March 16, 1926

LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Minister of Customs and Excise)

Liberal

Mr. BOIVIN:

New officers were appointed at different ports where the work had become so heavy that the inspectors requested additions to the staff and a few new offices were

opened.

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CON
LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Minister of Customs and Excise)

Liberal

Mr. BOIVIN:

A new office was opened at Malagash, near Amherst; there was an addition of one clerk and three typists to the Montreal office; another customs excise officer at Berthierville; an additional officer required for preventive work to take charge of office during the absence of the sub-collector at Quebec; a new outport was established at Cowansville, and a new officer appointed there; an additional officer for supervising the trans-shipment of goods at Beauceville; six customs excise examiners appointed at Bridge-burg; one at Fort William, one at Ingersoll, one at Whitby, seven additional officers at Windsor, one at Calgary, one at Lethbridge, one at Abbotsford, one at Nelson, British Columbia, a female examiner at New Westminster, and two additional men for the Pacific highway at New Westminster.

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

As I get it there are three new offices?

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LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Minister of Customs and Excise)

Liberal

Mr. BOIVIN:

There are three new offices.

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

Just in connection with the matter of offices, I wonder if my hon. friend has considered the question

of the multiciplity of office. That is something that has a great deal to do with the very matter the committee is now considering, and that is the question of properly collecting our customs. I think it is pretty well notorious that the way to get goods in at valuations which do not jibe is to multiply the offices. I wonder if my hon. friend has ever considered whether it would not be a right thing to decrease the offices and adopt rather the standard of the United States in this regard where their offices are merely a fraction of ours, having regard to the activities carried on. Would it not be better to do that instead of further increasing offices, the only effect of which is to make it just that much more easy for importers to get their goods into this country at an improper valuation and on an improper basis?

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LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Minister of Customs and Excise)

Liberal

Mr. BOIVIN:

I agree entirely with what

my hon. friend says. In fact I might perhaps give a list of some of the offices that we have already abolished. We have abolished more, offices than we have created.

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

Would my hon. friend give the names of those abolished?

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LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Minister of Customs and Excise)

Liberal

Mr. BOIVIN:

There were three officers

employed at Baddeck. It was found that these officers stationed at that place could not perform their work effectively and the positions were discontinued.

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

Is the office at

Baddeck closed?

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LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Minister of Customs and Excise)

Liberal

Mr. BOIVIN:

Yes, there is no one left

there now except possibly a preventive officer. At Barrington Passage the postion of customs excise examiner has been vacant since the appointment of Mr. Gray as collector. That position, instead of being filled, has been discontinued. The position of customs excise examiner at Bridgewater has been discontinued; the position of customs excise examiner at Digby has been discontinued. The officer stationed at Point Acone, North Sydney is no longer required there for the entering and clearing of vessels, and that office has been discontinued. The position at Port Maitland, Yarmouth, has been vacant for some time and has been abolished. The position of a parttime officer at Stanhope, near Coaticook, has been discontinued. In addition to the foregoing an office has been closed at New Richmond, in the county of Bonaventure, which does not appear on this report.

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

So far the offices closed have been in the Maritime provinces. Cannot we get anywhere else?

Supply-Customs

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LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Minister of Customs and Excise)

Liberal

Mr. BOIVIN:

: New Richmond and Stanhope are in the province of Quebec.

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

They are all in Nova Scotia, with that exception. What offices has my hon. friend been able to close in Quebec and Ontario?

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LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Minister of Customs and Excise)

Liberal

Mr. BOIVIN:

Up to the present time I

have closed no other offices in Quebec or Ontario. With the exception of the dismissal of a few dishonest employees-and I may say there are very few in comparison with the number of officers in the service of my department-I have not attempted to make any radical changes. It must be remembered that I took over the administration of the department on or about the first day of November. Very shortly after that it was announced in the press that this parliamentary inquiry into the administration of the department would take place soon after parliament met, and I considered that it was my duty to refrain from making radical changes until the Customs committee had completed its labours and had given the House the benefit of its recommendations. I have always felt that the minister of any department, especially the Minister of Customs, was not only the servant of the crown but the servant of the people. I have always considered that the peoples' wishes could best be expressed by the voice of their representatives in parliament, and I will wait for the judgment of this House on the report of the Customs committee before I make any serious change.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Does that not apply to Nova Scotia?

