by the judgment of parliament.

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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

That is where the great check comes. The Civil Service Commission wants to secure the best results for the service. The head of the department says : That is the very man I want for this position, the commission look up the man's record, examine him, put him through a course of sprouts and if they coincide in the opinion of the head they have power to advance him in practically the same way as the Civil Service Commission in Great Britain have power to advance men. It must be that way because these exceptional circumstances must be provided for.

The commissioners find that the patronage evil is everywhere, and everywhere it is deleterious. The government in their commission said they thought the principle of the Civil Service Act was right. The com-

mission take issue with them, they think that all political patronage should be eliminated, that the Act should be repealed, that the merit system after competitive examination should be brought into force, that there should be a board of civil service commissioners, with rigid probation and careful inspection. I notice that the Australian Act provides for plenty of inspection and for a board of inquiry.

One word as to what the civil service is. The country at large, I think, has probably a very inadequate idea of what an important thing the civil service of a country like Canada is. To my mind the civil service is more important than governments. I do not think a cabinet is as important as the civil service itself. The civil service is really the most important thing we have. What is the civil service ? It exists for the state. The civil service is not a sort of charity place in which to throw people for whom you want to provide. That is foreign to the idea of a civil service. It is not for any particular part or any particular ministry, it is there to do the great, unending constantly pressing business of the country which can be carried on in absolutely no other way and by no other instrument. So we want the best civil service we can get and no state is where it ought to be until it gets the very best possible civil service obtainable. We should have in our civil service, the best men that Canada can produce, for carrying on affairs as are carried on by the civil service. What are its functions, its great work of managing the affairs of this country ? Look at it. We come here and are small lords in our way as representatives of constituencies, and then we have a few of these greater lords, the ministry, for the time being. They are important in their own estimation and in reality as well. But these are all evanescent, we come and go, ministers are here to-day and there to-morrow ; but there is one force, one power, one mechanism, which is here always and constantly at work and on the quality of its work depend members and ministers and all the outcome from the best talent in the way of political work that we can bring to bear. Where do we get the money to carry on our work ? It is collected by a tireless, honest, competent civil service and in proportion as they lack these characteristics the revenue does not come to us as it ought to. We vote the money and it has to be expended, and then we go about our various business, political and otherwise.

What becomes of the $100,000,000 that is voted by parliament? It passes through the avenues of the civil service and upon the honesty, capacity and loyalty of the civil servants depends whether that money is well expended or not. The vote for public works goes to the Public Works Department ; your draftsman draws his lines, your engineer makes his plans, your supervisors watch the expenditure of every dol-

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CON
LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Hon. W. S. FIELDING (Minister of Finance).

Mr. Speaker, the words of the motion which my hon. friend has placed in your hand are not in themselves objectionable, and the same may be said of the greater part of his speech. Indeed, if we except a small portion towards the close of his remarks, I will frankly say that he has given us an informing speech, which should be useful to us all, and has handled the question in the non-partisan spirit to which he has referred. Towards the close, however, I am afraid that he strayed away from that firm faith and yielded to the temptation to present to the country the idea that such evils as are alleged to exist in the civil service to-day are evils which have largely arisen under the administration of the present government. To that portion of my hon. friend's speech I must take exception, and I must tell my hon. friend that, with

hardly an exception, every one of those defects, so far as they are grave and serious, existed in the civil service in the days when he was a minister of the Crown, every one of them was brought to my notice by a previous Civil Service Commission, and my hon. friend was not moved to find a remedy. My hon. friend may say that is importing the element of partisanship into the discussion, but it is only for the purpose of defence. I find no fault with any argument my hon. friend may advance, whether based on the experience of former years or on the experience of the present time, looking towards improvement in the civil service ; but I do say that he must not found that argument on the assumption that those evils, as far as they exist, are evils which have grown up recently. Take, for instance, the matter of the statutory increases. In the ten or twelve years that this administration has been in power, the law and practice respecting statutory increases has been exactly what it was in the days of the preceding government. The law respecting statutory increases never made it matter of obligation to give a statutory increase to every official, but contemplated giving it only to such officials as were worthy to receive it. My memory is that for two years greater restrictions than were formerly in existence were placed on the payment of the statutory increases ; and this necessarily led to some process of selection. My hon. friend says that that process was political. I am bound to say I hear that accusation to-day for the first time. I know that so far as the matter came under my observation, politics never entered into it at all. What each minister was told was that the policy of indescrimin-ate statutory increases should not be followed, but that he should make a selection of those deemed most worthy to receive it; and in making that selection, I am quite sure that the element of political partisanship was not considered at all. My hon. friend has referred to the fact that we have sometimes introduced into the estimates the words, ' notwithstanding the Civil Service Act,' and contends that we are deliberately contracting men out of the Civil Service Act. That is true, but I want to say to my hon. friend that if he takes all these cases and compares them with the large number of people in the civil service of [DOT]Canada, he will find that the number of exceptions has been insignificant. Is it possible to adopt a general law' in a matter of this kind? Can you lay down hard and fast rules, by which every man shall get a certain salary and no more? Put into a department two men on the same day, under equal conditions and at at the same salary. Five years later look at their record. One will prove to have been a man of routine, doing good and useful service in his way, while the other will have developed a power which is valuable, and which it is necessary to recognize in order to keep him in the ser-Mr. FIELDING

