April 19, 1929

REPORT OF COMMITTEE


Ninth report of select standing committee on railways, canals and telegraph lines.-Mr. Cahill.


PRINTING OF PARLIAMENT


On the motion of Hon. Charles Marcil, the first report of the joint committee on the printing of parliament was concurred in.


TRANSFER OF NATURAL RESOURCES

LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):

My hon. friend from St.

John-Albert (Mr. MacLaren) a few days ago asked for a return with respect to the return to the prairie provinces of the natural resources in so far as concerned correspondence with the province of New Brunswick in relation thereto. There were one or two letters that were written just about the time the return was brought down, and I understand that my hon. friend would like to have the return supplemented with these letters. I now table them.

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PRIVATE BILLS

FIRST HEADINGS-SENATE BILLS


Bill No. 149 for the relief of Dorothy Madeline Hanson Campbell.-Mr. Clark. Bill No. 150 for the relief of Frank Arthur LeNoury.-Mr. Lawson. Bill No. 151 for the relief of William Thomas Taylor.-Mr. Garland (Carleton). Supply-Post Office Bill No. 152 for the relief of Thomas Booker.-Mr. Lawson. Bill No. 153 for the relief of Marion Isabel Kemp.-Mr. Arthurs. Bill No. 154 for the relief of Agnes Victoria Leader.-Mr. Edwards (Ottawa). Bill No. 155 for the relief of Louisa Martha Weston.-Mr. Casselman. Bill No. 156 for the relief of Susannah Musson Savery.-Mr. Bell (Hamilton West). Bill No. 157 for the relief of Elizabeth Crawford Copping.-Mr. Arthurs. Bill No. 158 for the relief of Arthur Alderton. -Mr. Arthurs. Bill No. 159 for the relief of Elias Abraham, otherwise known as Elie Abraham Allen.- Mr. Jacobs. Bill No. 160 for the relief of Irene Mabel Usher.-Mr. Lennox. Bill No. 161 for the relief of Anna Estella DeNike.-Mr. Lennox. Bill No. 162 for the relief of Elizabeth Spain.-Mr. Lennox. Bill No. 163 for the relief of Bella Solnik. -Mr. Lawson. Bill No. 164 for the relief of Louisa Hitch-man.-Mr. Lennox. Bill No. 165 for the relief of Florence Jane Sheppard.-Mr. Sanderson. Motions for first readings agreed to on division.


POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT


The house in committee of supply, Mr. Johnston in the chair. Outside service *- Salaries and allowances, 117,295,464.40.


LIB

Peter John Veniot (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. VENIOT:

I was asked yesterday for

certain explanations and certain reports. I was asked by the hon. member for Peace River (Mr. Kennedy)-

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UFA

Henry Elvins Spencer

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. SPENCER:

If the hon. minister will

allow me. the hon. member for Peace River asked me to let him know if the minister was going to bring down this information. He is engaged elsewhere at the moment, and perhaps the minister would give this information later.

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LIB

Peter John Veniot (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. VENIOT:

Very well. There was also a letter written by the hon. member for Antigonish-Gusyborough (Mr. Duff) in connection with the Sarty's post office, and which was on my own personal file. I considered it personal and did not put it on the file that was brought down, but as it seems to be

the desire of the committee that the letter should be on the file, I am now tabling it.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

We required only that

part of the letter which dealt with the post office.

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LIB

Peter John Veniot (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. VENIOT:

Yes, and I now table it.

In connection with North Brookfield, it was claimed that a return tabled in 1928 was not complete, the only reference to the dismissal being a letter of instruction from the Postmaster General to the deputy. In this case also I am laying the complete file, including my own file, on the table.

