June 22, 1955

LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

Mr. Chairman, I am sure my hon. friend from Kamloops realizes that the federal government has constitutional responsibility for the appointment of all judges of provincial and federal courts; but that after such judges have been appointed the responsibility for the manner in which their work is carried on in the provincial courts falls under the heading of administration of justice.

If I may say so, I would be inclined to differ with my hon. friend's suggestion that we should call a conference at which the federal government would take the initiative of suggesting to province A that it should follow a course of conduct in the payment of judges which is followed by province B. To follow this course would not in my view improve dominion-provincial relations to any extent.

I must say, however, that when we had an indirect interest in the case load and the way in which that case load was divided in a given province, which in turn had a bearing upon action which we had to take in the discharge of our own constitutional responsibility, I have not hesitated to discuss, as matters of joint concern to the provincial government and ourselves, the steps that might be taken provincially to get a better distribution of the case load. I must say that I received good co-operation indeed from the provincial authorities. But it requires no imagination to realize that this is a subject matter that must be approached with great discretion if one is to avoid being misunderstood.

Topic:   JUDGES ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE SALARIES, PROVIDE FOR JUDGE IN NORTHWEST TERRITORIES, ETC.
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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

Quite so. What I had in mind was not that the dominion government should in any way seek to lay down the law in this field. But since there are discrepancies in the gross remuneration which judges receive, the matter presents certain problems to the minister when he asks or contemplates asking this committee to make a uniform increase in judges' salaries across Canada. We know perfectly well, as does the minister, that judges in various parts of the country holding comparable appointments not only have greatly varying work loads but are in receipt also of salaries as to which there is considerable difference; yet he cannot make a differential in the increase that is recommended here.

As I say, the matter presents the government or the department or parliament with a problem. I felt that it would be quite appropriate for the minister to suggest, if

Judges Act

he likes, to the various attorneys general that they meet with him at some convenient time and discuss ways and means of achieving a greater uniformity. It may be found not to be possible but I think an effort should be made.

Topic:   JUDGES ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE SALARIES, PROVIDE FOR JUDGE IN NORTHWEST TERRITORIES, ETC.
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LIB

William Alfred Robinson (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

Shall clause 3 carry?

Topic:   JUDGES ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE SALARIES, PROVIDE FOR JUDGE IN NORTHWEST TERRITORIES, ETC.
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PC

Robert Weld Mitchell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Mitchell (London):

I do not wish to hold up this clause, because I support particularly the increase which is proposed for the county court judges. In fact I feel that the gap between what is paid to a county court judge on the one hand and what is paid to superior court judges on the other hand should, if anything, be closed. I am in no way against the increase which has been granted to the superior court judges. If I have any criticism of this bill it is that it has not sufficiently closed the gap between the salaries of county court judges and those of superior court judges.

The practice has been-and increasingly so over the past few years-that county judges are assuming many of the duties formerly carried out by the supreme court judges. That situation has arisen for several reasons. One is that the amount of litigation going through our courts has increased tremendously in the last 10, 12 or 15 years. It is simply impossible, with a reasonable number of judges on the supreme court bench, to deal with all the cases there are to be dealt with.

The second point I should like to make with respect to county judges is this, and it also applies to some remarks that were made by some hon. gentlemen with respect to supreme court judges when they referred several times to the question of buying justice. I suggest, Mr. Chairman, that the question of increasing the salaries of either class of judges is not a case of buying justice but simply a case of how much we are prepared to ask these men to accept by way of sacrifice in order to perform a service. Are we prepared to ask them to accept a larger sacrifice than that which is at present accepted? I think not. That sacrifice is particularly noticeable in the case of county judges.

I cannot establish this fact from the papers I have in front of me-the minister will undoubtedly correct me if I am wrong-but some years ago county court judges were paid on approximately the same basis as were deputy ministers. I shall have something to say in connection with pensions, which were referred to by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre on section 8, I think it is, of the act. But we have been discussing the comparative salary scales as between superior court judges and senior members of the civil

Judges Act

service. We are now down to the case of the county court judge, who some years ago was on a par with a senior civil servant, but who is now away below par.

