April 20, 1943

?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

Topic:   LEGISLATION-HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink
NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

I should have hoped that he would wait until after the election. He might be returned, but I am satisfied that much of the trouble caused by the huge majority he has now will be eliminated. He has many brilliant men behind him, and I quite realize the job he has in making a selection of those who are to fill these positions, or of those chosen for the cabinet. As he said, the choice for the cabinet is based on several grounds, such as political exigency, geographical position, race and religion. I can see men over there who are abler than some of those who are in the cabinet, but he had to pick his cabinet on those grounds, and that is part of his trouble. Had he been able-

Supply-Parliamentary Assistants

to do as the President of the United States is able to do, go out and pick the ablest men in the country, I am sure he would have picked some others. I am not speaking unkindly of any of them, because they are all very good men.

I am sorry he has yielded. In 1940, after he came into power again, he announced in the speech from the throne that he would have under-secretaries, or whatever the right name is, or that announcement may have been made before the election, perhaps in 1939. I am referring now to the time when the Department of National Defence was divided into three departments and two new ministers were named. The announcement made at that time was that instead of having undersecretaries, two new ministers would be appointed and the department would be divided. [DOT] I wish he had continued along those lines. Before I am through I will tell him what I heard in Toronto yesterday from people with whom I was discussing this proposal, which had been announced in the press.

The late Sir Robert Borden had the same difficulty when he was prime minister. He had a majority of forty-six. Such a large majority puts too much pressure on the Prime Minister. With a smaller majority the Prime Minister and his ministers would be able to dio better work. At the present time they must be constantly harassed by those asking for political appointments or political preferment. That is the trouble with too great a majority.

When the Right Hon. R. B. Bennett was in power there was a strong rumour that he was being urged by brilliant men behind him to appoint under-secretaries. I was one of those who opposed that very strongly. Afterwards I proceeded to England to make a study of the question of under-secretaries. I talked to a number of persons in the government, not ministers but men connected with the government, and I finally decided as to the necessity of under-secretaries.

The Prime Minister said that the duties of the under-secretaries would be more than running messages; they were to gather material and perhaps answer the occasional question. The other day I heard an hon. member sitting behind the Prime Minister say that they would be official coat-tail bearers. I would not characterize them as that, because the names I have seen would indicate that they are men of ability. The Right Hon. R. B. Bennett did not bring in a resolution, nor did he bring in a bill, because I am sure he found out that public opinion was against the idea.

Sir Robert Borden first brought in a resolution in 1917, and then he brought in a bill. I believe the bill called for the naming of an "overseas" secretary and under-secretaries. But that was an entirely different proposition from what we have before us now. That bill deliberately limited the appointments to the period of the war. It was provided that if the war should end while parliament was in session, the appointments would cease; if the war should end when parliament was in recess, the appointments were to continue until the following session.

Here we are entering upon an entirely new programme. Ten men are to be named, and there is nothing in the vote to indicate how long they are to retain their positions. It might be for a year, or it might be for more than a year. In my judgment that is not the proper way to initiate a new programme. It should be done by first bringing forward a resolution and then introducing a bill. The members would then have an opportunity to express their opinions, and the press of the country would also have an opportunity to express theirs. Public opinion could be formed and the Prime Minister could be acquainted with the feeling in the country.

I cannot approve this vote, because there is no limitation to the appointments. The vote is only for $40,000, but no one knows what it will cost this country if these gentlemen are appointed. They will have to have offices, and every one of them will likely want one, two, three, four or more stenographers. They will have to have new carpets and all sorts of things that go with high-falutin' offices. There will also be travelling expenses, and I venture to say that these ten appointments will cost the country not less than $100,000, and perhaps $200,000. This expenditure is being asked at a time when the country cannot afford to devote a single dollar to unnecessary expenditure.

Topic:   LEGISLATION-HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink
?

An hon. MEMBER:

What about the

Winnipeg convention?

Topic:   LEGISLATION-HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink
NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

I will deal with that a little later. I might indeed deal with part of it now. I believe the Prime Minister said that there was a plank in the Progressive Conservative platform at Winnipeg for the appointment of under-secretaries. Not to my knowledge. I have read the platform very carefully; it may be there, but I have not found in any single line a statement that if this party were returned to power it would appoint under-secretaries.

Mr. COLDWELL; Mr. Bracken said so.

Supply-Parliamentary Assistants

Topic:   LEGISLATION-HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink
NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

I know what Mr. Bracken said. He is not in the House of Commons at present. He will be, and likely will be head of the government, but he is not here yet. In any event I am speaking for myself; I am voicing my own personal opinion. I am opposed to the principle, and I am asserting my privilege and my right to stand up in this house and express my opinion. Any other man, including my leader, can say what he likes. But I hope I shall never surrender my individuality or renounce my right to express my own views.

When Viscount Bennett was in this house, during the previous administration of the present Prime Minister, he made frequent reference to Lord Hewart as an outstanding writer on the subject of the rights and privileges of parliament. The Prime Minister has read, as we all have, in the press that public opinion in this country to-day is that this, parliament is going down hill.

Topic:   LEGISLATION-HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink
LIB
NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

Yes, I am right. This parliament is losing its rights and privileges; in one way or the other we are not living up to what the public expects of us. Take for example something which occurred only last week, and which caused me to ask myself where we were going. Had it not been for His Honour, Mr. Speaker, parliament would have given first reading to a piece of paper with nothing on it. But Mr. Speaker had not the bill and he would not permit it. I do not know just how many speakers would have taken the forthright stand of refusing to regard as a bill a piece of paper on which was no writing whatever. I give Mr. Speaker credit for his independence in defending the rights and privileges of this house.

Where are we going? We have lately had more orders in council than have been passed in the history of this country. Yesterday- unfortunately I was not here; I had to go home and did not return until this morning- the Minister of Munitions and Supply (Mr. Howe), for whom I have a high regard, got away with what I would call, to use a vulgarism, murder, in this chamber, by obtaining approval for a bill giving him permission, upon his recommendation to council and with the consent of the governor general, to let contracts up to $50,000. No doubt a contract of that amount is small in the eyes of the minister. Now, through his bill, he is able to let them holus bolus. That is going a pretty long way. I can remember occasions when men stood here and fought like tigers against allowing our party, when it was in power, to spend even so small an amount as

[Mr. Coldwell.l

$5,000 without the item having appeared in the estimates. We have gone a long way from that position; I wonder how far we shall go.

I call this vote the cap-sheaf of getting away from parliamentary principles.

The other day I read the life of Robespierre, one of the leaders of the French revolution. He was called, I believe, "the incorruptible", because he led a very straight life. The author suggested that he derived his inspiration from another great Frenchman, Montesquieu, who, writing of government in relation to the cause of the French revolution, made this comment:

All that happens is a result of an infinite number of previous happenings in an ever more intricate chain.

That is what we here have been experiencing -an ever more intricate chain. I say that this is the cap-sheaf, to introduce in this house a vote of $40,000 to make appointments without any provision for or reference to termination. Never before have I read of any such departure from parliamentary practices.