In connection with the case brought up by the hon. member for New Westminster, I wish to read to the house my report on that ciase, and then to table the file. My report is as follows:

When Miss K. T. Mawson, the postmistress, requested that a male stenographer be appointed in her place, in response to her request for a statement of the duties of the position it was stated that stenographic work took up about one-half of the daily period, the other half being occupied in assisting the regular employees in the different departments where required. The Civil Service Commission reviewed the duties of the position and decided that it should be changed from postal clerk to stenographer grade 2, on account of the fact that his general duties were stenographic. The postmaster, however, represented that there were certain duties which he would not care to require a female to perform. Subsequent to Miss K. T. Mawson's resignation in July, 1928, Mr. Harold Wade was taken on and was appointed to the permanent staff as stenographer grade 2, as from January 29, 1926. In April, 1928, Mr. Wade was promoted to postal clerk, and the commissioners were requested to furnish the name of a male stenographer to replace him. They were unable to do so, and gave authority for a local selection. In consequence Mr. S. W. Thomas was employed temporarily from September 1, 1928. Subsequently the commission held a competition for stenographers at New Westminster, and on September 28, 1928, they submitted the name of Miss Margaret Isabella Moore, one of the successful candidates, in connection with the filling of the position permanently. In view of the postmaster's representations, however, the services of Mr. Thomas were retained and Miss Moore was not offered employment. It is understood that the Civil Service Commission advised Miss Moore, in reply to her inquiry, that the reason she had not been accepted by the department was that a male stenographer was necessary.

That is the explanation given to me by the officials of my department. It was purely a departmental matter and did not come before

Supply-Post Office

the minister at all. I am now laying the file on the table so the hon. gentleman can examine it.

Yesterday the hon. member for Peace River (Mr. Kennedy) asked for some information regarding Waterhole post office and Fairview post office. Here is the history of the case:

Waterhole is an old established office. It was opened on August 15, 1912. On January 29, 1928, Mr. David P. Smith, returned soldier, was appointed postmaster. Mr. Smith is still postmaster at Waterhole. Prior to Mr. Smith being appointed Mr. H. Sigler was acting postmaster. Mr. Sigler was applicant for the postmastership at Waterhole, and asked that if he were not successful in the appointment there he be considered as an applicant for the position of postmaster at Fairview.

Fairview post office. In 1920 authority was given for the opening of a new post office at Fairview, 44 miles from Waterhole. In submitting the application for the new office the district superintendent stated that there were two applicants, namely, Mr. Sigler and Mr. Levesque. In the first instance authority was given for the opening of the office at Fairview under the postmastership of Mr. Lesveque. In September the Postmaster General suspended action as he understood that Levesque was a non-resident. In November, 1928, the office was opened in charge of Mr. Sigler, who had been the former acting postmaster at Water-hole. Mr. Smith, the postmaster at Waterhole, inquired in regard to the possibility of his getting the appointment at Fairview, presumably on account of the increase in business at Waterhole, many of the residents having left for Fairview. Both offices are in operation at the present time. Mr. Smith is postmaster at Waterhole, and Mr. Sigler is the postmaster at Fairview. Up to the present time the postmaster at Fairview, Mr. Sigler, has been paid a salary of $100 a year. The postmaster at Waterhole, Mr. Smith, is still paid at the rate of approximately $1,000 a year.

The revenue of the Fairview post office from November 1, 1928, to the end of March, 1929, is $986. The revenue of the Waterhole office for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1929, is $1,423. The salaries will be adjusted on the above revenue bases at April 1, 1929.

Now, if the hon. gentleman wishes a copy-

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UFA

Donald MacBeth Kennedy

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. KENNEDY:

I have a copy here. But my contention, Mr. Chairman, is that Smith was appointed to the Waterhole office by the Civil Service Commission. He is a returned soldier. All that exists at Waterhole to-day is the post office, a part of one of the three or four stores that were originally there, and a bunch of yawning cellars, the buildings having been moved to Fairview. The bank has also been transferred to Fairview. In a word, there is practically nothing left at Waterhole. The reason that Waterhole in the past was a rev-

enue office was due to the fact of its being the centre of the district so far as general business was concerned; but for the future the Waterhole post office cannot be anything else than merely a small country office for delivering mail. There is no question about that, because all business must go to Fairview, with its two banks, the only place where it can be transacted. In the very nature of things the Waterhole office must be attached to a store or given to someone who does not have to devote his full time to it. The civil service appointee is left there where he cannot make a living as postmaster under the natural order of things, as is well known to the post office superintendent of the district and to anyone else familiar with the circumstances. .

