June 16, 1948


Hon. DOUGLAS ABBOTT (Minister of Finance) moved that the house go into committee on Bill No. 345, to amend the Tariff Board Act. Motion agreed to and the house went into committee, Mr. Golding in the chair. On section 1-Tenure of office. Mr.. FLEMING: The proposed amendment to section 3, subsection 3, will have the effect of giving to the governor in council power to appoint members of the tariff board for any term whatsoever-


LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

Not exceeding ten years.

Tariff Board Act

Topic:   TARIFF BOARD ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO TENURE OF OFFICE, APPOINTMENT, ETC.
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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. FLEMING:

For any term not exceeding ten years. But within that time there is no limit on the term for which the governor in council may appoint members. Is that provision not too broad? As I followed the minister's statement two days ago, it seemed to me that the purpose of this amendment was to give the government power to appoint ad hoc members for a particular purpose.

Topic:   TARIFF BOARD ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO TENURE OF OFFICE, APPOINTMENT, ETC.
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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

That is under subsection 2.

Topic:   TARIFF BOARD ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO TENURE OF OFFICE, APPOINTMENT, ETC.
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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. FLEMING:

The matter of the appointment of ad hoc members is dealt with in another section.

Topic:   TARIFF BOARD ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO TENURE OF OFFICE, APPOINTMENT, ETC.
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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

In the next subsection of the bill.

Topic:   TARIFF BOARD ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO TENURE OF OFFICE, APPOINTMENT, ETC.
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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. FLEMING:

I think the committee should have from the minister some further justification for the power that is being asked for here, because it is apparent that this could be used for purposes that parliament would not intend. For instance, if it suited the convenience of the government to make changes in the board to bring about a particular result on a pending application, the purpose of parliament would be defeated. The board, of course, must be kept on an impartial basis and free of suspicion of partiality in its decisions.

Topic:   TARIFF BOARD ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO TENURE OF OFFICE, APPOINTMENT, ETC.
Permalink
LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

The purpose of the amendment is not such as my hon. friend suggests, but to give a reasonable degree of flexibility. 1 have one board in mind on which a member has served most efficiently for a term of ten years, but his age may now be such that it would not be appropriate to appoint him for a further term of ten years. Therefore it is felt that power should be taken to appoint for a term of less than ten years. In these term appointments it is always a matter of judgment how long the term should be. Personally I think this provision is desirable, and I cannot see how it could be subjected to any abuse.

Topic:   TARIFF BOARD ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO TENURE OF OFFICE, APPOINTMENT, ETC.
Permalink
PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. FLEMING:

The purpose of the original ten-year term, as I understand the legislation of 1932, was to assure the members of the board of that tenure of office so long as they discharged their duties. It relieved the members of the board from any fear of removal if they were giving decisions that might not be acceptable to the government of the day. But if you make inroads upon that ride and make the appointments for a shorter period, it seems to me you may defeat the purpose of the original ten-year term, which in addition to giving the board security of tenure, removed them so far as possible from political pressure. This is not purely an academic question, because I think every member of the house appreciates the necessity of keeping the board

free from political influence. By making it a shorter term you run, the risk of invading that principle where a member of the board may be hopeful of reappointment.

Topic:   TARIFF BOARD ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO TENURE OF OFFICE, APPOINTMENT, ETC.
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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

I really do not think it can be subject to abuse. Primarily it was for the purpose of enabling the government to get competent men by giving them reasonable security of tenure.

Topic:   TARIFF BOARD ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO TENURE OF OFFICE, APPOINTMENT, ETC.
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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. FLEMING:

Does not that same remark apply today?

Topic:   TARIFF BOARD ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO TENURE OF OFFICE, APPOINTMENT, ETC.
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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

Yes, but I still think the power should be there. Let us say a man who is sixty-five years of age is still thoroughly competent to carry on his judicial functions. It might be desirable to reappoint him for a further period, but not for a further ten years. I really do not think there is any possibility of abuse by providing flexibility so that appointments may be made for less than ten years.

