April 22, 1929

CON

Otto Baird Price

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. O. B. PRICE (Westmorland):

It is

not my intention to permit the remarks of the hon. member for West Elgin (Mr. Hepburn) to pass without some observations which I have to make in connection with this appointment. I am sure it has been clear from the beginning of this debate that the matter of appointments by the Postmaster General (Mr. Veniot) has been, from start to finish, one of political expediency. For the past week the Postmaster General has not been able to get one item of his estimates through, and he has met with severe criticism because of the fact that political interference has been permitted to intermingle with his duty. This has been apparent from the various cases that have been brought to his attention. The criticism he has received has been such as has never been directed towards any previous minister of his department.

Who was this man Whittaker, about whom there has been so much talk? He is a returned soldier, having lost both of his legs below the knee. At the -time of his appointment he was running a store, which called for considerable energy. He was in the grocery business.

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LIB
CON

Otto Baird Price

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PRICE:

My hon. friend knows all

about it. I am speaking now. He was running a general store.

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

No, he was not. He

never had to do with a general store.

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CON

Otto Baird Price

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PRICE:

I may be in error, but in

whatever business he was working, it required considerable physical energy, and he carried on. What occurred? A position as postmaster was advertised and he applied to the Postmaster General for appointment. He was recommended to the department of the Postmaster General for appointment. What happened? It was found out that his political leanings were not of the right kind.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

No, no.

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CON

Otto Baird Price

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PRICE:

They were not of the right

kind and some excuse had to be made to get him out of the position. That excuse was similar to the one offered in other cases that have been referred to on the floor of the house during the past week. They set about forthwith to send an inspector to investigate.

I do not know his name, although I presume it was given to-night. I believe the same thing occurred in this case as has occurred in New Brunswick since the present adminis-tiation took office, and especially since the present Postmaster General was appointed, namely, that a suitable official was sent to perform the duties of investigation. The strongest objection that I have heard tonight and the last few days against this man's fitness to fill the position, was with regard to his physical condition. The postmaster has to sort the mail, lift the bags, and do certain little duties, but to 'hear the arguments advanced to-night from the other side you would think in order to handle the mail bags the postmaster had1 to be a Sandow. What are the Canadian government railways doing today? Let me ask the Minister of Railways (Mr. Dunning) if there are not in the employ of the government railways to-day switchmen, on whom the precious lives of hundreds of people depend, and who in some cases are performing their duties efficiently minus an arm or a leg. These men are supposed' to be alert and active and strong enough physically even to turn a switch with one arm, a switch that either turns a train into a siding or runs it out on the main line. Does not the minister agree with that?

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

May I point out that it is the -njan's bVain that determines whether he turns the switch one way or the other? The arm simply carries out the dictates of the brain.

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CON

Otto Baird Price

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PRICE:

I am very much surprised

at the minister making such an observation,

Simcoe Postmastershi'p-Mr. Price

because it requires considerable physical force to turn a switch. Did the -minister ever turn one? No, and that is why he does not know.

I have, and I know. That is a pretty lame excuse, and it must be apparent to the people throughout this country that the excuses made by this administration, particularly in connection with the Postmaster General and his appointments and dismissals, and the manner in which investigations have been conducted, do not reflect credit on the present administration.

