June 1, 1921

?

An hon. MEMBER:

What classes?

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L LIB

William Daum Euler

Laurier Liberal

Mr. EULER:

Possibly the postmasters. I only throw that out as a suggestion, however; I am not committing myself absolutely to that policy. There may be others as well. That does not destroy the principle upon which I am debating the question. But we do say there is no immediate haste. If there is, let the commission report to this House what classes should be

exempted at once. Then let this Parliament legislate directly on the matter on its merits and retain the power it ought to retain. In that regard, the Bill we originally had before us recognized the proper principle. It was specific as to labourers, postmasters and other officers, and that was the proper way to deal with the question. Let the House itself deal with that and not abdicate its functions in favour of the Civil Service Commission. During the recess, the members of the commission and the deputy heads of departments might very well get together and later make a report to Parliament as to what else is desirable in the public interest. Then Parliament, at the next session, may legislate in accordance with what is recommended, or as it might see fit. I believe, Mr. Chairman, that only in that way can the vital principle of the Bill with regard to political patronage be safeguarded. When the Bill first came up I asked the chairman of the commission what his opinion was of the measure if it became law as it then stood. He replied that if it became law it would drive a coach and four completely through the Act.

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UNION

James Alexander Calder (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. CALDER:

The original Bill?

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L LIB

William Daum Euler

Laurier Liberal

Mr. EULER:

The original Act of 1918. The minister himself admitted in the committee that if the present amendment is accepted it will open a wider door for that coach and four to go through than the original Bill No. 122 would have done.

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L LIB
L LIB

William Daum Euler

Laurier Liberal

Mr. EULER:

I am not sure, but I think it came from the Minister of Immigration and Colonization (Mr. Calder). However, I am open to correction on that point.

Now, I believe that if the commission is empowered to make these changes, and to exempt certain employees when they think it best in the public interest, they will be subjected to constant pressure on the part of members of Parliament- through the deputy heads or perhaps even through the ministers-to make such changes. For example, a minister may very well go to the commission and say "It is not in the public interest that the outside employees of my department should remain under the control of the commission," and the commissioners might very well yield. They may say "The minister is best qualified to decide whether it is in the public interest that we shall continue to appoint these employees, or whether

they shall remain under our control"; and I think it possible they would be just human enough to yield to the higher authority. Under the present law they cannot be approached in that way. On the other band, the personnel of the commission may change from time to time, and no doubt will. It is quite conceivable that we may have a majority of the members of the Civil Service Commission composed of men who honestly believe that the Civil Service should be controlled by political patronage. There are members of this House who believe that, and they have a perfect right to that belief. But if we had that condition, we would necessarily find that the commission would divest itself of its powers and the whole Civil Service would lapse back into the old practices of political patronage. I do not tsee how it could be otherwise.

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UNION

James Alexander Calder (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. CALDER:

The hon. gentleman forgets that Parliament sits from year to year.

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L LIB

William Daum Euler

Laurier Liberal

Mr. EULER:

If, as I begin to suspect, a good many members are rather in favour of the return of political patronage, that perhaps would not be a safeguard.

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UNION

John Albert Sexsmith

Unionist

Mr. SEXSMITH:

Is it the hon. gentleman's information that under the old law political patronage was done away with?

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L LIB

William Daum Euler

Laurier Liberal

Mr. EULER:

I am not qualified to speak on that but I know it is done away with as far as I am personally concerned. I never was given opportunity to exercise it, nor do I desire it.

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UNION

John Albert Sexsmith

Unionist

Mr. SEXSMITH:

As far as I am personally concerned neither do I exercise any patronage, but that is not saying that it is done away with by the existing law.

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L LIB
UNION

John Allister Currie

Unionist

Mr. CURRIE:

Ninety members, and

the rest of us have not any patronage, according to the evidence.

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L LIB
UNION
L LIB

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

Laurier Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

Order.

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L LIB

William Daum Euler

Laurier Liberal

Mr. EULER:

Whatever the opinions on

that point may be, I hold that under this amendment it is made possible to revert to the old system. Members may argue whether we have political patronage now or not, but this much is certain-under the amendment you can revert to political patronage. I believe the merits of political patronage are arguable. Some hon. members contend that as they are elected by the people, and as the Civil Service involves the expenditure of money, they themselves should have something to say as to these appointments. I think there is a certain amount of force in that view. But I am of opinion that this House and the country were under the impression that even though there may be something in that argument, it is nevertheless true that the advantages of that system are far outweighed by its disadvantages.

The point I want to make now is that I think members of the House should realize that the amendment as it actually comes before us raises the issue whether we shall make political patronage possible or not. Let us meet the real issue and fight it out without camouflage-shall we have patronage again or not? If Parliament believes that it was wrong in its judgment in 1918, then let it repeal the Civil Service Act either in whole or in part, recognizing quite frankly what we are fighting about. So far as I am personally concerned, I am opposed to the system of political patronage as it obtained in the past. The Civil Service Act may have its drawbacks, but even then its advantages, in my opinion, far outweigh its disadvantages, and where defects become apparent, Parliament should correct them specifically and not hand over their powers to an irresponsible commission. For that reason I am opposed to the Bill.

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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:

Shall clause 1 carry?

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L LIB

William Daum Euler

Laurier Liberal

Mr. EULER:

Mr. Chairman, I intended to move the following amendment:

That the words "nor in the public interest" in the second line of section 38B be struck out.

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UNION

Fred Langdon Davis

Unionist

Mr. DAVIS:

Mr. Chairman, it seems to me that there is an inconsistency in the addition of one part of that clause. It provides, as it is now, that:

-the Commission may, with the approval of the Governor in Council, exclude such position or positions in whole or in part from the operation of the Act,-

That power of exclusion is given to the commission with the concurrence of the Governor in Council. Then the section goes on that the commission may:

-make such regulations as are deemed advisable prescribing how such position or positions are to be dealt with.

Well, if those positions are excluded from the Act what further has the Civil Service Commission to do with them? Should not words be added there that the Governor in Council shall make such regulations? I want to make it clear that

that will be the position, and that these positions being excluded from the Act the commission have nothing more to do with them.

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June 1, 1921