May 26, 1908

CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

The hon. gentleman said that if somebody had to be appointed in a distant locality, how are you going to get the information you required? But it is not with regard to remote parts of the country that the patronage committees are appointed. They are at work right here in the capital, and their work is more apparent and effective to-day in Ottawa than it is in any other place in Canada. To show that the patronage committees nominated excellent men the Minister of Finance gave us some examples, and the only conclusion we can draw from his argument and his illustrations is that the patronage committee is the proper system. But that is not the judgment of the Civil Service Commission, because they say that patronage is radically wrong. My hon. friend says that this is a non-confidence motion and asks why it was moved on the motion to go into Supply. But, on similar occasions, motions of this kind have been accepted and then they become no longer motions of want of confidence. There is nothing to prevent the Minister of Finance from admitting that the principle laid down in that motion is a good one and one the government should accept. There would then be no controversy between us. The next point made by the minister was that there is a Civil Service Bill to be laid before the House in a few days, and therefore there is no necessity of dealing with the question now. Could there possibly be a better time to present all the data to the House, that the House might be in possession of all the facts? The government itself could take all this data into consideration, and even if it were necessary for them to delay their Bill for a few days in order that they might bring the measure into accordance with the best and soundest information afforded them, they could make a much better Bill and one more acceptable to parliament. Surely there could be no more opportune time to discuss this question than just before the introduction of a Civil Service Bill.

Certain facts have directed my attention to the need of civil service reform. As 1 have already said, I speak rather from information than any thing else. I have been in this House for a somewhat lengthened period and have heard of civil service reform over and over again. It is said that the opposition is always in favour of introducing civil service refoi-m and the government is always against it. I do not know whether the government's position on the question is due to the fact that it is a large question and difficult to deal with, or due to the fact that a real reform would wipe out the patronage system on which they depend for keeping in power. Whatever the cause, they do not seem to be in favour of civil service reform.

That the object proposed by this resolution is a good one must be patent to every member of the House ; it would give us a better civil service, one more useful to the country and one more independent of political parties. The establishment of the Civil Service Commission was for the very purpose of setting forth to the country what defects existed in the civil service, and the appointment of such a commission was in effect, a declaration by the government that they desired to remedy these defects. The Civil Service Commission has shown that many reforms are needed, and it is the duty of the government to take advantage of the information fuirhished by the commission. The commissioners say, among other things :

It was the universal feeling amongst the officials who gave evidence before the commissioners that this patronage evil was the curse of the public service.

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISTRIBUTION OF ' HANSARD.'
Subtopic:   $139 COMMONS
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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

Which report is the hon. gentleman (Mr. Sproule) reading from?

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISTRIBUTION OF ' HANSARD.'
Subtopic:   $139 COMMONS
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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

I am reading from the Civil Service Commission's Report, page 13.

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISTRIBUTION OF ' HANSARD.'
Subtopic:   $139 COMMONS
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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

Not the old report ? [DOT]

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISTRIBUTION OF ' HANSARD.'
Subtopic:   $139 COMMONS
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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

The report of 1908.

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISTRIBUTION OF ' HANSARD.'
Subtopic:   $139 COMMONS
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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

It sounds very like the old one.

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISTRIBUTION OF ' HANSARD.'
Subtopic:   $139 COMMONS
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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

The Minister of Finance rather resents the statements of the commission, judging by the arguments he has used before the House. The report proceeds :

Many of the witnesses were very frank on this subject, and the commissioners earnestly recommend that all persons who are interested in the maintenance at a high state of efficiency of the administration of the affairs of the Dominion should very carefully consider the evidence submitted on this point with this report.

Then they go on to draw attention to the fact that, though we have a civil service law, in many cases it is violated. They say

Mr. SPROULE

that in 1906, over fifty votes were put through this House containing the old stereotyped clause ' Notwithstanding any thing in the Civil Service Act.' This is an absolute violation of a principle in the Act that should be held sacred. The commissioners go on to point out that while many members of the civil service carry on their work with zeal and with scant remuneration, there are many others who give very imperfect service to the country. It is to be supposed that it is for the purpose of remedying the evils pointed out? that the government are introducing the Bill which they are about to present. Why should they object to any one giving such information as will assist them in perfecting this Bill?

One of the great existing evils is that the civil service to-day is not open to the fair competition of all. Why ? Because political pull has destroyed fair competition. The Civil Service Act of 1892 was intended for this purpose, but it has been warped from that purpose in one way and another.

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISTRIBUTION OF ' HANSARD.'
Subtopic:   $139 COMMONS
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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

Under the Act of 1892, was the civil service open to the competition of all ?

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISTRIBUTION OF ' HANSARD.'
Subtopic:   $139 COMMONS
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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

So far as the civil service examination was concerned, it was open to every young man and woman in the country.

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISTRIBUTION OF ' HANSARD.'
Subtopic:   $139 COMMONS
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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

The same is true to-day.

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISTRIBUTION OF ' HANSARD.'
Subtopic:   $139 COMMONS
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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

And that was a great step in the right direction. It made it clear that there must be a certain standard of excellence on the part of those who aspired to positions in the civil service. I frankly admit that politics entered more largely into the section from amongst those who had passed the civil service qualifying examination than ought to have been the ease, but at least the Act gave assurance that those from amongst whom the choice was to he made had certain necessary qualifications. And the promotion was to be solely on merit. Is it on merit to-day ? I am told it is not, but that political pull controls the situation.

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISTRIBUTION OF ' HANSARD.'
Subtopic:   $139 COMMONS
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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

There is not a shadow of evidence to support that statement.

