Hon. CHARLES STEWART (Argen-teuil, Minister of the Interior) :
During the period when production was very necessary, a scheme of breaking land upon the Indian reservations was undertaken under the supervision of Mr. Graham, who is the official in charge at Regina. He has made a very fair success of the undertakings. Naturally it is not desirable to continue that work, but there is the question of getting the land back into the hands of the Indians who farm the land, and these are invariably students coming out of school. A very large proportion of that land has been given to these young students, and they are now established in farming them. I would have had the figures with me had I
anticipated this matter coming up this evening, but I have not got them here.
discussed this matter with Mr. Graham and the deputy minister, and we have decided that as fast as the Indians are able to take this land and farm it under the supervision of the agents, they will be allowed to do so. In the meantime, a very considerable portion of it will have to be farmed under the supervision of Mr. Graham. There are some four hundred odd acres in the vicinity of Regina, which it is the intention of the department to continue as an experimental and demonstration farm. The rest will be turned over to the Indians as fast as they are able to take the land.
tention is to run it under the control of the Department of Indian Aifairs, simply be cause it is very close to Mr. Graham's office. It will be used for demonstration purposes, the distribution of seed grain, and that sort of thing. We think it will be very beneficial.
minister is right in that. I notice that the salary for the Accountant and Purchasing Agent has been very considerably increased, much beyond the figure, I think, fixed by the classification for an accountant. Why is an exception made here.
This is absolutely under the control of the Civil Service Commission and I cannot understand how the salary of the accountant in this case could be higher. I understand there are three grades of accountants
at least that is true of the Department of Interior-and different salaries appertain to the different grades.
I think in this case the salary is higher than in the case of the accountants that have been re-classified. When I see an extra piece of nomenclature after an officer's title I always become suspicious. That is the plan usually adopted should they want to get in a bigger salary than the classification allows. The
official then becomes something exceptional.
I notice here the accountant has become a purchasing agent. I think the minister would do well to look into the matter before he brings this estimate down as the proper salary.
I can give you a summary of the estimates of the department in so far as civil government is concerned. For the fiscal year 1922-23 these increases were granted for meritorious service: Three increases of $180; 17 of $120; 15 .of $60; and 6 of $50. The increase in the salary of the Superintendent of Indian Education, due to change in classification in the schedule, amounts to $335. There is an increase due to an amount being provided for a new position as clerk stenographer, $960, making a total increase in civil government in the department of $5,075. Then there were savings due to no provision being made for two positions. There is the position of chief surveyor, which you will notice is dropped, and that of junior architect. The chief surveyor has $3,240, the junior architect $1,920. As to the savings I am not very clear but I imagine they are because the salaries set forth are the minimum salaries in positions which became vacant during the year. The appointees now start at the minimum; therefore, there is a saving in the salary. As the appointees start at the minimum, you have a saving until the individual who takes the position goes to his maximum. The reductions in salary are: Clerk, $900; chief stenographer, $340; chief clerk, $460; head clerk, $320; architect, $180; junior clerk stenographer, $180; clerk stenographer, $90; and clerk stenographer, $60. This makes a total of $7,690 and the increases are $5,075 representing a net saving of $2,615 for the department this year. There is no special claim made for saving because there are no changes; it is simply the result of the classification in these particular cases. The senior officials have either gone into other positions or have retired from the service, and those filling the positions have begun at the minimum salary.
It is a most difficult thing to obtain this information at present. If hon. members will confine their questions to estimates on civil government I can furnish them with the
desired information which has been pretty well prepared. If they venture out of that field, however, I shall have to hunt for the details. However I shall be able to give that when the general Estimates are under discussion. All matters appertaining to those estimates will then be the subjects of inquiry. I am perfectly willing if the necessary time is allowed to answer questions outside of civil government, but I may say that it is on that particular subject I have had the information prepared.
I notice that in the Department of Indian Affairs there is a departmental solicitor, and of course a law clerk stenographer to help him out. The solicitor this year receives $3,660. Would the minister give us an idea of what this official's duties are in the department? His name is Williams, I think.
I notice there are legal officials in every one of the departments. I imagine this particular official will have to attend to transfers of property, and leases; there is also other legal business being done by the department. I am not prepared to say just exactly what he does, but I presume he is transacting that sort of legal business for the protection of the department.