Let me give only one little example, and this is a very mild case compared with others that have been brought forward. At the little village of Hartlamd, the postmaster, Mr. Mc-Cullum, died. He had as his assistant, Miss Currie, a very nice young lady, who had had previous experience in the postal service at that place. In the usual course Miss Currie was asked to act until such time as a permanent postmaster or postmistress should be appointed. This she did. Eventually the position was advertised, but in the meantime Miss Currie- was advised that a Mr. Lasky would take charge in her place. Among those applying for the position was Miss Currie, who had previously acted as assistant to the postmaster. Mr. Lasky and a returned soldier. The Civil Service Commission recommended that the returned soldier be appointed, returned men having the preference, but before his appointment had been confirmed by the Post Office department, he received notice that under the rules and regulations of the department another appointment had been made, and that he would1 n-ot have the opportunity of demonstrating whether or not he was fit for the position. I must say, Mr. Speaker, that the whole thing has been political from start to finish. It has been a question all along of political expediency. I want to say to the Postmaster General and to the government that in making appointments such as they have, they are flying pretty strongly in the face of public opinion. Furthermore, should the Postmaster General continue in this way there will be investigations which possibly have not been- contemplated in- the past, and with all due regard for the ability of the Postmaster General, let me tell h-im that he will -come in for more criticism than he has met with during the last week.

Hon. CHARLES MARCI-L (Bonaventure): The hon. leadeT of the opposition (Mr. Bennett) started out this evening rather warmly, -making the whole ministry practically responsible for the utterance of a newspaper

1S24

. . COMMONS

Simcoe Postmastership-Mr. Marcil

called Le Droit published in the city of Ottawa. I hope the hon. gentleman himself will never be held responsible for newspaper articles, and I think it is unfair to hold the Postmaster General (Mr. Yeniot) responsible for the utterance of this newspaper. As some hon. members of this house may know-the French members read Le Droit daily,-it is an independent newspaper which has been criticising the government every second day for not making appointments according to its own views. The paper has been carrying on a very intensive campaign especially against the Department of Justice because certain appointments have not been made, in the province of Ontario, where there is a large proportion of French-speaking people, and generally throughout the country. Some months ago this paper conducted a very extensive campaign regarding the civil service, taking up that old issue which has been threshed out thoroughly in the last fifteen years, that the French-speaking people have not their proper percentage of appointments in the various departments at Ottawa. This newspaper, therefore, cannot be considered as an organ of the party.

The hon. leader of the opposition also referred to the bilingual stamp.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Pardon me, I did not.

I read from the paper that referred to it.

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LIB

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Mr. MARCIL:

When in connection with

the diamond jubilee of confederation 'a meeting was called two years ago, presided over by the Governor General, I was appointed vice-chairman of a committee, which included Sir Lomer Gouin, Sir Robert Borden, and Senator Graham, to organize for the celebration. Remembering that confederation had been brought about by the representatives at that time of the two great races in this country, that Quebec was the keystone of the arch of confederation as it exists to-day, and that without the consent of Quebec there would never have been any confederation in this country, we decided unanimously in this committee to have a celebration that would appeal to both races, that our publications would be in both languages, and the jubilee celebrated throughout all the provinces. We asked for the cooperation of all the provincial governments, and incidentally we made the suggestion that as the language of the International Postal Union is French, it would be an appropriate occasion to place at least one French word on the Canadian stamps of this country, showing that French is one of our official languages. This was done on vht motion of the Hon. Mr. Marler, seconded IMr. Marcil.]

by Mr. Tom Moore, both members of the committee. The proposal carried unanimously, and was transmitted through the governor in council to the Postmaster General. I mention that to show that this request was made by a nonrpolitical committee brought together for the purpose of organizing the celebration of the jubilee of confederation. The leader of the opposition, for whom I have a great deal of respect and esteem, may be called upon some day to fill a still higher position than the one he now occupies. Would he allow me to ask him to glance at the past history of the Conservative party and to remember that there was a time when the province of Quebec was the backbone of the Conservative party in this country, and that the greatest of all Conservative leaders understood the spirit and did not stick to the letter, when he came to deal with the people of the province of Quebec? Minorities the world over are sensitive of their rights, sometimes of their duties, and they wish to be treated fairly and honestly. I have no doubt that the hon. gentleman, who knows Quebec thoroughly, and who has had occasion since he has been chosen leader of his great party to speak in Montreal, the city of Quebec, and other parts of the province, will at all times be a friend of the idea of concord and union in this country. Canada can only stand when the two great races understand each other thoroughly and give to each other that which is their due. I need not go back into the .past history of the province or of Canada. We all know what the French-speaking people have done for this country, and what they are doing at the present time and are prepared to do. I hope that for his own sake and for the sake of the party that he now leads he will: not permit the mistakes made by the former leaders of the Conservative party, those who trod in the footsteps of Sir John A. Macdonald and lost power as a consequence through alienating the people of the province of Quebec.

