June 1, 1921

UNION
UNION

Fred Langdon Davis

Unionist

Mr. DAVIS:

Where it is in whole, I would answer the hon. member that then the commission has nothing to do with those positions; but where they are only in part excluded the commission may still have something to say about them.

Topic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
UNION
UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. CALDER:

It strikes me that the approval of the Governor in Council covers both. With the approval of the Governor in Council they (may exclude, and they may make regulations. That is, the Governor in Council would have to approve the regulations, as well as the exclusion of any positions in whole or in part.

With reference to the amendment and the discussion we have had, I doubt very much if any good purpose would be served by continuing it at length. My good friend from North Waterloo (Mr. Euler) expressed his opinions very strongly and very fully before the committee. We had some hours of discussion there, and we simply could not see eye to eye as to the effect of the words introduced into this amendment. I wish to say quite frankly for myself that, so far as the question of patronage is concerned, I am absolutely opposed to the old plan of having appointments made simply on the ground of political preference. I have been in public life something like fifteen or twenty years, and I know the evils, and in my judgment there is nothing that hurts a political party or a government more than political patronage. It has dragged down many a government in the past and will continue to do so so long as it is exercised. There are others who hold a different view, but in my judgment the further the Government and members of Parliament get away from patronage the better for themselves and the beter for the service. So, if any person has any idea that this amendment is adopted with the view of introducing a "joker" into the law, well, so far as I am concerned, he is very much mistaken.

Now, what is the practical position? It is simply this, that Parliament, as the report states, whether wisely or unwisely,

{Mr. Davis.]

threw upon the Civil Service Commission a task that was absolutely impossible for it to carry out. We went further in our law than any country in the world. We are miles in advance of the United States in this regard. There they have lists upon lists of exemptions from the operation of their Civil Service law. In Great Britain there are exemptions but not so numerous as in the United States. But here in Canada two years ago we threw upon the Civil Service Commission an enormous task, which they were supposed to undertake immediately. We placed in their hands the classification of all employees in the Inside Service and the Outside Service of every class from messenger or charwoman up to astronomer, as our report points out. They had to classify all these employees. Some sixteen hundred classes have already been defined; they had to fix the salary ranges of all these persons; and in addition they had to undertake all appointments to the service, all promotions in the service and all other details covered by the Act. Now, the impression I got from the evidence, and I think I am safe in saying that those of us who sat on the committee and heard the evidence from day to day could come to no other conclusion, was that the public service of Canada has suffered during the past two years. But that is not the fault of the commission; they have done the best they could under the circumstances.

Topic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
L LIB

Charles Marcil

Laurier Liberal

Mr. MARCIL (Bonaventure) :

Will the minister say in what respect the service has suffered-through shortage of employees, or what?

Topic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. CALDER:

No, it suffered on account of the almost impossible task that we assigned to the commission and asked them to undertake during the past two years.

Topic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

Now, let us make that quite clear. How has the public service suffered? Will my hon. friend kindly explain that?

Topic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. CALDER:

I can give a dozen

illustrations. Take, for example, the Agriculture Department. If the hon. gentleman will look at the report which was brought down to the House he will find a list of sixty or seventy, or more, persons who were to be appointed to all sorts of positions in the Agriculture Department, and that it took the commission on an average more than ninety days to make these appointments. Do you mean to say that in these circumstances the department

has not suffered? Or take the example given to the committee by the member for Lunenburg (Mr. Duff) where the commission was required to appoint a fishery inspector down in his part of the country. It took the commission, not weeks but months, to find a man for that position, and in the meanwhile the provisions of the statute required that certain duties should be performed by a fishery inspector in that district.

Topic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

We have not appointed an ambassador to the United States, though we voted the salary three years ago.

Topic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. CALDER:

That is not the point

at all. The evidence clearly discloses the fact that there were innumerable and vexatious delays of all kinds in making appointments to the public service.

Topic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
L LIB

William Daum Euler

Laurier Liberal

Mr. EULER:

Will the minister allow

me a question? He has referred to the Department of Agriculture as a clear instance of delay in the making of appointments. Will he also admit that the Civil Service Commission were not called before the committee to defend themselves with regard to that particular department?

Topic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
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 main point is this: we had case after case before us and the weight of evidence was that there were very vexatious delays in connection with appointments.

Topic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
L LIB

William Daum Euler

Laurier Liberal

Mr. EULER:

Is it not also true that

the commission cannot act until the deputy head of the department makes application to the commission?

Topic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
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 commission does

not even start to make any appointment until application is received from the department.

Topic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
L LIB

William Daum Euler

Laurier Liberal

Mr. EULER:

And there have been

delays in the departments themselves.

Topic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. CALDER:

But I say that until

application on the part of the department is filed with the commission there is no move to make appointments. I am not blaming the commission. There were many reasons for these delays, and one of them

Topic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
L LIB

Joseph Arthur Calixte √Čthier

Laurier Liberal

Mr. ETHIER:

Just on that point, I

may say that the evidence brought out before the special committee-and it was the evidence of Dr. Roche, the chairman of the commission-that under the classification made they could not find men to accept the positions. The evidence shows that the basis of the trouble was the fact that the commission have been bound by this extraordinary classification.

Topic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. CALDER:

Well, that was true in some cases, but not by any means in the majority of cases. After all, I do not propose to proceed with the discussion along these lines. The main difference of opinion in the committee was as to the effect of the insertion of the words "in the public interest." The view taken by the majority, so far as the present law is concerned, was that the commission under.that law has not sufficient latitude-and that was admitted by the commission itself. The commission has power to exempt from the law any class of employees whose appointment it is not practicable for the commission to make. I asked whether it would be practicable to make appointments in Rio de Janeiro, or in Madrid, or wherever else we might establish offices in foreign countries, and the commission had to admit that it was "practicable" to do it; that they could establish machinery for the holding of examinations in those places and make the appointments themselves without reference to the department. They admitted that, and the same was true in connection with other positions as well. So long as we allow the law to remain where it is, the commission will carry it out, and if the only reason for not making appointments is that of impracticability, then they feel that they are bound to carry out the provisions of the law and to make the appointments. But there are cases where it is not a question of practicability at all, but a question whether it is in the public interest that these appointments should be so made. Does any one say that it is not practicable for the Civil Service Commission to appoint men to positions involving manual labour? Certainly it is practicable; the commission can create the necessary machinery. It was pointed out that in the city of Chicago a commission was actually undertaking to appoint labourers, examining them as to their physical condition, their heart power, their lung power, and all that sort of nonsense-subjecting them to all sorts of tests. It is "practicable," then, for the Civil Service Commission to make appointments involving manual labour; to appoint men to work on our bridges, our survey and geological parties. So long as we provide by the law that only on grounds of impracticability may appointments be ma^e by any one other than the commission, then the commission will feel bound to live up to the law; if they exclude any classes of people at present on any other ground, then they are breaking the law. It is because we want to put them in a position where they

will operate legally that we' propose to insert these words.

Topic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Does the minister suggest that the Civil Service Commission should regard it as being not in the public interest that they should appoint the classes which he has just mentioned? Does he suggest that the Civil Service Commission should so construe the words "in the public interest" as to take these classes out of its control?

Topic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. CALDER:

No, I do not.

Topic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink

June 1, 1921