June 5, 1936

PRIVATE BILLS

FIRST READINGS-SENATE BILLS


Bill No. 85, to incorporate Domestic Finance Corporation.-Mr. Beaubien (for Mr. Chevrier, Ottawa East). Bill No. 86, to incorporate Atlantic Loan and Finance Corporation.-Mr. Martin. Bill No. 87, to incorporate United Credit Association.-Mr. Jacobs (for Mr. Factor).


PUBLIC SERVICE

SICK LEAVE FOR TEMPORARY EMPLOYEES


On the orders of the day:


IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. A. W. NEILL (Comox-Albemi):

Mr. Speaker, on March 24, about two months ago, the Secretary of State (Mr. Rinfret) was kind enough to say that in a short time he hoped to be able to report favourably on the passage of an order in council granting sick leave to government servants who, although not qualified as employees under the civil service commission, had been many years in the government service but who, upon losing a half day's time, are docked for it.

Topic:   PUBLIC SERVICE
Subtopic:   SICK LEAVE FOR TEMPORARY EMPLOYEES
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LIB

Louis Édouard Fernand Rinfret (Secretary of State of Canada)

Liberal

Hon. FERNAND RINFRET (Secretary of State):

The hon. member raised the point

C.N.R.-Board of Directors

previously in the session. I regret to report that it may not be possible to do exactly what the hon. member has mentioned, but we are now considering whether or not we might substitute an alternative provision which would partly meet the views he has expressed.

Topic:   PUBLIC SERVICE
Subtopic:   SICK LEAVE FOR TEMPORARY EMPLOYEES
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CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS

PROVISION FOR ADMINISTRATION BY BOARD OF DIRECTORS APPOINTED BY GOVERNOR IN COUNCIL


The house resumed from Thursday, June 4, consideration in committee of Bill No. 21, to amend the Canadian Natiomal-Canadian Pacific Act, 1933.-Mr. Howe.-Mr. Sanderson in the chair. On section 3, paragraph 6-Tenure.


CON

Hugh Alexander Stewart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEWART:

When the house adjourned last night I was discusing with the minister a certain provision of this bill, and calling attention to the fact that he had at different times in the course of the discussion stated that the object of the previous government in appointing trustees for a fixed term was to tie the hands of a succeeding government, and when I made that statement the minister replied, "So it was," as will be found at page 3422 of Hansard. Then I said:

I ask the minister to read the report of the Duff commission and to study the reason why that commission recommended the appointment of a board of trustees and recommended also that it be given permanence.

At the time I did not have before me the report of the Duff commission, and I now call the minister's attention to clause 204 of that report, which says in part:

One of the trustees should be named as chairman at the date of his appointment with tenure of office seven years.

The minister surely does not think that away back behind the report of this commission the government set out with or was able to impose upon that commission a desire to tie the hands of its successor. In answer to the request of the minister as to why the recommendation of the Duff commission as to the length of tenure of office was not followed, I said I was not sure. The appointment of the chairman was made for a term of five years instead of seven, again disclosing an absence of all desire on the part of the previous government to tie the hands of a succeeding government for any particular period of time. The report of the commission discloses certain conditions with which the minister is familiar, political interference in the management of the road and extravagance in its management, all of which is specifically set out in the report, and has been referred to at different times in this debate.

I really think, Mr. Chairman, that the minister ought to withdraw the statement that it was the intention of the government to tie the hands of its successor, when the fact is that an honest and sincere effort was made to carry out the recommendation of this very important, impartial and capable commission, and that was all that was behind the appointment of the board of trustees. I would ask the minister if he still persists in the statement that the object of the government was to tie the hands of its successors.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADMINISTRATION BY BOARD OF DIRECTORS APPOINTED BY GOVERNOR IN COUNCIL
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Marine; Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

I am sorry to have to differ from my hon. friend. I do not think I can withdraw my statement. It seems to me that when the. term of office was being considered and a change was being made from the recommendation of the Duff report, it could have been for a term within the life of the parliament then sitting. I think that would have been wiser. That is all I have to say about it.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADMINISTRATION BY BOARD OF DIRECTORS APPOINTED BY GOVERNOR IN COUNCIL
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

It is quite obvious that the term was to preserve continuity, for one of the trustees was to leave office next fall, another next year, and in two years more the chairman would retire; but it was thought that seven years was too long, and so the term was made five years. In the debate which took place it was quite clear that the whole bill was framed on the Duff report, and for the minister to suggest improper motives is not only contravening the rules of the house but is not in accordance with the facts. The term of office was lessened for the very purpose of meeting unfair criticism that the hands of the next parliament were being tied by the then parliament. When a grant was being given to the federal commission of this city I argued that we should not go beyond the life of a particular parliament, but the Prime Minister took the other view.