There is another question that I should like to lay before the house. The impression should not go abroad that civil service reform was initiated by the Conservative party. I had the honour in 1908 to be associated with the late Hon. Sydney Fisher, then Minister of Agriculture, when he introduced the first Civil Service Act. That was the first attempt to establish civil service reform in this country. From 1867 to 1873 and from 1878 to 1896 the Conservative party were in power, but they found no time to introduce a civil service act to bring about civil service reform. It was

Simcoe Postmastership-Mr. Marcil

not until 1908 that, as I have said, the first move was made in this direction. The act applied to the inside service.

In 1911 there was a change of government, and in 1921, just before the general election, the Conservative party realized that in adopting the Civil Service Act of 1918 they had gone too far, and the Spinney bill was introduced by the late Hon. Mr. Spinney, who then represented the county of Yarmouth, for the purpose of taking away from the jurisdiction of the Civil Service Commission certain classes of employees, one being rural postmasters. These men had never been considered civil servants; they are not now, being part-time employees. The Spinney bill was intended to eliminate precisely this class of men. The late Hon. Mr. Edwards, whose absence at the present time we regret, was one of the strongest supporters of the bill, as was also the late Sir Sam Hughes, another of the strong men of the Conservative party. Mr. Spinney gave this brief explanation of the purpose of his bill:

I first wish to state that it is conceded that when the Civil Service Act was framed and enacted in 1918 the commission was given powers and obligations entirely in advance of those entered into by either the United States or Great Britain, imposing duties beyond the ability of any commission, however efficient they may be, to accomplish without some sacrifice to the public service.

On account of serious complaints against the administration of the Civil Service Commission, for reasons already assigned, from both inside and outside parliament, it was deemed advisable to appoint a special committee of the house to make careful inquiries into actual conditions and, if necessary, to offer practical suggestions in order that a remedy might be applied.

The bill had practically the unanimous support of the Conservative party, and it proposed to exempt from the operation of the Civil Service Commission three classes; one, men employed on railways and ships; two, postmasters; three, labourers. We were on the eve of an election. We have a saying in Quebec, the more things change the more things happen again. Well, I have seen this parliament change nine times, and I have seen the same game played by the same men on both sides of the house-in one way when they are sitting to the left of the Speaker and in another way when they are sitting to his right. It was thought at the time by the Conservative party that the bill if enacted would afford opportunity of making a large number of appointments throughout the country; but such strong opposition developed that finally the bill was withdrawn. In 1914 hon. gentlemen who were then members of the house will recall that the late John Sinclair, member for Guysborough, moved for a return showing

the number of dismissals that had been made by the Conservative party in the last three years following the general election of 1911. It took a couple of sessions to get the return. When it came down it showed that there had been eleven thousand dismissals and twenty-two thousand appointments in that period of time. It had been explained that the introduction of the rural mail service was one of the reasons for the large number of dismissals. In my county I have only a very small mileage of rural mail service, and certainly the numerous dismissals of postmasters there were not for that reason; they were dismissed purely for political reasons.

