August 6, 1940

LIB

Thomas Vien (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. VIEN:

My point is that if you do not pay to judges of the high courts a salary that will attract the best lawyers you will get appointees of inferior quality. And yet in their hands you confide your life, your property and your freedom.

Topic:   PRISONERS OF WAR
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   $7,000.
Permalink
LIB

James Joseph McCann

Liberal

Mr. McCANN:

Is the gentleman in question a lawyer?

Topic:   PRISONERS OF WAR
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   $7,000.
Permalink
LIB

Thomas Vien (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. VIEN:

No.

Topic:   PRISONERS OF WAR
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   $7,000.
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LIB

James Joseph McCann

Liberal

Mr. McCANN:

Then what is the point of the argument?

Topic:   PRISONERS OF WAR
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   $7,000.
Permalink
LIB

Thomas Vien (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. VIEN:

I am drawing a parallel between judges of the high courts and the auditor general of Canada. The auditor general reports to parliament; he does so over and above

the ministers of the crown. Every year, in the report of the auditor general, there is to be found independant criticism of the administration of departments. The correspondence exchanged between the departments and the auditor general on points in dispute is published in his report. Is it not extremely important for parliament and country that the auditor general be a man of the highest character? That was a decisive factor considered when the services of Mr. Gonthier were retained. Therefore, if a man is appointed to a position of such high standing, and appointed for life, how can he be treated as an ordinary civil servant? The compensation provided for him in the estimates is far from being adequate if you. want to do him justice.

Topic:   PRISONERS OF WAR
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   $7,000.
Permalink
LIB

James Joseph McCann

Liberal

Mr. McCANN:

Had the gentleman in question a contract with the government?

Topic:   PRISONERS OF WAR
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   $7,000.
Permalink
LIB

Thomas Vien (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. VIEN:

He had.

Topic:   PRISONERS OF WAR
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   $7,000.
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LIB

James Joseph McCann

Liberal

Mr. McCANN:

What was the nature of the contract?

Topic:   PRISONERS OF WAR
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   $7,000.
Permalink
LIB

Thomas Vien (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. VIEN:

Just the same as the supreme court judges.

Topic:   PRISONERS OF WAR
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   $7,000.
Permalink
LIB

James Joseph McCann

Liberal

Mr. McCANN:

No.

Topic:   PRISONERS OF WAR
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   $7,000.
Permalink
LIB

Thomas Vien (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. VIEN:

My hon. friend says no. Let us compare the two cases. A lawyer is called to the supreme court bench; there is an order in council appointing him, and a statute fixing his compensation. The auditor general is appointed by order in council, he is called to be the auditor general. There is a statute, the Auditor General's Act, which provides for his salary. He is appointed for life and cannot be removed except by an address of both houses of parliament, like a judge of the supreme or exchequer court.

Topic:   PRISONERS OF WAR
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   $7,000.
Permalink
NAT

Grote Stirling

National Government

Mr. STIRLING:

I have already asked for the order in council in question. It seems to me that would go a long way towards settling this matter.

Topic:   PRISONERS OF WAR
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   $7,000.
Permalink
LIB

Thomas Bruce McNevin

Liberal

Mr. McNEVIN:

I have no desire to labour this point, but I should like to suggest that occupying ministerial positions in the government we have men who are making great sacrifices in the public interest, for whom no pension or superannuation provisions are made at all. Men occupying these positions have great demands made upon their resources by the public. I consider that the former auditor general has been well treated in the matter of his superannuation allowance, and I register my objection to this additional grant.

Topic:   PRISONERS OF WAR
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   $7,000.
Permalink
LIB

John Gordon Ross

Liberal

Mr. ROSS (Moose Jaw):

I do not want to contribute to this debate at any length, but I think this affords an opportunity to discuss

Supply-Auditor General's Office

at least one principle that has come up during this discussion. That is the case of a man who is retired from the service because he has reached the age of seventy. Whether we have contracts or customs in regard to appointments for life or appointments which must be terminated on reaching a certain age, it is my opinion, as I think it is the opinion of most people in Canada, that no man in the government service should hold an appointment beyond the age of seventy, no matter what may be his position. I think it is about time we provided that every appointive position in Canada should become vacant when the person holding that position reaches the age of seventy, whether he be a senator or a judge or anything else; whether he be under contract for the balance of his life, and even though compensation must be paid.

