June 16, 1922

LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

Yes, they kept on dismissing officials in 1913, 1914, 1915 and other years. To show the variety of dismissals, I see they dismissed light keepers, the Aldershot camp caretaker, and the man in charge of the experimental farm at Nappan, Nova Scotia. Yet the hon. ex-Minister of Agriculture stood up in his place just now and said that nobody in the Department of Agriculture had been dismissed. Why, it is a well known fact that fruit inspectors all over the country were dismissed. My hon. friend the member for Mississquoi told me a few moments ago that every official, fruit inspectors, postmasters, and everybody else in his county were dismissed in 1912. Yet the ex-Minister of Agriculture says there were no dismissals. Fisheries inspectors, immigration inspectors, land agents, engineers, superintendent of Dominion parks-I could go right down five whole columns of the index and show that officials were dismissed from every kind of position. They even went as far as the Yukon to fire officials, and yet they get up here and try and tell us they did not dismiss anybody.

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LAB
LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

Wholesale dismissals, yes, but if there is good reason why certain officials should be dismissed, it is a different matter. In the last election for instance some civil servants acted as Tory agents in the polling booths, or took the stump against the Liberal and Progressive candidates and did several other things of a partisan nature that I could mention. A shipping-master in my county has talked nothing else but politics for the last ten years, and his wife was worse than he was in the last election and yet I am in the humiliating position to-day of having to see that man kept in office against my wishes and the wishes of the whole community. I say that man should be fired.

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CON
LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

I think the husband gets punished enough as it is without my punish, ing him. I have shown conclusively that wholesale dismissals took place under the Tory government.

The question of making appointments to the Civil Service is a very serious one. It is a matter which should not be treated lightly by this Parliament, by the Government or by the Civil Service Com-

12 m. mission. I agree with the hon. member for Marquette that if we are ever to have good government in this country, we must have an efficient Civil Service, and the question is how are we going to bring that about. The hon. member for Marquette did not think it was right for members of Parliament to have anything to say as to appointments. He instanced postmasters in country districts, and he thought that these appointments could better be made by someone else than the member for the county. If I remember correctly, he said that the Post Office inspector would be the best one to make the selection of a country postmaster, but I noticed, before he finished his excellent speech, that he told us of his own business experience and said that he selected his own employees. He did not get the Civil Service Commission to employ men for him in his own business. Oh, no, he selected them himself, and that is the proper way for any business man to select his officials. He also said, and I agree with him, that in order to get an efficient Civil Service we have to have high-priced officials.

Let me give the hon. member for Marquette a few illustrations of how degraded the Civil Service has become, I have no fault to find with the personnel of the Civil Service Commission. I think they are just as good from a personal standpoint as anybody else who might be appointed, but I say that it is absolutely impossible for the commission, no matter how good they may be, to appoint officials outside of the city of Ottawa, and my opinion in that respect is exactly what it was last year and has been for three or four years, ever since I have been a member of this Parliament. I have always taken the ground that the work of the Civil Service Commission should be confined to the inside service, where they would be in a position to decide on the merits of candidates through a system of competitive examination, but I contend as I have always contended, and last year I was backed up by hon. gentlemen opposite when they were sitting on this side of the House supporting the government, men who were known either as Unionists or good straight Conservatives, that the Civil Service Commission cannot make appoint-

Supply-Civil Service

ments satisfactorily to the outside service. If we are ever going to have an efficient outside Civil Service, these appointments cannot be made by the commission. For instance, look at the delay which occurs when they have to make an appointment.

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

A month.

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LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

Not a month, but six months, or a year, and the commission is not to blame. It is absolutely impossible for them to do better.