I have to laugh when I read the debates of 1917 and reflect how completely the tables have been turned since then. In that year, during the government of Sir Robert Borden, the Liberal party fought bitterly against the appointment of an overseas minister and two under-secretaries. They were led by none other than one of the greatest men this country has produced; I refer to the late Sir Wilfrid Laurier. He headed the opposition to a bill, containing in effect proposals such as those now before us, which were introduced here in 1917, and he was supported by his ablest lieutenants, including the late Hon. Rodolphe Lemieux and the late Hon. E. M. Macdonald. Each of these distinguished men rose in his place to fight the proposal, as I am trying to do to-day, though I cannot do it as well as they did. I wish I had time to talk on this vote until the session was over, indeed until this parliament ends, because I am one hundred per cent opposed to it, and while I know I cannot defeat it, I' am going to do the best I can to arouse public opinion against it.

What did Sir Wilfrid Laurier say, on August 7, 1917, as reported in Hansard, page 4195?

I am sorry the ex-Minister of _ Militia has not heard what the Prime Minister stated, because he has already expressed himself on this question, and pronounced himself against it.

He went on further, on the same page:

It is impossible for me to conceive why there should be a second head of the Militia Depart- . ment. There must be confusion, there must be delay, and instead of expediting business, the result must be the very reverse.

Supply-Parliamentary Assistants

I have been saying the very same thing. We are to have an under-secretary for each of these departments; he will sit in this chamber, and when I ask a question he will not be able to answer; he will take it under advisement, and go back and worry his minister to get some answer that he can give me the next day. All that just delays matters. If I ask the Minister of Munitions and Supply a question to-day pertaining to his department he can answer at once. That is the kind of service to which hon. members are entitled. If I ask a question of any other minister, for instance the Minister of National Defence for Air (Mr. Power) he is always ready to get up and answer. I have been amazed at his ability to get up at once and answer questions on matters which one would not think he had at his fingers' ends. The same applies to the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Ralston). If I were a minister I would not be bothered with any under-secretary. If I could not manage my department I would resign my portfolio, return it to the Prime Minister, and let somebody who could handle the department take care if it. I am sure, as I look at the Minister of Munitions and Supply, that an under-secretary would be a perfect nuisance to him.

Topic:   LEGISLATION-HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink
LIB

Robert William Gladstone

Liberal

Mr. GLADSTONE:

Would the hon. gentleman have a vice-president if he were a president?

Topic:   LEGISLATION-HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink
NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

The hon. member will probably hear enough before I get through.

As I say, it is amazing how the tables are turned. Our party in 1917 were advocating under-secretaries, and the Prime Minister's party were opposing it; to-day he is advocating under-secretaries, and I am opposing it. It is strange what changes history records; what is poison to us to-day is not, perhaps, poison for us to-morrow. We have changed our positions.

Something has been said about Great Britain, but there is little comparison between the situation _h ere and in Great Britain. The parliament of Great Britain looks after the whole empire, which consists of from seventy-five to one hundred dependencies, many of them large, like India and Newfo-undL-land. I could name every one of them, I believe-in Africa, South America, Asia anid the islands of the sea. I believe our own ministers are big enough to take -care of that problem if they had to do it. Over there they have had under-secretaries, -but to-day the system of under-secretaries is a relic of the past. It was Lord Beaconsfield, I believe, who introduced the system of under-secretaries because one out of every two of his

ministers sat in the House of Lords, and so he conceived the idea of having someone sitting in the House of Commons to answer for the heads of the departments who were sitting in the Lords. But we have no senators in our government. If we did have them, there might be some excuse for having a commoner answer in the house for a senator who was sitting in the other house. That is how the system of under-secretaries came to be introduced. It was not because they were required on account of volume of work. They came in simply because there was no representative in the House of Commons for some of the departments which were headed by members of the Lords. I found in England certain opposition to the system of under-secretaries. More than one member told me that they were just a nuisance to the minister and were just running around with messages and doing things of one kind or another. There may be occasionally one outstanding under-secretary, as Anthony Eden was, but on the average, parliament would not hear from the under-secretaries one time from one year's end to another to every five times a minister is mentioned.

Again, Canada is in an entirely different position from Great Britain. Great Britain, with its forty-six million people,, has only one government, and that government looks after the affairs of the whole empire and in Britain right down to building roads in the counties, looking after the postal service, the telephone, telegraph and municipal service. They look after almost everything. There are no provinces in the old land. What a show it would make of government to have under-secretaries here! Already we have nine provinces, with ministers in each of them dealing with matters that are dealt with in the House of Commons here-practically all of them except that the provinces have no minister of defence. But they have ministers who look after fisheries, public works, finance and attorneys-general. That means that we have seventy-five ministers in Canada, including the nineteen we have here. In addition, we have a number of councils. We have a council in the Yukon and the legislative -council in Quebec province. In Canada we have only twelve million people or less, and we have ten governments, counting our own government here, and in addition the Yukon council. There is no comparison whatever between conditions here and in Great Britain so far as government is concerned. In my judgment under-secretaries in this country are just as much needed as a fifth wheel on a wagon. All my remarks are absolutely impersonal. I am discussing the principle. For

2350 COMMONS

Supply-Parliamentary Assistants

the men, whose names have been mentioned in this connection I have nothing but the highest regard, but that does not affect my stand on this matter one iota. If I am against a principle I am going to speak against it.

Something has been said about the United States. The situation there is different. They have 96 senators and 435 representatives. They have ten ministers, but they do not sit in the house. I can conceive that they might have to have ministerial representatives in congress at Washington because the minister cannot sit in the house and answer for himself. But here our ministers sit in the house, and if I have a question to ask the Minister of Munitions and Supply I want to ask it of him direct. I know he will give me an answer because I know he is posted on his department. I cannot think of a minister like the Minister of Munitions and Supply, a former business man like myself, a contractor, a big man, even tolerating an under-secretary coming into his office. I could not. I would not have any place in my office for an under-secretary. I would want to know my department the same as the minister knows his, and just as the other ministers know theirs.

Something has been said about New Zealand. There the situation is a little different. They had one under-secretary. They have none now. But I believe they are going to appoint one. In New Zealand the war cabinet consists of three government members and two from the opposition party, and they get along very nicely. The situation is similar to that in Australia. Australia has no under-secretaries so far as I have been able to ascertain. They may have appointed them lately, but I do not know of it. But their ministers look after three or four departments. I can see ministers sitting opposite me who I am sure will admit that they could do a great deal more work. There are at least four or five of them whose departments cannot begin to take up all their time. Why not give some of them more work to do as is done in Australia? In Australia the ministers look after more departments that our ministers do here. The Prime Minister there also looks after defence; another minister looks after finance and post-war reconstruction; the attorney general also looks after external affairs; another minister looks after supply, development and shipping; the navy minister also looks after munitions; the minister for air looks after civil aviation; a senator looks after post office and information. Incidentally, Mr. Chairman, I should like to see our senators given more work to do. There are many able men in the senate, and I am ashamed when I think of how little they are given to do. There is a fund of knowledge

and experience in that other house, which comprises a large number of able and brilliant men who could render much more service to this country if they -were given the opportunity. If the Prime Minister would only introduce a bill, and change our constitution, if necessary, so that some of the brilliant talent in the senate could be utilized in greater service to this country, I am sure that the public would appreciate it.

