June 3, 1921

?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

No, no.

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LIB

William Cameron Edwards

Liberal

Mr. EDWARDS:

That is exactly the

position taken toy the toon, member for Quebec East. In my judgment, that is exactly his purpose in taking the course he is taking to-day.

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L LIB

Lucien Cannon

Laurier Liberal

Mr. CANNON:

The hon. member for Nicolet (Mr. Trahan) requested me -to second the amendment; therefore I would like to make a few remarks with regard to it and also with regard to the suggestion just made by the toon, member for Fronte-nac (Mr. Edwards). This amendment is in no way introduced to raise religious feeling in the province of Quebec. I am sure that if my hon. friend from Frontenac had as intimate a knowledge of the hon. member for Nicolet as I have he would not think for a moment that the hon. member would do anything of the kind.

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LIB

William Cameron Edwards

Liberal

Mr. EDWARDS:

Now, do not misunderstand what I 'Said. I did not charge the hon. member who introduced the amendment with having any such intention; I made my charge specifically against the hon. member for Quebec East (Mr Lapointe).

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L LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

The hon. member for Quebec East did not even know that this, amendment was to be presented. He entered the chamber while the amendment was being discussed.

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L LIB

Lucien Cannon

Laurier Liberal

Mr. CANNON:

So far as I am concerned I do not second the amendment with the idea of raising any religious outcry in this committee and in the last hours of the session. The amendment asked for is either right or wrong. If it is wrong, why should the Prime Minister, the Minister of Justice and the former Prime Minister get up and pledge themselves to give us what we are asking for? These gentlemen consider that our demands are perfectly reasonable; it would be impossible for any sensible man in the House to claim the contrary. If then, what we are asking for is right, why not enact it? If we were asking for something extraordinary, something exceptional, something exorbitant, opposition on the part of hon. gentlemen

on the other side might be easily explained. But what we are asking by this amendment is simply to incorporate in the Civil Service Act the exact words to be found in another part of our statutes, which provide that certain days shall be regarded as holidays in Canada. The very days mentioned in the amendment of my hon. friend are to be found in section 32 of the Act containing this provision. In one statute, therefore, these days are considered as holidays, but in another, the special Act respecting the Civil Service-through an amendment put in by the Senate-certain of these days are not recognized as holidays. Is that situation logical? Is it reasonable? Is it a situation that should exist in a country which boasts of some broadmindedness? I am sure that if hon. gentlemen opposite would consider this amendment in the light in which it ought to be considered, there would be no opposition to it; every man on the other side, no matter what his religious creed, would be pleased to acknowledge the rights of the Catholics in this country. It is unfair that Canada should ask her civil employees to put aside the religious obligation of not working on certain days; that she should place them in the position of either being bad members of their church or being disobedient servants of the state. Simply to put the matter clearly before the committee should suffice, in my opinion, to bring about a unanimous decision to support the amendment introduced by the hon. member for Nicolet. We are asking only for simple justice, and we ought to get it.

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UNION

Robert James Manion

Unionist

Mr. MANION:

I know that my hon.

friends on the other side will not accuse me of taking a narrow view upon a question of this kind. The Prime Minister has stated that this matter will be given thorough consideration and dealt with at the next session of Parliament. We are in the dying hours, we hope, of this session, and in view of the fact that, as I believe, no serious complaint has been made with regard to the carrying out of the spirit of the amendment in the past, I appeal to my hon. friend from Nicolet and my hon. friend from Dorchester-two hon. gentlemen for whom I have personally a very sincere respect-to withdraw this amendment, not only upon these grounds, but upon the ground of harmony and good feeling throughout this country. The hon. member for Dorchester spoke of hon. members on this side being broadminded. One of the things which struck me when

285i [DOT]

I came to this House a few years ago was the fact that the very largest proportion,

I might almost say at least 95 per cent of hon. gentlemen with whom I am associated on this side of the House, have always shown to me and, to my knowledge, not only in my presence but elsewhere, the most broad-minded spirits in dealing with religious and national questions. I say that to-night without any fear of contradiction from anybody who has associated with hon. gentlemen on this side. I appeal to hon. gentlemen opposite to show the same tolerant spirit which they sometimes ask for, and to withdrawn this question and allow it to be settled, as suggested by the Prime Minister, at the next session of Parliament.

