June 23, 1920

L LIB

Samuel William Jacobs

Laurier Liberal

Mr. JACOBS:

I scarcely think that

changing the word "advancing" to "advanced" would meet the exigencies of the case. If we fix sixty-five years as the age at which the commission can lay hands on an official, what does the minister consider as "advanced age" before sixty-five? A man may be of advanced age at the age of fifty-five, and again a man of eighty-five may be able to earn his remuneration. I think it would be well to strike out that phrase entirely.

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UNION

James Alexander Calder (Minister of Immigration and Colonization)

Unionist

Mr. CALDER:

I think the purpose might be met by leaving that out entirely.

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UNION

Thomas Wilson Crothers

Unionist

Mr. CROTHERS:

I think it would be

better if we said, lack of experience or ability or lack of suitable work. I would like to see subsection (2) of section 2 so amended that the retirement should receive the approval of the deputy head. This is not required by the Bill. All that is required is that the deputy head must be consulted. He is not required to give his assent to the removal of an officer. There is another thing. I dislike the idea of placing in the hands of any one the power to retire a man without giving him a chance to be heard. I do not know whether it would be impracticable to provide for his being heard, but it does not seem to me right that a man who has been in the service eight, or nine or ten years should be dismissed without a hearing at all. He may *have been in a department so long that he is perhaps unable to take any other position. I would not like to be retired myself without having the opportunity of saying something about it. This should be guarded as a matter of principle, and unless it is considered impracticable by the committee I think provision should be made that the man shall have an opportunity of being heard before dismissal. His removal should also receive the approval of the deputy head.

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L LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Laurier Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

There is an amendment before the committee. It is to substitute the words ' or lack of employment" for the words " or other cause " in subsection (2) of section 2. Is it the pleasure of the committee to adopt the amendment?

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Amendment agreed to.


L LIB

John Ewen Sinclair

Laurier Liberal

Mr. SINCLAIR (Antigonish and Guys-borough):

Does this section refer to temporary as well as permanent employees?

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UNION

James Alexander Calder (Minister of Immigration and Colonization)

Unionist

Mr. CALDER:

No, by the definition of the word " officer " temporary employees are excluded.

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L LIB
UNION

Herbert Macdonald Mowat

Unionist

Mr. MOWAT:

The only thing is that it is advisable in these matters to have an arbitrary rule. The age at which judges may retire on superannuation is fixed in the statute and this is a provision which as a rule is found to work well. I should not Ibe disposed to differ from what my hon. friend from West Elgin (Mr. Grot-hers) says as to giving notice, but it is a very painful thing to have an officer who is growing old come up and protest that he is young. There is a great tendency on the .part of a man when he gets to an advanced age to think that he is as good as he ever ,was or better, hut I think we must assume that the Civil Service Commission will act with ordinary human charity, and will use .common .sense as well, in judging this matter. I am very strongly of opinion .that it is important that the deputy heads should he made more responsible for the men under them. If you have that system and do not have any interference with the deputy head, then you will have a man who will he jealous of his department and zealous to see that it carries out its work well. If you interfere with or check him, ,or if he knows that he is to be, as it were, called to walk the carpet for any action he has taken with regard to one of the officers in his department, then he is apt to become supine in the discharge of his duties. If we can get a system under .which the deputy heads have the right to decide as to their employees you will have a much more efficient service than if the .matter were left either to the Civil Service .Commission or to members of the Cabinet. This is the practice now in all departmental stores and large concerns,-the head of the department is looked to for efficiency, and in order to get efficiency he must not be .interfered with except in extraordinary cases. I had hoped that the minister would leave the words "other cause'' in the Bill; the same remarks I have used in regard .to the Civil Service will apply there. It jLs a pity to restrict the reasons which may actuate the Civil Service, in consultation .with deputy ministers, in coming to a .conclusion that a person appointed is not doing his work well and would be better out of the service. However, as the minister has decided to leave 'that out I will pay nothing more about it.

