May 8, 1928


Hon. W. D. EULER (Minister of National Revenue) moved that the house go into committee to consider the following proposed resolution: That the Department of National Revenue Act be amended to provide that the minister be empowered to appoint certain classes of officers with sueh salaries or remuneration as may be determined by the governor in council, and that a gratuity may be paid any officer on retirement in lieu of a period of leave of absence with pay, with further provisions as to filling vacancies by transfers and promotions for the betterment of the service. Hon. R. B. BENNETT (Leader of the Opposition): Mr. Speaker, before this resolution goes to the committee stage, Idesire to say that we who sit on your left are strongly and unrelentingly opposed to the principle of the resolution in its present form. It means the recurrence of thepatronage system, which should not be tolerated in this country. It is not conducive to good service, or to the public weal. While there have been many defects in connection with the administration of the civil service, the fact is that it is a great advance over anything we have heretofore had in this country. We protest against any effort being made to return to the old condition of patronage. Motion agreed to and the house went into committee, Mr. Johnston in the chair.


LIB

William Daum Euler (Minister of National Revenue)

Liberal

Mr. EULER:

Perhaps I might make a

statement with regard to the resolution as it stands. The resolution, as well as the bill, which is based upon the resolution, is in accord with certain recommendations made by the royal commission investigating the Customs department. Perhaps I should offer an apology for the resolution being in the form in which it is at present, and I would like to remove some misconceptions that apparently have arisen from the text of the resolution itself.

The bill, which is founded upon the resolution, does not go nearly as far as the resolution does. The resolution itself calls for power to be given to the minister to make certain appointments. As a matter of fact, the bill does not give to the minister power to make any appointments whatsoever, although the commission recommended that such power be given to the minister. I may say, for the information of the committee, that whereas it was intended that such power should be given to the minister, I do not

care myself to go that distance, because I do not feel inclined to interfere any further than seems to me to be necessary with the work of the Civil Service Commission.

I would state what actually appears in the bill. The bill is printed; I am not sure whether it is on the file, but it is ready for consideration. Briefly, it does this: It asks that appraisers, who are technical officers in the Department of Excise, preventive officers, and special investigating officers be nominated bj' the minister. That is, the selection to be made by the minister, or by officers under his control, or by a committee, or, in the case of the appraisers, by the Dominion board of appraisers. The minister will make the nominations to the Civil Service Commission and the Civil Service Commission will make the appointments within a specified time.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL REVENUE ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT AND SALARIES OF OFFICERS
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CON

John Wesley Edwards

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. EDWARDS (Frontenac):

How many

officers would that affect?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL REVENUE ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT AND SALARIES OF OFFICERS
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LIB

William Daum Euler (Minister of National Revenue)

Liberal

Mr. EULER:

I should think about 125

out of a list of, say, 5,500 in the department. Only a small section of the employees are affected by the bill.

The minister makes the nomination, as stated, to the Civil Service Commission and the commission will make the appointment within fifteen days. That time may not be considered long enough, or possibly a shorter period may be sufficient. On the failure of the commission to make the appointment, it may then be made, on the recommendation of the minister, by governor in council. I draw the attention of the committee to this fact, that the minister himself has not the power to make the appointment, More than that, he has removed from his jurisdiction, to some extent at least, appointments in the preventive service which he now has power to make. He makes the recommendation to the commission, and if the commission does not make the appointment, as recommended, it may then be made by governor in council.

The bill further provides, and this is also in accord with the recommendation of the royal commission, that transfers of collectors and surveyors may be made from one port to another. Instances occur in which a collector may not be well fitted for the particular position he holds, and there may be a collector in a smaller port who has proven his special fitness for the higher position. In this way, it will be possible for the department to place men in the positions for which they are best qualified.

There is one other provision, which I do not think will cause any opposition, at least

National Revenue Act

I hope it will not. It applies to cases where a vacancy occurs by reason of the retirement of an official. Instead of the position remaining vacant for six months, as is now the case, the position may be declared vacant at once, and be immediately filled. As we have it now, when an official retires he is given six months' retiring allowance; six months' leave of absence, as it were. The position is not actually vacant, although the man has left his post and receives his pay for six months. We would still give him his retiring allowance of six months, but the position becomes vacant immediately, and the new appointment could be made at once. In that way, there would be no interference with the work of the department.