A moment ago the hon. member for Westmorland (Mr. Price) condemned the Postmaster General's conduct in regard to the dismissal of certain officials in New Brunswick. Let me cite an instance of a man who played probably the most important part in encompassing the defeat of the present Postmaster General, at the time that he was appealing for reelection as premier of New Brunswick, and bringing into power his successor, the Hon. Mr. Baxter. I refer to Mr. Angus McLean, the man who organized the pulpwood and waterpower resources of Grand Falls. He was postmaster of the post office at Chaleurs; he lived hundreds of miles away. He had the work done by the clerks in his office. He took a prominent part on the hustings against the Liberal party in New Brunswick, and when I called the minister's attention to this, he said, "The member for Bonaventure will allow me to apply the law to Mr. Angus McLean." I am sorry the member for Westmorland is not in his seat, for I am sure he must be familiar with these facts. Mr. Angus McLean returned the compliment by doing me the honour of coming into my constituency and making speeches against me, but I am glad to say they had very little effect on the electorate.

For many years I have had the honour to represent a constituency where the people agree to live together in harmony. One-third of my constituency is English-speaking and Protestant. The Anglicans generally are Conservative, the Presbyterians, Liberal. For forty or fifty years up to 1870 the French-Canadians gave practically a solid Conservative vote, but in 1890, the Hon. Mr. Mercier, who was then one of the greatest public men in the province of Quebec, carried the constituency by the strength of his appeal to all classes of the population. In 1891 an English-speaking Protestant was elected by an overwhelming majority of the Roman Catholic vote, although his opponent was a Roman Catholic.

Simcoe Postmastership-Mr. Marcil

It shows the broadmindedness and tolerance prevalent throughout the province of Quebec.

The postmastership at Simcoe has been thoroughly discussed. I would remind the house that up to 1918 our political history discloses that the principle followed by both parties was "to the victor belong the spoils". An attempt was made to change that state of affairs, but the Conservative party overdid itself, and to-day I have no doubt that the members of the Civil Service Commission- especially the chairman, Doctor Roche, with whom I had the honour to sit in this house for many years when he represented the constituency of Marquette-would be the first to declare that the commission is not equipped to look after the outside service as it should be looked after. What happens? The Civil Service Commission calls upon the inspector of the district. He is not the official of the Civil Service Commission. He is the official of the post office, called upon by them before they make a report, and, as the late Mr. Spinney said, the Civil Service Commission have to accept the report of the post office inspector. They have no other officials at their disposal.

The Civil Service Commission costs over a quarter of a million dollars a year. It costs half a million dollars a year to equip it with all the necessary officials it needs to carry on its work. So that I think we should go back to the principle that we used to have in the old days, which was a very old principle of the British constitution. After all, the Postmaster General is responsible for what takes place in the Post Office department. He is responsible to this house, and we individually are responsible to our constituencies. When an election takes place in Calgary, the voters there vote yea or nay, for or against the leader of the opposition, who carries on his back the faults and the advantages of his party, the iniquities and otherwise which may be charged against it. We are all in the same position at election time. We have to answer for all that has been done.

When I came to the house first there was no Civil Service Commission; there was no railway commission; there was no soldiers re-establishment commission; there were none of these various commission, which have taken away from the representatives of the people the privileges they used to have in the old days. I receive many letters to-day from my old constituents, the oldest among them, because I have reached the second generation now, telling me that at such and such a time I could have obtained appointments on the Intercolonial railway. The Minister of Rail-

ways and Canals at that time had the administration of the road. I could appoint a snow-ghoveller, a section man, or one of the working gang. But that to-day is impossible. An application is received by a member who forwards it to the minister, and that is the end of it so far as the member is concerned. And still we have to render to our people an account for all these things. The people look to us; they look to the member of parliament who is responsible for everything that is going on. He has to render an account for the actions of all these commissions; he has to vote the money in this house. I am compelled to repeat what has been repeated very often: we have removed responsible government from the shoulders of those on whom it used to rest. Responsible government should rest upon the representatives of the people. The Postmaster General is in exactlj' the same position as all the other ministers, but when we consider that he has 17,000 employees under him is there any comparison possible between him and the Minister of Trade and Commerce, for instance, or the Minister of Justice? Why, in*my constituency there is not a single employee of the Department of Justice. The only man who comes into my constituency having any connection with that department is a nonresident judge who sits once or twice a year. I have no representative of the Department of Trade and Commerce in my constituency, therefore, there can be no change in that respect. But I have nearly 100 post offices, and that is the case generally throughout the whole country.

