May 26, 1939

LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

I will ask Hansard to send the volume to the hon. member when they are finished with it, or I can pass it over to the hon. gentleman if he will see that Hansard gets it. I have perused these resolutions and it is time for me to remind the Minister of Finance (Mr. Dunning) that my ancestors did not fight in vain for responsible government. Yesterday in Montreal the Minister of Finance spoke of self-government, something which can be discussed; but we have no responsible government in this country now, especially in the Department of Finance, because members of parliament cannot get the information they ask for about the expenditure of public money. What was said by these old patriots, French and English, the disciples of William Lyon Mackenzie, the illustrious grandfather of our Prime Minister? Here are resolutions 9 and 10.

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

Mr. Speaker, I rise to

a question of privilege. My hon. friend says that members of this house are unable to get information regarding the expenditure of public money from the Department of Finance. That statement is wholly incorrect. No member has asked for more in the way of information, by way of correspondence, and no member has received more than the hon. member for Temiscouata. It is a serious reflection upon this house to say that it is unable to get from the Department of Finance information respecting the expenditure of public money, and I must raise the question.

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LIB

Walter Edward Foster (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I think the hon. member should not make such remarks, especially in view of the information given to the house by the Minister of Finance.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Sir, I always bow to your ruling, but I have many cases I could mention. I refer, for instance, to Hansard of February 8, 1937, page 634, where I find this:

Bank of Canada-Leave of Absence to Employee Brooks.

Central Mortgage Bank

And in answer to my questions the Minister of Finance said:

Mr. Dunning: . . . that questions as to

matters of internal management were not usually answered in the house unless in the judgment of the management they could be answered without affecting the day to day management of the business. . . . The government is giving consideration to the advisability of referring the annual report of the Bank of Canada to, say, the committee on banking and commerce, in order that members of the house may have the same general opportunity with respect to the affairs of the Bank of Canada as they have to-day with respect to the affairs of the Canadian National Railways.

Which does not mean much. At the time Brooks was just a porter or doorman of the Bank of Canada who accompanied Mr. Bennett throughout the world. I asked questions about it and was told it was not proper to give me an answer. I thank the Minister of Finance for the information he has given me. Some of the information can be found in report No. 17 of the banking and commerce committee. It was just in order to defend sound theories of money that I asked about bank clearings, and I thank him for the information he has given me. I think we are entitled to information. I do not say that in any offensive way. I am not here to bolt at all. I stand by the party. When there is a measure I do not agree with, I may express myself accordingly, but I am loyal to my colleagues. No one can pre-vent me from expressing my views here because they are the expression of my very deep convictions, for which I have suffered at times, as the Minister of Finance knows better than anyone else. Here are some of the resolutions. The legislative council was-

9. . . . the most serious defect in the

Constitutional Act-its radical fault-the most active principle of evil and discontent in this province-the most powerful and most frequent cause of abuses of power-of the infractions of the laws-of the waste of the public revenue and property.

27. . . . the same malign influence which has been exerted to perpetuate in the country a system of irresponsibility in favour of public functionaries.

28. . . . that form of government would not be less essentially vicious which makes the happiness or misery of a country depend on an executive over which the people of that country have no influence.

45. . . . the conduct of bad servants of the crown, who called in the supreme authority of the parliament and the British constitution, to aid them to govern arbitrarily, listening rather to the governors and their advisers, than to the people and their representatives, and shielding with their protection those who consumed the taxes rather than those who paid them.

67. . . . divers subordinate public functionaries summoned to appear before committees of this house, to give information . . . have refused to do so. fMr. Pouliot.l

Just as the Bank of Canada has refused to answer.

68. . . . the result of the secret and unlawful distribution of a large portion of the public revenue of the province has been, that the executive government has always, except with regard to appropriations for objects of a local nature, considered itself bound to account for the public money, to the lords commissioners of the treasury in England, and not to this house.

69. . . . the pretensions and abuses aforesaid, have taken away from this house even the shadow of control over the public revenue of the province, and have rendered it impossible for it to ascertain at any time the amount of the revenue collected, the disposable amount of the same, and the sums required for the public services.

71. . . . this house will hold responsible for all moneys which have been or may hereafter be paid, otherwise than under the authority of an Act of the legislature, or upon an address of this house, out of the public revenue-of the province, all those who may have authorized such payments or participated therein, until the said sums shall have been reimbursed, or a bill or bills of indemnity freely passed by this house, shall have become law.

72. . . . The Commons of England . . . have happily obtained the entire control of the revenue of the nation. . . . The respect shewn to their opinions with regard to the redress of grievances and abuses, by the other constituted authorities, has regulated the working of the constitution in a manner equally adapted to give stability to His Majesty's government, and to protect the interests of the people.