Other departments in Australia which are combined under one minister are war, organization of industries and scientific and industrial research; social services, health and assistant to the munitions minister; trade and customs, which is looked after by a senator; commerce and agriculture; labour and national service; reparations and war services homes; home security and assistant to the treasurer; transport and assistant to the P.M.G.; interior department, looked after by a senator; external territories and assistant to commerce and the army, also looked after by a senator; aircraft production and assistant to, munitions, also looked after by a senator. Their advisory war council consists of six members of the government party, four members of the opposition and one from, the other parties in the house. We have in our senate a great deal of talent that could be used. We have also some ministers who have the ability to do a great deal more than their department calls for.

I am going to move now, seconded by the hon. member for Broadview (Mr. Church):

That item 116 be reduced to one dollar.

If it were in order I would move that the vote be struck out altogether, because I am afraid that moving to reduce it to one dollar commits me technically to the principle, and I am wholly opposed to the principle because I believe that these appointments are absolutely unnecessary.

I was going to quote what Hon. Rodolphe Lemieux said. Hon. members can find it in the debates of August, 1917. While I have Mr. Lemieux in mind I will read something he said that fits the situation very well. It is found at page 4420 of Hansard for 1917, and is as follows:

I submit, if the Minister of Militia had a proper military head working in conjunction with him, he would not need any military undersecretary, and if the military organization of the country had been arranged properly, or is arranged properly now-and it is not too late to rearrange it-there would be no need for a military secretary.

I have confidence in the three ministers of national defence. They have done a pretty good job for the last three and a half years,

Supply-Parliamentary Assistants

and the war is getting pretty well along. If they had been given under-secretaries when the war started, it might have saved them some work, but now they have the departments so well under their hands that I am sure undersecretaries would be in the way.

Furthermore I do not believe there is a better civil service in the world than Canada has. The Prime Minister has under him most capable secretaries in his department, such as Sir Joseph Pope was. I do not know the name of the chief assistant to the Prime Minister-

Topic:   LEGISLATION-HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Under-Stecretary of State for External Affairs, Mr. Robertson.

Topic:   LEGISLATION-HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink
NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

Well, he is a very able man, and I am sure that the men in the Prime Minister's department with him at' the head-because he has had so much experience himself, more than anyone else to-day in Canada-

Topic:   LEGISLATION-HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Some at times come very near the breaking point from lack of adequate assistance.

Topic:   LEGISLATION-HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink
NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

-does not require an under-secretary. In fact I cannot conceive of the Prime Minister, with all his knowledge about his department, even asking an undersecretary to run to this or that department on a message to get something. I cannot help but feel that if this vote is passed our civil service will be let down. Each department has very able men; I think there is no better civil service in the world than Canada has-I do not like to say it is the best.

Someone said something about big companies. What do they do? Well, I know a great deal about what big companies do. I have been associated with big companies myself. Before coming here to-day I took the trouble to see what some big companies do. United States Steel is a very big company. It has 150 subsidiary companies, and

225,000 employees. That is a lot to look after. It has a payroll of $438,000,000 a year. It has ten chief officers. It has sixteen directors and twelve in the finance department, a total of thirty-eight officers, some serving in two capacities. If they should decide to officer that great company as we are proposing now, with ten under-secretaries, they would want another hundred or hundred and fifty. The same applies to General Electric; they have 76,000 employees, $654,000,000 worth of orders per year; forty-nine chief officers. We have seventy-five ministers in this country, including the provinces, many of them doing the same work.

The Goodyear Tire company have 54,000 employees, 593 branches. That is a lot of

business to look after. They have fourteen officers, eighteen directors and four in the finance department, several serving in two departments. Business could not operate in any shape, manner or form if they carried on as we carry on Canada with seventy-five ministers and a couple of councils. No business could live under such conditions. You have to run business in a business-like way.

I was amused at reading some of the names of those who are to occupy these offices. They are all good men. I will not mention the name, but I noticed one very able man who is mentioned as assistant to the Minister of National Defence for Naval Affairs. When I spoke here a while ago about rehabilitating the Saskatchewan river I did not know that this capable man could have learned anything about shipping on the Saskatchewan river. Certainly he could not learn anything about shipping on Moose Jaw creek. But he has great ability and would give eminent service in a department; he knows more about shipping than I do. He would render excellent service wherever he is placed.

Last Saturday when I was home it was announced in the Toronto papers that we were to have ten under-secretaries. I met a workman on the street, and he said, "You will oppose that?" I said, "I have prepared myself to oppose it. Why are you so anxious to oppose it?" He said, "Out of my last week's pay envelope" - I assume he meant for two weeks-"I had $39 deducted for a lot of things -national defence tax, compulsory savings, red cross, stamps, plant health fund, et cetera." I have thousands of workers in my riding, perhaps forty thousand altogether. I just could not look my workmen in the face when I go back to Toronto and let them think that I supported an expenditure-not of $40,000 a year, but something like $100,000 to $200,000. I can support no vote for members of parliament acting as under-secretaries without making provision for terminating their office. If the Prime Minister wishes to introduce a bill as Sir Robert Borden did, that is another question, but I am wholly opposed to a vote which initiates a new principle in this country and revolutionizes our parliamentary practice without adequate discussion.

Topic:   LEGISLATION-HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink
?

Thomas Miller Bell

Mr. COLD WELL:

I am a little surprised at the speech of the hon. member for Davenport (Mr. MacNieol). May I say first that in my opinion we are apt to view expenditures in a manner entirely out of proportion and to lose a proper sense of perspective in regard to them. During this session we have heard a great deal about large expenditures for rugs. I agree that they were high, and this sort of ex-

Supply-Parliavientary Assistants

penditure should be investigated and curtailed. We now have before us an item of $40,000 which to many people seems a good deal of money. But only a ripple was caused in the house over,, for example, the story we have been told of the expenditures in connection with the Aluminum Company and the Ship-shaw development. The fact that one way and another, by depreciation and so on, we are giving that company $158,000,000, seems to have caused a mere ripple on the surface, and a $100 rug or some relatively small expenditure seems to be taken as requiring to be looked into very carefully indeed.

