Right Hon. R. B. BENNETT (Leader of the Opposition):
In order that there may be no misapprehension I desire to place upon record my views with respect to this legislation, and as under our rules the mover of a third reading has no right of reply I shall endeavour to be scrupulously careful not to go beyond what was said during the discussion on the measure.
In the year 1935 the late governor introduced into parliament a bill which subsequently, on April 17 of that year, became chapter 23 of the statutes of Canada, It was intituled:
An act to provide for the rehabilitation of drought and soil drifting areas in the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.
It was cited as The Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act. By section 3 of that act it is provided that:
(1) The governor in council may establish a committee to be known as the prairie farm rehabilitation advisory committee, hereinafter called " the committee," the members of which shall hold office during pleasure.
(2) One of the members of the committee shall be appointed chairman by the governor in council.
(3) The committee shall consist of the following:
(a) one representative of the Manitoba grain growing farmers from the drought and soil drifting areas;
(b) one representative of the Saskatchewan grain growing farmers from the drought and soil drifting areas;
(c) one representative of the Alberta grain growing farmers from the drought and soil drifting areas;
Farm Rehabilitation-Mr. Bennett
(d) one representative of Saskatchewan live stock farmers from the drought areas;
(e) one representative of Alberta range farmers from the drought areas;
(f) one representative of mortgage companies of Canada;
(g) one representative of the Canadian Bankers' Association;
(h) one representative each from the Canadian Pacific Railway Company and the Canadian National Railways;
(i) two representatives from the dominion Department of Agriculture; and
(j) one representative of the government in each of the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.
The chairman, it will be observed, is to be appointed by the governor in council. Under the provision of that section of the act the following persons were appointed by the governor in council: Doctor E. S. Archibald, Ottawa, chairman; Dominion Department of Agriculture; James H. Girvin, Medora, Manitoba grain growing farmers; Olaf Nyland, Shaunavon, Sask., Saskatchewan grain growing farmers; P. C. Colquhoun, Maple Creek, Sask., Saskatchewan live stock farmers; Leonard Koole, Monarch, Alberta, Alberta grain growing farmers; R. P. Gilchrist, Wild Horse, Alberta, Alberta range farmers; Professor J. H. Ellis, Winnipeg, government of Manitoba; Dean A. M. Shaw, Saskatoon, government of Saskatchewan; 0. S. Longman, Edmonton, government of Alberta, E. W. Jones, Calgary, Canadian Pacific Railway Company; Doctor W. J. Black, Montreal, Canadian National Railways; F. J. Freer, Winnipeg, mortgage companies of Canada; Doctor E. S. Hopkins, Ottawa, Dominion Department of Agriculture; B. P. Alley, Toronto, Canadian Bankers' Association.
These gentlemen were selected by the bodies whom they purport to represent, having been communicated with for that purpose by the then Minister of Agriculture. The bill now before the house for third reading repeals section 3 and dismisses from office without cause given the gentlemen I have named. The section in question reads as follows:
1. Section three of the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act, chapter 23 of the statutes of 1935, is repealed and the following substituted therefor:
3. (1) The governor in council may establish one or more committees to be known as prairie farm rehabilitation committees, the members of which shall hold office during pleasure.
2. One of the members of each committee shall be appointed chairman thereof by the minister.
My first objection therefore is that it is not fair to men who volunteer their services, who accept responsibility and serve without emolument, to dismiss them in this public fashion without cause and without opportunity
to be heard. In other words reputable citizens of this country, giving public service, should not be subject to the humiliation of public dismissal by statute without at least some reasons being given why they are dismissed. To suggest that they may be reappointed is begging the question. They are dismissed by the repeal of the section of the statute under which they were appointed.
The second point to which I desire to direct attention is that the statute as amended -I have just read the new section 3-sets up one or more committees. I think it is axiomatic that advisory committees, dealing with a problem as vast as that to be considered in connection with the rehabilitation of the areas in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, should act as a unit, and that the advice which may be given from time to time by committees having different views upon the same problem would not be conducive either to economy in the public service or to efficiency and effectiveness in what they propose to do. The fact is that Swift Current was selected as the point from which operations were to be directed, and a laboratory was built there some time ago, but the central operations have now been removed to Regina. It must not be forgotten that there are three provinces affected, and the likelihood of completely efficient administration from a point like Swift Current is far greater than it would be from a city such as Regina, where the effects of the pressure of the government of one particular province will be much greater than they would be if the representation were from all the provinces.
Lastly I desire to point out that it is a little difficult to understand why such surprise should be manifested at objection being taken to the appointment of a new official in the person of John Vallance to administer this very important act. It was suggested that the preceding government had been guilty of appointing members of parliament, and a very strong attack was made on one gentleman who was appointed from this house to the position he now holds. If we take the language of the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) on a former occasion, if one can believe the reports that sometimes filter through with respect to caucuses, the hon. members for Saskatoon (Mr. Young) and Moose Jaw (Mr. Ross) were not uncertain in their expressions of disapproval of Mr. Campbell on one occasion at that very important gathering known as the caucus. These are reports and rumours which merely filter through, and to which too much importance must not attach. The fact that in the
Farm Rehabilitation-Mr. Ross (Moose Jaw)
appointment of Mr. Campbell it was provided that he could not be a candidate in an election apparently has been overlooked. But it is established beyond question that the gentleman appointed to administer this act resides within the area, and it has been rumoured- of course once more we must not attach too much importance to rumour-that he is not unwilling to be a candidate at a succeeding election. The manifest unfairness, therefore, if that should happen, of his being concerned in the administration of this act, must be painfully apparent to most of us.
I merely refer at this time to these objections to the measure in order that there may be no question as to the position we have taken, not out of ill will towards any individual but because it is a departure from what I conceive to be a sound principle. The possibility of an appointee again being a candidate in the area in which he is coming into such close contact with the people is something that was safeguarded in the Tariff Board Act by providing that members of that board who retired from office could not for a period of years be candidates in succeeding elections. The other point I have endeavoured to make is that it is detrimental to the public interest that those who serve without compensation or emolument should be humiliated by being publicly removed from office by statute. That is all that I desire to say, because I realize the desirability, on third reading of a measure, of being scrupulously careful not to go beyond the general statements that were made during the discussion of the measure in committee.