As regards the question of advancing age iwhich has 'been called in. question, it must |be remembered that the words "failing health" do not apply in many cases. A man may be in perfect health and yet may be suffering from one of those diseases that

paake men old before their time. We all know what these are, and we know that some men at forty-five are really like men of seventy-five; it is old age which is coming on prematurely. To all appearances they are perfectly well, but they have become old men too soon, and there .are such men in the Civil Service, as we were told in evidence given before a committee of this House last year. There are some men who are young in years but are old as regards the amount of work they can do. We were told that tlheTe were men who were inefficient, and it was said that some were not doing anything, that they need not come to the office at all; but no one liked to take the responsibility of turning them out on the world. I think therefore that it would, do no harm to leave in the words "advancing age" as well ais the words "failing health" in order to make the Act efficient and to .provide for all eases which may come for adjudication before the commission in consultation with the deputy heads. In regard to the question of turning men out into the world, I think I may have something to say when we come to a succeeding clause, because the provision that is made does* not seem to me at all adequate. Some poor chap perhaps was taken on without examination, having entered the service under the system which is pleaded for to-night by my hon. friend from Muskoka (Mr. McGibboni and my hon. friend from Dufferin (Mr. Best). The man was never efficient and never could become efficient and now it is found that he is unable to do the work 'assigned him, and has not the ability, the brains, or the initiative. Yet it is an awfully harsh thing to' turn such a man out over sixty years of age without adequate means of support when he has a family dependent on him.

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UNION

Samuel Hughes

Unionist

Sir SAM HUGHES (Victoria):

point out that it would! be a great advantage co the Civil Service in the matter of responsibility if every adverse report made with regard to a civil servant were communicated to that servant so that he might take steps to obtain redress and prove the falsuty of the charge-if the charge were untrue- before the deputy minister or the proper authority, whoever he might be. In other words, the first principle of British justice should be observed, namely, that accused and accuser shall stand face' to face. Under this Act I ,do not see that civil servants adversely reported' upon have any chance of being heard at all. The commission may be all right in their place, but it is not well to do things in too great a hurry. II understand that there are several hundred young fellows and girls working around thlis commission at the present time; and just as in the case of. the -Purchasing Commission we know that the clerks did most of the buying, so in this case the clerks will do most of the examining, criticising, and appointing, and fixing things u,p. I am sorry that I have not as much faith in the operation of the Civil Service Commission 'as I should have, but I take the liberty of suggesting to the minister the advisability of seeing that absolute fair play shall be given to all servants upon whom reports are made. First, I would have every adverse report communicated to the civil servant the moment it was made; and, secondly, I would provide that in case a clerk or civil servant was to he removed he should have an opportunity of obtaining some appeal and an investigation before the deputy head1 or some other competent authority before his removal.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

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UNION

Samuel Hughes

Unionist

Sir SAM HUGHES:

One point before the motion is put, if I may.

The CHAIRMAN-: The motion is undebatable. The minister might perhaps withdraw it.

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UNION

Samuel Hughes

Unionist

Sir SAM HUGHES:

All right, I will talk to him privately on the matter.

Motion agreed to and progress reported.

MEMBERS' INDEMNITY:

PROPOSED INCREASE DISCUSSED ON MOTION FOR SUPPXjY.

On the motion that the House go again into Committe of Supply:

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UNION

John Hampden Burnham

Unionist

Mr. J. H. BURNHAM (West Peterborough) :

There have been, at various times

a - number of very embarrassing circumstances which have occured with regard to the business of the members themselves. A subject that we have heard! a great deal1 about is the increase in the sessional indemnity. I am told there have been a great many deputations to see the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Borden), the leader of the Opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) and the leader of the Farmers' Party (Mr. Crerar). I have not had .the honour of being invited to join any of these deputations so I cannot speak directly of what was accomplished, but I know that there have been many such deputations and that their visits have been frequent. I know that there is arising in this House a feeling that an .indemnity which is only worth SI,200 a session, is of no use to the bulk of the members, and is not a fair return for what is expected of them. And! when their life is considered -that is to say when it is borne in mind that they have to live in two places and practically speaking keep up two establishments, and that they are exiles from their own family circle for at least six months of the year, can it be wondered at that they find an indemnity which has the purchasing power of only $1,200 a year so inadequate as to make it quite impossible