However that is not what I rose to say. I think this is a step in the right direction. My predecessor, the late Mr. J. S. Woodsworth, on numerous occasions suggested that some relief should be given to the ministers in the handling of their departments on the floor of this house. I must say that I have often been surprised at the manner in which the Minister of Finance, for example-and I will say this because he is not in his seat at the moment- has sat here day after day, hour after hour, patiently answering questions that could have been answered quite readily by someone else while he might have, been given the opportunity of going on with the much more important work awaiting him in his department. Therefore I feel that to give the ministers this relief in war time is a sufficient recommendation for the motion now before the committee. But, as I said on another occasion, I also think it is well that when parliament is dissolved and members of the house are reelected, if the government should be called upon again to form an administration, there should be available a number of trained men to step into the shoes of those who have passed on, politically at least. It also may be a challenge to those of us in the opposition to see younger men being trained as juniors and understudies to the ministers, that we in our respective groups in this house may apportion our work so as to have men making particular studies of particular departments. If, then, at some time opposition parties should be called upon to form a government, they would have available men with a knowledge of the departments they might be called upon to administer.

I do not agree with the hon. member for Davenport that this system has been a failure in Great Britain, or that it is viewed unkindly by the people over there. I have been told on a good many occasions that the system of under-secretaries and parliamentary secretaries in Great Britain is one of the bases of their democratic life and of their continuance

in the paths of democratic endeavour. Therefore I intend to support this vote. I know the amount involved, $40,000 for ten men, may seem high to some people, but let us not forget that we are living within a system which offers certain rich rewards for services rendered in business, but that those who are connected with our governments and their services as a rule are not in receipt of high rewards for the work they do. Certainly this proposal is no exception, when we compare the proposed salaries to those normally paid in business to responsible officials.

A few moments ago I mentioned the Minister of Finance. I want to say also that I think we in this house appreciate the tremendous load the Prime Minister has been carrying; and while he has been called upon to look after external affairs, I have felt that at the present time sufficient attention could not be given by the Prime Minister to some of the matters that must come to his attention. I am hoping that when an assistant is appointed to his department we may see a great deal more attention devoted to external affairs in this house than we have seen during the past several sessions. I have in mind, for example, what has seemed to me the lack of any suggestion that Canada should cooperate in international affairs, in the manner in which her contributions to this war would warrant. At the moment a conference is taking place in Bermuda regarding the grave plight of refugees. I noticed in the press yesterday a report that the two great powers conferring there, Great Britain and the United States, had been looking around to see what assistance they could get in the solution of this problem, and the hope had been expressed that certain South American neutrals would make some offers. The same criticism applies to Casablanca and other conferences. Instead of our being kept informed as to what is going on, I think Canada should be a participant in these conferences, and should make her own contribution. If I may say so, it is a strange thing that just at this time the great Mohammedan power, Turkey, has shown more of a Christian spirit towards the refugee problem than we in this Christian country have shown in past months.

In my view at least the proposal now before us is a step in the right direction. I agree with the hon. member for Davenport to this extent, that perhaps we might have been better advised to accept a bill setting forth the activities of the new assistants, in order that we might discuss more intelligently what they are supposed to do. I realize, however, that the Prime Minister regards this as an important experiment,

Supply-Parliamentary Assistants

which, if he wishes, or if it does not work out as satisfactorily as the government hopes, may be terminated without difficulty because there will be no statute. I hope the experiment will succeed, and I trust we may find that under this plan some of our overworked ministers at least will be given a little more consideration than we have been able to show them in recent weeks.

Topic:   LEGISLATION-HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink
NAT

Thomas Langton Church

National Government

Mr. CHURCH:

I desire to second the

amendment moved by the hon. member for Davenport. Since I have been in the house I have consistently opposed this innovation, inasmuch as in Canada we have over-government and over-taxation. We never should have had any provinces at all. They were the creation of the fathers of confederation, for political and not economic purposes, with the result that under the British North America Act we have to-day a duplicate municipal system. Our system is different from that of the United States, where at one time they had a cabinet of six members, though I think now it has been increased to eight or nine. Members of the cabinet in that country do not sit as members of the legislative branch; that is the difference.

I do suggest, Mr. Chairman, that this proposal might have been left until the war is over. Some twelve or fourteen years ago I introduced a resolution in this house with regard to parliamentary, cabinet, constitutional and law reform, which included the revision of the rules of the house in order to give us the British system of asking questions on the orders of the day, which would eliminate very lengthy debates. Last year I placed on Hansard quotations from a textbook written in 1930 by the second clerk of the British House of Commons, now Sir G. F. M. Campion, showing that the procedure in the British house of questions and answers by members of the cabinet could be adopted here without any amendment to the rules.

I am opposed to this resolution, though I am quite sure the government have set their heart on it and that eventually they will carry it, due to their large majority. The Prime Minister does not seem to be mindful of Burke's observation that all innovation is not progress. This is a very great departure from tradition as set out by the fathers of confederation in the British North America Act. It is overlegislation. I am surprised at the attitude of the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar and his party, because they have been opposing overgovernment and over-taxation. I say that this suggestion by the Prime Minister will result in over-legislation, which Herbert Spencer once described as the coming slavery.

There can be no doubt at all that the cabinet is over-worked and hard-worked. But if we adopt this principle of applying to 10,000,000 or 11,000,000 people what has been done with regard to under-secretaries by the mother of parliaments, in a country where they have 46,000,000 or 47,000,000 people, and if we compare our municipal officers, our provincial officers and dominion officers we will find that we are running into over-government and overtaxation. These three bodies are coining taxation of all kinds.

The people have been asking for retrench* ment in civilian estimates. If we look at the situation that has developed since I first opposed a resolution of this kind it will be seen that the situation has been changed. We have under each minister a large number of controls and subcontrols. Commissions of all kinds have been appointed, to the point where parliament, with all its rights, privileges and functions, has been greatly reduced in value. True, we are engaged in a war, and to a certain reasonable extent these bodies are required. But it has been overdone, and at great cost to the taxpayers.

A few days ago we heard reference to many features of that control system. For instance, let us turn to the appointment of inspectors- and I am surprised that the hon. member for Temiscouata (Mr. Pouliot) has not been included in the list of new secretaries. It was shown in the return brought down for him that 672 inspectors had been appointed by the wartime prices and trade board. That system of inspection is being or may be duplicated in our new system of secretaries. We are becoming a nation of ambassadors and heading for a nation of secretaries. Our ambasadors are found on all the seven seas. We have them in every important country in the world. We are duplicating in embassies what the British government for our empire has been doing along this line, with the result that in Australia, New Zealand and many other places mentioned in the blue-book published by the Department of the Secretary of State for External Affairs we find that we have a large standing army of ambassadors and envoys extraordinary-and some of them are extraordinary, I can assure the committee. Some of the speeches, like those by Ambassador Davis in Australia, are indeed extraordinary. And when an envoy extraordinary is appointed he takes along a string of secretaries, his first secretary, second secretary and third secretary-three strikes on the secretaries and they're out.-yes, sir!

Whether or not this is the Winnipeg platform makes no difference to me. I support principles. I do not believe in following the

Supply-Parliamentary Assistants

old policy in Ontario years ago, of the Conservative party, or that your leader is your policy-"follow your leader." Look at what has happened in Ontario in provincial policies as to that argument.

