June 28, 1919

UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I said that that would be required to be done if the argument presented was sound.

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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

At the time of confederation there were judicial systems established in the province of Quebec and Ontario and those systems, it was taken for granted, would continue on the same basis, with this modification, that the number of judges required to administer justice under those systems should be increased as required by the development of either province. When this matter was discussed the Fathers of Confederation knew very well that we had one court of unlimited jurisdiction. They knew on the other hand that Ontario had county court judges. My hon. friend wants to give the impression to the committee that all the province has to do is to legislate. But that is not all the province has to do. We have the right to create additional judgeships, but we cannot fill them until the Federal Government says it is necessary to make the appointments. No legislation can be taken seriously that would destroy the basis upon which confederation was established. No reasonable man would judge the standing of a court simply by the name which the Provincial Legislature chose to give to that court. It was not because the judges bore a certain name that their salaries were fixed; it was on account of the very foundation of the judicial system which existed in the provinces at the time of Confederation. This is the system that has existed

with us. The test to apply is very easy. Take the population of Ontario and the population of Quebec, and see how much it costs to administer justice in the respective provinces. I venture to say that the cost of administering justice in the province of Quebec is no higher than the cost of administering justice in the province of Ontario, and if this legislation is passed the cost of administering justice in the province of Quebec is going to be less than in the province of Ontario. I shall refer to these figures again in the House. What I am objecting to now is the fact that my hon. friend proceeds on a hypothesis which is not reasonable. It is not reasonable to suppose that by changing the name of a court you change the functions of that court.

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I said, change the jurisdiction, make it unlimited.

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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

Change the jurisdiction, if you will; that makes no difference at all. I do not know what the jurisdiction of the county courts in Ontario is, but you have seventy-two judges there to look after these cases at a salary of $3,000 each, and it is now proposed to increase their salaries by $1,000 each. The combined salaries are $288,000, at $4,000 each, or $216,000 at $3,000 each.

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Before any attempt was made to increase the salaries, a letter was addressed to the Attorney-General of the province of Ontario, and a request was made that provision bp made for reducing the bench of Ontario, because we were convinced that it was much larger than there was any need for. That provision was made and is going into effect now; it is partially in effect already, because certain judges have passed away, and there are several vacancies in Ontario now. It will go into effect continuously, until the number will be reduced to forty-five.

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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

We do not ask for any reduction. You were willing to pay those judges in Ontario whether there was work for them or not. You cannot decrease the number of judges in the province of Que-bee because we have hardly enough now for the work there is to do. If it is necessary to put aside so many judges in the province of Ontario there must have been something wrong in the appointing of these judges, or with the legislature. Of course, I know nothing about it, but perhaps the reason is that Ontario is going backwards so far as litigation is concerned; I should be sorry to see that. But that does not

affect our system. You paid this money whether services were rendered or not, and I thinik if you reduced the number of county court judges in Ontario by half you would not be any worse [DOT] off. It is not a question of name or jurisdiction, but a question of carrying on the work of the country. I say that the judges in the province of Quebec who reside outside of the cities of Montreal and Quebec "are treated with discrimination in the matter of salary. I am not asking for any increase in salary. My point is this: Here are these men doing just as much work, more work in fact, being handicapped in the exercise of their functions. They have not the same facilities and the same advantages as the judges who get the higher salaries; and we ask that they be put on the same footing. The answer is: No, the Minister of Justice is not here. That is not fair. I for one feel that in the interests of the country I should not vote for the resolution as it stands, although I want to be understood that I am in favour of everything in it; but what is omitted from it I consider just as important, if not more important, as a matter of equity and justice than what it contains.

These men have to keep up a higher standard of living than men of ordinary rank, and I do not see why, when every one else from the foot of the social ladder to the top is being increased, these particular persons should not also receive increases, if for no other reason ithan the high cost of living. Our legal system as regards salaries was established at Confederation and has not changed. The salaries were based on conditions existing then, but conditions have changed considerably. Can my hon. friend tell me why it is thalt the judge for the district of Pontiac, when conditions are absolutely the same in every detail as those of St. Hyacinthe, Beauharnois and Richelieu, should not be put on the same footing and his salary increased to $7,000 the same as the others? This man is just as qualified, and the only reason that will appeal to any rational man is that the discrimination is made on account of his political activities and clashes that he may have had with the present Minister of Justice in former years.

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Is that Mr. Justice Weir?

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L LIB
UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I must say that I did not know, until I heard the hon. member speak, what the political proclivities of that gentleman were.

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L LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Laurier Liberal

Mr. E. LAPOINTE:

I told you a few minutes ago that he had been provincial treasurer of Quebec, and speaker of the legislature, and had been active in politics.

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Well, I did not catch that remark when it was made. The hon. gentleman is quite wrong in that regard. The only reason was that I did not think it was for me as Acting Minister of Justice to pass upon the relative merits and duties of judges of Quebec. If it had been a matter of general increases all round I should have put it into the Bill; but as it was a matter of a particular advancement I thought it was more appropriate to leave it to the minister.

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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

Every province receives the benefit of the Bill except Quebec. My hon. friend just now said-when the member for Kamouraska made the statement that it was because we were not represented -that the latch string was out. We do not want to have any string on this Government, nor do we want the Government (to have any string on us. We do not complain about not being represented. We just present our case on its merits and urge the fairness of it. Whatever the reasons may be, the conclusions have to be drawn by every member of the House and every individual outside. It can be shown by Hansard that the Minister of Jusltice (Mr. Doherty) has always said that when the general revision of judges' salaries was made this matter would be taken into consideration. My hon. friend took it up this session for the purpose of availing himself of the excuse that might exist that the Minister of Justice being from Quebec, he would leave it to him to decide this question. If he brought the matter up to take advantage of that excuse, I can draw my own conclusions. On the other hand, the hon. gentleman knows very well that the Minister of Justice, or any Minister of Justice, wTill not open up the question of judges' salaries for the purpose of dealing with one province.

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L LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE:

I am very anxious that this resolution should go through, and if there is any further discussion it can be had on the Bill. As far as I am concerned, the resolution has some disappointments for me, but taking it all in all it is not. so very bad. I hope the resolution will be permitted to go through to-night.

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L LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Laurier Liberal

Mr. E. LAPOINTE:

There are many gentlemen from Quebec who are not here today and who desire to express their views on the resolution.

269 %

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

The Bill will be up and will have three readings, and there will be the committee stage.

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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

It has not been the custom this session, at least so far, to have a discussion on the second reading of a Bill. The Bill is just read the second time and the House goes into committee on it, and you cannot discuss certain matters when you are going through the Bill clause by clause. My -hon. friend the minister and other lawyers know better than others that when you discuss a Bill in Committee you are bound by the rules to confine yourself to the clause under consideration. On second reading you have to discuss the principle of the Bill and keep to generalities. We are in favour of the principle of the Bill, but the only time you can have a discussion such as would cover the matters hon. members desire to deal with is on the resolution.

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L LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE:

I am supporting the passing of the resolution on the understanding that whatever any hon. member has to say can be said later on.

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L LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Laurier Liberal

Mr. E. LAPOINTE:

Our point is that the judges of Quebec should be given the same increase, to equalize their salaries, with those of other judges. That cannot be done except by way of resolution before the introduction of the Bill. If the resolution is permitted to pass we shall be precluded from changing the Bill in that respect, and to remedy the matter another resolution would have to be introduced.

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

If this resolution passes the hon. gentleman will be quite free when the Bill is under consideration to move an amendment if he chooses.

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UNI L

William Stevens Fielding

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. FIELDING:

You could not increase the salaries-.

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June 28, 1919