February 21, 1939


Hon. CHARLES A. DUNNING (Minister of Finance) moved: That a select special committee of the house consisting of Messrs. Anderson, Baker, Blanchette Bradette, Davidson, Dunning, h rancoeur, Hansell, Heaps, Hill, Lockhart, McCann, McLean (Melfort), Mallette, Mutch, Pottier, Wood, be appointed to inquire into the terms and operation of the Civil Service Superannuation Act, and all matters pertaining thereto, with power to call for persons, papers and records, to examine witnesses under oath, to consider evidence taken at the last session of parliament before a select special committee of the house on the same subject matter, and to report from time to time, and that standing order 65 be suspended in relation thereto. Motion agreed to.


SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO INQUIRE INTO OPERATION OF CIVIL SERVICE ACT

LIB

Louis Édouard Fernand Rinfret (Secretary of State of Canada)

Liberal

Hon. FERNAND RINFRET (Secretary of State) moved:

That a select special committee of the House be appointed to inquire into the operation of the Civil Service Act, and all matters pertaining thereto, with power to call for persons, papers and records, to examine witnesses under oath, and to report from time to time;

And that standing order 65 be suspended in relation thereto, and that the select special committee shall consist of twenty-five members and the following be appointed members of the said committee: Messrs. Barber, Boulanger, Clark (York-Sunbury), Cleaver, Deachman, Fournier (Hull), Glen, Golding, Hartigan, Hyndman, Jean, Lacroix (Quebec-Montmor-ency), Lennard, Maelnnis, MacNeil, McNiven (Regina City), Marshall, Mulock, O'Neill, Poole, Pouliot, Spence, Tomlinson, Tucker, Wermen-linger.

Mr. JEAN-FRANCOIS POULIOT (Temis-couafa): Mr. Speaker, the civil service committee last year carried on its arduous work without the slightest trace of political partisanship. I see the hon. member for Dufferin-Simcoe (Mr. Rowe) laughing. He said once that that committee was like a circus. He

could have been the circus and every other member of the committee could have been the manager.

The chairman of the civil service commission, speaking of the committee of last year, said:

This committee has gathered more information than ever before.

There are three branches of the civil service commission: The organization branch, the

examination branch and the assignment branch.

With regard, first, to the organization branch, Mr. Putnam, the chief organizer, said once that it was composed of self-taught men.

I will now give the duties of each one of these branches, according to a chart which was tabled before the committee, and which was included in report No. 15:

Organization Branch

Functions: To investigate and report on the organization, personnel establishment and procedure of departments and the classification of all positions in the service, rates of compensation and allowances, and maintain the classification and official classification files. To investigate all proposals for more staff and to check as to need, requisitions for the filling of vacant positions.

Examination Branch

Functions: To examine applicants for entrance to and promotion in the public service; to select and list eligibles in order of merit; to maintain examination records.

Assignment Branch

Functions: To make assignments from eligible lists; to maintain eligible lists in order and up to date; to notify appointees and departments of temporary and permanent assignments and to issue certificates of appointment; to issue extension of temporary certificates as authorized.

That is the designated work of the three chief branches of the civil service commission. There is another branch, administrative and personnel services, with which I shall not deal at the present time.

A distinction should be made between the oral and the documentary evidence which appeared in the committee's report.

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CCF

Abraham Albert Heaps

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. HEAPS:

May I ask what has all this to do with the appointment of the committee?

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LIB
CCF

Abraham Albert Heaps

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. HEAPS:

I will wait.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

As I said, Mr. Speaker,

a distinction should bo made between the oral and the documentary evidence of the committee last year. The documentary evidence comprises the final report of the committee

Civil Service-Special Committee

and includes a very interesting statement given by Sir Francis Floud; a speech by Lord Stamp which was not included in the report but which the committee was authorized to print, regarding the civil service in British industry; the minutes of the civil service commission, and an index of those minutes; a report on civil servants sixty-five or over; a submission by the professional institute; some data of the treasury board, and data on the personnel of the civil service commission.

