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

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The PRIME MINISTER.

If our hon. friends on the other side object to the commission being appointed why do not they act according to their words ? Why should their opposition be confined to words ? Who on that side of the House has objected to the appointment of the railway commission to take the place of the Railway Committee of the Privy Council ? The appointment of that commission has been advocated by my hon. friend (Mr. Maclean) for years and years ; and when the Bill under which it was to he appointed, was before the House, the hon. gentleman did not object. If the hon. gentleman does not like government by commission, why did he advocate the appointment of that commission on this floor year after year ? What sense is there,

after tlie Bill has been passed, largely at his own suggestion, in objecting to this as government by commission ? The whole country, if we are to believe the Toronto * World ' was clamouring for this commission. And, now that we are satisfying the whole country, the hon. gentleman is not pleased, and says that this is government by commission. A man .must have some sense after all. Now, as regards the commission which is now under discussion, are hon. gentlemen opposite for it or against it ? If they are for it, let them say so ; if they are against it, let them say so. But they dare not say either. I understand the position of my hon. friend from Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk). I can foresee the speeches that he will make in the province of Quebec by and by-' Commissions which are going to cost lots of money, and the ministers are not doing their work.'
Here Is a commission which has been appointed and created largely at the instigation of the opposition, represented by the hon. member for East York (Mr. Maclean), and it is going to cost a lot of money. But if we had not appointed that commission we would have had the same gentleman from East York now blaming us for not appointing a commission ; while now that we have created it, he is still blaming us. Evidently we cannot satisfy him. Now, the hon. member for Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk) is condemning our policy of controlling the commission contemplated in this Bill. He says he wants them to be independent, as the judges and the Auditor General are, for the reason, he says, that the judges are responsible to parliament. This is a new doctrine for a gentleman to teach who, I understand, is a professor in Laval University, a professor, if I mistake not, of constitutional law. It is a strange doctrine for him to preach that the judges are responsible to parliament. Where is that responsibility ? I have always understood that the judges were responsible only to their own conscience, and parliament has no power over them. True, they can be removed, but only on an address of both Houses of parliament. That law has been adopted to make them absolutely independent of parliament, and they are only responsible to parliament in extreme cases of malfeasance, which cases are determined and settled by an address of both houses of parliament. My hon. friend now asks-I am sure he will not move in that direction-but he puts forward the idea that these commissioners which we are going to appoint should be responsible the same as judges are, that is to say, should be removable only by an address voted by the Senate and House of Commons. Here are commissioners which will have the spending of $30,000,000 or $40,000,000 perhaps, who will be absolutely independent. They might make a vicious contract, and yet parliament cannot pass a vote of censure upon them ; all that parliament can do is to remove them by a vote of the Senate and House of Commons. Well, if my hon. friend is serious in that proposition, let him move an amendment, but until he moves such an amendment, he will permit me to say that we cannot take his proposition seriously.

Topic:   NATIONAL TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILWAY.
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