March 24, 1944 (19th Parliament, 5th Session)


Frédéric Dorion


Mr. FREDERIC DORION (Charlevoix-Saguenay):

I should like to make a few remarks on this bill, not to oppose it, because I believe it is an opportune measure, and I cannot refrain from congratulating the Minister of Justice (Mr. St. Laurent) upon having presented it, because it will help the administration of justice.
The other day, when this bill was read for the first time, a suggestion was made by the hon. member for York-Sunbury (Mr. Hanson), which, I think, deserves special attention, and this suggestion has been repeated to-night by the leader of the opposition (Mr. Graydon).
Since 1930, divorce cases in all provinces except Quebec and Prince Edward Island have been decided by the local courts. I must state right away that, whatever one might think or say about the province of Quebec, we will never consent to have divorce cases decided by our provincial courts. But, instead of having cases come before parliament, I wonder

whether, with the nomination of one more judge to the exchequer court, this is not the proper time to study the question of extending the jurisdiction of this court to divorce cases.
It would be necessary to make special provisions regarding this kind of cases, and I think we Catholics would be ready to accept such a suggestion, provided-and I must insist on this point-a case could not be heard when the petitioner is a Catholic unless he can produce leave to proceed which has been granted him by the bishop of the diocese in which he has his domicile.
This suggestion would not interfere in any way with the rights of those who are not of the Catholic faith, and it could not then be opposed by anyone, because the only effect would be to restrain divorces of Catholics and help them to respect their faith, their religion.
I believe, Mr. Speaker, that if the Minister of Justice, who is a fervent Catholic, would discuss this matter with the religious and civil authorities of our province, something along that line might be done to enable the House of Commons to get rid of these bills which constitute a shameful burden in our statutes.
(Translation): Mr. Speaker, I wish to add a few words on this bill, and the appointment of an additional judge of the exchequer court. My remarks will, in a certain measure, support those made by the leader of the opposition (Mr. Graydon). As this hon. gentleman has stated a few moments ago, we have been fortunate so far in avoiding most of the dangers with which our method of appointing judges is fraught. The few mistakes we have made, in spite of all the precautions inherent with these nominations, are working to the prejudice of those who avail themselves of our courts of justice. Consequently, I believe we should attempt to prevent the appointment of judges who would not prove equal to the task. In my opinion we can never be too careful in this connection. One method would offer some guarantee in this matter. The government could ask the bar associations of the various provinces to supply, at the beginning of each judicial year, a list of lawyers whom they consider as competent to sit on the bench of the superior court or any other provincial or federal courts including the exchequer court. I feel this is about the only way to prevent unqualified persons from being appointed and I claim that this would help, as nothing else could, to restore the coat of arms of our courts of justice to its former lustre and give our citizens the guarantee to which they are entitled in connection with the dispensation of justice.

Exchequer Court Act

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