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


Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

Two additional judges are to he appointed in the province of Ontario. I am not familiar with judicial matters in that province and I do not know how far they may be necessary. But I would be inclined! to consider in connection with that increase the fact that one of the judges of the high court of that province is at present absent from his judicial duties, and is engaged in performing work on a commission in the Yukon. That would not seem to me to indicate that there is any present need of more judges in the province of Ontario, because I can hardly suppose that a judge would accept a post of that kind if there were any pressing need for the performance by him of his judicial duties in that province. It is a difficulty that we will have to meet iin some way in this country in the future. I do not know how we shall meet it. There are many judges in the Dominion of Canada at present who are fully paid, if not overpaid. I know of judges who are receiving salaries at the present timp greater than the average income that they ever earned at the bar. I know that some of these judges have not more than three or four months work to do in the entire year. Now, the increase of the salaries of these gentlemen is a matter not lightly to be undertaken. On the other hand, we have judges in the city of Montreal-I am relying on statements made to me by members of the bar in Montreal who tell me that the judges there are not only driven with work all the time, absolutely occupied from one end of the year to the other, but they are forced to maintain themselves on salaries that are absolutely inadequate in view of their position, in view of the necessity on their part of living in a certain style befitting that position.
That is not a matter that is easy to deal with and I do not know just what remedy we ought to adopt unless we undertake the task of discriminating in some way and that would be a very difficult task indeed, I know, for this parliament or for any government. But, it seems to me that something may possibly be done in this regard. Would it not be possible for the government to suggest to the governments of the provinces when they undertake to provide new judges whether or not the appointment is necessary ? We are not obliged to provide the salaries. This is a matter entirely within the control of the government and of this parliament and if the provincial government insist upon appointing judges, if this government has valid reason to believe that these additional judges are unnecessary, it may be desirable at some time in the future that the government should take upon itself the responsibility of declining to provide the salaries of judges who are appointed in addition to the number that is necessary. I agree entirely with what the hon. Minister of Justice has paid in regard to some of the judges. As to the other judges in the Dominion I do not agree with him, and I am inclined to think that he would agree with me in my contention that some are underworked and that some, I am almost inclined to say, are overpaid, while there are many others who are overworked and underpaid.

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