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for many members to continue? I do not deny that some members have business, or positions, outside the House which would enable them to lave comfortably even if they were in actual retirement, and the sessional indemnity does not offer any great inducement to them either one way or the other. These men are largely-and! I say it of course in no invidious way-connected with the greater commercial life of Canada. They come here because the greater commercial life of Canada is intimately and, seriously affected by the laws which are passed here. They come here to watch those laws, and if possible to create and to mould .legislation-which of course is their right. But the great bulk of the people of Canada must depend upon what is called the average member. The average member is not a man of wealth; he depends perhaps upon some private business. He has to employ, when he is away from his private business, some one to look after that private business in his room and stead. As a consequence the indemnity is worth very little to him, and when its purchasing power is cut down, as it has been cut, it is almost worth nothing at all. As a consequence- the mass of the people of this country cannot expect to be well served with the indemnity at its present figure.

If it be said that in bringing this matter np I should have waited1 until there was a larger attendance I reply that the attendance is very fair. There appear to me to be about eighty or ninety members present; but we have carried through measures today involving vastly greater pecuniary expenses than the one I am discussing, we have carried through other very important measures, with half the attendance there is now. It cannot be disguiser that there is a certain amount of apathy, if not despair, on the part of ,a great many members who do not understand how they are going to make ends meet; and I say again that if the people-the mass of the people- wish their business to .he attended to, they have got to pay their public servants, as they pay their private servants, in a way that will sustain them in common decency. From one end of this country to the other, wages, salaries, every kind of remuneration have been increased. But here there has been no increase. We found in the newspapers a loyal support of the endeavour of the members of this assembly to have their salaries increased. All the leading newspapers endorsed the proposal and spoke most heartily in favour of it until the leaders got mixed up in their views on it.

And when the leaders refused to go on with it, what would the leading newspapers do but get back in their tracks as quickly as possible? So they made apologies for their former views, expressed some doubt, and gave voice to the opinion of many people in this country that this was a common "graft." Now, if my constituents think that my advocacy of an increased indemnity from -$1,200 to $2,500 is "graft," they are welcome to ask for my retirement.'

I do not propose to go with any such niggardly salary.

I found that my private business conflicted with my public business, and I found that I could not give an honourable adherence to my public duties and to all the things that arose in and concerning them, so I gave up my private business. There are many things that I have spoken on in this House somewhat frankly, somewhat boldly, and somewhat fearlessly. Why? Because I have given myself a free hand. I have had no clients who said to me, "Burnham, you talk too much about insurance. We will withdraw the business we gave you as an insurance company." I have had no people possessed of utilities which might *become public utilities, come to me and say, "You have been talking too much about the acquirement of public utilities at a rock-bottom price. You are no good to us. Therefore we will take our business away from you." I have not had people of that description saying those things to me, because if they had I would have had to make my choice between being loyal to the public interest and helpful to my own private clients; and I am very much afraid that the public business of Canada would have suffered. I can only say that if there are many others in the same predicament as myself,

I can well understand that the public business of Canada will suffer and must suffer. Therefore the people must pay their public representatives decently or they cannot expect decent service.

The strangest thing in the world is that it is conceded by the people of Canada that ' a member of Parliament is at liberty to go home as frequently as he likes; he is at liberty to look after his private business in every way-and .give the residue of his time to public business. That, of course, is a perfect fhrce, and until the people of this country learn that the business of this Parliament is of the utmost value to them economically, politically, historically, socially, morally, - and even religiously- until they have grasped that simple pro-

position there will toe unrest in the country, there will be groaning in the country, there will be aspersions cast upon the members of this House, and there will be dissatisfaction all round.

Now, I can say that 95 per cent of the members of this House demand an increase of this indemnity.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

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UNION

John Hampden Burnham

Unionist

Mr. BURNHAM:

Are we going to suppose that the member for North Cape Breton (Mr. McKenzie) that the member for Maisonnevue (Mr. Lemieux), that the member for Shelburne and Queen's (M^. Fielding), that the member for Beauce (Mr. Beland), that the member for Quebec East (Mr. Lapointe), that the member for Red Deer (Mr. Clark), are not worth any more than $1,200 a year to this country? I wish to say that the member for Maisonneuve has spoken to me in the strongest possible way in favour of an increased indemnity, and he told me that if he were in the House when the question came up he would speak strongly in support of it. I cannot say about the member for Shelburne and Queen's because I have never had a word with him on the subject. But the member for Quebec East-who is unfortunately away just now-told me that he would speak in favour of an increased indemnity, that it was absolutely necessary; and he seemed to be very much stirred about it. The hon. gentleman who has just come in, the member for Four RiveTS-[DOT] ,

