July 25, 1942

CON

Mark Cecil Senn

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SENN:

What proportion of this goes to bonuses, and what proportion to the improvement of factories?

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   IRMA KERN ULRICH
Permalink
LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

About one-tenth.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   IRMA KERN ULRICH
Permalink
LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. CRUICKSHANK:

Is there a grant to factories, or is there a loan, or what is it?

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   IRMA KERN ULRICH
Permalink
LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

A grant is made to the factories amounting to half the cost of putting in the cold storage equipment, or what is known as the curing room. Then, half goes to changing some other equipment, namely the cheese presses, or the circle in which the cheese is made. .

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   IRMA KERN ULRICH
Permalink

Item agreed to.


POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT


243. Departmental administration, $743,650.


LIB

William Pate Mulock (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Hon. W. P. MULOCK (Postmaster General):

Before hon. members proceed to ask questions, perhaps I might shorten the debate to some extent by making a brief statement, and I do so by reason of the fact that there is a considerable increase in the estimates of this year.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Permalink
NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

The minister did that last year.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Permalink
LIB

William Pate Mulock (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. MULOCK:

Before entering upon the discussion of the general estimates, may I be permitted to submit some information respecting the postal service? In presenting the post office estimates for consideration in committee, I desire to say, first, that the financial requirements of the dominion in the promotion of our war effort have been given the important place they should occupy in considering the provisions to be made for the postal service during the fiscal year 1942-43.

It is absolutely essential to regard the prosecution of the war as our first consideration, and the responsibility rests no less on the departmental head than on the administrative officers of his department, to see that the estimates reflect only the actual needs, without, however, impairing service. Every effort has been made to keep requests for appropriations at a minimum, and at the same time provide for the essential public services demanded of this department.

The post office is primarily a service organization, the functions of which are necessarily expanding to meet rapidly growing revenue and volume of business. The mails must be moved on time, and provision must be made to that end in respect of personnel, and cost of conveyance; as well as of equipment to carry on the work.

Illustrative of the needs in this respect, may I point out that the 1941-42 gross revenue is 855,477,159, or an increase of about $7,500,000 as compared with 1940-41, or 15 per cent. This is double the increase 1940-41 revenue showed over 1939-40, and it gives a fair indication of the growth in the volume of mail.

In consideration of postal appropriations and expenditures it is necessary to keep in view the fact that from a national point of view the post office as a government utility neither chooses its customers nor controls the extent, time or place that the public may use or not use its service. When the demand comes it cannot be deferred but must be met at once. The post office must render service with all possible speed at the time and place and in whatever volume the public request.

As hon. members of the committee are perhaps aware, expenditures for the transportation of mail by rail, water, air and land represent nearly 46 per cent of the total outlay of the department. Salaries of personnel are almost 43 per cent, without cost-of-living bonus, and slightly over 48 per cent including that item. The remaining 6 per cent covers items such as printing and stationery, equipment and maintenance (including cost of postal equipment formerly supplied by the Department of Public Works but now purchased by the Post Office Department out of the Post Office appropriation); travelling expenses; telegrams and telephones, including the rental of telephones in staff post offices and postal district offices; sundries; publicity; the manufacture of postage stamps; money order forms and postal notes.

Reference has been made to a 15 per cent increase in revenue in the fiscal year which has closed. This, of course, results from

Supply

Post Office

augmented mailing, and in turn involves additional expenditures. It might be well, however, to call attention to the fact that expenditures during the fiscal year 1941-42, when compared with those of 1940-41, show an increase of only slightly over 7 per cent, although revenues, as already stated, increased during the same period to the extent of 15 per cent.

In further reference to the department's financial position I might say that while gross revenue, as stated, increased by $7,500,000, the net revenue-that is the amount on hand after the deductions of postmasters' commissions, including cost-of-living bonus of $122,788.66-increased by $5,610,505; while the net surplus, that is the amount on hand after all expenses of departmental administration had been paid, including cost-of-living bonus of $1,039,366.94, was $4,492,002, as compared with $1,683,692 for the last year and $3,235 for the year before.