Mr. Chairman, that is practically all that is in the bill. I would like to point out that there is, to my mind, practically no interference whatever with the principle of the Civil Service Act. I personally desire to avoid that as much as possible and I am quite sincere in that, although I see my hon. friend opposite is giving himself over to merriment. I do not like the practice which would no doubt grow up of the minister being importuned from all sides to make appointments, and I desire to avoid that. The proposal is made with the intention of promoting the efficiency of the Department of National Revenue.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL REVENUE ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT AND SALARIES OF OFFICERS
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CON

John Wesley Edwards

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. EDWARDS (Frontenac):

What is the object of going through the pretence or farce of saying that the Civil Service Commission makes appointments, when the minister very distinctly says, I make the recommendation and if you do not appoint the man I recommend, I will appoint him myself?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL REVENUE ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT AND SALARIES OF OFFICERS
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LIB

William Daum Euler (Minister of National Revenue)

Liberal

Mr. EULER:

In the first place I agree

with the royal commission which felt that in the case of officers such as apraisers where special skill and qualifications are required, the department is in a better position than the Civil Service Commission to make the selection of those skilled officers.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL REVENUE ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT AND SALARIES OF OFFICERS
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CON

John Wesley Edwards

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. EDWARDS (Frontenac):

What then is the use of bringing in the Civil Service Commission unless it be as a sort of camouflage ?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL REVENUE ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT AND SALARIES OF OFFICERS
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LIB

William Daum Euler (Minister of National Revenue)

Liberal

Mr. EULER:

In the first instance I was

disposed to accept the recommendation of the committee just as it stood, but certain representations were made to me-and I saw the force of them-that it might be possible and perhaps would be the case that under such conditions the minister might not make such appointments as he ought to make; in other

words, to be perfectly frank, that political pressure might be brought to bear upon him and he might appoint men to positions as appraisers on the score more of politics than of efficiency. It was felt-and I think there is something in the contention-that if in every instance the minister were obliged to make those recommendations to the Civil Service Commission, he would not be nearly so prone to go to the commission with improper recommendations, have his recommendations turned down again and again as they might be, and have the people learn the reason why they were so turned down. This is intended only to operate as a brake upon the minister exercising the power in an improper manner. There is the further brake upon the minister that if the commission fails to make the appointment, he does not then himself make it, but his recommendations and nominations must pass the scrutiny of the governor in council.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL REVENUE ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT AND SALARIES OF OFFICERS
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CON

George Reginald Geary

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GEARY:

Under this legislation what

becomes of the preference now provided for the returned men?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL REVENUE ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT AND SALARIES OF OFFICERS
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LIB

William Daum Euler (Minister of National Revenue)

Liberal

Mr. EULER:

I would think that the same consideration would be exercised in all cases although perhaps I should qualify that in this way. There will be one primary purpose in the mind of the department in making appointments of appraisers or special investigating officers. While every consideration should be given to the returned men and to the appraisers already in the service, other things being equal, in the cause of efficiency in the department, because the appraisers are perhaps the most important officers you can have in the Customs department, I would not hesitate, if it were necessary, to go outside in order to get the best man for the job.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL REVENUE ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT AND SALARIES OF OFFICERS
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CON

George Reginald Geary

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GEARY:

That is all very well. The

Civil Service Commission is to make the appointment and I take it that the commission will be compelled to act within a prescribed jurisdiction in that it must give the preference to the returned man. Does the minister propose that where such a preference has been given, it may be over-ridden by the minister himself or by the governor in council

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL REVENUE ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT AND SALARIES OF OFFICERS
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LIB

William Daum Euler (Minister of National Revenue)

Liberal

Mr. EULER:

I am not sure that I can say anything more than I have already said. The department will select the man best fitted in their opinion for the position. If the commission for any reason-and it might be for the reason suggested by my hon. friend- declines to make the appointment, then it will be within the purview of the governor in council to make it. The criticism may be raised that in some instances the returned

National Revenue Act

soldier might not receive the position, but I believe it would surely be, as I think it ought to be, the will of the house that the very first purpose to be served, especially in connection with a department which has been so much criticized, is to obtain the most efficient men to carry on the work. That is the one thought that has been in my mind in the preparation of the bill.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL REVENUE ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT AND SALARIES OF OFFICERS
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CON

John Wesley Edwards

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. EDWARDS (Frontenac):

Will the

minister or the Civil Service Commission determine whether or not the returned soldier or any other person has the necessary qualifications?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL REVENUE ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT AND SALARIES OF OFFICERS
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LIB

William Daum Euler (Minister of National Revenue)

Liberal

Mr. EULER:

In the case of appraisers the

recommendation coming from the department, from the minister, although the minister will personally not make the selection, will be made through the board of appraisers. They will make the selection in the first instance, as I have stated, on the primary factor of efficiency. That will stand; I can see no recession from that. Other things being equal, the returned man and also the men who are already in the service of the department should receive the preference. I should like to disabuse the mind of any civil servants, appraisers and others, who feel that they may be sidetracked. There is no such intention. I propose to promote the men in my department if they are efficient, but as I said before- and I hope the committee will bear me out in this-I would not hesitate to make a recommendation and to ask for the appointment of a man even though he came from outside the service, even though he might conceivably not be a returned man, if he were specially and peculiarly fitted for the work which he has to do.

The work which the appraisers have to do is extremely important. The whole efficiency and almost the proper conduct of the Department of Customs depends upon the efficiency of the appraisers. If your appraisal system is wrong, you will certainly not obtain the revenue you ought to obtain. The appraisal system has been criticized very severely by all those bodies that have been investigating the Customs department. Those things which they criticze we want to correct and this is the way in which we desire to correct them. There are those who will say that the Civil Service Commission can make the selections just as well as we can. My opinion is that the Dominion appraisers whom we have selected-the board is not complete, but we have made a beginning-are best qualified to make the selections. Without casting any reflection upon the Civil Service Commission I think we know the men in our department better than the commision can. Therefore I

think that is a fair way to make the appointments and it does not place in the hands of the minister the absolute power to make them. I do not know whether this is the time to read from the report of the royal commission, _ or from the report of the Commercial Protective Association, but if I did they would bear us out in that they recommend our going further than I propose to go under the bill. I have been as moderate as possible, because I do not desire to interfere with the principle of appointments by the Civil Service Commission.

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Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT AND SALARIES OF OFFICERS
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CON

Leon Johnson Ladner

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LADNER:

In the case of a man being wanted for a given position, is there in the proposed legislation anything that will oblige the minister to submit more than one name?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL REVENUE ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT AND SALARIES OF OFFICERS
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LIB

William Daum Euler (Minister of National Revenue)

Liberal

Mr. EULER:

No.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL REVENUE ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT AND SALARIES OF OFFICERS
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CON

John Arthur Clark

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARK:

What sort of an examination would the Civil Service Commission give to the man recommended to the commission?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL REVENUE ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT AND SALARIES OF OFFICERS
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LIB

William Daum Euler (Minister of National Revenue)

Liberal

Mr. EULER:

The Civil Service Commission could make any investigation they desired. That would be entirely within their own province.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL REVENUE ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT AND SALARIES OF OFFICERS
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CON

John Arthur Clark

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARK:

Will the Civil Service Commission prescribe an examination or will they not?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL REVENUE ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT AND SALARIES OF OFFICERS
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LIB

William Daum Euler (Minister of National Revenue)

Liberal

Mr. EULER:

The examination to decide

what recommendation ought to be made will be made by our own officials, by the board. If the Civil Service Commission wishes to submit the applicant to an examination, that will be absolutely within their power. Following that they can then either make the appointment or reject the nomination.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL REVENUE ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT AND SALARIES OF OFFICERS
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May 8, 1928