I must congratulate the government on having superannuated two people, one of them who was supreme in the civil service commission and without whose recommendation no report of the chief of the organization branch could be considered, no report from any examiner in charge could be considered, and no promotion could be awarded. Those powers were found exorbitant by the last committee.

President Roosevelt in a recent letter to Mr. Justice Reed of the Supreme Court of the United States, who is the head of a committee appointed by the president to study methods of improving government personnel and efficiency of the civil service-I am quoting from the Times of Sunday last-after explaining that he was sorry he was away at the time the committee opened its sittings, said:

I should not have asked men with your responsibilities in other fields of government and business to undertake this study if I did not deem it of vital importance to the nation.

The growing complexities of modern government require the development of a trained personnel of men and women of outstanding ability, resourcefulness and breadth of mind willing to devote their lives to the public service.

Upon the development of such a personnel tlie future of our democracy may in no small measure depend.

That committee includes Attorney General Frank Murphy and Associate Justice Felix Frankfurter.

I do not wish to go further without mentioning that the government should be congratulated upon having superannuated and taken out of the service a man-a high-standing official,-who was guilty of dirty favouritism.

Now with regard to the documentary evidence already mentioned, if some hon. members object to the publication of the oral evidence they cannot object to the publication of the documentary evidence for the perusal of members of the committee and of members of the House of Commons. I wonder whether hon. members of this house realize what is the amount paid to dominion civil servants. According to a report published by the Bureau of Statistics in 1935. in

1931-32 the amount paid to dominion civil servants was 892,590,000. Of course it was a little less years afterwards. At that time the number of civil servants mentioned in that report was only 44,000. I have been in communication with a very able official of the Department of Finance, Mr. W. C. Ronson, who is assistant deputy minister, and who amongst the people who have foggy minds is one of the few who has a clear mind; he did exceptionally bright work, and I told him that I would commend him to his minister, but is it not much better to commend his work to the house? I obtained some very interesting information from him with regard to t ? number of civil servants. The total un April 1, 1937, was 57,426. Of them, 40,523 were Canadians, 13,474 from the British Isles, 512 from the British possessions, 451 from the United States, 1,068 from Europe, 95 from elsewhere, and 303 not stated. I wish to draw the attention of the house to the fact that in 1932 there were 44,000 civil servants, and now there are more than 57,000.

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CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. MacNEIL:

What is the total payroll?

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

I may give it later. A few years ago it was $92,000,000, but it must be more now.

A very interesting editorial was published by Mr. Charles Lynch, then president of the parliamentary press gallery, in the Civil Service Review of September 30, 1938, expressing views which were shared by the officers of the civil service associations. The council of the professional institute met early in February, 'and according to the Ottawa Citizen of February 6, 1939, they said:

Concerning the recommendation for rating of employees by a board of three department officers, doubt was expressed that ratings could be established by anyone other than individuals closely concerned with the work of the employee.

This was suggested to the Civil Service Associations when they appeared before the committee, and they agreed to that; and also Mr. Nelson, the chief examiner of the commission, agreed with it. In the Legionary of January, 1938, I read that Major Bowler, who represented the Canadian Legion before the committee, and was accompanied by Mr. J. C. G. Herwig, assistant general secretary of the dominion command,-

-received an extremely courteous hearing from the chairman, Mr. J. F. Pouliot (Lib., Temis-couata), and the members of the committee, several of whom are themselves ex-service men and fully familiar with the problem.

During the recess I asked some questions of the chairman of the civil service commission. He has answered some of them, but

Civil Service-Special Committee

did not answer them all. I am told that he has forwarded to the government a memorandum to the effect that the civil service commission has already implemented most of the unanimous recommendations of the committee last year-which of course is untrue: the commission has made very little progress since the last sitting of the committee.