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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:

Before submitting

the question to the committee, I must rule upon the point of order which was raised by the hon. member for North Bruce (Mr. Clark). My impression at the time was that the point was not well taken and that this could not be considered as an amendment creating a direct charge upon the public treasury. The question was one where I felt that I should not rely upon my own judgment and I therefore withheld my decision and sent a memorandum to the Parliamentary Counsel, Mr. Francis H. Gisborne. It consisted of a copy of the amendment with the following words:

Could this in your opinion be considered as a money clause?

This is his reply:

Certainly not. It is not a charge on the treasury even though it may diminish the work done by the Civil Service.

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UNI L

William Stevens Fielding

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. FIELDING:

I came in late in the

discussion and heard only the end of it. I realize, therefore, that I am not as well equipped as I should be for coming to a decision. I would rather avoid voting on the question if I could, but that cannot be. I believe, under our system of Government, long established customs amount to law- and even if there were no statutes in the matter, if it has been our custom in all these years to recognize certain holidays in our country, with its differences of opinions and creeds, I should like that custom to be continued. The hon. member for Nicolet (Mr. Trahan) moved his amendment before I came in. I did not hear his amendment nor his early remarks. But I heard him ask the question: "If these are proper holidays, why not say so on the statute book?" I have an answer at once. If we are going to discuss and settle by statute the question of holidays, they must be considered from the

standpoint, not of one church, but of all churches. The hon. member has asked that there be placed on the statute book certain holidays which are days of obligation in his church. He is entirely right from the point of view of his church. But if you are putting them into the statute you must consider the views of other denominations. Other churches in Canada may desire to have observance of particular days. For that reason I would rather not vote to-day to put any specific days in. I would hope my hon. friend would be able to accept the assurance of the Prime Minister that, in the first place, the custom of the past will be continued for this year, and that at some early date the whole matter will be considered with a desire to put the matter in a form that will be acceptable to all classes and creeds. From that point of view, I would much prefer if my hon. friend were able to withdraw the amendment. If I have to vote upon it, I shall have to vote against it, although I would do so with great regret.

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PRO

Michael Clark

Progressive

Mr. CLARK (Red Deer):

May I be permitted, in a sentence, to fortify the very moderate appeal of the hon. member for Fort William and Rainy River (Mr. Manion) ? It would be a matter of poignant regret to me to see any division in this House based upon religious views, or that might be suspected to be a division based upon such views. As for my personal regret, that is a small matter; but I hold, further, that such a division is to be avoided by every well wisher of. this country if it can be avoided by any reasonable means. I would appeal to my friends, if I may call them so, the mover and the seconder of this amendment, to weigh well what fell from the hon. member for Fort William and Rainy River. Might I add my personal confession to his appeal, that this question has been sprung so suddenly that, sitting at this end of the chamber, I cannot give an intelligent vote on it at this moment? I have the greatest objection to running away from any vote. I think our friends on both sides of the House will do me the credit of saying that, as .a rule, I have the courage of my convictions. There is tremendous force, in the mind of one who has been brought up as a British Liberal, in what has been pointed out by the hon. member for Shelburne and Queen's (Mr. Fielding), that if you begin to give statutory recognition to sects, it is impossible to resist the claim that more than one sect has directed. As a matter of fact,

one of the fights of British Liberalism, as I learned it-and I am not putting this forward as an argument so much as a request for light on this question-was to relieve the State as soon as possible of even the most distant connection with any given church in the State. I should like to put that to my hon. friends, and if we are to vote on this amendment, I should like to have enlightenment upon how, as Liberals, they reconcile themselves with the history of Liberalism, not only in Britain, but in this country. There was a time when the Anglican church was an established institution in Canada, but it was dug up. I should like to have an explanation which would disabuse my mind of what I am sure will be recognized as legitimate fears upon this point.

But I rose merely to reinforce, if I could, in a single word, the very moderate and tolerant appeal that was made in the speech of my hon. friend from Fort William and Rainy River. Why not accept the -assurance of the Prime Minister and give time, if such be thought necessary, to get together the best minds on both sides of this House and discuss this matter calmly and quietly, and let the Government deal with it when they have something like a mature opinion upon the subject? I appeal to my hon. friends to relieve some of their friends and some friends who sympathise with their position, from a difficult position and not to throw an apple of religious dissension into the last hours of this session which may spread to a very great extent in this country. I make that appeal on the grounds of broad Liberalism of thought, and I trust they will give earnest heed to the words which I have ventured to utter.