All things considered, I think that the Postmaster General deserves the thanks of this country for the energetic manner in which he has carried on the duties of his office. In the old days, when the Liberal party came into office in 1896, the post office department was at a very, very low ebb. Sir William Mulock, who took oharge of that department, was perhaps the greatest of all our postmasters general. He introduced penny postage anil put Canada on the map of the empire; he brought about efficient service in the Post Office department, and, all in all, was as .1 say the greatest of all our postmasters general. The present Postmaster General is following in his footsteps, following the principles laid down by him, introducing reforms as the country develops. He has introduced, for instance, the air mail service, establishing rapid communication and transportation from one part of the country to the other. If for no other reason, therefore, than to second him in his valuable efforts I think this house will take

Simcoe Postmastership-Mr. Evans

the view that not only in relation to this case of Simcoe-where, after all, the Postmaster General should have something to say, otherwise he is a nonentity, with no privileges at all- but in relation to other oases as well, this amendment should be thrown out by an overwhelming majority.

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LIB
PRO

John Evans

Progressive

Mr. JOHN EVANS (Rosetown):

Mr. Speaker, there are three parties in this house, at least so-ealled. I have always looked on a political party as a group of men who have gathered around a set of principles, and who have organized for the bringing of those principles into effect.

In dealing with this question, I may say that this is one of the questions that this group in this corner is often called upon to decide as between the two parties. This little group has often been placed in this position before. Now, we decided years ago to vote on the merits of any question before the house. In this case a vital principle is concerned, and one on w-hich for many years we, as an organized economic group, have pronounced repeatedly. This, as I see it, it is not a case of deciding on anything specific, or deciding as to the discharge of one postmaster and the appointment of another in his place; although I know that in that regard a good deal of hardship has been created even since the last federal election, which we can easily find to be the case where some of these country post offices have been established in conjunction with a store. A man who is appointed postmaster in a given district sets up a little business, and the first thing we know he is thrown out of office because of party politics, and then he has to move his business. That is a real hardship; and I should think that, at this late date, 1929, more than sixty years after confederation, this game of party politics should come to an end.

As to the amendment itself, it is a question of patronage in general, so far as we are concerned, and we are utterly opposed to such a thing. We cannot overlook the fact that since 1921, I am sorry to say, this government has done practically everything in its power to discredit and destroy the work of the Civil Service Commission. In fact, one of the members of the Liberal party, speaking on the budget a little while ago, advocated that "to the victor belongs the spoils." I refer to the member for Antigonish-Guys-borough (Mr. Duff).

Every year a greater number of appointments is made subject to the proviso, "notwithstanding anything contained in the Civil Service Act." The little group in this corner are here in support of certain definite principles in this matter, and even when deciding as between the two parties, with whom a principle does not seem to count for a great deal, we have, as I say, to decide on the merits of the question. And we also have to take into account the course we are expected, by our constituents, to follow. Every member who calls himself a Liberal-Progressive, even if sitting with the Liberal party, must find it rather hard to vote with the government on a question of this kind. As one of the speakers to-night has already said with regard to the discharge of civil servants, this is a case of political expediency. To the members in this corner this whole case looks like one of party expediency, and I do not want this incident to pass without letting the house know where we stand on this question. In closing I want to say that we are unalterably opposed to patronage in any form.

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LIB-PRO

John Livingstone Brown

Liberal Progressive

Mr. J. L. BROWN (Lisgar):

Mr. Speaker, I would not have taken part in this discussion but for the remarks just made by the hon. member for Rosetown (Mr. Evans). However, I fee! it my duty to tel the house of my experiences with the Postmaster General (Mr. Veniot). The hon. member for Rosetown has intimated that it might be hard for the Liberal Progressives to support the government on this occasion, and he has suggested that we should express ourselves against what he calls the violation of the principles of the Civil Service Act by the Postmaster General.