I have consistently opposed this innovation of appointing ambassadors not only in Washington but throughout the seven seas. That policy was fatal in peace-time, and it is still more disastrous in war. We are now sending an ambassador to Russia, and we are going to duplicate the system of controls and subcontrols, and now parliamentary secretaries and consuls general. Once these gentlemen, these ambassadors, are placed on. the payroll, they will not be taken off. The other day when I saw a parade of the Queen's Own going down Jarvis street and along Queen, I was reminded of these ambassadors, these high potentates going all round the world, followed by their first, second and third secretaries, and a regiment of army, navy and air force attendants with them.

When I first heard about this parliamentary secretary business I went to see a show called "The Private Secretary", the finest comic opera I had ever seen. In it was shown the secretary, "always perfectly correct and perfectly calm"-much the same as the secretaries the ambassadors have and our members will have; they are all good men. Sir John A. Macdonald once said to one of the members that he had the best secretary in the world, the Hon. William Lee. His picture was hanging years ago in Mr. Speaker's office,, in the office of the Clerk of the House, and in nearly all the offices-or used to be. I refer to Billy Lee, Sir John A. Macdonald's great secretary. That was the tribute paid to him by one of the writers.

Napoleon once said that France abounded in men of the highest capacity; the thing was to discover them and give them power. This man is a cart when he. ought to be a cabinet minister, and this man is a cabinet minister who ought to be driving a cart. There are many reasons why the government of to-day should wait until the war is over before offering this innovation. I sympathize with the ministers who supervise his majesty's forces. They cannot be expected to do all the work. But they have large staffs, and many people work for them throughout the country. Their attendance is required in the house, at times, but they need not be here every day. I believe some of them spend more time here than they need to. I sympathize with them, however, and I know the people of . Canada are proud of them and of the work they have done.

Yesterday the Prime Minister was in Toronto, where he lived so long., and where his family lived for so many years. He received a splendid reception in that city, a reception in keeping with one who is Prime Minister. His attitude was not that taken a few days ago by the Minister of Labour, when he made a reference and' a reflection which certainly was not flattering to Toronto or to hon. members from that city. Four or five members from Toronto are here today. I have not been able for reasons beyond my control, to be in attendance every day, but since I have had1 a seat in the house I believe my attendance has been fairly good. I sympathize with the government in the heavy load they have to carry, and the heavy work they are doing, and wish to give them support if they have a total war. But I see no reason for this suggested change.

It is true the Minister of Finance has been overworked, at great risk to his health. But he could get away from much of that work by setting up a ways and means committee for his budget, and adopting one of the principles of .municipal government. Such a committee could consider the budget resolutions, the income tax changes and matters of that kind, and1 save a great deal of trouble and get a better balanced budget.

We have become a nation of ambassadors, and now we are becoming a nation of secretaries-private secretaries and others. I have no objection to the fine type of gentlemen proposed for these various offices. It used to. be considered that a trip to the League of Nations was a consolation prize for those who were not in the cabinet. It was supposed that a trip to the league would1 cure them of their insomnia, and of any desire to be promoted to higher office. Now that the league does not operate as formerly, and these men are finished1 with it, we send them out as ambassadors. We sent one old league president as ambassador to Chile; another has been placed in the education branch of the Department of National Defence, and1 a full colonel of the league has been attached to the radio corporation. It will be seen that these consolation prizes are being taken up very rapidly.

I fail to see any reason for this vote. No doubt these secretaries when appointed will have large staffs. New rugs will have to be provided. They will have to have new desks for stenographers and new chesterfields. No doubt they will copy the great ambassador Donald Gordon, and will have controls, subcontrols, inspectors, inspectors-general, first

Supply-Parliamentary Assistants

secretaries, second secretaries and third secretaries. I fail to see the necessity for this innovation and boost of civil estimates, and I am surprised that we have not heard some opposition, instead of support, from the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar. I know he would make a good secretary himself. It is too bad there are not enough positions to go around to take care of my hon. friends over here. Then further down there are my hon. friends of the Social Credit party. Then as we go farther down the gangway, as we come nearer to the door, we find all the wandering boys there who would make excellent secretaries. Where are they this afternoon? We talk about thin attendance in the house, but all you have to do is to go down to the railway ticket offices and you find the reason. All the berths, all the staterooms and all the drawing rooms have been booked for weeks ahead by the controllers and subcontrollers and their staffs. You cannot get into a hotel at times for the same reason on a visit to Ottawa. I do not know where they are going to house any further controls and subcontrols when they come here.

I may be wrong, but I am content to be consistent. I am one Conservative in the house who tries to be consistent. Without fear, without asking for any favours or for any promotion from any political party, I have always stood up for principles. The greatest need in the country to-day is a political party which will support principles in season and out of season. We have had enough of this in the past. Another great need in this country is a reduction in our overhead of government personnel. Each one of these controllers and subcontrollers has what is known as a staff of professors. Our professors are in their heyday while real men are at the front. These professors are operating, or helping to operate, not only the Department of Finance but almost every department of government. They dwell in the clouds. Science has won the respect and admiration of the civilized world in the past thirty years because of what it has done. Science argues from facts. The physicists, the chemists, the men of medicine, the biologists and other men of science have won the admiration of the world, but these political professors have never been trained in any business, and yet they are running these controls and subcontrols of government. They do not argue from facts; they dwell away up in the clouds and never come down to the ground at all. I should like to see the Prime Minister wait for this innovation until after the war. The members who have been named are excellent

members. They have worked hard and no doubt they deserve some recognition, but I think they should wait for a happier day.

I cannot see any useful purpose to be achieved by adopting this system. It will be a great change in our constitution. It will destroy the solidarity of the cabinet, the responsibility of the cabinet for collective action. You will have one officer in the House of Commons and probably another one in the Senate. Over-government and over-taxation will result, and I fail to see what good will be gained by such a costly innovation in war time.

Topic:   LEGISLATION-HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink
NAT

Gordon Graydon (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. GRAYDON:

The whole matter of under-secretaries, or parliamentary assistants, or whatever they may be called, could be approached in a different manner from that employed this afternoon by the Prime Minister and others who have spoken. That the war has brought to the government a heavy load of responsibility is admitted by all who have spoken, and obviously it falls more heavily upon some departments than upon others. As has been pointed out by ministers who have spoken from time to time in the debates during this session, one of the results of the load of responsibility which ministers have been carrying is the necessity of bringing into the departments a great many men who perhaps cannot be regarded as civil servants in the usual sense of the term. These men are acting as controllers or administrators, or in other capacities, and in many instances they are functioning as legislators, sometimes in a small way and sometimes in a large way. In a measure they have superseded the functions of government of our land.

There is a feeling across Canada that there should be a democratization of the system of bureaucracy which has been growing since the beginning of the war. Regardless of the explanations which from time to time the government has made with regard to the responsibilities of ministers and the responsibilities of the government for the actions of those who are now occupying important positions, there is a call, an insistent and I think a reasonable one, that the parliament of Canada and the government should bring back that responsibility of government which has been lost through the adoption of the system I have just described. One of the reasons why the appeal for the adoption of the under-secretary or parliamentary assistant system met with some sympathy and favour in the country was the belief that it would bring back that measure of responsible government for which the country has been calling. That was the reason, and I think the only reason, why this

Sup-ply-Parliamentary Assistants

opinion was expressed by many prominent people in various walks of life. I say to the government, and particularly to the Prime Minister, that if I read this particular item aright it will not provide that for which the people have asked and would normally expect to receive.