Public interest is not always synonymous with pure partyism. It does not mean that, and if it is impossible for hon. gentlemen opposite to conceive of other people having an honest desire to carry into effect the report of the Duff commission, merely because they want now to remove the trustees who were promised a certain term of office, they have no right to attribute improper motives to those who sincerely endeavoured to give effect to the recommendations of the commission appointed, not at the instance of any one railway, but at the instance of both, because both railways thought it desirable in the public interest that such a report should be made.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADMINISTRATION BY BOARD OF DIRECTORS APPOINTED BY GOVERNOR IN COUNCIL
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Paragraph agreed to. On section 3, paragraph 7-Provincial companies reincorporated.



C.N.R.-Board of Directors


CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

May I ask if the minister

would be so kind as to give us a clear statement as to the differences between the powers of the board of directors as proposed under this bill and the powers of the trustees treated by the act of 1933? I have puzzled my brain over it but I cannot see very much difference between the powers of the directors as stated in these sections and the powers of the trustees as they were created by the act of 1933.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADMINISTRATION BY BOARD OF DIRECTORS APPOINTED BY GOVERNOR IN COUNCIL
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Marine; Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

I thought my hon. friend saw a very decided difference, because he claimed that one made for an improvement all round and the other led to unlimited graft and corruption.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADMINISTRATION BY BOARD OF DIRECTORS APPOINTED BY GOVERNOR IN COUNCIL
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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

I still adhere to that opinion.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADMINISTRATION BY BOARD OF DIRECTORS APPOINTED BY GOVERNOR IN COUNCIL
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Marine; Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

There is a difference, and I

will try to explain it. First there is no difference in this principle, that the management of the internal affairs of the Canadian National Railways is now vested in the hands of the trustees, and under this bill will be vested in the hands of the board of directors. But at the present time those powers are vested in one man, who must agree to every action that is taken respecting the internal affairs of the Canadian National Railways-one man in charge of a property far-flung from coast to coast, and of the magnitude of the Canadian National Railways. In addition, that one man is operating some eight departments of the railway directly. In other words, he is not only running all the affairs of the railway personally but he is acting as the manager of eight departments of the railway. He has two co-trustees, neither of whom can carry out anything that is suggested unless the chairman agrees, and always one must agree with the chairman to make a particular act effective. That is the present set-up.

Under the new set-up we have a chairman. He is one member of the board of directors, and he will have six other directors with him of the type described in the Duff commission's report, if it is possible to get them-and I am satisfied that it is-men of experience in financial matters and with a background in the industrial life of Canada which will permit them to make an important contribution to the affairs of the railway. We have in this case a full time chairman as was the case with the board of trustees. The chairman of the board of trustees was assisted by two part time directors; in this case, by six. When the seven sit around the table each will have an equal vote in deciding any matter of policy coming before the board. That is the main difference.

There is no difference so far as outside control goes. The present board of trustees have

to go to the government with respect to certain matters in .which the government and railroad are so interlocked that it is impossible for one to act without the other. The new board will be in the same position, and the contact will be between a practical railway man as chairman and the Minister of Railways. The contact at present is between the chairman of the board of trustees, who is not a railroad man at all, and who must necessarily bring an adviser with him. Present discussions between the Minister of Railways and any practical railway man is conducted through a third party, who has no first hand knowledge of most matters under discussion but who must convey the views of the practical railway man to the government. Those are the main differences, and I think they are very important.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADMINISTRATION BY BOARD OF DIRECTORS APPOINTED BY GOVERNOR IN COUNCIL
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June 5, 1936