May 8, 1936 (18th Parliament, 1st Session)

CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Any representations I
make to the Minister of Public Works are always received with the courtesy which is characteristic of him. He always gives them his best consideration, and the suavity with which he expresses his opinion is equalled only by his ability to forget that consideration does not necessarily mean to-day or to-morrow. It may mean some time in the long, long future. It is amazing how this consideration seems to get lost on the road, but there .is always the most courteous reply, always the greatest possible assurance of consideration. Alas, consideration is so long
2644 COMMONS
Supply-Public Works-Harbours
delayed that very often the unfortunate person concerned becomes the subject of the funeral sermon of the minister, the parson or the clergyman, and serious consideration becomes a matter of post mortem instead of an interest in the welfare of an individual.
Seriously, however, what happened was that the department gave notice to those who were employed under the Public Works Construction Acts of 1934 and 1935 that inasmuch as probably there would be no money after March 31 their services would be dispensed with at that time. But, alas and alack, some of them had to go at the end of December, 1935. I recall some with two letters, one from their chief giving them notice that their services would not be required after the end of March. They were making their arrangements accordingly, but along about Christmas, as a reminder of the season and of the bounties of providence intended for others, they were told that they would have to leave at the end of the year. When I pressed the minister for the reason he was good enough to explain frankly that their employment by the crown was during pleasure, as I well realized. He said, of course I would know that, and he was quite right; I did. Later on, not in connection with this item but when the main estimates are under consideration, I am going to deal with the matter far more seriously, because I realize that the .minister has to yield to the pressure of those who are insistent that their friends should find employment. I have seen enough of public life to know that this is one of the evils or virtues of public life, that those who are able to secure sufficient assistance from their friends very often find themselves in positions which otherwise would not be given them. But when a member of parliament signs his name to a document saying that of his own personal knowledge he knows that a man has been guilty of partisanship, when he did not know the man at all, and the minister to whom that letter was sent dismissed the man, I think we shall have to have a much more serious discussion of the subject than this pleasant little interlude between the minister and myself. I have seen enough to know that the hardships of life are not much considered when it comes down to a question of yielding to the demands that are made by members of parliament upon their ministers.
I have a few instances which at the appropriate time I propose to give the house. Sometimes the son has suffered for the political sins of the father; sometimes the father has suffered for the sins of the son. The case I have in mind affects a far more

serious principle, one which was discussed in this house some years ago by the hon. member for St. Lawrence-St. George (Mr. Cahan) and which involved one minister giving effect to a recommendation made by another minister. The Minister of Trade and Commerce of that time felt that he was in duty bound to give effect to the recommendation of his then colleague in the government. This is not the case of a colleague; this is the case of a member of parliament writing a letter-the return has been brought down-in which he pledges his word, which, of course, means a matter of honour, that this man was a partisan. As a matter of fact he is not even acquainted with the man. The person in question has pledged his oath that he has never taken any part in politics. He was appointed in 1915, and he is a man of family. Now he is thrown out on the street, without having an opportunity to be heard or to say a word in his own defence, because a member of parliament has pledged his honour-for that is what is involved-that this man was a partisan. Later on we shall have to discuss that matter, with the names and all details, but I think it would be unfair to discuss it on this item.
I desire, however, to point out that it would foe much better if the minister would say frankly: This sum for salaries is the pork barrel provided for our friends who will take the places of your friends, and we trust there will be an extended program and a greater demand for services and more people employed than at present, and we hope that this summer this $200,000 odd will be sufficient to recompense them for their toil and the services they render to the state in their new status.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OP PUBLIC WORKS
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