September 15, 1903 (9th Parliament, 3rd Session)

CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

The government have adopted the policy of appointing commissioners for the determination of a great many questions which ought to be determined by the government itself. What is the object of creating a commission, which must be a very expensive machinery, in connection with the construction of this road which is an

attribute of the government We want to know what the expense is going to be. We want to know what will be the status of these commissioners. The object of the creation of a commission ought be to make it independent of the government, but that is not so in this case. These three commissioners hold office during pleasure and their appointment is revokable at the will of the government. They are absolutely under the control of the government, holding no greater measure of independence than any employee of the Railway Department. We have already incurred an expense, which the ex-Minister of Railways and Canals has estimated at $100,000 a year, for the commission under the Railway Act. It will cost us that large sum yearly to carry out the duties which were formerly assigned to the Minister of Railways and Canals and the Railway Committee of the Privy Council, a body immediately responsible to the people or their representatives. And, although, from time to time, we have heard some complaint as to the decisions of the Railway Committee of the Privy Council, yet they created no more dissatisfaction than the decisions of our ordinary tribunals. The government burdened the country with an expense of $100,000 by creating that commission. We have had appointed a transportation commission to solve the transportation problem, which the government say they have now solved by this Grand Trunk Pacific scheme. That is going to cost the country at the very least, $100,000 a year more. I claim that the question of transportation, as well as the question of the building of this railway, should be studied, solved, decided on, and carried out by the government itself.
That is the old constitutional principle, that the government should decide these questions-that their execution should be confided to the cabinet, which is simply an executive committee of the representatives of the people in this House. Here are two important commissions created, contrary, I submit, to the old constitutional traditions, and they are going to cost us $200,000 a year ; and now here is a third commission. Three commissions revocable at will, and what are they going to cost us ? Surely we are entitled to know that, now that we are proceeding on this e%dl policy of confiding to commissioners the carrying out of questions which ought to be in the hands of the government directly responsible to the House. We are creating a third commission, which, I venture to say, will cost the country nearly $100,000 a year more ; and my hon. friend the acting Minister of Railways seems to treat the questions which we have raised under the clauses of this Bill with a little levity. He says the government will consider the question of salaries later. As we were informed with respect to the other commissions, I think we are entitled to know now how much Mr. MONK.
this commission is going to cost, and if it is a body which will hold office during pleasure. My view is that it is better for the government to carry out the construction itself, with proper officers and capable engineers, and that that method, which will conform to the real principles of administration under our constitution, will cost us iufinitely less than this commission, which will be a body entirely under the control of the government, and having no more independence than any other employees. It seems to me that we are entitled to have some information as to the machinery of this commission and its cost.

Topic:   NATIONAL TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILWAY.
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