That touches the point I desire to raise. For many years, I think, the various departments have had solicitors upon their staff. I notice on page 77 of the Estimates that the Department of the Interior has another departmental solicitor drawing a similar salary; and if you turn to page 76 you will find that in the Department of Secretary of State there are two departmental solicitors. There is also one in the Department of External Affairs, and one in the Militia Department; but the latter is Judge Advocate General and deals with military law, because I think the practice in this department in regard to civil law is to refer all questions to the Justice Department. I think there is a solicitor in the Customs Department, another in the Public Works Department, and certainly one in the Department of Railways. Now under our system we have a Department of Justice which is the responsible legal department of the Government. The head of that department is the legal adviser of the Government, and of all the departments of the Government, and in my judgment that department alone should retain the necessary legal assistance and should advise the various public departments. I have heard this matter discussed
by the last Minister of Justice the hon. Mr. Doherty, and I remember hearing it discussed during the former Liberal administration. The truth is that under the present system each department is acting for itself in regard to practically all the legal matters, while at the same time the head of the Department of Justice is nominally responsible for the administration of justice and the conduct of legal affairs throughout all the departments of government. I believe that the legal talent in the various departments should be concentrated in a single department. I think there would then be a considerable saving, and even if there were no saving it is proper that it should be done. I believe that in England they have certain law officers of the Crown, as we have here, but they are all in their proper department and advise the various departments of the public service; and if outside advice is sought, or extra work has to be done by solicitors, it is the Justice Department of Great Britain that employs them. They are responsible for every department and I think that system is the one we should work out here. To me it is an anomaly that, for instance, the solicitor of the Customs Department, or the solicitor of the Interior Department should advise that department and carry on legal business in the department, as Js done in hundreds of cases, without referring the matter in any way whatsoever to the Department of Justice. During my term in the Department of Justice I saw case after case where there was a variance between the ruling of the Department of Justice and the ruling of the solicitor for the particular department involved. The thing is bound to happen. I know that Mr. Doherty had very serious views on the subject and I believe if the matter were tackled, money could be saved and better administration would result. In addition to that, we would have one single head responsible for the administration of all law in all departments. I, would ask the ministers to consider the question, and see if they cannot concentrate and amalgamate in this instance, just as the minister is endeavouring to do in the matter of national defence.
In reference to the departmental solicitor, while I quite agree with a great deal the hon. ex-minister (Mr. Guthrie) has said, I think it is a matter of great convenience to the departments to have their solicitors in the building where the department is situated. Very often
matters come up which are purely of local interest to the department. They are not establishing any new point of law. For instance in the Department of Marine and Fisheries there are cases Where a contract has to be drawn as regards the collection of spawn for salmon breeding purposes, or there are cases Where they have to draw a short contract between some people who are collecting the spawn, or short term leases. Probably these contracts will expire in six months or a year, and the deputy minister or the official concerned can go to the solicitor in that particular department, give instructions to him and have him draw the document, whereas if the department had to take these matters to the Department of Justice they would remain there for five or six weeks before any reply would be given, and sometimes the contract would not be entered into because it was too late. Moreover the Department of Justice, if it has not improved very much of late years, has no officer who is fully qualified to deal with particular branches of the law. They may have no officers who are qualified upon the law relating to marine and fisheries. The law official for the Marine and Fisheries Department should be thoroughly conversant with maritime law. I think there have been cases where the decision of the Department of Marine and Fisheries has been at variance with the decision of the Department of Justice, and the Department of Justice has over-ruled the Department of Marine and Fisheries. The matter has been pressed by the Department of Marine and Fisheries with the result that the Department of Justice has had to admit it was absolutely wrong. I think it is most absurd that a man in the Marine and Fisheries Department who is qualified in regard to maritime law should be compelled to submit his opinion to the Department of Justice perhaps to a man who from the maritime point of view would be termed a "land-lubber." The majority of those in the Department of Justice do not know the stern of a boat from the bow, the keelson from the keel, or larboard from starboard. They are not expected to know, because the majority of them were trained in law schools, or in portions of the country where shipping is not an important thing. I think, therefore, that it is a very good practice to have in the different departments as solicitors men who are well qualified and Well acquainted with the branch of the law which
is apt to come under the cognizance of that particular department, and I believe that is the reason why the conditions which obtained in the past as regards departmental solicitors still continue. They have obtained for the past twenty years, but if the hon. gentleman's views are to prevail then it should be a condition precedent that the Department of Justice allocate to the different departments men who are thoroughly qualified to deal with the particular phase of law applicable to the department to which they are allocated.
Even on the statement of my hon. friend from Hants (Mr. Martell) an expert in maritime law in the Department of Marine and Fisheries may be a very good lawyer and may advise his minister or his department in a certain way, but the man who is responsible to this House and to the country for all the advice given to this Government is the Minister of Justice, and it frequently happens that he knows nothing whatever of the advice that has been given by a body of solicitors in the various departments. That has happened time and again. The one responsible head has never heard of it, and if it is only a matter of getting experts in the various branches, if they do not have them in the Department of Justice, they can get them; that is where they should be. It would be more convenient, and work could be done more expeditiously if they were there, and it would mean a considerable saving.
now, I know it was not the practice in days gone by for the departmental solicitor to give advice on any matter that might be regarded as a matter of governmental policy. I understand the practice was that he merely advised on local matters, which were merely of temporary moment, but not of any great importance as affecting the government's policy from the legal standpoint.
the estimates that the architect has died or been retired, and lower amounts have been placed in the estimates, indicating that a new man is coming in. I suggest to the minister that before he takes anybody, either as architect or secretary clerk, but especially the first, he consider the advisability of abolishing the position. I never saw any need of the architect. There
was an architect. I think in the course of nature he now is an officer no longer. It is worth considering whether there should be a successor appointed. As to the secretary clerk, I found the officers of the department faithful and efficient, but I must say that I never was persuaded that they were overworked, and I made up my mind that I would not interfere with the course of Providence, if they were reduced in number.