July 10, 1908 (10th Parliament, 4th Session)


Allen Bristol Aylesworth (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)



The question raised by the hon. gentleman is one to which a good deal of consideration has been given. Not long since a memorial on the subject was presented and I must concede that so far as my own views are concerned, I could not but recognize the justice of many of the representations with regard to the salaries of the circuit court in Montreal which were made in that memorial. The whole question of judicial salaries is, however, a very difficult one to deal with and a very awkward one to reopen. Judicial salaries were considered by this parliament only three years ago and a very considerable measure of increase given to nearly all of the judges throughout the Dominion. I cannot pretend that there are not some inequalities in those salaries and those who suffer from the inequalities think that there is lack of equity and lack of justice in the relative salaries as compared with the amount of work that falls on different courts or judges to do and press very strongly that recognition of their position should be had and some betterment of their salaries granted. Personally I am not willing so soon to open that troublesome question again. Inequalities, I am afraid, will always exist, even under the most careful revision that could possibly be made. We are, I think, and I suppose all lawyers think, not at present paying our judges enough, we are not getting throughout the country as good service as we could get if we paid better figures. I think that judicial service is just like any other service and that the cheaper you try to get it. the poorer the quality of the product. In that view I certainly should be better pleased if we could provide some considerable general increase to our judicial salaries. I am afraid, however, that that is not the sentiment of parliament and I doubt if it is the sentiment of the country. I am afraid the general view is that a lawyer is a lawyer and the cheaper you can get him, the better for your own pocket.

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