These figures are indicative of the department's efforts to operate the postal service in an economical manner.

The post office is regarded as a non-war department, but a state of conflict has repercussions on postal work in no small degree. To mention but one item in. the estimates; mail service by steamboat in 1942-43 must be provided for to the extent of $1,750,000 as against a pre-war figure of $325,000. As explained last year, this increase is on account of the fact that the Post Office Department now pays for the ocean conveyance of mails, subsidies formerly paid by Trade and Commerce, having been discontinued. Mail for Canadian troops overseas, which is constantly increasing, forms a large part of the mail carried across the Atlantic. The carriage of these mails to ports of embarkation also increases the cost of mail service by railway. In other directions as well, the present world conflict has increased the functions and responsibilities of the postal service.

The creation of various government boards and other controlling bodies has greatly augmented the volume of mail which is carried free of postage. The revenue value of this free mail is now close to $3,000,000 per annum. There is close co-operation between the department and the foreign exchange control board' in the administration of regulations promulgated by the board. It is not expedient to deal with this point at length or in detail, but I can assure the committee that valuable service is being rendered by the department in this respect. As the members of the committee are no doubt aware, under the national registration regulations of 1940 each postmaster in

Canada is designated as a deputy registrar for the purpose of registering persons who ivere not registered during the period which ended on August 21, 1940. Under these regulations applications for new certificates on account of changed address, changes in marital status, and replacement of lost or defaced certificates are dealt with by postmasters.

The sale o,f war savings stamps is another matter which should be mentioned. During the fiscal year just closed, post offices in Canada sold almost 49,000,000 of these stamps, providing the government with over $12,250,000 for war expenditures. I cannot too highly commend the whole-hearted cooperation which is being extended by postmasters throughout the length and breadth of this country,, both officially and as private citizens, in furthering the sale of war savings certificates and war loan bonds. I should like to go even further and say that they deserve the undivided1 commendation of this house.

The post office has cooperated very fully with the recently created unemployment insurance commission in the organization stages of the nation-wide set-up for unemployment insurance. As the scheme took form, the department undertook to handle the distribution and sale of unemployment insurance stamps. In the period between July 1, 1941, and March 31, 1942, the department sold on behalf of the commission stamps and metered impressions to the value of $40,000,000.

Similarly the department has cooperated closely with the various war services, particularly the munitions and supply and national war services departments, the oil controller and the wartime prices and trade board. Radio licences to the number of nearly 700,000, representing an amount in excess of $1,500,000, were sold by post offices throughout the dominion during the fiscal year which closed on March 31, 1942. Dominion government annuity business totalling more than $19,500,000 was handled through the same channels during the same period. For sendees such as the above, which are in the nature of general welfare and national policy activities, the post office is sometimes reimbursed in full to the extent previously agreed upon, sometimes in part and sometimes not at all. However, it is in the interests of the government >to utilize postal facilities to assist in such activities because it permits the performance of these tasks at a minimum expense to the federal government as a whole, and the department is happy to render this cooperation. The costs of performing these services are thus kept at a minimum. However, they increase postal expenditures,

Supply-Post Office

and the department is unable to make as good a financial showing as it might otherwise do.

May I for a moment revert to facilities which are essentially postal in nature and call attention to the provision which has been made to meet war-time conditions. A system of personal postal messages has been introduced to facilitate the sending of brief messages between persons in Canada and relatives and friends in enemy occupied countries. An airgraph service has been inaugurated to speed up the sending of messages in the form of letters from relatives and friends in Canada to members of the armed forces in the United Kingdom. This service is being developed further, and arrangements are now being made to widen its scope to provide for airgraph messages in both directions, to and from civilians as well as military personnel.

Arrangements have been made for air letter cards by the use of which messages can be sent by air mail to prisoners of war in Germany and Italy for a fraction of the cost of an ordinary air mail letter. Reduced postage has been arranged for parcels sent to members of the British, Canadian and other allied forces abroad. Free postage has been extended to Canadian soldiers' letters mailed at army post offices in the United Kingdom and in certain other countries where our troops are stationed. In addition to the postage concessions mentioned, redirection charges on parcels addressed to the members . of our forces have been waived.