Here is a point of which hon. members should be informed. In spite of the arduous work of all members of the committee, without exception, some official of the professional institute used. unparliamentary language in public about members of the House of Commons. I shall not read all that was said, but it appeared in the press; it appeared in the Ottawa Journal of November 29, 1938, as a front-page article, and it was also broadcast by the Canadian Press. The then president of the professional institute has sent a satisfactory apology and withdrawal of the language he used; so have other civil servants who belonged to the Department of Mines; another connected with the Department of Agriculture sent a withdrawal which was rather an apology and which may be considered in due course by the members of the committee if they think that is the thing to do; and another one has done nothing, because his minister was unwilling to act. The. correspondence is confidential, but with the permission of the minister I will show it to hon. members concerned and they will do what they please with that. '

We hear a lot about the merit system. Does the merit system really exist, or is it only a catchword? I have received from Mr. Bland, of the civil service commission, a list showing the number of the employees of the commission from 1908 until now. Here are some of the earlier figures:

Number of

Year employees

1908 5

1909 8

1910 10

1911 13

1912 20

1913 20

1914-15-16 17

1917-18 25

At that time the civil service commission was not such a huge body as it is now.

Before giving the figures for succeeding years, may I say this. It might be interesting to hon. members to know what happened in the house in 1918 when a real merit system, as some hon. members believe in it, was brought into force. One must consider that at the time of the Union government there were some Conservatives and Liberals who did not know at all by how many Liberal [Mr. PouliotJ

and how many Conservative votes they had been elected. Therefore, of course, they did not know whom to reward by giving them positions in the civil service. Those prominent amongst the advocates of the merit system were: Mr. Justice Maclean, of the exchequer court, who was a prominent Liberal of Nova Scotia; the Hon. Newton Wesley Rowell, a former Liberal leader of Ontario, and Mr. Fred Pardee, who died a senator and who was the chief whip of the Liberal party in power and in opposition from 1909 until he supported the Union government. In Hansard of April 12, 1918, page 697, I find that Mr. A. K. Maclean, then acting minister of finance, spoke as follows:

This reform could only be possible under present political conditions. Had my right hon. friend (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) been returned to power, I have no doubt that he could not have inaugurated such a reform in the public service. Moreover, had the present Prime Minister been returned to power at the head of a Conservative government, it -would have been impossible for him to institute such a reform as this.

Very interesting: the thing could not have been done by any party, but it could be done only by a unionist government. It was one of their accomplishments. To prove that it was one of their accomplishments may I quote the words of one of the most distinguished front benchers of the house, the right hon. Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe).

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CCF

James Shaver Woodsworth

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I rise to a point of order. If I understand aright the motion, it is to appoint a committee. What is being said may be very interesting indeed from the political point of view, but I cannot see how it can bear on a motion to appoint a certain committee to consider civil service matters.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Speaking to the point of order, we have only to see that the motion is for the appointment of a committee of the house " to inquire into the operation of the Civil Service Act, and all matters pertaining thereto, with power to call for persons," et cetera. It is the operation of the Civil Service Act that is being inquired into, and the foundation of the Civil Service Act is the merit system. Therefore I am perfectly in order in continuing to relate what happened in the past.

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CCF

James Shaver Woodsworth

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Mr. Speaker, I ask for your ruling. Do we need to have the history of the Civil Service Act from time immemorial brought before the house on this occasion? I fail to see it, and I ask for your ruling.

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LIB

Walter Edward Foster (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I am of the opinion that the hon. member is in order in the remarks

Civil Service-Special Committee

he has been making. The motion is that a special committee of the house be appointed to inquire into the operation of the Civil Service Act, and all matters pertaining thereto, and I do not think that up to the present moment the hon. member has discussed any matters that are irrelevant to the motion. I would ask him, however, to confine what he has to say to such questions' as are strictly within the' scope of the motion.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

I am not going to go as

far back as the deluge, but as we are considering the operation of the Civil Service Act it is important to know what progress has been made during the past twenty years under the merit system.

I was about to quote from page 703 what the right hon. Minister of Justice, who was then a back-bencher, said:

Here rve have an exemplification of the advantages of union government.