If we are to move away from bureaucracy, I do not think we will make the headway most of us would like to see made by superimposing upon that bureaucracy an under-secretary system. What I would like to see the Prime Minister undertake is to see that this undersecretary system will not just be something imposed upon the bureaucracy that we have, but that it shall take the place of at least a part of this bureaucracy. This is one of the thoughts which runs through my mind in connection with the whole matter of undersecretaries and parliamentary assistants.

Perhaps as time goes on the Prime Minister will explain the proposal more fully. The underlying motive of 'the under-secretarial system was to get back to responsible government, but it looks as though under this system we are simply adding another "semihonourable" to each department which has been mentioned. We do not know whether [DOT]they are to be called "honourable" or "semihonourable", or what the designation will be; we do not know whether they are to be designated "assistants" or "parliamentary assistants" to the ministers. In some of the departments there are not the same reasons for moving away from democracy as exist in other departments mentioned by the Prime Minister. Take the Department of Justice and the Department of National Revenue. Without casting any reflections upon the Minister of Justice or belittling the work he has to do, apart from the position in the war cabinet, if the emphasis is to be upon the departments which have the greatest amount of work and responsibility, the Prime Minister might have made a distinction between the ministry of justice and the ministry of national revenue; for the latter is now one of the major portfolios, and its work is continually being developed and enlarged.

It seems to me that the move which the Prime Minister contemplates is not one which was expected by the people. They will be asking, what part of the bureaucracy is this system to replace? I hope that the Prime Minister, when he replies, will have in mind a number of the points which I desire to draw to his attention.

I suggest that he should give us some information by way of comparison of the

fMr. Gray don.]

duties and responsibilities and positions of these parliamentary assistants with those of similar appointments in Great Britain.

Some mention was made of the Prime Minister's own department, that of external affairs. This brings up a point of which perhaps he should have due notice, so that the subject can be discussed at the proper time in parliament, namely, whether it is intended to set up a full-time full-fledged Department of External Affairs, and whether certain branches of the Department of Trade and Commerce will be part and parcel of the new structure. When the appointment of a parliamentary assistant in the Department of External Affairs was mentioned this afternoon, I thought it was some indication that a reorganization is to be expected in the reasonably near future.

The Prime Minister spoke of the matter of parliamentary assistants being on full time and on part time. This is a question which will engage the interest and concern of the country. People will want to know whether these positions are full-time jobs; whether-the men who take them are not, in the words of the hon. member for Broadview (Mr. Church), accepting a consolation prize but are assuming full war-time jobs in exchange for the salaries paid to them. It would seem to me that if there is need of a parliamentary assistant in any department there is need for it the year round. In any event the point is one which the Prime Minister should clarify.

Another matter on which information might properly be given is this. What will be the relationship-I am fearful sometimes that it may be a delicate one-between the newly appointed parliamentary assistants and the deputy ministers, the private secretaries, the executive assistants and all the range of officers wThich surrounds ministers?

With great deference to the Prime Minister, I thought he was taking a retrograde step, though he may not have meant it, when he indicated that one consideration in the choice of a man to fill the position of parliamentary assistant tvas whether he would get along well with the deputy minister. I believe that that is one of the considerations which he will wish,, upon reflection, to correct, having in mind the responsibility of government to parliament.

Again let me ask, will the duties of the parliamentary assistants be purely parliamentary? In other words will they spend their time between sessions getting ready to answer questions on the floor of the house? Will they have executive work to do? The Prime Minister spoke of some of them coming into the cabinet. Will they also have

Supply-Parliamentary Assistants

administrative work to do; and in that particular connection, just where do they fit in with these other officials I mentioned a moment ago? Then, will the parliamentary assistants have power to enunciate on the floor of the house government policy generally? Will there be a growing tendency for ministers to vanish from the house and find other work to do, or will the parliamentary assistants be here only when ministers are absent for some good and sufficient reason? On all these questions, I think, the public will require information.

I should also be glad to know whether the appointment of parliamentary assistants is of the nature of an experiment or is a settled and permanent policy. The Prime Minister may have mentioned that; I take it that when the war is over there will be some prospect of reviewing the necessity of maintaining this system.

I hope that at the end of the discussion the Prime Minister will be in a position to disclose the names of the men whom he has designed for the positions mentioned. He said that one was not always able to get the best men, because of certain considerations relative to cabinet appointments, but that in this particular case he had been able to put these impediments aside and choose the very best men he could find. I am anxious to compare my judgment, as I look across the house, with his, because I think the comparison, or perhaps the contrast, will be interesting.

I would rather that the Prime Minister had gone into the broader field of parliamentary reform instead of confining himself to the narrower field of parliamentary assistants only. The Prime Minister will recall that in my maiden speech as leader of the opposition at the opening of the session I made some remarks with respect to parliamentary reform and the rules and procedure and general deportment of the House of Commons. Since then, members from all sides of the house have concerned themselves with parliamentary reform in general. This proposal for parliamentary assistants can in any event be regarded as only one move or development which in the opinion of the government has been made necessary by changed conditions.

Whatever may be the reason, and the Prime Minister may have different reasons from mine, it seems to me that we have not in parliament to-day quite the reflection of public opinion that I should like to see. There are many, many factors which enter into that, and let none of us regard himself as free from sin in contributing to the present condition. So far as I am concerned, and I think it is true of

every member of the house, I want to do my part, but I believe that parliament must pull itself up and make some move so that it will reflect more effectively public opinion outside. I do not say that simply as leader of the opposition, because long before I occupied this post I intended to make reference to this question. Sometimes we become rebellious and feel that things are not moving as we should like them to move, and perhaps that is particularly true of the younger generation in public life. It does seem to me that this House of Commons is not organized in such a way that it can do its work most effectively in a war-time period. I confess that many times in the years that have passed I have felt something like futility,, but I hesitated to advance concrete suggestions for reform, because I was not quite sure whether my suggestions would make for betterment or not, I knew, however, that something was wrong.

There is a difference of opinion with respect to the whole question of our rules and procedure. I have great respect for the views held on this question by the hon. member for Richelieu-Vercheres. He is a veteran member of the house and has had long experience in observing how the rules and procedure worked, and when he says that it is not so much a question of the rules and procedure as of other matters which surround them and form part of the operations of the house, I would hesitate to take serious issue with him. But whether it is the rules or the procedure or our lack of organization generally throughout the house, the result is the same. Our rules and procedure were made when there were only two parties in the House of Commons, government and opposition, and the fact that we have now more than two parties may contribute to some extent to the necessity for a change in our rules and procedure. If that is so, let us not hesitate to change them.

