March 11, 1921 (13th Parliament, 5th Session)


Lucien Cannon

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LUCIEN CANNON (Dorchester) :

Before the hon. gentleman who has introduced the resolution either withdraws it or puts it to the decision of the House, I wish to offer a few remarks on the subject with which it deals. I cannot support the resolution because I contend that it is vicious in principle and unfounded in fact. The assertion that it is vicious in principle I base upon the remarks that have been made by previous speakers during this debate. There is no doubt that a Civil Service which is to offer the required standard of efficiency should be a service altogether outside of the evils of patronage. This has been recognized in every truly civilized country. It has been recognized for years in Great Britain. The system has been introduced in the United States recently, and, so far as Canada is concerned, this reform, as in the case of practically every other great reform in this country, was first talked of and then put upon our statute books by the Liberal party, under the leadership of the late Sir Wilfrid Laurier. The reform of the Civil Service
in regard to patronage is, therefore, I say, a good one, and this legislation aiming at its abrogation is vicious in principle. I said that the resolution was not only vicious in principle, but that it was, as regards the present Government, unfounded in fact, and I will explain that contention. I see no reason why Government supporters on the other side of the House should complain that political patronage has been taken from their hands. Every day, every month, every year since 1911, and particularly since 1917, political patronage has been rampant. It has blossomed and has flourished under the present system. No appointment of any importance has been made in this country except through political patronage, and only appointments of no importance have been left to the Civil Service Commission. The reason for this is quite obvious. Why, even when a law is being introduced in this Parliament, we find patronage prevails. If it provides for appointments to important positions carrying with them fat salaries, in most cases a clause is inserted in the Act, and special provision is made in the estimates, providing that the appointment shall not be subject to the Civil Service Act.
I do not wish to detain the House very long, I merely desire to say this further: Not only on general lines has this Government preserved and maintained the system of patronage, but in the province of Quebec especially, patronage has always existed since 1911. And when I was listening to the hon. gentleman who spoke of the Department of Justice I was wondering if he really wanted to be serious or whether he was trying to be humorous. In the cities of Montreal and Quebec, in every city of importance in that province, not an* appointment is made in any branch of the service without the political leaders supporting the Government being consulted. We all know that. My hon. friend from Quebec East (Mr. Lapointe) has referred to judicial appointments. The judiciary in our province is highly respected, and that is because it deserves to be respected. I desire to say, however, that as far as the Minister of Justice is concerned, since he has had to choose the judges in our province his choice in the majority of cases has been most happy. I therefore do not wish to offer any criticism, but simply to call attention to one instance which shows that even when appointments to the very highest posts are made politics are not excluded.

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