My contention is that when the town and the business was moved to Fairview, the appointed postmaster should have been moved there as well, with his office. It is purely a case of appointing a man through the minister -a political appointment, if you like-and leaving the other man, appointed by the Civil Service Commission, at Waterhole, in a job that is bound to run out as far as he is concerned.

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

He is left in the hole.

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UFA

Donald MacBeth Kennedy

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. KENNEDY:

Yes, he will be in the hole all right. This office at Fairview has a peculiar record. I find on the file a letter from Mr. Levesque to the Postmaster General which reads as follows:

June 19, 1928.

In view of the fact that the Alberta government is extending the Central Canada railway fifteen miles west of the present terminus at Whitelaw to a townsite, which at present appears will be called Fairview, I wish to submit my name as desirous of obtaining the post office at the new town, whatever name is selected.

As the contract for the completion of the extension calls for early fall, I trust you can see your way clear to accept this as my application for the post office.

In support of this application I am taking the liberty of referring you to the Hon. Mr. Charles Stewart, Minister of the Interior.

Yours very truly,

J. D. Levesque.

On August 13 the district superintendent at Edmonton made two recommendations with regard to the appointment of a postmaster at Fairview. The first in order of merit was Henry Sigler, Fairview, the second J. D. Levesque, Peace River. He states in this report that the revenues of the office

at Waterhole will be affected adversely by the establishment of the new office. On August 25, 1928, we have this memorandum for the Deputy Postmaster General:

Re Fairview. Establish office and appoint Levesque.

In spite of the fact that he was second on the list. Now there is nothing to indicate what has happened, but I understand Mr. Levesque was a non-resident so far as Fair-view was concerned. There was a general and vigorous protest against this appointment by, I believe, the Canadian Legion, and as the minister has said, we have instructions issued by himself to suspend action. Very little was done for some months with regard

to the opening of the office, and while the town of Waterhole was being moved to the new site of Fairview a number of people who had become residents of Fairview and who

had previously been resident in Waterhole, wrote to the Postmaster General asking for the establishment of a post office. I wired the Postmaster General, and I think I made it perfectly clear that it was necessary to establish a new office; and it was also made clear that some change would be required with regard to the revenues of the post office at Waterhole. The following telegram was despatched, dated November 14, Fairview, Alberta, addressed to P. J. Veniot, Postmaster General, Ottawa, Ontario:

Waterhole village moved during last month five miles northeast to Fairview Alberta. New town end of steel, E.D. & B.C. railway. Fairview has six elevators, two banks six stores, no post office as yet. Post office should be established immediately.

(Sgd.) D. M. Kennedy.

Prior to this Mr. Smith, who was Postmaster at Waterhole, realizing what would happen when the town was being moved, wrote as follows:

Waterhole, Alberta,

September 24, 1928.

Postmastar General,

Ottawa.

Dear Sir:

I wish to know if I could be transferred from Waterhole post office to the new post office at Fairview. If not, I wish to apply for the Fairview appointment. What salary would the postmaster at Fairview receive the first year? My reasons for the transfer are: There will be a school in Fairview, the nearest school to Waterhole is 1J miles distance, also the salary for the Waterhole appointment in the near future, I have heard, will be decreased.

Yours truly,

(Sgd.) D. P. Smith,

Postmaster, Waterhole.

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On November 17 we have the following memorandum from the Postmaster General to the Deputy Postmaster General:

Re new post office at Fairview, Alberta Referring to memorandum September 8, you are hereby instructed to proceed immediately with the establishment of an office at Fairview. Mr. Henry Sigler, who is given first place m the district superintendent's report, of the 13th August, is to be placed in charge as postmaster.