The so-called merit system was brought in by two kinds of individuals. There were the big manufacturers who wanted to make more money by showing their devotion to the empire, and also the Liberals who had supported the Union government, and the Conservatives as well, who were much embarrassed by patronage and had become in one day statesmen, not bothering about petty jobs. They did not want to reward anyone. They were thinking of great and important matters concerning the whole world.

We still have the same kind of statesmen even among back-benchers. They are not numerous; some are front-benchers, and others are back-benchers; but they are not vulgar politicians. They are statesmen, statesmen, statesmen, going higher and higher. The merit system was created to satisfy the greed of profiteers who wanted to promote their own business outside Canada: the sale of bacon manufactured by the friends of Sir Thomas White, who was then minister of finance; starch manufactured by the minister of railways and canals, J. D. Reid; tinware manufactured by Sir Albert Edward Kemp, minister of overseas military forces; paint manufactured by the minister of the naval service, Hon. C. C. Ballantyne; the products of the Cockshutt plant, and so on and so forth.

On April 12, .1918, at page 707, no less a gentleman than that great Haligonian, Mr. Fielding, said:

I think we are getting away from the purpose for which the civil service commission was created. It was never intended to be a patronage distributing body, but a body with distinct purposes, a body to hold examinations

and to take means of guaranteeing the qualifications of applicants for the public service. That, I think, is a correct statement of its original purpose. But now the government seem to be obliged-I am not saying they could do otherwise-to make this commission a patronage distributing body. Now say to A, B and C, who are members of parliament, that they shall have no right to nominate anybody, but that D, E and F, who are called the civil service board, shall nominate' and appoint the men, does not seem to me to be abolishing patronage; it is simply transferring it from a number of gentlemen who, whatever their faults may be, have some knowledge of local conditions, and turning it over to gentlemen who have no knowledge of local conditions. It seems to me that is the effect of it.

So spoke Mr. Fielding. There is something further that is interesting in the working of the civil service commission. In my humble view it is a hoax, it is a farce; they are passing the buck. No one is responsible. We ask the government, any government, who is responsible and we are told, the civil service commission; and if we ask the civil service commission the answer is, "We have no responsibility whatever; the responsibility is on the shoulders of the government." Therefore no one knows where he is at.

If hon. members will look into those most interesting publications called blue books they will see the names of prominent people who do not belong to the civil service commission and who have been thanked in every report of the commission since 1908 for their valuable services in sitting on examining boards. Mr. Justice Angers of the exchequer court is not a member of the civil service commission, and there are many others. I have not the last one, 1938, but I direct attention to page 29 of the report of the commission for 1937. They will see a formidable list of men who are supposed to be competent when the civil service commission is not. In the organization branch there are self-taught men. Perhaps there are a couple of sensible men there; the others are fools, and they direct the organization and classification of all departments, the classification of all civil servants. They are the big men of the civil service commission, the "number one" men; and then there are the examiners who, most of them, could not successfully teach in primary schools; and yet they pass upon questions put to applicants regarding astronomy, geology, engineering and every other science for which civil servants may be employed. Most ridiculous!

If the house has no objection, may I table some figures? They give a classification of those persons acting as advisory examiners on civil service boards, divided into civil servants from Ottawa on the one hand and

Civil Service-Special Committee

from outside on the other, and not civil servants, from Ottawa on the one hand and from outside on the other. Does the house agree to that? .

Some lion. MEMBERS: No.

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LIB

Walter Edward Foster (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

The hon. member cannot

file it without unanimous consent.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Then I will keep it in

my pocket.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Read it.

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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

Pass it around.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

If the house agrees I will have it stencilled and send a copy to every member. I say, it is most ridiculous. The civil service commission looks to a mounted policeman, an R.C.M.P. constable either in British Columbia or in Nova Scotia, to decide whether a caretaker for a public building, a lighthouse, is competent; and if at times some other choice is made, it is the principal of a high school, who has to judge the competency of some man whom the civil service commission has never seen and who is appointed without any civil service commissioner ever having seen him.

