aro made to pay their debts by having: their salaries garnisheed. This is simply a theory borrowed from some older lands where the civil servants were the sons, cousins or some other connection of the parties in power and were by this means protected from having to pay their honest debts, when confiding tradesmen trusted them and relied upon their promises. 'Contrary to public policy ' forsooth! What a hoary fiction that is! As if the pub-lrc good would not be better served by making these men pay their debts like every honest citizen and live up to their contracts.
To emphasize the need for this legislation it -would be well if every retail merchants association in the country were to send down a deputation to Ottawa to urge the passing of the Bill.
We in Kingston here will, it is true, not be affected by the Bill, because here our civil servants pay their legitimate debts, but for the principle of the thing we should all contend, namely, that in the eye of the law and in respect to their debts, civil servants are and should be like other individuals. Other cities_ are not so happy in this respect as in Kingston.
The Peterborough ' Examiner * of December 12, says:
Mr. Beauparlant, M.P., for St. Hyacinthe, has introduced into parliament a Bill which should pass into law. Heretofore civil servants at Ottawa have enjoyed a remarkable exemption. Their salaries were not attachable for debt. They might run bills for groceries, dry goods, and what not, and they were uncolleetable by process of law. Under the proposed law the civil servants are tc be legislated into the ranks of ordinary honesty, and respectability. The old law of exemption for responsibility for debts incurred was a premium on dishonesty. There are civil servants by the thousands in Ottawa and it stands to reason that practical freedom from paying honest debt must have exer cised a bad effect upon merchants and business. In the ordinary course of things collection of debts is difficult enough; and this difficulty adds to the difficulty, of business men making ends meet. Pew realize bow much the payment of even a small obligation exercices a cumulative effect; a sum like, say, ten dollars, goes the rounds, so to speak, and can possibly, in a hundred cases, help to make up an amount necessary to meet an obligation, and effect a balance with the bank. Pay-as-you-go is a splendid lubricant for the wheels of business, and pay promptly when you don't pay down, is the next best thing.
I beg to quote from a letter which I have received, the following:
A. M. Beauparlant, Esq., M.P.,
Dear Sir,-Let me congratulate you in connection with the Bill which you are introducing and which provides for the garnishment of the salaries of Dominion civil servants and does away with a remnant of the oppressive privileges of feudal times. *
The salary of the poor workingman may he seized, while hands must he kept off the salaries of these wealthy gentlemen who earn Mr. BEAUPAELANT.
as much as $1,000 or $2,000 per annum, and avoid paying their just debts.
That was a dark spot and an anomaly, an anachronism in this democratic era of ours.
I have found in my protracted career, that this exemption was practically a safeguard for prodigality and dishonesty.
You are doing a meritorious act and the country should he grateful to you for so doing.
I enclose a letter of approval from Sir Wilfrid Laurier, to whom I had submitted the matter.
Please accept, together with the compliments of the season, the assurance of the high esteem in which I hold you.
(Signed): G. Z. MAYEAND,
I submit, Mr. Speaker, that the expressions of opinion I have read to the House are opportune to this discussion, and that something ought to be done to remedy the evil now existing. It is needless to remind the House that it is only just and honest that every one should pay his debts; it is also needless to say that most of the Dominion officials are faithful to their obligations and do not need any law or legal rule to compel them to pay their debts, the moral rule being sufficient. However, a certain number of these officials refuse to pay their just debts, although in a position to do so, and some of them even go so far as to insult their creditors when they are asked for what they honestly owe. Why the salary of a workingman who earns $30 or $40 a month should be liable to garnishee and the salary of the Dominion public official who earns from $100 to $500 a month is not so liable, is a discrimination which ought not be suffered to longer exist. Either an end should be put to the system of attaching small salaries or the same attachment should be allowed on high salaries. We are all aware that the operation of the law allowing or prohibiting the seizure of the salaries of those not in the Dominion service is within the sphere of the provincial legislature, but, the allowing or disallowing of the attachment of the salaries of employees of this government is within the purview of this parliament, and I trust that in the near future this parliament will put an end to the present system of exemption. Why should any class of men be granted such a privilege; why above all should the high salaries-and generally speaking the salaries of the Dominion public servants, may be considered comparatively high salaries- why should the high salaries be exempt from seizure while the low salaries of other wage earners are not. I expect to be told in reply that the system I advocate would create disturbance and inconvenience in the different departments by compelling some chief officials to go to the courts from time to time to make the required statement as to the amount due to the official in default, but the same inconvenience is
now experienced by banking institutions, by municipal and provincial institutions, by railways, and by all kinds of industries, and the people prefer to suffer this inconvenience so that by complying with the requirements of the law, they may ensure that the principles of honesty shall prevail. Should not the Dominion government which is the chief institution in this country give to all others an example of fairness and honesty by compelling their officials to keep faith with their creditors. There is a department of justice specially created for the purpose of causing the principles of honesty to prevail in the whole community-and allow me to state en passant, Mr. Speaker, that the Department of Justice could not have at its head a more able, or a more devoted man than the present minister-and in conjunction with the departments of the attorneys general of the different provinces their mission is to make honesty and justice prevail by safeguarding the rights and properties, as well as the lives and liberties of the citizens. Why should not the several departments of this government be ready to sacrifice their convenience to some extent if need be, in order that principles of honesty and justice should prevail among their employees.
The new system would have some inconveniences, we shall, perhaps, be told, but there is a reply, I trust, to every objection. The new system would be fair to the creditors, and would be desirable for the public officials themselves. It would be an advantage for the good ones, whom the present system does not help'as they deserve, and also for the others, who, precisely because they rely upon this privilege, are led to incur obligations beyond their means. I expect to be told, also, that government employees, on account of the deference due to authority, ought to be free from the rules applied to other citizens. Sir, I am a Liberal, and I believe in equality and in the responsibilities resulting from equality, rather than in privilege. When public officers are expected to be true to their promises and faithful to their obligations in business matters, this is the best guarantee that they will be true also to the government which employs and pays them. I believe that the community are not made for the government, or for the chief officers of state, but that the government and the chief officers of state are made for the community. with all due consequences of that fact. I may be looked upon as not being up to date in saying that I still believe in the possibility of one condition and one rule' of conduct for all men living in the same country, but I feel some pride in the hope that I may be of some use in that respect to the community in which I live. If the government cannot do something this
year in the direction that I have proposed, and if I am still here next year, I will bring the same measure down again, because I think it is fair to all, and above all because it is honest.