March 29, 1944

NAT

Thomas Langton Church

National Government

Mr. CHURCH:

I think another judge is necessary. We all know that after the last war a large number of contracts were involved in proceedings before the court, and many years elapsed before they were all settled. The government has announced a new policy by which a certain percentage is paid-I suggest fifty per cent; in the United States, I believe it is sixty per cent, which will mean a great deal more work for the court. As I understand it, this court is excluded from the provincial field as regards royal commissions appointed by provincial attorneys general under the Inquiries Act, which is both federal and provincial in its application, and these judges will not be liable for commission duty, whether federal or provincial.

Mr. ST. LAURENT: I have not looked at the exact terms of the statute, but I do not know of any case of a judge of the exchequer court having been requested to act as a commissioner under the Inquiries Act; and no change is being made by this bill. But I should need to look at the terms to see

whether the president and a puisne judge of the exchequer court would be competent to be called. I know of no case in my experience at the bar where it has happened.

Topic:   EXCHEQUER COURT ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO PROVIDE FOR APPOINTMENT OF THIRD JUDGE
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NAT

Thomas Langton Church

National Government

Mr. CHURCH:

It seems to me that in view of the work which the exchequer court is doing, and which is largely financial, business and commercial, there should be a much higher scale of fees. The revenues of the court should be very considerable in view of the magnitude of the contracts and other business involved, and so far as I know they have not been raised, at any rate very much, since the last war. Surely the country should not have to pay the whole of the bill for a court like this. In my opinion it should be self-sustaining.

Mr. ST. LAURENT. A great many cases which come before the exchequer court are claims by the subject against the crown, and I do not know that it would be proper to increase the scale of fees which the subject would be called upon to provide when making a claim against the crown. There are other fields of jurisdiction where, perhaps, the suggestion of the hon. member could very well be considered, and I should be glad to take it up with the officers of my department. But I should not like to give the impression that there is any intention of increasing the cost to the subject when prosecuting a claim against the crown.

Topic:   EXCHEQUER COURT ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO PROVIDE FOR APPOINTMENT OF THIRD JUDGE
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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

The services of exchequer court judges have been used on occasion on royal commissions, have they not? As a matter of fact, they have been used on provincial royal commissions as well as federal royal commissions. I thought, in view of the statement made by the minister, there might be some misunderstanding in that connection. I have here a return, No. 182 of 1941, dealing with the question of royal commissions, a matter which I brought up the other evening. From 1923 to the date of the return there were, I believe, eighty-one royal commissions set up upon which judges have sat, and some very large fees have been paid to judges in this connection in addition to their salaries. In one case the fees during the period amounted to over S40,000, and in one or more other cases exceptionally large fees or allowances have been paid. So far as the exchequer court is concerned, at least two commissions- one under the Department of Fisheries, another Under the Department of Labour- were presided over by a judge of the exchequer court. I think, having regard to the fact that there is such a considerable body of work to be done by judges, they should not

Exchequer Court Act

be utilized in connection with royal commissions. According to the last figures available the number of judges in Canada is 278. Some of them are sitting on government boards, others on commissions and the like. I again bring to the attention of the minister the need of making a provision that, in the interests of their own independence, if for no other reason, judges should not be allowed to accept extra allowances by occupying positions on royal commissions. This is a practice which is productive of considerable criticism. The other night mention was made of a situation in the province of Saskatchewan. I suggest to the minister that he give consideration to making provision that the judiciary shall be used exclusively as a judiciary and that its services shall not be used in connection with commissions, particularly those involving political considerations of any kind.

Topic:   EXCHEQUER COURT ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO PROVIDE FOR APPOINTMENT OF THIRD JUDGE
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LIB

James Joseph McCann

Liberal

The ACTING CHAIRMAN (Mr. McCann) :

Shall the section carry?

Topic:   EXCHEQUER COURT ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO PROVIDE FOR APPOINTMENT OF THIRD JUDGE
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CCF

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

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

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

No. It is six o'clock and I do not see any reason why we should go on. Would the minister entertain an amendment to this bill along the lines I suggested the other evening? It seems to mo, if another judge is required in the exchequer court, because of the extra business during the war and in the immediate postwar period, that a time limit should be set. An appointment could be made for, let us say, three or five years, and if at the end of that time it were found that there was still sufficient work to warrant another judge in the exchequer court a bill could be passed by the house for another period. What we are doing now is creating a position in perpetuity. If, after the war, we should come to a time when there would be a small amount of work in this court we shall still have this position, and it is very unlikely that we shall reduce the size of the exchequer court to what it was in the days before the war when we had only two judges. Would the minister consider that suggestion before the legislation is finally passed?

Mr. ST. LAURENT: I should not like to undertake to find a judge who would accept an appointment to the exchequer court for any period such as the hon. member mentions. The experience of the last several years has shown that there is more war work there than the two judges of the court can perform as expeditiously as those who have to come before the court would like to see generally; and it has been felt that it would be in the public interest to provide an additional judge in that court. I do not think it would be

[Mr. Diefenbaker.l

possible to do so if the legislation were to have a limitation as to time. I do not. think the House of Commons would be well advised to try to determine at this time what should be done a few years hence. I kiiow it is always difficult to reduce the complement of a court; but should a situation arise in the future when Canadian citizens and those having claims against the crown or those against whom the crown has claims felt they no longer required a court to deal with such matters, the matter might properly be brought up, but I should not like to put a limitation upon a bill of this kind, if as is generally recognized there is requirement for an additional judge.

Topic:   EXCHEQUER COURT ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO PROVIDE FOR APPOINTMENT OF THIRD JUDGE
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Section agreed to. Bill reported, read the third time and passed. At six o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order. Thursday, March 30, 1944


March 29, 1944