There are some amusing things in connection with the civil service commission. After 1918 the number of employees on the staff of the civil service commission has increased year by year. These are the numbers from 1918-19 on-and remember, Griffen-hagen and Arthur Young & Company were brought in to introduce American efficiency into the dominion public service:

1918- 19

1051919- 20

2041920- 21

3151921- 22

2001922- 23

2321923- 24

2241924- 25

1841925- 26

1881926- 27

1741927- 28

1821928- 29

1951929- 30

2441930- 31

2331931- 32

1701932- 33

1481933- 34

1361934- 35

1441935- 36

1091936- 37

2311937- 38

228

These men and women are there; many of them are good stenographers, but they know nothing about the structure of any department; they know nothing about the qualifications of civil servants and those who try to get government jobs. They are there; they do not decide anything, but they take for

granted that what is done is correct. Suppose there is a vacancy for a chemist; there are no chemists on the civil service commission, no one is able to say anything about the qualifications of the applicants. But they constitute a board and ask for the qualifications of the various applicants. These are sent to the civil service commission. There a minor clerk who knows nothing about chemistry eliminates some of the applications, and the others are left for the decision of the board. Very often the board do not see anyone, at any rate they do not see the applicants who have been eliminated by the minor clerk. They take it for granted, although they know nothing, that they have done fine work. Then they decide that A shall be appointed because he is the first on the list. It is taken for granted because that man is such a prominent man in the city of Ottawa, or such an eminent chemist in the city of Winnipeg, and so on.

Probably no one in this house has ever read the form of the oral examination report. Look at it. "Factors to be considered"- they are the same forms as were there twenty years ago. Nothing is changed; it is tradition, the holy tradition of Foran, the civil service commissioner. He is their guiding star and their inspiration. Observe this:

Make a careful observation of the candidate. Notice his personal appearance and his neatness in dress. How do his personality and manner impress you? If he had to deal with the public, do you think he would be tactful, courteous and firm-

Firm!

-or inclined to be abrupt .or overbearing? Where would you rank him in comparison with a 100 per cent "ideal" candidate and a "barely satisfactory" 60 per cent candidate?

The margin is from 60 to 100 per cent. If you like him, 100 per cent. If you don't, he has no personality-60 per cent. All the most important officials of the civil service commission were asked, "What is personality?" and every one of them answered, "I don't know." But it is there, and if the examiner finds that the fellow is neatly attired, buys his clothes from Fashioncraft, has engaging manners, and is "firm," then he is 100 per cent. If the examining clerk does not like him, he is not.

But that is not all:

In the column headed "Rating" express your judgment by writing in ink the percentage at which you would rate him. If your rating is less than 60, place a check mark after the word -unsatisfactory.

Civil Service-Special Committee

Below 60, below zero! Then the next

section:

Having checked over the career of the candidate with him briefly-

Was your father a respectable man? Was your mother a good mother? Have you many sisters-many brothers? Probably you have been a clerk in a general store; oh, yes; you have sold sugar; you have sold apples and flour and biscuits-biscuits are most important. -what value would you attach to it as fitting him for this particular position?

Note: It is not necessary that his experience should have been exactly in the line required in the position-

It is not necessary. No training is necessary.

-but consider whether it has been of such nature as to indicate his probable success if appointed. Again express your opinion as in factor A.

Personality!

Consider the intelligence and mental alertness of the candidate.

Alertness!

How does he react to questioning? Is he quick to grasp the trend of your questions and able to express himself intelligently and readily? Again indicate your judgment as in factor A.

This is sissy talk. Then D:

Taking into consideration the actual work to be performed in the position in question, do you consider the candidate to be in possession of the requisite health, strength and other physical attributes required? Do not-

Those words in block letters.

Do not in this instance compare him with a 100 per cent physically fit man, but view him only from the point of view of the work to be performed. As far as his physical fitness is concerned can he carry on with reasonable efficiency? Indicate your judgment as in factor A.