In closing, and I am sorry to have taken up time but this does seem to me to be part and parcel of the development of our parliamentary procedure, I would suggest, in all earnestness that after the Easter recess the Prime Minister review and reconsider the position he took at the opening of this session. I know he held the view then that he was on solid ground and had the matter well reasoned out. But having had an opportunity of considering the matter further, and having had the experience we have had during this session-I do not say that that experience is indicative of anything more than our experience in other sessions-I would ask the Prime Minister to review the whole situation and if possible set up a select parliamentary committee to go into the whole question. It could not do any harm, Mr. 2358 COMMONS

Supply-Parliamentary Assistants

Chairman, and it might do a tremendous amount of good. After such a review by a parliamentary committee we would know whether it is ouf rules that are at fault:, or whether it is our procedure, or whether it is something wrong with ourselves; and perhaps many members, including myself, feel that there might be something in that latter suggestion.

A committee of that kind could give consideration to a number of questions and. inr quire into the suggestions which have been made from time to time by members inside the house and by people outside. One suggestion I have heard from many quarters is that a better division of private members' time would contribute to more effective work. There have been some who have suggested-I am not advancing this myself-that the House of Commons might make better progress and do better work and the members would have a better opportunity of making their proper contribution if the house met earlier in the afternoon and perhaps sat a little later to six or six-thirty, and then have the evening devoted entirely to committee work. The committees would then not be sitting while the house was in session, and the house would not be denuded of some of its best men. As I have said, that suggestion did not originate with me, but it is a suggestion that one hears from time to time, and it is one that might very well be considered by such a committee.

Curtailment of the length of speeches is another suggestion. We are all sinners in that respect. I remember when I made my maiden speech as leader of the opposition the Prime Minister in his opening remarks said that it was a very good speech, but before he got through he said in effect that it was not much good at all. Just to give some idea how we all err, let me say that the Prime Minister was kind enough to suggest that my speech was fairly long. Well, it was rather long, it lasted one and a half hours, and when the Prime Minister had finished he had spoken for two and a half hours, just to give a young fellow a lesson in his first days as leader of the opposition. I am not attempting to indicate any special need in that regard, because the Prime Minister must have on certain occasions plenty of time accorded to him in this house, for, after all, there are important things which he must discuss and which are not properly compacted into a small measure of time. But I would say that decrease in repetition in the longer debates is one of the things with regard to which, by organization of our parties, perhaps organization generally of the forces of parliament, a very material change for the

better could be effected1. These, and the more effective utilization of members on the committees, are matters to which the committee might give consideration.

More than that, the giving and dedication of a full question hour at the beginning of each sitting is a matter of importance and one which I think the committee would be fairly unanimous in recommending. With respect to the standing committees of the house, here is one of the. obsolete things with which I think a committee ought to deal. We have standing committees which seldom meet. The names of the committees themselves indicate that they were in some instances designed, for yesteryear and not for to-day. More than that, when committees are set up they should be the first thing dealt with at each session, instead of stringing along as committees do, regardless of the reasons, when of course the Prime Minister will argue very properly that it takes longer than it should to set up committees. But if they were set up at the beginning of the session, then their reports would be discussed and there would be no need to trail over to other sessions on account of the reports not having, been received.

Let me sum up by saying that I only bring to the attention of the committee at this time some of the things that I think a committee ought to thresh out and deal with. It may be that in many instances we shall find when the committee meets that this cannot be done, because until these matters have been gone into thoroughly none of us can properly give our views and expect that they shall be fully understood and accepted. But there is no reason why we should not at least make a drastic move to see what can be done. It is our duty to do our best to bring the House of Commons up to a better standard of efficiency. If, in bringing this up at the end of what I have said with respect to parliamentary assistants, I have provoked a discussion and brought before the committee once more the prime necessity of having a committee to deal with this all-important matter and to fit it in with the general position in connection with our parliamentary procedure, the time will not be lost.

Topic:   LEGISLATION-HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink
LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Supply-Parliamentary Assistants

of conduct to dictate to the Prime Minister; I am ready to accept his decision, but on the other hand I do not think there can be any reorganization of the cabinet as long as he keeps all the same men with him. That is not the idea. If there are changes to be made, that can be done in various ways; in the first place, by sharing the portfolios where more than one are held by a single minister; in the second place, by decentralizing certain large departments, such as the Department of Mines and Resources, and also by putting the knife into some departments. I will explain that. I have the greatest sympathy and admiration for the Minister of Finance, for several reasons. The first is that he has always been a friend of mine; that is a good reason for me. The second is that I cannot help admiring a man who makes the sacrifices the minister makes; who stays away from his family nearly all day and all evening; who lives a very simple life without even such distractions as going to the theatre. He lives like a recluse; he is always in his office working hard. When he goes out it is to make speeches in support of the victory loan, or something like that. He cannot enjoy the company of his family; he is kept working in the Department of Finance. That man needs help, but he can be given that help otherwise than by the appointment of a parliamentary under-secretary. It could be given by leaving him the Department of Finance and removing from his control the wartime prices and trade board, which could be headed by a new minister. That would be a great relief for the Minister of Finance, and would be an easy thing to do.

If these suggestions were followed there would be plenty of vacancies which would accord the Prime Minister opportunities to appoint a few more ministers, at least for the duration of the war. No one would complain about that expenditure, which really would not be so much after all. What would it amount to, for a country that is spending five and a half billions on the war and giving a billion to Great Britain? We are paying for it; why should we not have it? The cost would be the salaries of the ministers, plus allowances for automobiles, their private secretaries and a few stenographers. I do not wish to be considered forward, but that is the suggestion I offer the Prime Minister. The right hon. gentleman knows that I do not bother him with requests. I have great admiration for him, but I speak freely, and I find it my right and duty to express myself in this way.

Then there is another point. The leader of the opposition was perfectly right when he

spoke of the possible friction between the parliamentary secretary and the officials of the department. That would be inevitable. What will be the position of this colleague of ours when he rises to speak of the policy of his department? He will have to rely upon his minister for his knowledge of what has been done behind the closed doors of the council room, for I do not suppose these hon. gentlemen will have the right to attend all sittings of council; otherwise the council room will have to be enlarged. They will be in a false position. It is not a question of $4,000 per annum. If the Prime Minister needs more help, let him first separate the too large departments which are headed by one minister. Let him also get rid of the dead-wood. Let him divide the departments that are too big, and then he will be in a position to have colleagues who will not bring shame to his department. He may choose the same men, but they will be full ministers, with full authority to answer questions and to defend government policy in the house.

Among those mentioned for such posts is a very dear friend of mine, the senior hon. member for Queen's (Mr. Macmillan). I have for him the utmost respect. He is a modest man, one who did well in the army and is well read. His services as chairman of certain committees of the house have been of great value, and he is one of our most popular colleagues, and a good Scotsman.