Topic:   TARIFF BOARD ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO TENURE OF OFFICE, APPOINTMENT, ETC.
Permalink
PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. FLEMING:

The minister has dealt with the case of reappointment of a member of the board whose age is such that he is not likely to continue to serve for a further ten years. Is the minister prepared to confine it to reappointments?

Topic:   TARIFF BOARD ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO TENURE OF OFFICE, APPOINTMENT, ETC.
Permalink
LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

That might be undesirable, because you might want to appoint a man who is in his early sixties but who on account of his age should not be given a full ten-year appointment. I do not suggest that appointments will often be made for less than, ten years, but I do not think you will get first-class men to take these jobs for less than ten years. I think it is a reasonable discretion to give to the executive.

Topic:   TARIFF BOARD ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO TENURE OF OFFICE, APPOINTMENT, ETC.
Permalink
PC

Thomas Langton Church

Progressive Conservative

Mr. CHURCH:

Is this board going to be in the future just what you might call a political board with whose decisions the government of the day can interfere? The board was appointed to decide tariff matters, but as a matter of fact it simply forgot its functions from February 1947 right on down through Geneva and then Havana. An

announcement was made in November of that year by the government of a new economic policy for this country. There were a very large number of applications pending before the board during that time, all of which were held up.

Clause 1 provides for a ten-year appointment. I object to the principle involved in clause 1. I object also to the principle of the government of the day, of its own volition, over the head of parliament when the house is in session, changing the fiscal system of this

Tariff Board Act

country. I have had several complaints from businessmen that they could not get rulings on customs and tariff matters because the board was away in Geneva for eight months in 1947 and then in Havana. The tariff will always be a political question, and no board can change it. If they did, they would be fired or hanged on a sour apple tree. If we are to have a tariff board, let it be a board that will discharge its functions, not one that will be here today and gone tomorrow. What is to become of our trade with the mother country if the board does not discharge its functions?

This board should have looked into the situation in connection with the Canadian international trade fair which has been held in Toronto for the past two weeks. There were many complaints from businessmen in Canada and the mother country which came to light during the fair and should have been looked into by the tariff board. Something should be done to restore the confidence of large and small businessmen in the trade policies of this country.

I object to this clause, Mr. Chairman. I think ten years is too long. Nobody knows what may happen by that time. As Time pointed out, we may be an economic unit of the forty-nine states of the United States. No one can tell what will happen. No wonder there is unemployment and unrest in the country.

Topic:   TARIFF BOARD ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO TENURE OF OFFICE, APPOINTMENT, ETC.
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Section agreed to. Sections 2, 3 and 4 agreed to. On the title.


PC

Joseph Henry Harris

Progressive Conservative

Mr. HARRIS (Danforth):

Prior to the last war this board did function, and from my observations I would say it did a good job on behalf of Canada. During the war, by order in council, many of the functions of the board were set aside. Now that the war is over we are back to a peacetime economy, and it becomes necessary that we have an organization of this kind in order that proper-representations may be made as to tariffs.

I should hope the board might maintain the record of the late Judge Sedgewick, who was chairman of the board in days gone by. Under his chairmanship I witnessed the common man being heard, with due consideration given to all the people of Canada. One might say that it was their interests versus some of the bigger interests of the country. If the board for which provision is made in the bill functions as it operated in 1935, 1936, 1937 and 1938, prior to the death of the late Judge Sedgewick, I am satisfied it will be a vehicle through

which the people of Canada can be heard. Their representations can be analysed by experts who know what is best for Canada, and under our present economy such an organization is necessary.

Topic:   TARIFF BOARD ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO TENURE OF OFFICE, APPOINTMENT, ETC.
Permalink

Title agreed to. Bill reported, read the third time and passed.


CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS

PROVISION TO MEET CERTAIN EXPENDITURES AND GUARANTEE OF SECURITIES AND INDEBTEDNESS

June 16, 1948