Topic:   PRISONERS OF WAR
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   $7,000.
Permalink
LIB

Thomas Vien (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. VIEN:

I agree entirely with the hon. gentleman, with this qualification: when a gentleman is appointed for life, and then a statute is passed providing that in future there will be an age limit, that age limit should apply only to those appointed after such legislation was enacted.

Topic:   PRISONERS OF WAR
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   $7,000.
Permalink
LIB

Manley Justin Edwards

Liberal

Mr. EDWARDS:

In connection with this matter one point is bothering me to which I think we should direct our attention instead of considering the general principle. If this gentleman was appointed for life, as has been suggested or alleged, then why and how did he avail himself of the provisions of the superannuation act? What was the necessity for it if he contemplated receiving this salary for life? It seems to me that the two positions are wholly irreconcilable. Either this man had a contract under which he would receive $15,000 a year for life, or he did not. The fact that he availed himself of the provisions of the superannuation act is at least to my mind, cogent evidence that he had no such contemplation when he was employed by this government.

Topic:   PRISONERS OF WAR
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   $7,000.
Permalink
NAT

Karl Kenneth Homuth

National Government

Mr. HOMUTH:

Everything the deputy

speaker has said to-night has been a matter of comparison, and to me comparisons are odious in connection with the salaries and superannuations of civil servants. But we have thousands and tens of thousands of people raising families in this country and earning $15, $18 and $20 a week. These people have to pay the salary and superannuation of men like this. These are the things that are causing in this country a feeling of disrespect for and lack of confidence in government. There are men in this house, in this party and in the Liberal party, who protest against the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, the communists and others going into politics.

They go into politics because of things like this, and I think it is about time we began to realize that the money to pay these high salaries and superannuations comes out of the small wage-earner of this country, who is not going to stand for it very much longer. Let this house set a precedent to-night and say we will not do this thing the government is asking us to do.

Topic:   PRISONERS OF WAR
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   $7,000.
Permalink
LIB

James Lorimer Ilsley (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ILSLEY:

The hon. gentleman who is leading the opposition at the moment asked for the order in council. I have not the order in council here, but I asked for a memorandum concerning the statutes under which auditors general have been appointed, and my information is that from 1878 to the present time the statutes have provided that their appointment shall be during good behaviour, removable upon address of both houses of parliament. From that I would think it would follow that the actual terms of the order in council would be irrelevant, because the statute would govern. The order in council could contain only one provision; that is, it would be an appointment under the statute, for the tenure I have mentioned.

Topic:   PRISONERS OF WAR
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   $7,000.
Permalink
NAT

Grote Stirling

National Government

Mr. STIRLING:

Does the minister know how this gentleman's predecessor was treated?

Topic:   PRISONERS OF WAR
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   $7,000.
Permalink
LIB

James Lorimer Ilsley (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ILSLEY:

I do not know the history

of the matter at all. With regard to the point raised by the hon. member for Calgary West (Mr. Edwards), I do not know why Mr. Gonthier availed himself of the provisions of the Civil Service Superannuation Act. I presume one reason would be that they applied to his case. Another would be that under that act he would receive certain protection against retirement by virtue of ill health or incapacity, and his dependents would also receive protection under it. Therefore it would not follow that it would be disadvantageous to him to make his payments under that act if he were appointed for life. The two are not inconsistent. I can imagine it being desirable from his point of view to make his payments under the Civil Service Superannuation Act, so that if he did retire through incapacity he would be pensionable under the provisions of that act, and if he died his dependents would also receive benefits.

Topic:   PRISONERS OF WAR
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   $7,000.
Permalink

August 6, 1940