Now, sir, for whom is personality required? It is required for inspectors of dairy products, hatchery assistants, dairy produce graders, poultry inspectors, junior swine graders, stock car inspectors, foremen spat and breeding, stock distribution, customs excise clerks, customs excise examiners, customs excise enforcement officers, immigration guards, customs truckmen-these need personality. Also immigration inspectors, fisheries inspectors, Indian agents-personality, of course! Park wardens, park caretakers, cleaners and helpers -they need personality. Head stewards, investigators of drawback claims-these all need personality. I have a long list, pages

of it. Orthopaedic appliance makers, clerks grade 4-they need personality. It is incredible.

Sir, one of the recommendations that was made on behalf of youth, and it was only one, was the superannuation of men at sixty-five and women at sixty. It was in a report presented to the house last year. That report was agreed to by the members of the civil service commission; the members of the house were satisfied with it and of course it was the unanimous report of the committee on which all parties were represented. In the Montreal Standard of February 4 we find the following:

All-Canada civil service plan is now proposed.

That is the headline.

Junior business men in forty-nine cities and towns propose extension of civil service plan into provincial and municipal fields.

Poor youth! What an illusion! I have sent to Mr. Bonar, who occupies the post of chairman of the national committee on the civil service of the junior chamber of commerce of Canada, the whole report of last year to show him what is being done in the civil service commission.

In the old times civil servant appointees were young men who were open-minded, intelligent, had just an ordinary education but were willing to learn, and at that time the chiefs were ready to teach. Therefore young men entering the civil service progressed naturally until they became expert in their branch. But now it is entirely different. With the over-teaching that is done by all universities from coast to coast we do not have any more young men who are open-minded and willing to learn; we have a lot of young B.A's, M.A's, Ph.D's, who are unwilling to learn but always ready to teach, and the chiefs are unwilling to teach but become indispensables, staying in the service after sixty-five years to get a little more than their superannuation. Therefore there is now no cooperation between the young people who get into the civil service and most of those who are over them. Of course there are complaints of favouritism; several complaints were made by all the civil service organizations, but when we asked them to point their finger to the sore spots, everyone refused-they did not want to compromise themselves. Therefore the only part of the oral evidence which is worth anything is that which comes from the files themselves. In the office of the clerk of the committee we had five hundred files which were perused by the members of the committee and which showed how extraordinarily the applicants were dealt with by the civil service commission.

Civil Service-Special Committee

I wonder -whether many hon. members have read a small book called A Message to Garcia. It is by Elbert Hubbard, and I take the liberty of quoting a few lines:

And a man who, when given a letter for Garcia, quietly takes the missive, without asking any idiotic questions, and with no lurking intention of chucking it into the nearest sewer, or doing aught else but deliver it, never gets "laid off," nor has to go on strike for higher wages. Civilization is one long, anxious search for just such individuals. Anything such a man asks shall he granted. He is wanted in every city, town and village-in every office, shop, store and factory. The world cries out for such; he is needed and needed badly-the man who can "carry a message to Garcia."

I wish to apply those words to the hon. members who sat with me on the committee last year. I appreciated their work, which at times was both painful and arduous. We knew nothing about the operation of the Civil Service Act; we received a message from the house, and it was our duty to discover whether the operation of that act was a joke on the house and the country or whether a good purpose was being served.

Now, sir, may I say that I do not know at all what I will do this session. I have informed the government that I want the report of last year, which was unanimous on the part of members representing all parties, submitted to the house. We worked very hard, at times seven days a week, in order to reach conclusions which we thought would be in the best interests of the service and the best interests of the country. That has been done, and I hope the matter will be very seriously considered in the light of the public welfare.

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CCF

James Shaver Woodsworth

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. J. S. WOODSWORTH (Winnipeg North Centre):

A few months ago, Mr. Speaker, I objected to a discussion of this kind being carried on when We were supposed to be considering a more or less formal resolution with regard to the selection of a special committee. However, since the discussion has gone on I should like to say that it does seem to me highly improper that in connection with this resolution the hon. member who has just taken his seat (Mr. Pouliot) should have attacked civil servants who have no chance to defend themselves.

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February 21, 1939