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

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UNION

John Hampden Burnham

Unionist

Mr. BURNHAM:

Pardon me, the member for Three Rivers (Mr. Bureau) is strongly in favour of an increased indemnity,-and he is a man who is not afraid to say what he thinks. He has a great deal of business to attend to. He knows what he is talking about, and he knows that $1,200 a year, the annual value of our indemnity, is an insult and not a remuneration. The member for Red Deer has spoken to me on the subject with very considerable heat, and he has told me that he would at the first possible occasion speak in favour of an increased indemnity to the best of his ability. He thinks that the remuneration as it is now is an impossibility. I know a great many other members on this side who no doubt will voice their own opinions.

But, as somebody said, there has been a nigger in the fence. Why is it that the leaders have not been able to get together and decide this, question? One day the rumour going around this House would be

that the Prime Minister was "all right"- originally he was against it; that the leader of the Oposition had been persuaded to look leniently upon this, in view of the fact that he himself gets a very respectable salary,-and I am very glad he does. Many members of the Farmers.' party have spoken to me strongly in favour of this proposition, and I understand that not less than seventy-five per cent of them are strongly in favour of the increase of this indemnity. I am sure, as I said before, that ninety-five per cent of the members of this House, from explanations that are being made, are in favour of the suggested increase.

I am making this introduction of the matter to-night because I feel- that there has rested upon the members of this House an odium which should be removed by an explanation to the public of the cause; and it cannot be removed by such an explanation because it is founded upon an absolute necessity. None of us are beggars. We do not want to beg, nor do we want to grab, but we have reached this stage that, as. I say, we cannot keep up that little station- in life which a public servant is required to keep up, for he has got to be decent in his little subscriptions and things of that sort, and he has got to live in two or three places at once-

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

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UNION

John Hampden Burnham

Unionist

Mr. BURNHAM:

Well, he has got to take various journeys on the public business, and he. has got to pay for those journeys out of his own pocket, except in so far as transportation is concerned. To my disgust and annoyance I have seen it stated in the papers that members have franking privileges. So they have on public business. And in Heaven's name, do you suppose we pay postage on the public business? We carry our own postal matter. It is on the public business that we have the franking privilege, and it is natural to suppose that the public business would be franked. But if we are not to give ourselves that privilege, if the public will not accord to us that privilege, and we have got to pay our own postage, then I can only say that there will be a great decrease in the number of letters sent. The public will not get the satisfaction, the instantaneous response, that they get now. Loads of letters come here which are franked by the people who send them; for at the present time any one who writes to a member of Parliament may send the letter without a stamp. Bet the newspapers and the public not forget, when they are

casting aspersions upon us in connection with our having the franking privilege, that the whole public have the right to frank letters which they send to members of the Senate and the House of Commons or to public officers and departments. During the session is the only time that members of Parliament have the franking privilege, though they have a great deal of public business to do when they are at home; they are expected to answer all sorts of little queries and to give the utmost satisfaction to their constituents and to any other people who choose to consult them.

Now, let me recur to this fact: it is up to the three leaders to say whether or not they are in favour of an increase of indemnity; to say "No, we will not," or "Yes, we will,"-in any event, to stop this running to and fro and the circulation of rumours one way or the other, which, in my opinion-and I know that a great many other people feel the same way-is entirely beneath the dignity of common, ordinary men, let alone members of Parliament or any other people engaged in public business. I am strongly in favour, therefore, of the increasing of the indemnity up to that point where it was when we accepted it, namely, $2,600. It is now only $1,200, so that $1,300 would be the difference. Wherever 1 have gone in the country I have heard all sensible men say that they wondered how we continued at the very small salary that we got. It is different with the ministers. They have large pay, and large responsibilities from which they can shrink; we have small pay, and large responsibilities from which we cannot shrink. We have to eat just as much nourishing food; we have to wear just as decent clothes, as the ministers; ' consequently we must really be considered to be on a level with those people rwho receive large salaries. For example, I am credibly informed that the leader of the Farmers' Party is in receipt of no less a salary, outside this House, than $15,000 a year.' Many men in this House are highly paid, for doing .what? Doing nothing? Certainly not. They are dividing their time between the business of this House and their private interests. Now, that is all very well; it is allowed by the constitution; it is allowed by the law; it is allowed by the public. But the fundamental position which we ought to take in this regard must be understood, namely, that men who devote their energies to the interests of the public should be perfectly free to have laws brought up, discussed, passed and put upon the statute book in an untrammelled