Since coming to this house I have had several experiences with the Post Office department. I have had one or two experiences with that department within the last year or so, since the present Postmaster General took office, and I want to say that I found him absolutely insistent that the provisions of the Civil Service Act with regard to returned soldiers be strictly observed. I have had no occasion to recommend the dismissal of any postmaster. I hold just as firmly as do hon. gentlemen opposite the view that these matters should not be questions of patronage, but according to my experience during the last two or three years, in the face of strong requests coming from members of the Liberal party for the appointment of certain individuals to office, the Postmaster Gene

1 has stood firmly by the position that the law should be observed and that the soldiers should get the preference to which they are entitled. In that position I strongly uphold him.

Simcoe Postmastership-Mr. Brown

The hon. member for Rosetown frequently assumes this holier-than-thou attitude, intimating that we who sit in this row and who call ourselves Liberal-Progressives are not true to the principles which we have enunciated time and again in regard .to the Civil Service Act. In view of his remarks to-night I felt it my duty to pay at leadt this tribute to the Postmaster General, and to say that in my experience he has been true to those principles and to my knowledge has refused on more than one occasion to yield to pressure which was brought to bear upon him in order to have him depart from the principle that returned soldiers should receive a preference.

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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Hon. J. L. RALSTON (Minister of National Defence):

In view of the remarks which have been made by the hon. member

for Rosetown (Mr. Evans) I want to direct the attention of the house for a moment or two to the facts which were placed on the record by my colleague the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Elliott), but which I feel perhaps are not yet quite appreciated in connection with the motion before the house. The motion is:

That all the words after the word "that" in the motion be struck out and the following substituted therefor:

"In the opinion of this house the Postmaster General has acted in a most arbitrary manner and in utter disregard of the letter and the spirit of the Civil Service Act in connection with the recent appointment of a postmaster at the town of Simcoe."

My hon. friend from Rosetown has suggested that there is some great question of principle involved in connection with which he feels he should record his vote on this occasion. I submit that if the facts which have been placed on record by the Minister of Public Works are carefully examined it will be found that no question of principle is involved in any way. If I may say so, this is simply a flimsy attempt to find some ground for criticism of my colleague the Postmaster General (Mr. Veniot), particularly in connection with returned soldiers. My good friend the leader of the opposition (Mr. Bennett) prefaced his remarks by a great deal of discussion with regard to dismissals and with regard to the Civil Service Act; he even travelled as far as India and finally cited the case of the Salvation Army. I do not know what that had to do with this case; after all what we are dealing with is a vote of censure on the Postmaster General with regard to the appointment of a postmaster for the town of Simcoe. So we must discover the facts with regard to that particular case and it is on those facts that we must decide how we are going to record our votes.

A vacancy occurred early in 1927 and, as the Minister of Public Works pointed out, that office was immediately declared a 2B office, which is an office requiring what is called a working postmaster. That is, it required a postmaster who would not simply sit in an office and direct proceedings but who would take a direct part in the work, who would be prepared to do his share in the handling of mail bags, the sortation of mail, the taking of those bags to the place of delivery to the courier, the lifting and emptying of the bags on the table, the standing and sorting of mail into the boxes, and so on. Perhaps I know more about these things than some hon. members, because I happened to have a father who was a postmaster. All this work must be done in connection with a 2B office and in January, 1927, not after the applications were received as was suggested by my hon. friend from Vancouver Centre (Mr. Stevens) but immediately after the vacancy occurred, that office was declared a 2B office and the advertisement issued. I am not sure that the advertisement has been put on record, but it indicated plainly that it was a 2B office by the fact that the salary to start was $2,040 per annum whereas, as we all know, revenue ofiices are on the basis of a small salary plus a percentage of the revenue received.