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISTRIBUTION OF ' HANSARD.'
Subtopic:   $139 COMMONS
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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

Need I point to any other fact than the fact that the civil service has so many appointments based upon nothing but nepotism ? There are ministers and ex-ministers who have sons in the civil service who never passed the examination. And there are sons-in-law and relatives of leading men in the government party who have been put in regardless of their qualifications. Had I the time to collect them, I could give the names of dozens of such cases. Why, it is a burning scandal the way members of parliament and min-

isters have been able to get their relatives into the civil service whether they were qualified or not to the exclusion of many who were well qualified but who were without the political pull which was used to such good effect for the benefit of their rivals. It does not need a civil service commission to point this out, it is apparent to every one.

Let me point out just a few of the benefits that would accrue from an improved system if it were adopted. First and greatest would be the improvement in the civil service ; the work would be better done and at less cost. There is no doubt that there are many members of the service who give faithful and conscientious service, who do their very best. But there are others who cannot exert their best powers because they have not the necessary stimulus to their ambition. They know that, no matter what their merit, they cannot get permission without political pull. If the civil service were ruled by merit these men would be spurred on to give better service to the country. Another great advantage would be that members of parliament and the government would be relieved from very unpleasant work which now they are compelled to go through. Members waste a large portion of their time giving excuses to those for whom they cannot secure appointments in the civil service, many of whom are not qualified and should not be applicants for positions in the service. Then it would relieve members of parliament from all that, and from what I know of the feeling of the members with regard to it, in my judgment 24 out of 25 of the members of this House would gladly welcome the introduction of such a system. If they were supporters of the government they would be able to give the one answer, that they had lost the power of patronage. It would relieve them from a very onerous and a very disagreeable work. Then it would prevent the government and their supporters from the exercise of patronage in order to keep themselves in power. Why Is it that in England the governments do not live as long as they do here ? It is because they have no political patronage to exercise. In England as soon as the government begins to live it .begins to die. Byelections almost invariably go against the government, because the government has no political patronage by which to influence voters, and they cannot keep themselves in power by that means. What was it that kept Sir Oliver Mowat and G. W. Boss in power for so long a time, over 34 years ? It was the most scandalous nepotism, it was the abuse of political patronage, the worst that has taken place in any country in the world. It was not merit, not faithful service, not the administration of the government in the public interest; but it

was the power they were able to exercise over the people through political patronage, the power they had. of appointing thousands and thousands of persons to office that kept them in control of the government year after year. A reform system would make the governments more useful, and it would do away with the nepotism which is exercised by the Prime Minister, the other ministers of the Crown, and members of parliament in their desire to appoint their own relatives to office.

Then I say that all civil servants should stand on exactly the same basis as other citizens of the country. In my judgment they should be compelled to pay their debts the same, they should be compelled to pay their taxes the same, and they should be allowed to exercise their right of franchise, but not to become political partisans by going on the stump and actively supporting a political party. I think they should certainly have the right to vote. There are several other things that I would like to say, but as it is six o'clock I shall have to forbear saying them now. I agree -with every word the motion contains. It would be in the interest of the government that this motion should pass, and in my judgment the government should say : We believe in the principle enunciated in this motion, and we accept it. In that wav this motion would cease to be one of want of confidence.

At six o'clock, House took recess.

After Recess.

House resumed at eight o'clock.

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISTRIBUTION OF ' HANSARD.'
Subtopic:   $139 COMMONS
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PRIVATE BILLS.


House in committee on Bill (No. 153) to incorporate the Saskatchewan Power Company-Mr. McCraney. Mr. MeCRANEY. Since the House was last in committee on this Bill I have received a wire from the mayor of Saskatoon with respect to It. It will be remembered that the hon. member for Grenville (Mr. J. D. Reid) took some exception to the powers which were given in the Bill, especially with reference to the length of time within which the company will have to go into operation, and he suggested to me the advisability of sending a copy of the ' Hansard ' containing the discussion to the council of the city of Saskatoon. I did! that and the reply that I have is as follows: Saskatoon, May 22, 1908. G. McCraney, Esq., M.P., Ottawa. Council satisfied with Power Bill as printed, JAMBS R. WILSON, Mayor.


CON

William James Roche

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. W. J. ROCHE.

Has tlie lion, gentleman not received any other communication?

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISTRIBUTION OF ' HANSARD.'
Subtopic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Sub-subtopic:   SASKATCHEWAN POWER COMPANY.
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LIB

George Ewan McCraney

Liberal

Mr. McCRANEY.

Prior to this time I received a wire from the mayor saying that a delegation might come to Ottawa with respect to the Bill but this was received: by me subsequently.

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISTRIBUTION OF ' HANSARD.'
Subtopic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Sub-subtopic:   SASKATCHEWAN POWER COMPANY.
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CON

William James Roche

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. W. J. ROCHE.

I may say that I had a communication from Saskatoon in which it was stated that the hon. member was being wired by either the mayor or the council saying they were sending a deputation of two, that they considered the Bill too sweeping in its character and that the people's interests were not sufficiently safeguarded. I understood the hon. gentleman's telegram was subsequent to the telegram he has read.

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISTRIBUTION OF ' HANSARD.'
Subtopic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Sub-subtopic:   SASKATCHEWAN POWER COMPANY.
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LIB

George Ewan McCraney

Liberal

Mr. McCRANEY.

I did receive such a wire as the hon. member mentions, but as this wire which I have read was received subsequently I felt that it revoked* anything that the previous telegram contained.

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISTRIBUTION OF ' HANSARD.'
Subtopic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Sub-subtopic:   SASKATCHEWAN POWER COMPANY.
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CON

William James Roche

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. W. J. ROCHE.

You received the other telegram since the debate occurred a week ago?

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISTRIBUTION OF ' HANSARD.'
Subtopic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Sub-subtopic:   SASKATCHEWAN POWER COMPANY.
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May 26, 1908