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

?

The MINISTER OF FINANCE.

Yes, and he can stop my hon. friend's indemnity. The power of the Auditor General is a power to obstruct, but he has not the power to spend a copper, and therefore no constitutional principle is violated when we say that he should be an independent officer. But it would be an invasion of all true constitutional principles to say that a great body, having power to spend many millions of public money, should not be responsible to this government and parliament. When we create a commission, we create a condition somewhat different from that of an ordinary official to a certain extent. While an ordinary official In one of the departments is immediately under the minister's direction, you do not exactly have the same relations with a commission. There is a degree of independence in the latter, and so far as that degree goes, it is for the public convenience and good; but if you want to carry that to the point of saying that these commissioners, charged with the expenditure of vast sums, are to be altogether independent of government, so that they can carry on their own sweet will, that is not a doctrine consistent with true constitutional principles. The situation is that while you employ gentlemen of ability and independence to do the work, if at any moment their conduct is inconsistent with the public interest, you have the power to remove them.

Topic:   NATIONAL TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILWAY.
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