As has been pointed out by the Minister of Public Works there is an impression abroad in this country that this is some sort of dispute between a disabled ex-service man and a civilian. It is well to remember that according to the record, which is on the table of this house, no less than ten ex-service men and fourteen civilians applied for the position, twenty-four applicants in all. There were not simply the two ex-service men to whom reference has been made during this debate; I think there were at least six or seven ex-service men who had good records and who were well reported upon by the inspector. That advertisement described those who were eligible for appointment as follows:

According to law preference is given among candidates possessing the necessary qualifications, first, to persons who are in receipt of a pension on account of disabilities received as a result of war service, who by reason of such service _ are unable to continue their pre-war occupation and who have not been successfully re-establishd; and secondly, to persons who have been on active service overseas or on the high seas.

Candidates mu9t be Britsh subjects and must have resided in Canada at least three years.

The leader of the opposition mentioned the fact that the statute made a prescription with regard to residence, but I would ask hon. gentlemen to note that the statutory prescription

Simcoe Post mastership-Mr. Ralston

with regard to residence has nothing to do with the particular locality but requires three years residence in Canada. The residence provision is in the advertisement itself, and the advertisement states that applications will be received from residents of Simcoe and locality. There is the advertisement; according to law preference is given to candidates possessing the necessary qualifications who have disabilities and have not been re-established, and after that come those who have seen service overseas. Who is to decide as to who "possess the necessary qualifications"? What are the regulations of the Civil Service Commission? To whom do they look to decide who has the necessary qualifications? One of the hon. members in the far corner asked about the sending of an inspector. I have in my hand the instructions which were issued by the Civil Service Commission in February, 1918, to the various post office inspectors, asking the inspectors to co-operate in reporting in connection with the qualifications of candidates. The commission do not use the officers on their own staff, but utilize the post office inspectors for the purpose of deciding who possesses the necessary qualifications. That has been the practice since 1918, and applies to other departments as well. Generally speaking, a report is made by an officer of the department for which the appointment is to be made. The Minister of Public Works has read half a dozen letters which go to show that in this particular Simcoe case the Civil Service Commission asked the Post Office department to pass on the qualifications of the candidates. I will not read them all, because my hon. friend has put them on record, but the following letter, written by Mr. W. Foran, the secretary of the commission, to Mr. May, the district superintendent of postal service at London, is very significant. The letter is dated March 10, 1927, and reads as follows:

You will find herewith an application for the postmastership at Simcoe from Mr. Charles R. Bowyer. Mr. Bowyer is being advised that his application has be.en transferred to you for the necessary report on his qualifications.

The secretary of the Civil Service Commission sends that application to the superintendent of the Post Office department in order that a report may be received as to his qualifications. That application is sent not to the minister, but direct to the district superintendent.

The Minister of Public Works quoted several letters in which Doctor Roche, the chairman of the commission, pointed out to those who were recommending candidates that

the commission largely depended upon the reports of the post office inspector as to who would get the positions. He outlines the whole procedure in a letter of February 26th, 1927, to Colonel Parkinson, as follows:

The commission, however, largely depends upon the report of the post office inspector and district superintendent of postal service, who after interviewing all the applicants place them on order of merit from a post office standpoint. If Mr. Whittaker has not as yet been re-established, his disability would of course entitle him to the preference, and I can assure you that the very best consideration will be given his claims by the commission before an appointment is made.

The definite statement is made that that is the procedure which is followed in all cases, namely, that the post office inspector is the one who makes the report and whose report is recognized by the commission.

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CON

Hugh Alexander Stewart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEWART (Leeds):

After considering these reports, does not the final authority rest with the commission?

Topic:   SUPPLY-SIMCOE POSTMASTERSHIP
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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

It is quite true that in law the final authority rests with the commission, but these people are the agents of the commission, and I am going on to point out that the commission appoints these agents and say in effect, you are the ones to decide'.