This is rather a peculiar statement. Mr. Henry Sigler, it is said, is to be appointed postmaster because he is given first place by the district superintendent, but he was given first place before when Mr. Levesque was appointed. The report giving Mr. Sigler first place over Mr. Levesque was in the hands of the Postmaster General before he appointed Mr. Levesque. Then we have a wire to Mr. Leger, district superintendent of postal service, Edmonton, Alberta, under date of Ottawa, November 17, as follows:

Re Fairview. Take immediate steps to open office with Henry Sigler as postmaster.

(Sgd.) E. J. Underwood.

On November 21, 1928, Mr. Smith wrote to the Postmaster General as follows:

W'aterhole Post Office, Alberta.

November 21, 1928.

The Postmaster General.

Dear Sir:

In connection with the appointment for Fairview post office, I wish to know if Mr. Sigler has been appointed temporary postmaster, and if there is a chance of myself getting the appointment. If not, I would like to know how this office stands, will it be closed in the near future and salary decreased meantime. [DOT]

Yours truly,

(Sgd.) D. P. Smith, P.M.,

Waterhole, Alberta.

On November 29, 1928, we have the following letter from E. J. Underwood to D. P. Smith, in reply to the letter I have just read: D. P. Smith, Esq.,

Postmaster,

Waterhole, Alberta.

Dear Sir:

In reply to your communication of the 27th November, regarding the opening of the post office at Fairview, permit me to inform you that there is no vacancy at that point as Mr. Henry Sigler was placed in charge as regular postmaster.

As regards the status of Waterhole, I may state that it will depend on the amount of patronage given it in the future. It is observed that it is over four miles from the townsite of Fairview and the question as to whether it will be maintained or not will depend on

Supply-Post Office

its revenue. The same applies to the salary attached to this office, which will be revised at the end of the present fiscal year and after the Fairview post office has been in operation for some months.

Yours sincerely,

(Sgd.) E. J. Underwood,

Chief Superintendent of

Post Office Service.

And the-n we have some correspondence 'between the Postmaster General and Mr. Reilly, who is good enough to ask Mr. Smith whether he would resign his job at Waterhole in order that he might be transferred to Fairview-just about five hours before Reilly went to Fairview and appoint Mr. Sigler as postmaster there.

Now my point is that this returned soldier, who was appointed by the Civil Service Commission to the office in that district, should have been given the new office, which is and must be an important office, the others being merely subsidiaries. There was no misunderstanding so far as the department was concerned; it was understood in Ottawa as well as in Edmonton what was happening. In the first place Mr. Levesque was appointed on the recommendation of somebody whose letter is in the Postmaster General's file but is not produced in this file. Mr. Sigler had been recommended by the district superintendent at Edmonton first in order of merit and Mr. Levesque second, and after Mr. Levesque's appointment had to be cancelled Mr. Sigler months later was appointed on the direct recommendation' of the Postmaster General.

How can we expect a department the size of the Post office department to be efficiently administered and to be kept up to date if we are going to have the man at the head of the department taking charge of the details of appointments, political and otherwise, in the various small post offices throughout the Dominion? You might as well have Sir Henry Thornton going out west appointing section foremen. The Postmaster General has simply been playing politics in this instance, and anyone who is going to take up his time playing politics in this way cannot in my judgment pay proper attention to the big affairs in connection with his department. In addition to that we have a direct case of discrimination in actual fact against a returned soldier in favour of political appointees, and that is the reason why I speak on this occasion.

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LIB

Peter John Veniot (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. VENIOT:

I cannot see how it is

possible that the hon. member (Mr. Kennedy) can say that there is any discrimination. In the first place, it was at an early date that the present postmaster at the first-named office, Waterhole, was appointed and accepted the position under the Civil Service Commission. For the same reason that I cancelled the appointment of Mr. Levesque at Fairview, because of his not being a resident, the Civil Service Commission would cancel the appointment of Mr. Smith to Fairview; because under the act no returned soldier nor anyone else can be considered who is not a resident of the place. That being the case-

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April 19, 1929