Walter David BAKER

BAKER, The Hon. Walter David, P.C., Q.C.

Parliamentary Career

October 30, 1972 - May 9, 1974
PC
  Grenville--Carleton (Ontario)
  • Progressive Conservative Party Deputy House Leader (September 21, 1973 - February 24, 1976)
  • Deputy House Leader of the Official Opposition (September 21, 1973 - February 24, 1976)
July 8, 1974 - March 26, 1979
PC
  Grenville--Carleton (Ontario)
  • Progressive Conservative Party Deputy House Leader (September 21, 1973 - February 24, 1976)
  • Deputy House Leader of the Official Opposition (September 21, 1973 - February 24, 1976)
  • Progressive Conservative Party House Leader (February 25, 1976 - March 26, 1979)
  • Official Opposition House Leader (February 25, 1976 - March 26, 1979)
May 22, 1979 - December 14, 1979
PC
  Nepean--Carleton (Ontario)
  • President of the Privy Council (June 4, 1979 - March 2, 1980)
  • Minister of National Revenue (June 4, 1979 - March 2, 1980)
  • Leader of the Government in the House of Commons (October 9, 1979 - December 14, 1979)
  • Progressive Conservative Party House Leader (October 9, 1979 - December 14, 1979)
February 18, 1980 - July 9, 1984
PC
  Nepean--Carleton (Ontario)
  • President of the Privy Council (June 4, 1979 - March 2, 1980)
  • Minister of National Revenue (June 4, 1979 - March 2, 1980)
  • Progressive Conservative Party House Leader (April 14, 1980 - September 8, 1981)
  • Official Opposition House Leader (April 14, 1980 - September 8, 1981)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1406 of 1408)


January 29, 1973

Mr. Walter Baker (Grenville-Carleton):

I have a question for the Minister of Finance, Mr. Speaker. Is it the intention of the government to present to the committee on food prices its contingency plan for price and wage controls so that the committee will be able to rule and judge whether it will be an effective plan if and when the government decides to bring in wage and price controls?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   FOOD PRICES
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January 29, 1973

Mr. Baker:

That government is well known for its responsiveness to the needs of the people and its ethics in public dealings are beyond approach. It has examined the subject; it examined it with respect to Ontario Hydro. The hydroelectric commission of Ontario was the forerunner of the types of publicly-owned utilities that have met the needs of the people of Canada. It is a very important element in our life and contributes to the well-being of the community.

The Ontario government tried the experiment; it still does it. A number of members of the legislature of Ontario still sit on the board, and they have been criticized for that. The critics say that the very thing the hon. member for Cochrane said is good is, in their minds, bad. The critics say that such appointments have introduced to the administration and operation of that kind of commission a political input which has no place there. Of course, I am satisfied that if the government saw fit to accept the generous suggestion of the hon. member for Cochrane and appointed members of the opposition to the boards of commissions and corporations of the federal government, that kind of input would not take place. However, as a member of this House I would be very much concerned if only my colleagues on the other side of the House found themselves on such boards of commissions and corporations.

Speaking as a member who represents a riding touching the national capital area, there is one matter that disturbs me. In his speech this afternoon the hon. member for Cochrane, I believe, referred to the civil servants of this country being a group of mandarins. He implied that it is bad to appoint a person to membership on a board of a Crown corporation or agency merely because that person is a public servant.

The hon. member for Cochrane implies there are not, within the public service of this country, sufficient men and women of objectivity to handle the public affairs of these corporations engaged in business, I think this is a dangerous doctrine. He spoke of what he called public service patronage. I do not know what he meant by that, but I should like to remind him that his hon. friend the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Sharp) served in the public service of Canada and that other members sitting on the front benches opposite served in the public service of Canada.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS MOTIONS
Subtopic:   FINANCE
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January 29, 1973

Mr. Walter Baker (Grenville-Carleton):

Mr. Speaker, the subject matter that is before us during this private member's hour is an interesting one, although when you look

at the terms of the motion before us you find that it is a verry broad one indeed. The hon. member says that he wants a special committee of inquiry on Crown corporations, and the hon. member for Cochrane (Mr. Stewart) as well as the hon. member who moved the motion, seemed to imply that it is to be a special committee of this House. However, as I look upon the motion that is before us, I see that it could be much broader than that in its terms. It could include a special committee such as is brought in for other inquiries. I could think of the Rand Inquiry with respect to certain matters. I could think of the Bryden Committee, one formed for public service matters which, like so many other committees formed by the government, has never yet reported despite the repeated requests of members of this House.