79. . . . This house, as representing the people of this province, possesses of right, and has exercised within this province, when occasion has required it, all the powers, privileges and immunities claimed and possessed by the Commons House of Parliament, in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

80. . . .It is one of the undoubted privileges of this house, to send for all persons, papers and records, and to command the attendance of all persons, civil and military, resident within the province, as witnesses, in all investigations which this house may deem expedient to institute; and to require such witnesses to produce all papers and records in their keeping, whenever it shall deem it conducive to the public good to do so.

In paragraph 75 it is stated that at the time, the number of inhabitants of French origin was 525,000; of British or other origin, 75,000.

52. . . . the majority of the inhabitants of this country are in no wise disposed to repudiate any one of the advantages they derive from their origin, and from their descent from the French nation, which, with regard to the progress of which it has been the cause in civilization, in the sciences, in letters and in the arts, has never been behind the British nation, and is now the worthy rival of the latter in the advancement of the cause of liberty and of the science of government, from which this country derives the greatest portion of its civil and ecclestiastical law, and of its scholastic and charitable institutions, and of the religion, language, habits, manners and customs of the great majority of its inhabitants.

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This, sir, may be found in the journals of the Quebec legislative assembly, 4 William IV, February 21, 1834. For the motion there were 56 patriotic Canadian members; amongst them we find English names like those of Child, Kimber, Leslie, Scott, Toomy, Vanfleson. The nays were 23.

With regard to questions put to the government: I do not wish to say anything which is unfair to anyone, but, coming to what I said a moment ago about the reference to Hansard, I quote the following:

Mr. Pouliot: What powers does the Bank

of Canada presently exercise and which, (a) the Minister of Finance could exercise, and (h) which he could not exercise, prior to the establishment of such bank?

Mr. Dunning: With reference to this question, it seems to me to be a matter of examining two statutes, the Finance Act and the Bank of Canada Act. The hon. member who asks the question is a distinguished member of the legal profession, and the statutes speak for themselves.

That is from Hansard of April 6, 1936, page 1810. The very same question was asked of the governor of the Bank of Canada, in the banking committee this year, and he refused to answer it.

Before examining the bill, and in answer to what my hon. friend the Minister of Finance has said, I would point out that on March 3, 1937, with regard to the Bank of Canada not belonging to the dominion civil service but being part of the dominion organization, I wrote him as follows:

Answering your letter of March 1st, would you please give me the total of the personnel of the Bank of Canada (1) in Ottawa and (b) in each of the outside branches.

Here is the answer of the minister. I could not get even the number of the personnel of the Bank of Canada.

March 1, 1937.

Dear Mr. Pouliot:

Replying to yours of February 25th; the government some time ago gave consideration to the position of the Bank of Canada in connection with matters such as that mentioned in your letter, and it was decided that the same procedure would be adopted as in the case of the Canadian National Railways. I cannot, therefore, supply you with the information requested.

This is not an answer to my question. If I am not to know even the salaries of the personnel of the Bank of Canada, I should at least know what is the number of employees, but I cannot get that information.

Now, sir, there is something which I want to read to this house, to show what is done in England. My great grandfather, my grandfather, my father and myself were strong upholders of British parliamentary practice.

We were not born in England, but as good Canadians we have made a deep study of British parliamentary institutions and know more about them than some Englishmen who try to teach us these things. I take this opportunity to appeal to all those who have lived in free England, who have voted, if not for Gladstone, at least for Campbell-Bannerman, Asquith and other great Liberal leaders, to come back to responsible government, the real form of government. We should not generally go backwards, but in this case it seems that we are doomed to go backwards on account of the stupid finance legislation which was passed some time ago, when the Audit Act was changed and the comptroller of the treasury appointed.

At Westminster there is the committee on national economy which studies every question that affects the treasury. The members of that committee are members of parliament; they meet together from time to time and study deeply matters which interest the taxpayers of England'; and here is what has been decided.

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CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

Including estimates?

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Surely. But I am more

interested at this time in general lines of policy.

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

There is a separate and

different committee which deals with estimates.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Whether it is the same

or not I will ask hon. members to give me the opportunity to read a report of one committee. In England: these men are required to follow a real tradition, a parliamentary practice which has evolved for the good of the country, for the better and not for the worse. Here is what was decided by the committee on national economy on March 12, 1920. There was a proposal to put representatives of the treasury in each department. This was strongly objected to by that committee, and the suggestion -was not put into effect. I quote:

The proposal that the accounting officer shall be a treasury official does not commend itself to us.

(i) In the first place, it offends against the cardinal principle of ministerial responsibility. A minister could not be properly responsible to parliament for the conduct of his department if a large part of the responsibility falls actually on the servant of another department to whom he is unable to give orders.

(ii) In the second place, the tendency to evade financial control alluded to above should, in our view, become more marked if the officer to be evaded were an emissary of another department. At present the financial officer is the servant of the same minister as the administrative officers, and is entitled to the same

Central Mortgage Bank

access to official papers and confidential information as they are; these are advantages of great value in financial control which might be lost if he became an officer of the treasury.