In conclusion, may I assure the committee that the policy of the Post Office Department continues to be the maximum of service at a reasonable minimum of cost.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Permalink
PC

Alfred Henry Bence

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BENCE:

I am sure we have listened with considerable interest to the statement just made by the Postmaster General (Mr. Mulock). In view of the lead that he has given with respect to discussing matters generally, I propose to say a few words this evening on general matters, and then discuss one particular thing with which I am concerned. First of all, may I say that I take the greatest exception to the continuation of the practice by the Post Office Department of political patronage and party politics as far as certain sections of the department are concerned. I understand that a portion of the department works through the civil service commission, and with that I have no quarrel, but other appointments that are made are purely political. Even though this is considered a peace-time department, the fact

that appointments are made on a political basis harms our war effort and does irreparable harm in many cases.

It has never been my practice to make charges which I could not substantiate. People have pointed out certain instances to me where they felt sure politics were indulged in, but because there was nothing I could pick on to substantiate the charges, I never took them up. However, in connection with appointments made by the department in certain instances, I think it is admitted that political patronage is a governing factor. I know it is in connection with the temporary employees appointed at Christmas time. In Saskatoon, which is my constituency, a number of employees are appointed at Christmas time, and the appointments, subject to the qualification that ex-soldiers shall have the first right to the jobs, must be passed upon by the Liberal executive or the president of the Liberal association.

So far as rural postmasters are concerned, the Post Office Department sends a letter to the Liberal member of parliament for 'the constituency or the defeated Liberal candidate asking for a nomination for postmaster in the vacancy. It may be true that that practice has gone on for many years. I am not saying that it is confined to this administration. But the mere fact that it has gone on in the past is no reason why it should be continued in the future. Look at the position the people of my constituency are in when they see this kind of thing going on, and realize that one of the three defeated Liberal candidates is being asked, say, to nominate a postmaster for the town of Sutherland, in my constituency. I do not know which particular candidate they will pick. In one instance they will pick one, and in another, somebody else. What does the man on the street think about that? He naturally thinks that the same kind of thing is going on in other departments, and you simply cannot talk him out of that opinion.

I have endeavoured to explain the practice in these matters. I understand that the attitude taken by the government is that this practice is confined to peace-time departments, but when the man on the street sees that a particular individual has received an appointment, because he was nominated by the member of parliament or the defeated Liberal candidate for the constituency, and there are other people just as good and perhaps with better qualifications for the position, you cannot convince him that that kind of thing is not going on in other departments. I put that to the committee in as serious a manner as I can, because I am convinced that at a

Supply-Post Office

time like this when we are calling on our people to give everything they have got to the war, sending their sons and daughters into the services and making sacrifices by way of taxation and in countless other ways we should eliminate just as much as we possibly can any question of party politics-and I do not care whether it is a war-time or a peace-time department.

There have been brought down to the house several returns which I could produce in proof of the statements I have made. I shall refer to one in particular, a return which was brought down following a motion made by me on March 11 and passed on March 27 of this year in connection with a man by the name of W. F. Hargarten who was appointed to be postmaster at Bruno, Saskatchewan. The file shows that on June 5, 1940, a letter was addressed by the hon. member for Humboldt (Mr. Fleming) to Mr. P. T. Coolican, as follows:

Ottawa, Ontario,

June 5, 1940.

Mr. P. T. Coolican,

Post Office Department,

Ottawa, Ontario.

Dear Mr. Coolican:

I understand that there is a vacancy in the post office at Bruno, Sask., by the death of the postmaster. Would you be good enough to furnish me with the forms that would be necessary to make a recommendation for the new postmaster.

I remain,

Yours sincerely,

Dr. H. R. Fleming, M.P.