vice. When he reaches the maximum of his class, it is necessary to make some exceptional arrangement in order to give him the recognition to which he seems to have become entitled. I grant that it is not desirable that this should be done too frequently ; but when a man dispalys exceptional fitness for the public service, the minister should not be tied down by a hard and fast rule which would prevent him paying that man one dollar more salary than the other man, who may be a good and worthy man, but whose place could be filled at any moment if he left it. So that these exceptions to which my hon. friend referred are not very great in proportion to the whole. This claim as to political influence in the service is largely magnified. I do not say such influence is not an evil. I am not contending against civil service reform; I am not objecting to the general rule laid down by my hon. friend, but it is a pity he should have let his imagination run riot and seek to persuade the country that this evil is of such an enormous extent. My own observation is it is not, and I say this from the experience of the years I have been in federal politics, and I say it also from information I had in the earlier period when I had no connection with this parliament. My hon. friend said that down in St. John county they had a patronage committee. That seems something dreadful, the way he puts it. But let us think for a moment and see whether there is any great evil in having a patronage committee. I am not a sufficient admirer of the system to have such a committee in anything I have to do with myself, but if an appointment has to be made in a distant portion of the country, one must get information somewhere, and where is one more likely to get reliable information than from the intelligent men who are the leaders of the party in that district? Undoubtedly they will give the preference to men of their own party, but if I am to make a selection in a distant part of Canada of some man to serve my department, what better course could I pursue than to get the advice of some of the leading men in that locality? Whether you call these gentlemen a patronage committee or a committee of any other kind makes no difference. The name should not alarm people. It was said that the patronage committee nominated the postmaster in Toronto. Well, I am confident that under no system could you have got a better man to fill the office than the one chosen. Reference is made in the report of the commissioners on the civil service to the case of the postmaster at Kingston. Well, I have not the pleasure of knowing the gentleman, but I am informed that he is an em-minently well qualified official. I prefer myself in anything I have to do to avoid the forming of a committee in a matter concerning my own constituency, or anything like that, but in dealing with affairs

at a distance one has to get advice from somebody, and if a number of gentlemen of good standing and repute associate themselves together, the fact that they are called a patronage committee should not by any means lead to the conclusion that the representations they make are not fair and in the interests of the government service. My hon. friend was not as fair in the latter part of his speech as he was in the beginning or he would not have expressed the opinion that there are evils now which did not exist formerly. If we frankly admit the evils and seek to bring about a remedy, that is what the public expect and appreciate. But what I cannot understand is why my hon. friend should choose the present time for bringing forward his motion. He has given us a very interesting speech, save the small portion to which I take exception, but it does seem strange that he should feel it necessary to follow his excellent sentiments with a motion which takes the form of a motion of non-con-tidence. There is nothing in this question which should lead him to approach it with the desire of dividing the House.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

Then accept the motion.

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

The better way would be not to make it as a non-confidence motion or not make it at all, and having drawn attention to it, I trust my hon. friend will see that there is no occasion to divide the House and will withdraw it. Another reason why the time is not opportune is this: Some time ago my right hon. friend the First Minister announced the intention of the government to deal with this question of civil service reform. Last week the House was informed that a Bill would be brought before parliament dealing with the subject. On Friday last the Minister of Agriculture placed on the order paper the customary notice that a Bill would be introduced to amend the Civil Service Act, and on the order paper to-day I find Bill entitled an Act to amend the Civil Service Act standing in the name of the Minister of Agriculture. That Bill would be probably on the table to-day but for the fact that my hon. friend is necessarily absent, owing to circumstances both sides of the House deplore. What strikes me is that when a Bill is on the notice paper dealing with the whole matter in a concrete form and likely to come forward in a few days, there can be no reason why my hon. friend from North Toronto (Mr. Foster) should challenge discussion and divide the House on the abstract question. Having drawn attention to the matter, I certainly think no good purpose can be served by his dividing the House. Let him wait for the Bill which the government has announced, and then there will be ample time to discuss the whole question. A premature discussion now is neither desirable nor expedient.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

I shall not take up much time as I have given but little attention to this question outside of observations since I have been in tbe House. My hon. friend the Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding) says the patronage committee is a good thing. He defends political patronage in the selection and maintenance of civil servants. Well, in that respect he is entirely out of accord with the judgment of the Civil Service Commission which he helped to appoint to look into this question and give the House the benefit of their observations.

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

My hon. friend is not quite accurate. What I did was give instances in which the patronage committee had nominated men to office, and I said that so long as we had no competitive examination the nominations received in that way were deserving of consideration.

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May 26, 1908