April 4, 1922 (14th Parliament, 1st Session)


Lewis Herbert Martell



In reference to the departmental solicitor, while I quite agree with a great deal the hon. ex-minister (Mr. Guthrie) has said, I think it is a matter of great convenience to the departments to have their solicitors in the building where the department is situated. Very often

matters come up which are purely of local interest to the department. They are not establishing any new point of law. For instance in the Department of Marine and Fisheries there are cases Where a contract has to be drawn as regards the collection of spawn for salmon breeding purposes, or there are cases Where they have to draw a short contract between some people who are collecting the spawn, or short term leases. Probably these contracts will expire in six months or a year, and the deputy minister or the official concerned can go to the solicitor in that particular department, give instructions to him and have him draw the document, whereas if the department had to take these matters to the Department of Justice they would remain there for five or six weeks before any reply would be given, and sometimes the contract would not be entered into because it was too late. Moreover the Department of Justice, if it has not improved very much of late years, has no officer who is fully qualified to deal with particular branches of the law. They may have no officers who are qualified upon the law relating to marine and fisheries. The law official for the Marine and Fisheries Department should be thoroughly conversant with maritime law. I think there have been cases where the decision of the Department of Marine and Fisheries has been at variance with the decision of the Department of Justice, and the Department of Justice has over-ruled the Department of Marine and Fisheries. The matter has been pressed by the Department of Marine and Fisheries with the result that the Department of Justice has had to admit it was absolutely wrong. I think it is most absurd that a man in the Marine and Fisheries Department who is qualified in regard to maritime law should be compelled to submit his opinion to the Department of Justice perhaps to a man who from the maritime point of view would be termed a "land-lubber." The majority of those in the Department of Justice do not know the stern of a boat from the bow, the keelson from the keel, or larboard from starboard. They are not expected to know, because the majority of them were trained in law schools, or in portions of the country where shipping is not an important thing. I think, therefore, that it is a very good practice to have in the different departments as solicitors men who are well qualified and Well acquainted with the branch of the law which
is apt to come under the cognizance of that particular department, and I believe that is the reason why the conditions which obtained in the past as regards departmental solicitors still continue. They have obtained for the past twenty years, but if the hon. gentleman's views are to prevail then it should be a condition precedent that the Department of Justice allocate to the different departments men who are thoroughly qualified to deal with the particular phase of law applicable to the department to which they are allocated.

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