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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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;
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.