March 20, 1928

LIB

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Mr. MARCIL:

This question will have to be dealt with ultimately, of course, by the government, but some serious objections have been raised of which we have had evidence to-day. In any event the government will have to assume the responsibility, but in doing what they may be called upon to do they will be backed up by the opinion of a committee appointed by this house representing, I understand, all classes and interests, and all sections of the people. They will be

Topic:   JUDGES' SALARIES
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OP SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER QUESTION
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Judges' Salaries in a position therefore to deal not only with the salaries to be paid the judges, but some of the conditions arising in connection therewith such as we have already been discussing. On the last occasion, some three or four years ago, when this question was under discussion, Sir Lomer Gouin brought up a measure dealing with some matters connected wTith the judiciary, and the question was raised as to pensions paid to judges and the privileges that were allowed certain judges, after they had retired from the bench, to engage in other avocations. Strong objection was taken at the time. There are many classes of judges throughout Canada; we all know their importance, and I for one am quite in favour of the proposal made by the government that this matter should be thoroughly investigated. In view of the present position, financial and otherwise, of the country, it is only on a strongly favourable report of such a committee that the government would be justified in bringing about an increase in the salaries of judges and this could be done only by the procedure which is now suggested and which, I believe, is quite a proper one.


CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. H. H. STEVENS (Vancouver Centre):

Mr. Speaker, I wish to bring to the attention of the house one feature of this resolution which I do not think has so far been dealt with, and that is the latter part of the resolution which states:

-with power to call for persons, papers and records, to examine witnesses under oath, and to report from time to time.

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LIB
CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

I am not complaining of the wording, but I want to point out that what I consider to be a very unfair position, will probably arise. The Minister of Justice intimated that there was no intention of summoning judges to appear before the committee; but on the other hand other persons, persons who may be critical, for instance, of the position of judges and the judicial system of Canada, might come before the committee. There are those who consider that judges' salaries are high enough or too high. For instance, the hon. member for Laprairie-Napier-ville (Mr. Lanctot) intimated a moment ago-

Topic:   192S
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LIB
CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

He said that they were

high enough and should not be increased; but all such persons will have the privilege of placing their views before the committee while the judges themselves will not be able to appear.

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LIB
CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

It would be lamentable if they were called before the committee, and I will give my reason for making that statement. It would be most unfortunate if the committee were to summon judges to appear before it.

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

I agree that judges of the higher court should not come before the committee, but judges of the county and district courts have themselves asked to be heard before a committee of this house and I do not think there should be the same objection in regard to that.

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CON

George Halsey Perley

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE PERLEY:

When this committee is appointed, will it not have power to summon judges to appear before it?

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

That will be for the committee to decide.

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CON

George Halsey Perley

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE PERLEY:

The committee, as I understand the matter, will have the power entirely in their own hands. What my hon. friend says to-day will be of no authority in regard to the power of that committee to summon judges if they see fit to do so.

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

That is precisely the

thought that is in my mind. The committee has power in the first place to summon before it and to examine witnesses under oath. The intention of the Minister of Justice, who undoubtedly will have considerable influence in the committee, is that judges shall not be called. On the other hand, on a majority vote of the committee they may be summoned to appear, and such a situation would be most unfortunate. I am speaking as a layman and I want to assure hon. members who are afraid of the legal fraternity that I am not one of that group. The reason I take this stand is that my observation of the judiciary of Canada leads me to believe that, on the whole and in the vast majority of cases with very rare exceptions, men appointed to the bench have discharged their functions with honour to themselves and to the country. It has been a matter of great surprise to me to note men of opposite political faith to myself, whom perhaps in their political life I have found it necessary to criticize very bitterly and who I thought were scarcely proper appointees for judgeships, after they have assumed the duties and, indeed, in a remarkably short space of time, seemed to be so influenced by the traditions and ethics of the judiciary that they measured up far beyond what we originally expected of them. I shall

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Judges' Salaries

not do so of course, but I could name and I have no doubt other members have in mind many gentlemen appointed to the bench who are to-day, as I said a moment ago, gracing that position with honour to themselves and the country, who at the tame of their appointment were looked upon rather askance and as probably not fitted for the position.

My point in this somewhat disjointed argument is that the traditions of the judiciary itself seem to have influenced those who have been appointed to it so that they measure up to those traditions. It is very desirable in the interest of the country at large that nothing should be done that will bring the judiciary of Canada into the realm of, what shall I say, a wrangle or discussion or dispute about such a thing as salaries. In other words, in days gone by and up to the present the judiciary have trusted parliament to supply a reasonable and sufficient salary for them, and my opinion is that it would be better to leave this subject to parliament rather than to have an investigation.

The Minister of Justice cited the fact that a committee in the United States had been appointed to consider this question and that was offered as a sound precedent for us to follow. If our following the United States in that respect had any danger of inducing us to follow them in their process or method of appointing judges, that is by the two-year elective system, then' heaven save us from following precedents of the United States.

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

I was referring to federal lourt judges who are not elected but who are appointed by the United States government.

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

Thousands of judges in be United States are elected every two years.

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

Those were not dealt with by the committee of congress. They are placed by the various states.

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

That does not alter my point, if the minister will catch what I am driving at. I do not think a precedent established by the United States congress should govern us in a ease of this kind. Our system of appointing judges, the traditions which surround our judiciary, the reputation and the record of our judges generally, with very few if any exceptions, are so much better than they are on the other side of the line that we should do nothing that would interfere with or jeopardize that very high standard. It is unfair to submit one side of a question to a committee when the other side is not supposed to come, and it would be most unfortunate if the judiciary of Canada were called before a committee of parliament on the question of salaries.

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LIB-PRO

Arthur-Lucien Beaubien

Liberal Progressive

Mr. A. L. BEAUBIEN (Provencher):

I just want to ask the minister a question. The resolution states:

That a special committee. ... be appointed to consider the question of the adequacy of the remuneration paid to the judges of the various courts in Canada.

In view of the remark of the Solicitor General (Mr. Cannon) that this is the highest court in Canada, I would ask if it is the intention that the committee shall inquire whether the judges in this .particular court are paid high enough salaries or not.

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March 20, 1928