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LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Minister of Customs and Excise)

Liberal

Mr. BOIVIN:

The changes made in Nova Scotia were made before I came into the department, but during the present fiscal year. Most of them were due to positions having been vacant for a long time. Instead of filling them it was decided to abandon them. I do not think that anyone has suffered in any way. The only complaint that I have so far received concerning Nova Scotia is, that some of the officers appointed there have not been supporters of the present government, 'and some of my political friends have felt unkindly towards the Civil Service .Commission.

'Mr. MEIGHEN: My hon. friend is not

very complimentary to his friends. They appear to feel that the Civil Service Commission only does its duty if it appoints Liberals. 1 want to make a comment or so upon this increase. The increase this year in this one item is $271,447.61. In the entire vote, No. 346, it is $376,761.33. In the same item last

year-I -mean the partial item, the one we are on now, not the entire one-the increase was $566,673.41. The year before it was $138,910. No doubt these constant or rather startling increases of cost are all in pursuance of the much vaunted policy of economy of the government. The general estimates came out yesterday, but with that thoroughness of political preparation and publicity characteristic of the government-I have always complimented it on that; it is the only respect in which I have known it to be thorough in anything-the estimates were preceded by the announcement of a great saving to the country. I think one paper, very faithful to the administration, has the saving at $24,000,000. Looking, though, at the summary at the commencement of the estimates the reduction of the main estimates of this year from those of last year is $5,652,672.66, a trifle over five and a half million. And now we have merely this year's main estimates as against last year's total estimates, including all the eupple-mentaries. Last year's supplementary estimates aggregated $9,387,426.97. On the assumption that this year's will be no more, we 'have already in the estimates for the present year, instead of a decrease from the year before, an increase of approximately $4,000,000.

But the assiduity of the government in presenting appearances did not end there. I have not been able to find anything in the estimates at all to cover any one item in the Speech from the Throne of all the numerous berry-patches there presented .to hon. gentlemen to my 'left. There is nothing at all to correspond with the programme as to rural credits. There is nothing to correspond with the promise as to old age pensions. How many millions are to be required for each of these? Why are they not in the estimates? No doubt the ingenuity of the Minister of Customs has advised the government already to keep those out of the estimates, to present them in bills and make them statutory, and thereby keep up the pretence of a reduction while the actual fact is that the country is being loaded with millions more, untold millions more, this year over the year before.

What will be provided in the supplemen-taries in respect of public works, harbours, rivers and the like is only yet to be conjectured. But assuming that they will not exceed last year, they will not be very far from last year's figures. We will have this year over last year a total of approximately $4,000,000 in the estimates alone. We will have the whole of the rural credit venture

Supply-C ustoms

and the entire old age pension venture in addition. In these latter respects the future mortgages far exceed the present commitments in amount. This is the direction in which the government is travelling. There may be merit in this course or that, but there is no merit in travelling this course and then endeavouring to make the public believe that vast sums of money are being saved. The mortgage is increasing and multiplying year by year. It may be the price the government had to pay. It may be that they could not maintain themselves in power at any cheaper quotation. This may be the best they could do in the present market as it stands, but while they have to go in the market and pay, do not let them be proclaiming through the press that they are saving this country millions, when the poor country is being mortgaged in order that the government may gratify their own ambitions.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF CUSTOMS AND EXCISE
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CON

James Dew Chaplin

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHAPLIN (Lincoln):

Coming down

to the express item under consideration, the minister told us there was an addition of seven officers at Bridgeburg. I should like to know what they are for and what they are doing.

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LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Minister of Customs and Excise)

Liberal

Mr. BOIVIN:

There are six customs excise examiners appointed for the purpose of fixing what we call Tyden seals on cars travelling through Canada in bond. There was also one stenographer-

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CON

James Dew Chaplin

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHAPLIN (Lincoln):

Is the business so much greater this year that they require seven new men at a point like Bridgeburg?

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March 16, 1926