July 3, 1919

UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

They follow that practice in the other courts, too, but they are not bound to.

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L LIB

Thomas Vien

Laurier Liberal

Mr. VIEN:

Will the minister say that in the English-speaking provinces it is not a good ground for objection that a judge is interested in the matter that comes before him?

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Not in'a court of record.

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Mr. McM ASTER@

Does not the minister think my suggestion worthy of acceptance? The minister wishes this court to have influence with the public. He wishes the findings of that court to be without cavil or question. It will not appeal as strongly to the people as an independent investigating body if it is known that a commissioner, or the board, can sit on a matter in which they are personally interested. They should not have that right.

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

The difficulty is this: No commissioner of high character would do so, but if a man is to be disqualified for interest a commissioner might, in a case, be interested as a consumer.

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Mr. McM ASTER@

Oh, no.

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Undoubtedly he would have an interest one way or the other, even as a consumer, and there might be a technical case where a bona fide judgment would be overthrown when in the public interest it should not be overthrown. I think the public can depend upon any commissioner who is appointed not sitting in a case in which he has a proprietary interest.

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L LIB

Thomas Vien

Laurier Liberal

Mr. VIEN:

By the wording of the clause it does not apply only to a commissioner who would be a consumer but it qualifies him when the clause says that "no commissioner shall be disqualified." That means that "every commissioner is qualified." Whether you say that he is not disqualified or whether you say that he is qualified, it comes to the same practical result.

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. MEIHEN:

Yes.

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L LIB

Thomas Vien

Laurier Liberal

Mr. VIEN:

Well then you say that every commissioner shall be qualified to act in any matter in which he is interested or if his kindred is interested. You say that whether his son or brother is interested in a concern or whether he himself is interested in a matter which is before him,

he is qualified to act. That is not a sound principle and it is not good legislation.

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

That might be a cause for his removal. He may be removed for cause.

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UNION

Levi Thomson

Unionist

Mr. LEVI THOMSON:

I rather think the minister would be well advised to allow this to stand and give it reconsideration. It strikes me that to the last proviso something might be added to the effect that where no objection on account of interest had been taken the decision could not be set aside. I think it would be well for the minister to give this clause a little further consideration.

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L LIB

Thomas Vien

Laurier Liberal

Mr. VIEN:

I also think that the clause might be very easily improved. I grasp the point raised by the minister that if nobody objects to the commissioner sitting in a case where he may have a direct or an indirect interest the adjudication may not be attacked. But the suggestion of the hon. gentleman'(Mr. L. Thomson), I believe, would probably cover the point and the clause might be made to read in this way:

Provided that no commissioner shall be disqualified to act by reason of interest or of kindred or affinity to any person interested in any matter before the board and if no objection has been taken at the time of the hearing.

Or something of that kind so that it will leave an opening for objection to be taken when the hearing comes up.

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

This is in so many statutes that I think it would be unsafe to change it. You might have a judgment upset on the ground of the merest technicality. It does not work any hardship and it is in so many statutes.

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L LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Laurier Liberal

Mr. MCKENZIE:

It is not in so many statutes. It is in a few statutes, for instance, as to a stipendiary or police magistrate, stipulating that his decision shall not be affected because he is a ratepayer in the town and profiting by the fines that he may impose. I think the proviso might very well be left out and the whole thing left to the common law.

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Let the clause stand.

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Mr. McM ASTER@

This is the way I would

like to see the clause read:

Whenever any commissioner is interested otherwise than as a consumer in any matter before the board, or of kin or affinity to any person interested in any such matter, the Governor in Council may, either upon the application of such commissioner or otherwise, appoint some disinterested person to act as commissioner pro hac vice; and' the Governor in Council may also, in the case of the illness,

absence or inability to act of any commissioner, appoint a commissioner pro hac vice;

Then strike out the proviso.

Section allowed to stand.

On section 9-Whole time to be devoted to duties:

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Mr. McM ASTER@

I am at one with that, but still I hate to see a thing expressed in two different ways in the same section:

The commissioners shall devote the whole of their time to the performance of their duties under this Act,-

You might stop there because it is mere

tautology to go on and say:

-and shall not accept or hold any office or employment inconsistent with this section.

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Sometimes it is better to follow the beaten path even if the beaten path may be improved. This is taken directly out of the Railway commission legislation. The idea is to warn them against taking directorships in insurance companies and the like of that.

Progress reported.

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DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.

July 3, 1919