way in the best interests of the public. If they have to depend upon something else in order to eke out their livelihood, how can this possibly be done? Once more, therefore, I appeal to the various leaders,- to the Prime Minister; to the leadef of the Opposition; to the leader of the farmers' Party-to say whether they are going to leave us in the predicament that we are in just now, where we are the envy of neither the gods nor man, or whether they are going to do the fair thing by us under the circumstances. Everybody else has received an increase; surely the poor member of Parliament should receive the same.

Mr. ALPHONSE VERVILLE (St. Denis); Mr. Speaker this question of increased indemnity came before the House some years ago; it was brought up, I believe by the member for Bonavemture (Mt. Marcil). I supported his contention at that time, and I have since had no reason to change my mind. There are many reasons why the indemnity of members of Parliament should he increased. The depreciation in the value of money and its effect upon the indemnity we are now receiving has been ably put forth by my hon. friend from Peterborough (Mr. Burnham). When this question came up previously I was in a different position from that an which I find myself to-day. My only income then was my indemnity as a member of Parliament, and I knew just what it meant to make both ends meet each year on that indemnity. Since then I have been more fortunate. It may be said that for that reason I should not speak in favour of an increased indemnity, but on the contrary that is really the reason why I do * speak in favour of it. When I hear members around the corridors say that they are .afraid they will not be re-elected if they vote for an increase in indemnity, I cannot help feeling that these hon. gentlemen ought not to be in the House if that is the view they take.

It has been pointed out that many mechanics are earning more than members of Parliament. A bricklayer or other mechanic who is at all lucky in his activities throughout the year earns more than a member of the House. Moreover, he is at home every day, and he does not have to keep up two residences. But there is another point. Mention has been made of farmers and business men in the House, but there is another class that should be considered. All hon. members will agree that the labour element should be represented in Parliament, but it is impossible for a labour man

to come here and live honestly on ,$2,500 a year. Accordingly, we are debarring from representation in this House a certain class of the population whose right to be represented here is fully recognized. They can earn more at their trade than they can by coming here; they have to keep up their families, and knowing that, they say: "Well, if I am elected to Parliament I cannot return to my work when the session is over; I must assume the obligations attaching to the office of a member of Parliament; I must meet demands which are made for contributions to various causes, and so on. "Where is he to get the money to do that? If, then, we agree 'that all classes in the community should be represented for the benefit of the country at large, we must make the representation of these classes possible. I am not going to speak for the business men; there are many business men in this House and they can speak for themselves,-though I suppose there are many business men here who will not speak because they are afraid their electors will not be satisfied. But I do not believe that the sensible people in any electoral division will begrudge an increase in indemnity to members of the House. The farmers surely will not do it; Why should they? When they sell their goods in the market those goods demand a certain price, and we have to pay it or do without the goods. I do not begrudge the farmers the high prices they are getting for their products. If it is urged that the cost of production is greater, it is also true that the cost of living to the member of Parliament has largely increased. As I say, I was strongly in favour of an increase in indemnity some years ago when I was more in need of it than I am to-day,-though my position a year or two from now may be the same as it was. But if there are hon. members, as I feel sure 'there are, who do not really need an increase in indemnity, they should not do anything to withhold it from those who find an increase absolutely necessary in order that they may maintain their families and at the same time be of some service to the country. That is the reason why I am supporting this proposal, and I hope it will be supported by all members who are anxious to accept the money. The other day I saw the statement that some member in this House-I believe it was the hon. member for Prescott (Mr. Broulx)- poses as a patriot.

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June 23, 1920