The parliamentary guide states that his paternal ancestors came from Scotland1 in 1806, and his maternal ancestors from Inverness in 1803. He was educated at Prince of Wales college, Charlottetown, and at McGill and Harvard universities. He holds the degrees of Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts from McGill, and Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy from Harvard. He was professor of English, chairman of the department of English, and dean of the faculty of arts and science of McGill university. He was a member of the royal commission on maritime claims, which sat in 1926, the royal commission on Atlantic fisheries, which sat in 1927 and 1928, and chairman of the royal commission on education in Prince Edward Island, which sat in 1929. He served in the war of 1914-18 as captain in the 7th Battery, Canadian Siege Artillery. He filled that capacity from April to October, 1916. He was major and officer commanding the 6th Battery, Canadian Siege Artillery from October, 1916, to May, 1919. He was twice mentioned in dispatches. In his student days he was a champion track athlete. He was sworn of the privy council on June 17, 1930. and was appointed minister of fisheries.

Supply-Parliamentary Assistants

Defeated at the general election in 1930. he resigned his portfolio on August 7 of that year. He was again elected to the House of Commons at the general election of 1940.

Is it reasonable to appoint as parliamentary secretary to any minister a gentleman of that calibre? This colleague of ours is exceptionally qualified to be deputy prime minister. I will tell the Prime Minister that the senior hon. member for Queen's is better qualified to be his deputy prime minister than is Mr. Clement Attlee in England qualified to be deputy to Mr. Winston Churchill. I speak freely, sir. I express personal views, but I want the country to survive after the war, and I am anxious that the parliamentary traditions of Great Britain may remain in our parliamentary institutions.

I took great interest in what was said by the leader of the opposition respecting changing of the rules. That is a most delicate problem in debate either in the house or in committee. The leader of the opposition, however, has complained about no rule regarding debate with the exception of the one respecting the length of speeches. I ask him now if there is any other rule about which he complained. I admire profoundly the wisdom of British practice which gives to each member the opportunity to express himself and to say what his constituents expect him to say. That is why our system provides for several readings of a bill, and the reason why an hon. member may always object to more than one reading on one day, although by common agreement first and second readings do take place on the same day.

The hon. member may be right in his reference to the formation of committees. I do not now whether I have been reappointed this year, but I do know that for years I was chairman of the debates committee. It never sat. One day I said to the whip, "Please do not have me appointed again to that high function, which does not interest me." But he played a trick, with the result that I was again made chairman of that honorary committee-which is of no use. Many committees are like that. But the saddest part of it is that there are committees which perform very hard work, which bring in no reports. I would ask you, Mr. Chairman, what useful work has been done by any committee since you have been a member of the house. I realize that you, with other hon. members, have worked hard on committees. But no result has been attained.

I remember distinctly the committee on elections, which sat for a long time, both day and night. Vehement discussions took place,

and what was the result? There was a suggestion that Bennett's law be repealed. We returned to the old legislation which had been in force before, and the change was made to the satisfaction of all concerned. No committee was required for that. We needed only a stroke of the pen to replace Mr. Bennett's bad legislation with good, Liberal legislation. My one regret is that despite their hard work the time of hon. members is wasted. What is needed is some practical direction, so that they may make the best possible use of their time while the session is in progress.

In earlier days members had no private rooms or offices. All members used to meet in room 16. I was always under the impression that the idea which prompted the union government to rebuild the houses of parliament as they are now was that of giving rooms to hon. members, so that they could be divided, two by two, and so as to prevent their having the contact they must have if they are to form common opinions on matters of public interest.

We must accept conditions as they are. But in my dealings with hon. members I have found that no man can be elected to this house, a most exclusive club, unless he has some prominent quality which may amount to a virtue, even though it may be partly hidden. There is no large group of fellow citizens who will unite to give their vote to a man unworthy of their confidence. I do not believe so. From my personal contact with the members of the house I have come to the conclusion that there are two sides to every picture. If I have had to complain at times about certain ministers, it is on account of their stubbornness and their refusal to listen to reasonable representations which are made in the public interest. I have already said in public that I think some of the ministers should go, and I still believe that. The Prime Minister may decide to do otherwise, but simply to put a plaster on top will not change anything. What we need is a change in bureaucracy, although, to attain this result, the government must use fairness in dealing with the officials of the various departments. Whether it will or will not, I do not know. It is up to the government to decide the policy to be enunciated, either over the radio or in the press. If the Prime Minister pursues his policy of appointing parliamentary secretaries, I will offer my sincere congratulations to their wives and my deepest sympathy to them.

Topic:   LEGISLATION-HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink
SC

Norman Jaques

Social Credit

Mr. JAQUES:

A previous speaker criticized the attitude of this group toward this matter when as a matter of fact none of us has expressed an opinion. I think I can sum

2362 COMMONS

Supply-Parliamentary Assistants

up the attitude of our group in a very few words. If the ministers are overworked, and I think it is more than likely they are, we do not begrudge them all the help they require nor do we begrudge the expenditure that will be necessary to provide this help. But if the appointment of these assistants to the ministers means that the ministers are to shelve part of their responsibility, that instead of a minister being responsible directly to the members of this house he will have his understudy pass the buck, to use a common expression, then we would oppose the idea.

Topic:   LEGISLATION-HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink
CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

I am not going to take up much time this afternoon because I am surprised at the time taken up already. With the opinions that have been expressed in the house and in the public press during the past six months I thought it was conceded that this measure was an absolute necessity. I am surprised that Mr. John Bracken has not convinced the members who spoke this afternoon that this measure is in the interests of the better functioning of parliament. Personally I think something should have been done two years ago.

The work of the ministers has increased 100 per cent because they have been handed additional duties in connection with the war. Anyone who has watched the ministers in the house will agree that they need assistance and need' it badly. I am for this measure 100 per cent. The fear expressed by the leader of the opposition that there is a trend toward a development of machinery outside parliament which lessens the responsibility of parliament should be taken care of by a move in the direction of giving the ministers assistance.

The time of a minister should be fully occupied in directing his department. No minister charged with the responsibility of carrying the load our ministers have to-day is in a position to do any detailed work. The general in command of a department should be able to delegate authority. He should see that his department functions as smoothly as possible and in the most efficient manner. The job of the parliamentary secretary will be to familiarize himself with discussions in the house which have to do with his department. I see the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Labour and the Minister of National Defence in their seats hour after hour waiting to make statements to this house. Their time would be much better occupied in carrying on the necessary directive work in their respective departments.

The leader of the opposition stated that the rules of the house should be changed in order that the services of the members of the house might be utilized1 to a greater extent. That appears to me to be the opinion of someone who has not spent very much time in this house. Speaking for the members of this group, I can say that we are fully occupied for at least fifteen hours a day. We serve on as many committees as it is possible to cover. My feeling is that by and large a great number of the members appointed to1 committees are not paying attention to their work. There is plenty of work for the private member to do if he is attending to the job. The work is efficiently organized, provided we do what we are supposed to do. You cannot spend your time in the house and' be in Toronto for four days a week.

Topic:   LEGISLATION-HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink
NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

Why does the hon. member mention Toronto? Why pick on Toronto?

Topic:   LEGISLATION-HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink

April 20, 1943