Amendment (Mr. Trahan) negatived.

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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:

Before declaring the title carried, a question was raised by the hon. member for Halifax (Mr. Maclean). I think, by unanimous consent, he might be allowed to say a word.

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UNION

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Unionist

Mr. MACLEAN (Halifax):

I am sorry there is any difference of opinion as to what occurred in the committee some time ago in respect to the amendments which were recommended by the Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment Committee. I wish to point out to the committee that in the statute as it at present stands the preferred position accorded to returned men, or returned naval men, is qualified by this condition, that as respects age and physical capacity to carry on the work the fitness of the candidate must toe certified to by

the Civil Service Commission. Section 4 of the amendment reads as follows:

The provisions of any statute or regulation prescribing the age limit and physical requirements with respect to any appointment in the Civil Service shall not apply to any persons with the military or naval service mentioned in subsection two or three of this section.

The effect of this amendment would appear to he that all persons placed in the preferred list (are entitled to appointment regardless of their age or physical capacity to perform the work required. That is my reading of the amendment as it now stands, and I think it 10 p.m. would be a very unfortunate thing if my understanding of the amending section is correct. I quite agree with hon. gentlemen who desire to do everything we can for the returned men, and I quite concur in giving them the preference in appointment to the public service in accordance with the statute as it now stands, but I do submit for the judgment of the committee that we must always have in mind the welfare of the public' service, and that nobody must get into the service without some qualification as to age, physical competency, and that sort of thing. I think it _would be very unfortunate if this .section was passed as it stands. It looks to me, Mr. Chairman, as if the resolution proposed the other night were being enacted just as it was presented to the House. Now a resolution is one thing, but amending sections to a statute are another thing. I have always understood that the law officers of the House or the minister responsible for any Bill passing through the House had to have a statute drafted, not necessarily in the exact terms of the resolution; in fact, there should be more care shown in the drafting of the statute. I do not know whether anybody has heard me. The House does not seem as if it were in a condition for doing business at the present time, and two hon. gentlemen are standing before the Chairman at the moment; just why, I do not know.

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UNION

John Allister Currie

Unionist

Mr. CURRIE:

That point was placed before the committee by the gentleman who introduced the amendment, and the committee was quite seized of the facts. The House having unanimously adopted the resolution, I do not think it is necessary for us to go back to it.

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UNION

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Unionist

Mr. MACLEAN (Halifax) :

With all

respect to my hon. friend, I do not think he understands the suggestion which I have placed before the committee.

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UNION

Hume Cronyn

Unionist

Mr. CRONYN:

I think we might let the amendment go through as it stands this year. If there is anything wrong, it could very readily be put right later. I just want to take this opportunity to say that in speaking in reply to some remarks of my hon. friend from Quebec South (Mr. Power) I made the statement that subsection 4 made no alteration in the law as it existed before this year. I find that it does. My hon. friend from Halifax has pointed out that it does make a difference in that it omits these qualifying words "as to age and physical condition" which he had just mentioned. I think perhaps another year it might be well to look into that. In the meanwhile no harm can be done because the great majority of returned men have not yet reached the age where they would be affected.

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UNION

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Unionist

Mr. MACLEAN (Halifax) :

I would

like to make another suggestion. It is not fair to present a resolution to the House or to the committee as a Bill. It may sometimes happen that a resolution on which a Bill is founded is in such form and phraseology that it can be embodied word for word in the Bill, but I do say that no minister should have presented the amending clauses to the House in the form in which they have been presented. I would suggest that some member of the Government take the amending clauses which were reported from the Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment Committee, follow them to the Senate, and there attempt to amend them if, on consideration, the Government are of opinion that they should be amended.

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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:

In reply to my hon.

friend, I think it would be well if three or four of us got together and carefully considered the matter, with a view to following out his suggestion.

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UNION

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Unionist

Mr. NESBITT:

I have much pleasure in endorsing that suggestion.

Bill reported, read the third time, and passed.

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ADDRESS TO HIS EXCELLENCY THE GOVERNOR GENERAL

MESSAGE PROM THE SENATE

June 3, 1921