March 5, 1914 (12th Parliament, 3rd Session)


David Arthur Lafortune



I know very well that the hon. gentleman would not knowingly deceive us. But I lay down in the abstract that no one should be dismissed before a thorough enquiry has been made, and not on a mere affidavit addressed to the minister, or on a solemn declaration, which deprives the accused of all chance of vindicating himself. O tempora, o mores! Is it not generally admitted that the greatest criminal has the right to be heard? I say that under British rule such a thing should not be tolerated. It is to be regretted that the spirit of partisanship should exact such reprisals. If the poor man had been given an opportunity to defend himself, the minister would not likely have taken the stand he did take.
Mr. Wilfrid McBeth, of Montreal a friend of mine of forty years' acquaintance, has been dismissed. I am in a position to state that he never interferred in politics, and if an opportunity had been given to him it would have been an easy matter for him to clear himself of the charges. Knowing as I do the kindly disposition of the Minister of Inland Revenue, I am .satisfied that some influence has been brought to bear upon him and that he has been deceived. When a political friend is anxious to get a job and is informed that there is none available, the minister says: I would only be too glad to help you, you have made sacrifices, try and find out something and we will give it to you. That man starts out and, under the spur of necessity, demands the dismissal of a political opponent.
Before resuming my seat, I shall request the hon. minister to seriously consider the smaller salaries, the starvation wages with which a large number of Government men, temporary employees who have been in the service for a period of fifteen or twenty years, have to be content. When a member is absent for reasons of health, and is unable to get his indemnity, right away some enactment is made and the member,
often a rich man, who could dispense with the money, gets his full pay. This House passes a Bill to assist a member of Parliament. Why should we not do the same to assist these ill-paid Government employees? The country is prosperous. I should even like to see the members' indemnity increased, and the ministers themselves increase their salaries, which would be only right.
If it is deemed necessary, on account of the high cost of living, to increase salaries everywhere in every department, let us not forget the small wage earner; wealthy men are able to look after themselves. People in ill-paid positions have no one to protect them, they are dependent on their daily earnings, they live from hand to mouth, and a mere casualty, a loss of employment through illness, for instance, may deprive them of their home; they are sued by the baker, the butcher, the grocer, and they do not enjoy such protection as is afforded to permanent officers, because they are mere temporary employees.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Subtopic:   THOMAS LEGARE,
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