March 5, 1914

LIB

David Arthur Lafortune

Liberal

Mr. LAFORTUNE:

I am in favour of increasing the salaries of these poor people. I know what I am speaking about. I see them at work almost every day. They complain, and rightly so. The Government to my mind, should take the necessary steps to have the law amended so as to secure a fairer rate of remuneration to these poor civil servants. If the wish is that these men should lead an honourable life, they should be put in a position to at least make both ends meets. The only way to keep them right is to pay them a salary sufficient to enable them to properly maintain their families. It is not a question of party politics, but a question of justice. I do not blame the present Administration any more than the former.

Reference has been made to the removal of Mr. Bazinet, of Joliette, an ex-mayor of that city.

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CON

Joseph Pierre Octave Guilbault

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUILBAULT:

He was never mayor of Joliette.

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LIB
CON

Joseph Pierre Octave Guilbault

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUILBAULT:

Neither was his brother.

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LIB

David Arthur Lafortune

Liberal

Mr. LAFORTUNE:

I know that man, he is an honest citizen. I am satisfied, in spite of reports circulated, that he has not interfered in politics. He had his own views, and every man is entitled to that. So long as you keep the names of civil servants on the electoral lists, they will retain the right to express their political views. If you are intent on depriving them of that right, strike their names off the lists of voters, and then you may rightly say that they have no business to talk politics. You make them judges of the conduct of the representatives of the people, and afterwards it is claimed that they have no right to open their mouths. That is neither fair no equitable.

I recognize that a public officer has no

right to speak on the hustings in election time, and still less to insult his opponents. Whoever does so is responsible for the consequences, and should his party be defeated, he is bound to fall as well.

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CON

Joseph Pierre Octave Guilbault

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUILBAULT:

Is the hon. gentleman aware that Mr. Louis Bazinet presided over political meetings?

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LIB

David Arthur Lafortune

Liberal

Mr. LAFORTUNE:

I know nothing of the sort; I would like to have the proof.

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CON

Joseph Pierre Octave Guilbault

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUILBAULT:

Well, I am in a position to say so.

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LIB

David Arthur Lafortune

Liberal

Mr. LAFORTUNE:

I know very well that the hon. gentleman would not knowingly deceive us. But I lay down in the abstract that no one should be dismissed before a thorough enquiry has been made, and not on a mere affidavit addressed to the minister, or on a solemn declaration, which deprives the accused of all chance of vindicating himself. O tempora, o mores! Is it not generally admitted that the greatest criminal has the right to be heard? I say that under British rule such a thing should not be tolerated. It is to be regretted that the spirit of partisanship should exact such reprisals. If the poor man had been given an opportunity to defend himself, the minister would not likely have taken the stand he did take.

Mr. Wilfrid McBeth, of Montreal a friend of mine of forty years' acquaintance, has been dismissed. I am in a position to state that he never interferred in politics, and if an opportunity had been given to him it would have been an easy matter for him to clear himself of the charges. Knowing as I do the kindly disposition of the Minister of Inland Revenue, I am .satisfied that some influence has been brought to bear upon him and that he has been deceived. When a political friend is anxious to get a job and is informed that there is none available, the minister says: I would only be too glad to help you, you have made sacrifices, try and find out something and we will give it to you. That man starts out and, under the spur of necessity, demands the dismissal of a political opponent.

Before resuming my seat, I shall request the hon. minister to seriously consider the smaller salaries, the starvation wages with which a large number of Government men, temporary employees who have been in the service for a period of fifteen or twenty years, have to be content. When a member is absent for reasons of health, and is unable to get his indemnity, right away some enactment is made and the member,

often a rich man, who could dispense with the money, gets his full pay. This House passes a Bill to assist a member of Parliament. Why should we not do the same to assist these ill-paid Government employees? The country is prosperous. I should even like to see the members' indemnity increased, and the ministers themselves increase their salaries, which would be only right.

If it is deemed necessary, on account of the high cost of living, to increase salaries everywhere in every department, let us not forget the small wage earner; wealthy men are able to look after themselves. People in ill-paid positions have no one to protect them, they are dependent on their daily earnings, they live from hand to mouth, and a mere casualty, a loss of employment through illness, for instance, may deprive them of their home; they are sued by the baker, the butcher, the grocer, and they do not enjoy such protection as is afforded to permanent officers, because they are mere temporary employees.

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CON

Joseph Hormisdas Rainville

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. RAINVILLE:

Their salary is not subject to seizure?

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LIB

David Arthur Lafortune

Liberal

Mr. LAFORTUNE:

With all due respect to the hon. member for Ohambly Verchbres, it has been decided that the salaries of those who are not appointed by commission are subject to seizure.

It seems to me to be the general opinion on both sides of the House that it is absolutely urgent the Government should do something for those men whose salaries are inadequate.

Progress reported.

On motion of Mr. Pelletier, the House adjourned at 10.43 p.m.

Friday, March 6, 1914,

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March 5, 1914