In my remarks I am casting no reflections on any individual member of parliament at all. I am simply speaking of the practice that has grown up. What I take objection to is the continuation of the practice particularly in this time of war, and so far as I am concerned under any circumstances at all, but particularly because we are now at war. I object to any member of parliament or defeated candidate having anything to do with appointments in the Post Office Department or in any other department, particularly at a time like this.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Permalink
LIB

Duncan Fletcher McCuaig

Liberal

Mr. McCUAIG:

Why do you say the

defeated Liberal candidate?

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Permalink
PC

Alfred Henry Bence

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BENCE:

Because that is the fact and the Postmaster General will not deny it.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Permalink
LIB

Duncan Fletcher McCuaig

Liberal

Mr. McCUAIG:

Why do you not go back a few years and say the defeated Conservative candidate?

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Permalink
PC

Alfred Henry Bence

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BENCE:

I do not want to get into a wrangle with the hon. member who apparently wishes to see this practice continued. I would

like to see it wiped out. I do not see why any member or defeated candidate would want to see it continued.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Permalink
LIB

Duncan Fletcher McCuaig

Liberal

Mr. McCUAIG:

The practice was discontinued and then brought back in 1932.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Permalink
PC

Alfred Henry Bence

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BENCE:

I do not care what happened in the past. I am not interested in ancient history. I am interested in the circumstances of the present. This practice creates a very bad impression in the minds of the public, particularly when we are at war and we are asked to contribute everything we can to the winning of this war. When members on the treasury benches object to criticisms on the ground that we are at war I should think they would be interested in seeing this kind of thing stopped.

In the same return I find a letter written on June 12, 1940, by Mr. P. T. Coolican as follows:

Ottawa, June 12, 1940. Dr. H. R. Fleming, M.P.,

House of Commons,

Ottawa, Ontario.

Dear Doctor Fleming:

In accordance with the request contained in your letter of the 5th June, I am enclosing an official nomination form on which to make your recommendation of some person suitable for appointment to the position of postmaster at Bruno, Sask.

The District Superintendent of Postal Service, Saskatoon, reports that the postmaster died on the 31st May and that the office was transferred temporarily on that date to Mr. Raymond John Fisher. A copy of Mr. Fisher's application for permanent appointment is attached.

Attached for your information is copy of a letter received from Mr. Tom Meyer, who states that he saw service in France during the last war, also a copy of a letter received from Mr. Geo. B. R. Besant of the Canadian Legion recommending the appointment of Mr. Charles Stroklund, returned soldier.

The usual notice of the vacancy has been sent to the Canadian Legion addressed to Mr. L. J. Chase, Provincial Secretary, Canadian Legion, room 4, New Canada Life building, Regina, Sask.

Yours very truly,

P. T. Coolican,

Assistant Deputy Postmaster General.

Next is a letter written on September 27, 1940, addressed to Mr. P. T. Coolican: Humboldt, Sask.,

September 27, 1940.

Mr. P. T. Coolican,

Assistant Deputy Postmaster General,

Ottawa, Canada.

Dear Mr. Coolican:

Inclosed please find a nomination for postmaster at Bruno, Sask. I have given very serious consideration to this appointment and after considering this situation from all angles, I find that William Frederick Hargarten is the party that I will nominate for the position.

Supply-Post Office

Mr. Hunter, the district superintendent, will no doubt send you a report. I would like, if possible, to get this post office changed at the very earliest date, because it always causes a certain amount of difficulties when it is hanging fire after the decision has been reached, and the decision has been reached on the advice of responsible parties in the district.

I remain,

Yours sincerely,

H. R. Fleming,

M.P. for Humboldt.

There was enclosed with that letter a nomination form. It is a stereotyped form sent out to members of parliament and defeated Liberal candidates in the last election, although of this latter I have no proof. It sets out certain matters including the statement, "I desire to nominate" so and so.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Permalink
?

An hon. MEMBER:

How would you nominate these small postmasters?

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Permalink
PC

Alfred Henry Bence

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BENCE:

I will come to that later. In this case there was a recommendation from the man in charge of the postal service at Saskatoon, a man who was entirely out of politics. I say that the whole matter should be handled through the postal service department.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Permalink
LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. REID:

Many appointments are made which have no relation to politics at all.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Permalink

July 25, 1942