February 4, 1910

OFFICIAL REPORT OF DEBATES.


Mr. GERVAIS moved that the second report of the Select Standing Committee to supervise the official report of the Debates of the House be concurred in.


LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

Explain.

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LIB

Honoré Hippolyte Achille Gervais

Liberal

Mr. GERVAIS.

This is the report of the Debates Committee recommending the appointment of Mr. Desaulniers as translator in place of Mr. Laferriere who died a few days ago. The Debates Committee make the recommendation to the House and hope that it will be concurred in.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

I understand that, according to the present law of the Civil Service-with which I do not profess to be familiar-this appointment cannot be made on the recommendation of a committee. I understand, however, that the gentleman who is recommended for appointment is acceptable and is to be appointed, but by the regular authority that has power to deal with such matters under the law.

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HUGHES.

Inasmuch as there is a divergence of opinion, as I understand it, as to the competent appointing body, would it not be well to have the matter looked into? As far as I am concerned, if the Committee on Debates is only an ornament, not being much of an ornament, I must decline to continue to act on it; and I am satisfied that that is the feeling of the other members of the committee. If one committee of this House can engage a young professor to perambulate the country for another purpose, I cannot see why a standing committee of this House should not have the authority to recommend the appointment of an officer to carry on the work of which that committee has charge.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

I can only say to my hon. friend (Mr. Hughes) that I should be sorry to lose his services on this committee. I could better dispense with his services in some other matters. He is right sometimes, especially in military affairs-

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HUGHES.

This is not a military committee.

Sir WILFRID LAURIER-and I understand that, in this case, the gentleman he recommends is quite acceptable.

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HUGHES.

That is not the point. This is a question of principle-

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LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

That is it; have we or have we not this power?

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L-C
LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

I understand that the authorities deny that we have the power.

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HUGHES.

Would the Prime Minister mind giving the authority to the House?

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

It_ is provided under the Civil Service Act7

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

The Act provides how appointments shall be made to the Civil Service. And, while, as I understand it, it was not intended to take from the House any of its rights in the management of its affairs, still it was agreed that appointments should be made according to the Act, and 97}

by the same authority that makes appointments in other portions of the Civil Service-that is, the Civil Service Board. If that be correct, I do not think that this is the way to do it. This involves a charge on the revenue, and is not in order for that reason. But there is the other objection that appointments are to be made by the Civil Service Board and not on recommendation of this committee.

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LIB

Honoré Hippolyte Achille Gervais

Liberal

Mr. GERVAIS.

Under the Civil Service Act, action with regard to the appointment of an officer of the House of Commons must be taken by the House of Commons. And, in the case of the appointment of an officer of the Senate, action must be taken by that House. I understand that, by the passing of the Civil Service Act, the House has not been deprived of its power of expression which it gets from the. law of nature and not froni any enactment. And it has power to express itself to the Civil Service Commission in relation to an appointment. The Debates Committee are simply making a recommendation to the Civil Service Commissioners that Mr. Desaulniers be appointed; that is all we are now doing. If the appointing commission do not want to deal with our recommendation, the time will come to decide whether their action is legal or illegal, right or wrong. But I do not think for a moment that the House of Commons should refuse to recommend a first-class man, who has passed his examination three years ago-"before the Board of Civil Service Commissioners was established- and come out of the examination with the highest marks, who has been on the waiting list for three years and has been employed as spare translator at an occasion during that time, and who also is declared by the government as perfectly capable of doing his work. We propose, that, and I think the House of Commons should express its opinion that Mr. Desaulniers will be a fit and suitable person to be translator of debates. It will rest with the Civil Service Commission to accept the expression of opinion of the House of Commons. That is. all we are asking of the House. We may make the recommendation-

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

I would like to ask the hon. member (Mr. Gervais) a question. He recommends to the House thus and so; the House agrees to the recommendation- is not that practically carrying it into effect?

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LIB

Honoré Hippolyte Achille Gervais

Liberal

Mr. GERVAIS.

It is not the same thing at all. Under the new Civil Service Act, the commissioners may declare that our recommendation is not in conformity with all the requirements of the formalities provided for under the Act, and may refuse to accept our recommendation. That will .end

the matter, unless some other action is taken by this House. But I do not see why this Debates Committee, entrusted by this House at the opening of the session with the supervision of the official report of the debates, should be treated in this way. If so, there will be only one thing to be done, and that is for every member of the Debates Committee to hand in his resignation. We are making the recommendation; that is all. We are simply making a recommendation, which we thought the Civil Service Commission might accept or ignore.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

To settle the question, I rise to a point of order. I ask your ruling, Mr. Speaker, if this motion is in order in the face of the law.

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LIB

Joseph Arthur Calixte Éthier

Liberal

Mr. ETHIER.

Although I am a member of the Debates Committee, I was not present when that recommendation was adopted, and I think the committee has not taken the proper step to obtain the appointment of a translator. I understand that the translators of the debates are governed by the Civil Service Act and that they are under the control and authority of the Speaker as head of the Department of the House of Commons. According to the Civil Service Act, I understand that the head of the department, on the certificate of the deputy head, who in this case is the clerk of the House, may ask the Civil Service Commission to appoint such an officer, and, thereupon the Civil Service Commission has power to appoint him, and this in accordance with section 21 of the Civil Service Act amendment, with or without examination. I have no doubt that Mr. Desaulniers who has passed the required examination before the Civil Service Act was in force, if appointed, would fulfil the duties of the position satisfactorily. But I do not think the proper course under the Civil Service Act is for the Debates Committee to recommend the appointment of such an officer. I think this is a case in which the Civil Service Act must apply.

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February 4, 1910