Topic:   JUDGES ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE SALARIES, PROVIDE FOR JUDGE IN NORTHWEST TERRITORIES, ETC.
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LIB

William Alfred Robinson (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

Shall clause 3 carry?

Topic:   JUDGES ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE SALARIES, PROVIDE FOR JUDGE IN NORTHWEST TERRITORIES, ETC.
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PC

Robert Weld Mitchell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Mitchell (London):

No, Mr. Chairman. I should like to have the minister's comment.

Topic:   JUDGES ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE SALARIES, PROVIDE FOR JUDGE IN NORTHWEST TERRITORIES, ETC.
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LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

The hon. member for London asked me to correct him. My own records go back only as far as 1919, but I think that is quite a distance back. At that time the county or district court judges received $4,000 and nearly all the deputy ministers received $5,000. That is a difference of about 25 per cent.

Topic:   JUDGES ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE SALARIES, PROVIDE FOR JUDGE IN NORTHWEST TERRITORIES, ETC.
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LIB

David Arnold Croll

Liberal

Mr. Croll:

May I ask the minister to turn to page 2 for a moment? There we find set out, under the salaries of the judges of the supreme court of New Brunswick an amount for "the judge of the court of divorce and matrimonial causes". It does not appear in any other section. What has that to do with?

Topic:   JUDGES ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE SALARIES, PROVIDE FOR JUDGE IN NORTHWEST TERRITORIES, ETC.
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LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

That is an additional amount that is paid to one of the superior court judges for acting as judge of divorce and matrimonial causes; that is for looking after divorce cases.

Topic:   JUDGES ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE SALARIES, PROVIDE FOR JUDGE IN NORTHWEST TERRITORIES, ETC.
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LIB

David Arnold Croll

Liberal

Mr. Croll:

Do not other judges look after them?

Topic:   JUDGES ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE SALARIES, PROVIDE FOR JUDGE IN NORTHWEST TERRITORIES, ETC.
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LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

No, I do not think so; not in that province.

Topic:   JUDGES ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE SALARIES, PROVIDE FOR JUDGE IN NORTHWEST TERRITORIES, ETC.
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LIB

David Arnold Croll

Liberal

Mr. Croll:

What about the other provinces?

Topic:   JUDGES ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE SALARIES, PROVIDE FOR JUDGE IN NORTHWEST TERRITORIES, ETC.
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LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

As my hon. friend knows, in the province of Ontario-

Topic:   JUDGES ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE SALARIES, PROVIDE FOR JUDGE IN NORTHWEST TERRITORIES, ETC.
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LIB

David Arnold Croll

Liberal

Mr. Croll:

Yes, I know the situation in the province of Ontario.

Topic:   JUDGES ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE SALARIES, PROVIDE FOR JUDGE IN NORTHWEST TERRITORIES, ETC.
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LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

-and in the province of Manitoba and also, I believe, in nearly ail the other provinces, all superior court judges take divorces.

Topic:   JUDGES ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE SALARIES, PROVIDE FOR JUDGE IN NORTHWEST TERRITORIES, ETC.
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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

I have just one other comment I wish to make. Some reference has already been made to the fact that the increase now authorized for county court and supreme court judges-in fact, for all judges affected [DOT]-is across the board, a flat increase, as against the percentage increase which was the pattern in the last two cases, to my recollection.

Topic:   JUDGES ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE SALARIES, PROVIDE FOR JUDGE IN NORTHWEST TERRITORIES, ETC.
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LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

No; the previous cases were a percentage.

Topic:   JUDGES ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE SALARIES, PROVIDE FOR JUDGE IN NORTHWEST TERRITORIES, ETC.
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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

That is what I say; the previous cases were percentage increases.

Topic:   JUDGES ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE SALARIES, PROVIDE FOR JUDGE IN NORTHWEST TERRITORIES, ETC.
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LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

Yes.

Topic:   JUDGES ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE SALARIES, PROVIDE FOR JUDGE IN NORTHWEST TERRITORIES, ETC.
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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

It is now a flat or across the board increase as against a percentage increase in the last two cases.

Topic:   JUDGES ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE SALARIES, PROVIDE FOR JUDGE IN NORTHWEST TERRITORIES, ETC.
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June 22, 1955