Topic:   SUPPLY-SIMCOE POSTMASTERSHIP
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CON
CON
LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

I will permit the hon. members to interrupt in order to ask a question, bu't I am going to try to continue my argument without 'being interrupted too much.

I admit that the commission have the legal jurisdiction, but the commission use as their agents the inspectors of the Post Office department, and they are the ones from whom they ask a report.

The applications come in and they are sent to Mr. May, the district superintendent at London. Mr. May sends them to Mr. Murray, the inspector for that particular district, and Mr. Murray goes and interviews the candidate. He did that in this case, and finally sent in a report which is found at page 130 of the return. This is a very long, detailed report setting out the particulars of the candidates, their residential qualifications, their disabilities, and all about them placing them in order of merit. He reported on no less than twenty-two candidates, besides two whom he was unable to interview. As has already been pointed out by my hon. friend, the candidate at the top of the list in order of merit, is a civilian named Wallace, the next is Mr. Bowyer, the seventh on the list is

1S30 COMMONS

Simcoe Postmastership-Mr. Ralston

Mr. Whittaker and Mr. Collver is in ninth place. They appeared to have very good candidates in Simcoe. The report has this to say about Mr. Bowyer:

Charles Rex Bowyer is a married man 28 years of age. Has a good education. Resided at Simcoe until about a year ago but is now living at Mount Albion. Has had no postal experience but would devote his entire time to the work. Was a student previous to enlistment and since discharged has been farm manager for his father, W. A. Bowyer, and is engaged in looking after some seven or eight farms owned by his father. This applicant states that owing to his being a minor he enlisted under an assumed name, that of C. R. Musgrove, and served 27 months in France with the R.C.H.A. Discharged by reason of demobilization. Xo physical disability. Is a fine type and impressed me favourably.

The next ex-service man is sixth on the list, he is Mr. Wark, who, by the way, is ahead of Mr. Whittaker. He had no physical disabilities and was very wel recommended. The next, the seventh, is Mr. Whittaker, about whom the report has this to say: George Edward Whittaker is a married man 28 years of age. Has a very good education. Has resided in Simcoe for about two years and eight months. Has had no postal experience but would devote his entire time to the work. Was at school previous to enlistment and since the war has been an adjuster for the soldier settlement board and is now accountant and office manager for the St. Williams Preservers at Simcoe. Enlisted in the 55th battery and served in France eight months with the 22nd battery and discharged as medically unfit and received 100 per cent pension. This applicant has a double amputation belorv the knees and I do not think that he would be able to properly attend to the duties of the office with this disability.

The next returned man is ninth on the list; that is Mr. Collver, and the report says:

Roy Ward Collver is a married man thirty years of age. Has a good education. Has resided his entire life in the vicinity of Simcoe as he lives on Nixon No. 1 R.R. two miles from Simcoe. Has had no postal experience but would devote his entire time to the work. Has been mostly engaged in farming. Enlisted in the 133rd battalion and served about two years in France with the 14th battalion. Discharged by reason of demobilization. Has now an appeal before the federal appeal board for a pension and it is stated that he will receive 75 per cent disability. It is thought that this applicant's disability w-ould prevent his proper performance of the work.

The inspector said that this man who had a 75 per cent disability could not properly perform the work. If it is contended that politics were being played in this particular instance, Mr. Collver would have been a very attractive man to appoint, because he was recommended by the Norfolk Veterans and Colonel Pratt and by Mr. Anderson. He is the

ninth on Mr. Murray's report and has a 75 per cent disability. Yet he was turned down because it was felt that a 75 per cent disability would prevent him from doing the work of that office, and yet the hon. gentlemen opposite say that a man with a 100 per cent disability should have obtained the position. Let us put it the other way; they say that the Postmaster General should not accept the report of an inspector who says that a man under those circumstances could not cany out his-duties.

Topic:   SUPPLY-SIMCOE POSTMASTERSHIP
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April 22, 1929