(iii) Thirdly, the treasury officer could not work single-handed. He would require staff. This would presumably have to be treasury staff, too. There would thus be an elaborate interviewing of the staff of two departments under one roof, under conditions which would almost inevitably give rise to friction and discontent.

(iv) The position obtaining in the ministry of transport does not afford a precedent for the proposal that the accounting officer should be a treasury official. The accounting officer of the ministry of transport is responsible to the minister, but works in close association with a treasury officer specially attached to the ministry in view of peculiar circumstances arising out of the ministry of transport act.

That was in England. Here it is different. I have here a return, a letter which contains mostly extracts from speeches of my right hon. leader and1 the then prime minister. The reasons for the creation of the office of comptroller of the treasury were futile reasons. It was because Mr. Bennett was discontented with some answers he had received. It was Tory legislation; it was centralization, to which I am strongly opposed-I am for decentralization. Each minister should be responsible for the payment of every cent expended under his authority. Here that is not the case. As I said the other day, no minister is responsible for payment, therefore all estimates should be presented to the house by the Minister of Finance. Here in Ottawa when a new organization is created it is like a dirty snowball; it goes on always, becoming bigger and bigger. I am afraid that some day it may crush down the pillars of the state.

I might say much more on this point, but I have other things to deal with. I ask hon. members to take Bill No. 132 and follow it with me. In section 2(d) there is first mention of the deputy minister of finance. And long after in subsection (h) there is mentioned the Minister of Finance. When I asked the Minister of Finance what was the difference between the powers exercised by the Bank of Canada now and those that were exercised before by ministers of finance, such as Fielding and Jim Robb, and Charlie Dunning, until 1930, when Mr. Bennett changed the whole thing on account of the fact that his minister of finance was highly incompetent, I received no satisfactory answer.

By section 3 of this bill the central mortgage bank becomes "the agent of His Majesty the King in the right of Canada," and we shall have no information about it, just as we have none about the Bank of Canada, because

under section 12 an oath of secrecy has to be taken by the employees of that bank. According to section 3 (2) the Bank Act shall not apply to the central mortgage bank; this is a law of exception. I am against centralization and against exceptions also.

By section 5 the central mortgage bank shall be under the management of a board of directors composed of a governor, who shall be the governor of the Bank of Canada- mark you-a deputy governor, who shall be the deputy governor of the Bank of Canada, the deputy minister of finance, and three other directors appointed in accordance with the provisions of the act. It is intermingling. We have the Bank of Canada on the one hand and the very same people, with three others, composing the management of the central mortgage bank; and the deputy minister of finance, who passes ahead of the minister.

Then let us look at section 11, which provides that there is to be an executive committee consisting of the governor, who is the governor of the Bank of Canada, the deputy governor, who is the deputy governor of the Bank of Canada, and the deputy minister of finance-the very same three people *-and one director selected by the board. They will have direction "and control" of the business of this mortgage bank. There will be an issue of $10,000,000 from the consolidated revenue fund for that bank; they will be the agents of the government, and I am sure that it will be just as hard to get information about the mortgage business as about the business of the Bank of Canada. Anybody can go to the registry office and find out what mortgage is on any property; it is the privilege of our citizens-it is of the very essence of a mortgage to be public. Why is there this secrecy? Is it to protect those who wiil make unjust refusal to those who seek to secure a mortgage?

And the salary. Oh, the salary! Everyone knows that the governor of the Bank of Canada receives a salary of $35,000 a year.

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

No, that is not correct.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Well, perhaps it is more, but I remember at the time it was said it was to be $35,000 a year.

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

No, Mr. Speaker, it never was $35,000 a year; it was and is $30,000 a year.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Well, that is enough; I

should be satisfied with it, although I did not ask for it. Thirty thousand dollars a year; I thank the minister for the information. I hope I shall get more information in due course.

Central Mortgage Bank

But now according to section 9 each one of those people will be on the board, and will be entitled to an extra $7,000 a year- not more than $7,000 a year. The deputy minister of finance, according to the statute, receives already $12,000 a year, which will mean he will have $19,000 a year.

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

That is entirely wrong. Provision is made that the deputy minister and officers of the bank shall receive no salary in this capacity. My hon. friend surely cannot have read the section.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

I should like the minister again to give us some information, and tell us the salary and other remuneration of the deputy minister of finance. According to the estimates he receives as deputy minister of finance a salary of $12,000.

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

That is correct.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

I wonder if he does not receive some other considerations for being attached to the farm loan board and other such bodies. I did not have time to look with a magnifying glass all the time.

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

I can answer the question, and the answer is no.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

So much the better.

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

My hon. friend made the statement that the deputy minister of finance by virtue of this bill would receive a total salary of $19,000 a year. That is entirely wrong. I cannot allow such an impression to go out. The bill makes it quite clear that no salary will be payable to the deputy minister of finance by virtue of this legislation.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Without the approval of the governor in council.

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May 26, 1939