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LIB
LIB
LIB
LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

We have had an incident mentioned in Nova Scotia of somebody living six hundred miles away from where the appointment was to be made being recommended for the position. Now let us see what happens in the case of these appointments. Let me take the appointment of a rural postmaster first. A postmaster dies, or resigns, and he, or one of his relatives, writes to the Postmaster General and notifies him of the resignation or death. That will take them three or four days. Or, in a country district, it will probably be a week or ten days before the letter reaches Ottawa. The Postmaster General sends a letter to the Civil Service Commission, and I notice that in Ottawa it takes about two or three days for a letter to get from the House of Commons to the Hunter block, or one of the other departments. Consequently it would require the same length of time for the Postmaster General to notify the Civil Service Commission of the vacancy. Now what do the Civil Service Commission do? They have to communicate with, say, the Post Office Inspector in Halifax, and he has to find out, in the best way he can, who will be the most suitable person to fill this office. What does he do? He writes to somebody in the county, which of course is outside the city of Halifax and asks for information. Now in Nova Scotia, Mr. Chairman, the people, are either Grits or Tories-mostly Grits I should say. So the Post Office Inspector when he writes to somebody or goes and visits somebody and asks whom he is to appoint, has to consult either a Grit or a Tory.

Of course that Grit or Tory whom he consults suggests the name of one of his

own friends, and the person suggested to the Post Office Inspector is also a Grit or a Tory. How are you going to eliminate the political element in the matter? It cannot be done. Then the Post Office Inspector's report has to come back to Ottawa and the Civil Service Commission being very busy, having thousands of applications to deal with, after a certain time decide to make the appointment. For instance I had a case in my own county-

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PRO

Thomas Alexander Crerar

Progressive

Mr. CRERAR:

Will my hon. friend

permit me a moment? I did not state, nor did I argue, that the Civil Service Commission should have anything to do with such appointments. I do not think it should have. I do not think the recommendation should go to the Civil Service Commission at all, it is not necessary to have such appointments rest in their hands. What I was pointing out was that there Should be some official in the Post Office Department -taking the case that my hon. friend cites -who should carry the responsibility of recommending an appointment to that position rather than have the member of Parliament carry it.

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LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

That is exactly what I am coming to. What I was trying to prove was that the Post Office Inspector living in Halifax would have to make an appointment to a post office-say down in Neill's Harbour which is at the extreme end of Cape Breton or in some small section outside of Yarmouth near Cape Sable at the other end of the province-and I say that is impracticable; it is not right either to the community concerned or to anybody else. And it must be borne in mind that the Post Office Inspector has two thousand offices in the province to look after. What I say should be done is this: There is a good deal of trouble about the appointment of officials. No member really wants to be bothered with it and perhaps would be glad to be clear of it, but this is my opinion. With all respect to my fellow members- of course they can choose themselves whether they will do this work or not-but I never had the reputation of being a coward and I think that I am the right and proper person-although this involves a lot of trouble and I would rather be without it; goodness knows I have enough to do when I am home-if a death or resignation occurs in a post office in my own constituency they usually notify me anyway. I say that I am the right and proper person to make the recom-

Supply-Civil Service

mendation. I know the people in the district, I know who is best qualified for the position, and I am the right and proper person to telegraph to Ottawa within twenty-four hours after the vacancy occurs and have the appointment made, if it is to be made by the Postmaster General, within forty-eight hours. In my opinion that is the businesslike way in which to do it. If I make a mistake in an appointment I have to take the full responsibility and should the people in the district have any fault to find with me, they know what to do and how to punish me for my action when an election comes on.

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CON

William Alves Boys (Whip of the Conservative Party (1867-1942))

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BOYS:

May I ask a question.

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PRO
CON

William Alves Boys (Whip of the Conservative Party (1867-1942))

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BOYS:

"After you, Alphonse".

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PRO

Thomas Alexander Crerar

Progressive

Mr. CRERAR:

If my hon. friend is

arguing that that should apply to the rural postmasters I do not know that I would take issue to any great extent with him; but would he have that system apply to the appointment of postmasters, say, in a town of more than five thousand people?

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LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

Does my hon. friend refer

to a post office in my own constituency serving, say, five thousand people?

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PRO
LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

I certainly think that I

am the right and proper man to recommend that appointment. I have a better knowledge than any other man outside of my own constituents. I will make that reservation as to my own constituents. I say that I am in a better position to make a better recommendation than the Post Office Inspector, the Civil Service Commission or the Postmaster General and my recommendation should be taken.

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June 16, 1922