Order. I think perhaps the hon. member had better ask the question now if it is in order. The estimates of the Secretary of State have been completed and we are now dealing with the various agencies for which he speaks in parliament.
Since this is the last item under that category perhaps we could deal with it here; I refer particularly to the sometimes careless and irresponsible way in which certain questions which are placed on the order paper in this house are handled, specifically by the Secretary of State. I have one example here. I am quite happy to see the Minister of Fisheries is in the house as well because he got into the act as he seems to do on a number of occasions. This question referred to government publications. Perhaps we should define our terms so the Secretary of State and myself will be talking about the same things.
I am afraid the hon. member is definitely out of order in discussing that matter at this particular time. The estimates of the Department of the Secretary of State as such were passed some little time ago. The Secretary of State officials have left the chamber, and the resolutions have been sent away from the chamber. We have before us now only the vote for the public archives; and we may, if we reach them, have the votes for the chief electoral officer and the civil service commission. I am afraid I must rule at the moment that the hon. member's question is out of order, because it is. But perhaps I might make the suggestion that he raise it when the items for legislation, including the operation of this chamber, are before the house. They have not yet been called.
Mr. Chairman, as the committee has come to expect, I rise each year to urge upon the Secretary of State the appointment of a woman to the civil service commission, if and when the next vacancy occurs. But on this particular occasion I feel I must bring to the attention of the committee one or two things that have occurred recently and which seem to me to bear out my contention that there should be a woman on that board.
Supply-Secretary of State
I hold in my hand a sheet from the Ottawa Citizen of Wednesday, June 9, in which appears a group photograph of what is described as 31 branch heads in 20 civil service departments undergoing a special experimental course on government administration at Kemptville agricultural school. I point out that in this photograph there are no women present.
I was intrigued by this. I had seen previously the announcement of this school which was to be set up over a period of four weeks and which, I believe, terminates on June 18. I made it my business to inquire into the matter and found that although there are a number of women in the same grade of posts as those who were at the conference none of them found her way to that conference for this instruction on administration. That is just one item that has come to my attention.
The other one I think is a little more serious because, while the one I have just mentioned could have developed through oversight or failing to realize that there may have been some administrative officers in the civil service who would have been eligible but who, for one reason or another, found they could not attend, nevertheless in this other case there is obviously a definite instance of discrimination. I bring this to the attention of the Secretary of State to support my contention that one of the commissioners should be a woman, someone who can understand the conditions under which women in the civil service work.
I have here a letter which came to me from the city of Toronto. In it is set out the case of those students who were enrolled in the course at the University of Toronto which is known as the course on political science and economics. The third-year class in this course is made up equally of girls and boys. Early this year the Department of Citizenship and Immigration circularized the third-year students and offered summer employment to six undergraduates, and permanent employment to an unspecified number of graduates.
The type of work indicated was that for which these students were preparing themselves. And so, all the members in the third year applied for this summer employment. Application forms were transmitted to the civil service commission, and the applicants awaited results. I am informed that this particular third-year class had been headed by several girls, that the boys, in the main, were in the intermediate class between the top grade and the lower grade, and that there were no boys at all in the top grade. Yet not one of those girls was interviewed, not a single one. All the boys in the class were interviewed.
I do not think it is his responsibility; it just happened to affect his department. Once the Department of Citizenship and Immigration had signified its willingness to give employment, I think the matter passed out of the minister's hands and became the responsibility of the civil service commission. From then on I do not think it was the minister's department which was responsible.
However the point is that if girls are not to be considered for these posts, then why have them take the course in the first place? Why let them waste their time? Why would not the president of the university, the deans of faculties and the heads of courses be advised that under no circumstances would women be given recognition by the government of Canada in these posts? Why send a circular to the whole class and say, "We will employ half a dozen undergraduates for summer employment and employ a further number of graduates"? After doing that, why say "We will interview only boys from that class"? It seems to me perfectly ridiculous. When these girls in the class made their complaint to the civil service commission the replies they received were evasive in the extreme, and to this day they have received no satisfactory reply.
This is just one more example of the discrimination which is exercised to some extent. I do not know how widespread it is, but I do think there is a misunderstanding of the role which these women graduates can play in the public service of Canada.
Once again I urge strongly that when the first vacancy occurs on the civil service commission preference should be given to a woman commissioner to fill that vacancy. I am sure the Secretary of State will agree with me that in the civil service of Canada we are not lacking in competent women who could fill that post.
I think I must defend my political reputation by saying a word or two in reply to the hon. member. In the first place I find myself, I will not say in complete agreement with everything she said, but quite sympathetic to everything she said. I certainly agree that there are plenty of women in this country just as competent to be civil service commissioners as are a great many of the men in this country. I agree furthermore that women, whenever they have the qualifications, should not be discriminated against. For my part I have always been rather a feminist, and I never have found any reason to change my views.
Now having protected my present position I think I ought to protect my future position by saying that the Secretary of State really occupies a very peculiar position in relation to the civil service commission. The civil service commission is not responsible to the government, but to parliament. The Secretary of State is only a sort of connecting link or, perhaps, a drain pipe between the civil service commission and parliament. And I will draw to the attention of the commission the hon. lady's remarks, although I do not think it will be necessary because I am sure they will have been drawn to their attention already. They will also see what I have said in encouragement of what she has said.
As to future appointments, of course the Secretary of State does not even recommend appointments to the civil service commission. I just say that so if the hon. lady's wishes in future should not be carried out by a government of which I might be a humble member, she will not hold me politically responsible.
These instances which I have described here tonight merely substantiate my claim. I did not expect that the Secretary of State would have any jurisdiction over those particular instances. I know that is a matter for the civil service commission; but I still say that until one of these commissioners is a woman, the women in the civil service will not have a sympathetic ear at the highest administrative level, and thus of the actual commission itself.
The day will come, and I would think not too far distant-probably before the Secretary of State presents another set of estimates in this house-when there will be an appointment to that commission. I want to say right now that if or when that appointment is made I hope the Secretary of State will not come to this house and make apologetic remarks for having appointed another gentleman to that commission. I hope that his search, or the search which is apparently now being made by the government, by its representatives or by whoever is responsible for the appointment of commissioners to that commission, will extend among the women who are giving service to this government in the civil service at the present time and that it will not be confined merely to the male members of that service.
Can the minister give us information as to the number of civil servants who are appointed by the civil service commission because I know that some are and some are not? I should like to have the figure of those who are appointed by the commission and also the figure of the total payroll of those who are appointed by the commission. That may take a little while to get, but it is a condition on which I will permit this item to pass.