Because it is the truth. I
Air. ST-PERE: All right. I am sure the hon. gentleman did not want deliberately to deceive the house, but his statement would have us believe he had no one available. The minister says he must go outside or ask other departments to get his translation done. It is strange that such would be the case after what we now know about the number of translators under his own jurisdiction. At any rate, it proves that translation services are essential for the proper administration of his own department-we have his own words for it-and if they are essential in his department, they are just as essential in all other departments. The hon. minister's recital is simply an implied condemnation of the government's policy in regard to translators in general. The present government has abolished nearly a score of translators in the interior and finance departments and the civil service commission. They even dismissed a translator actually on duty and who had just been appointed to the railway board. If these services are essential, why abolish these positions? Why could not the Secretary of State appoint a few more translators for his own work? Instead of doing the practical thing, he brings down this bill to rectify a personal grievance, according to his own statement. By withdrawing the translation personnel from other departments to merge them in a central bureau, he is putting the other ministers or heads of departments in the same position as that about which he so bitterly complains. If the hon. minister finds fault in having to call upon outsiders to have his translation done, why should the House of Commons, for example, have to call upon the Secretary of State to have its parliamentary papers and official documents translated? The reason given by the hon. gentleman is not very convincing. Passing the difficulty to others is not a solution and I submit that the only and proper remedy is to add to his own staff according to his needs.
I should like to saj' a word as to the number of translators in the public service. The hon. gentleman says that ninety-one are employed by the government. No doubt he took this figure from the return made last.
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year in answer to a question asked by the hon. member for Three Rivers-St. Maurice (Mr. Bourgeois). This return shows that outside of the House of Commons and the Senate, fifty-eight translators were employed. With those employed in the House of Commons and the Senate we have, all told, ninety-one translators. But at the time of introducing this bill one more position had been abolished, that of chief translator of the Senate debates. So there are now only ninety. The return to which I have referred included many stenographers, clerks and interpreters, so in reality there are not ninety or ninety-one translators in the service. The return included even the name of a remission officer who is not actually a translator. To prove my point, I ask hon. members to refer to the estimates of last' year and those of the current year. In both cases we find only seventy-three or seventy-four translators classified as such. Why should bilingual clerks or stenographers be included among the translators? Why include interpreters and other officers having a completely different classification? The reason is obvious. It is to show that these services are overmanned and although the axe of the guillotine has been operating to the extent of decapitating five thousand civil servants in the short time hon. friends opposite have been in office, it is still sharp enough to cut off a few more heads at the expense of the due and rightful representation which a minority should receive in the public service.
This bill is a direct attack against the privileges of this house. We should have independent control over all officials, officers and employees of the House of Commons. This bill provides further for the abolition of the position of chief of French journals. It does not say so in so many words, but the inference is obvious. Why this attack against the constitution which established the French and English languages as official? Proceedings in this house can be carried on either in the French or in the English language. Let us see what some of the accepted authorities have to say about the House of Commons. Giving his evidence before the select special committee on the civil service and the Civil Service Act on April 13, 1932, as reported on pages 465 and 466 of the evidence, Mr. Beauchesne quoted Mr. Bourinot, who he stated was one of the most distinguished clerks, as follows:
The control and management of the officers of the houses are as completely within the privileges of the houses as are necessary to the conservation of dignity and the efficient conduct of public business.
Mr. Beauchesne also quoted the late Sydney Fisher, whose opinion on this matter will be found in Hansard of June 29, 1928, as follows:
The House of Commons is not a department of government. There are no departments of the service in which the duties are similar to those in the House of Commons.
In placing certain officers and employees of this house under a responsible minister of the crown, the government is acting in direct contradiction to the opinions of the well known authorities quoted by Mr. Beauchesne.
The duty of the chief of English journals is to record the proceedings of this house. The position which this gentleman occupies is one of the utmost importance. He has charge of the drafting of the votes and proceedings and his work forms part of the regular routine of parliament. Therefore, he cannot be removed and placed under a minister of the crown. I submit that the same can be said of the chief of French journals, because the proceedings of the house can be carried on either in French or in English and the French journals hold the same important place in the regular routine of this house as do the English journals. Any attack or any measure tending to remove this official or to abolish the position of chief of French journals is a direct attack against the privileges and authority of this house as well as an attack against the principle of equality between the French and English languages as guaranteed by the constitution.
This change is said to have been inspired for reasons of economy and through a sincere desire to increase efficiency in the services concerned. In this connection I should like to refer to the Beatty report, dated February, 1930. I did not refer before to this report because I wanted to do so at this stage. This report makes no mention of centralization of the translation services as a means of improving this important branch of the public service. I do not doubt that a more competent body has never been called upon to report on matters pertaining to translation and its related subjects. After a careful and complete study of the situation in general and of every aspect of this complex problem, the Beatty commission did not recommend centralization and its report says nothing about it. I contend that had this plan appealed to these investigators as being proper, advantageous and practical, both as to efficiency and to economy, they certainly would have made a recommendation to that effect. One of the most striking recommendations contained in this report is to be found
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on page 16. It is that a higher rate of salaries should be provided in order to ensure greater efficiency. Therefore, the closer you get to efficiency the further you are from her twin sister, economy. The hon. minister would have us believe that they are like the Siamese twins, but I am afraid that when the real test comes they will be due for a rude separation.
The minister speaks of economy, of efficiency, of improving the lot of these trans-.ators and so on; in fact, he says anything and everything. There is nothing but contradiction in the different assertions of the minister, both in his explanatory notes to the bill and in his statements made in and outside the house. How in the world is it possible to have greater efficiency with a reduced staff? How can we realize any economy by increasing the work? Taking the hon. gentleman at his word, how can he increase the number of translators and reduce it at the same time? How can he save by spending more? I am asking hon. members whom they will believe. Will they believe the minister when he says that a greater number of translators may be appointed later on, or believe the minister when he says that there is no need for any more translators if the work is properly divided amongst those now in the public service? Will they believe the minister when he says that translators will be placed on a higher plane, or believe the minister who says that the bill will result in a considerable saving which cannot of course be realized otherwise than by a downward revision of salaries or a drastic reduction of personnel?
Economy and efficiency are just empty words, meaning nothing. They are no indication of the real reason behind this bill. "Ce bloc enfarine ne me dit rien qui vaille." I am giving my hon. friends this timely warning lest it be too late to repent. Study this bill; compare the notes, the statements and the contradictory claims of the Secretary of State, and tell me sincerely if one can depend on such flimsy promises, vague assurances and problematical results. No, no; for my part I will not be a dupe to such a bargain.
This afternoon the Secretary of State assured this house that the translators of the various departments would) be left in those departments though coming under the new centralized bureau. I will ask the hon. gentleman one question. He knows that according to the Civil Service Act the translators in all departments can be promoted to higher positions and can even be appointed deputy
ministers. Will my hon. friend tell me whether the transference of translators to this new bureau will deprive them of such promotion?