There are many kinds of committees that could be envisaged within the terms of the motion. Unfortunately, the terms of reference are not clear as to what kind of committee the House would be dealing with in the event that it saw fit to pass the motion. However, the hon. member for Lotbiniere (Mr. Fortin) asked a very fundamental question with respect to Crown corporations. He asked: what business has the state in the business field? As I pondered that question I was looking at a document called "The Government of Canada Programs and Services" issued in July, 1972, by CCH Canada Limited. On page 417 of that document there is an appendix which sets forth certain Crown corporations. The list is intended to be exhaustive, but from what the hon. member says I am satisfied that there are many more than appear on this list.

I return now to the question of what business has the state in the business field. When one reads about the various types of Crown corporations, one can see how the state or government has entry into the business world, under the guise of a Crown corporation, in a way that is somewhat frightening. A Crown corporation, Mr. Speaker, is a form of public enterprise which has become increasingly important as this type of institution has developed. As you know, Sir, Crown corporations are established and regulated under the Financial Administration Act which defines a Crown corporation as a corporation that is accountable to parliament, through the minister, for the conduct of its affairs.

Generally speaking, there are three classes of Crown corporations. First, there is the departmental corporation which is a servant or agent of Her Majesty in right of Canada and is responsible for the administration, regulation or supervision of activities that are governmental in nature. I do not think there is much difficulty with that kind of Crown corporation or any problem with respect to intrusion into the private sector.

Second is the corporation which is an agent of Her Majesty in right of Canada and is responsible for the management of trading or surplus operations on a semicommercial basis, or for management, procurement, construction or disposal activities on behalf of Her Majesty in right of Canada. That kind of corporation, I think, has intruded into the business life of the community. Then there is the other type of corporation known as the proprietary corporation, which is responsible for the manage-

January 29, 1973

ment of lending or financing operations or for the management of commercial and industrial operations involving the production or the dealing in of goods and the supply of services to the public. The agency corporation normally is required to conduct its operations without federal appropriations. Whether Crown corporations conduct their operations with or without federal appropriations, they are none the less those kinds of corporations that bring themselves within the parameters of the question posed by the mover of the motion before the House.

Certainly, when there is an intrusion into business life and, more importantly, when this intrusion is occasioned on money provided from the public purse, there ought to be some agency set up for the control of those expenditures, to monitor the activities of those corporations and organizations. Two types of agencies have been suggested in this debate. The first is a special committee of this House or perhaps of both Houses. I hesitate to make this suggestion because the other place has suffered somewhat at the hands of this House. Such a committee is one suggestion. By this means there could be a reporting from time to time on a regular basis and the opportunity to call witnesses. Actually, Mr. Speaker, we have such rights at the moment.

I am a new member of this parliament. I first came to this chamber of January 4, 1973. Before coming I read, in preparation, some committee proceedings involving an agency of government, the National Capital Commission, which is near and dear to my heart and to those in the constituency I have the honour to represent. That commission came before a committee of this House to have its estimates examined. The chairman of the commission, Mr. Douglas Fullerton, and the responsible minister through whom that commission reports to this House were examined by members of the committee composed of representatives from all sides of the House. I admit that that committee examination was not searching because there was general agreement in the community and committee over the objects and methods of operation of the National Capital Commission. So to those who say that this kind of reporting does not take place, I say that it does.

I am satisfied that as a result of the work of the hon. member and his eloquence in putting forward his motion to the House, the matter will be given consideration and these rights will perhaps be expanded. It is not true to suggest, however, with all respect, that there is not examination by committees. The other method of reporting was that put forward by the hon. member for Cochrane who suggested-it was an interesting suggestion, perhaps new in this House-that a Member of Parliament should be appointed to sit on each of the boards of directors of Crown corporations and Crown organizations. He even suggested, and this was indeed a novel departure, that the government of the day-of this day, I assume-ought to appoint a member of one of the opposition parties to sit on such boards.

Let me say that if this is another deathbed repentance or another lesson learned from the election, I as a member of the House and of the opposition welcome the generous suggestion and look forward to an appointment to one of

Crown Corporations

the boards or commissions so that I may enjoy, with hont members on the other side of the House, the fees, honorariums and honours which would come from serving on the distinguished boards of various Crown agencies. But that has been tried in Ontario. The government of Ontario is in the firmament among the governments of this country; it is known for its progressive legislation.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS MOTIONS
Subtopic:   FINANCE
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January 29, 1973

Mr. Baker:

The late Mr. Lester Pearson served in the public service of Canada. Indeed, the present Prime Min-

January 29, 1973

Crown Corporations

ister (Mr. Trudeau) did so. Mind you, he served in a mysterious capacity. But he served. The hon. member for Cochrane says he served as well. I am not sure whether this was an enhancement of the public service or not. Nevertheless, public servants, merely because they are public servants, should not be deprived of the right to serve on boards of directors and to serve the public in this particular way.

Let us not hear talk in this debate of patronage. Unless I missed the point completely, the hon. member for Cochrane was speaking of patronage and as a member of a party which is a pastmaster of patronage. I want to remind him that a former member of this House, the former hon. member for Lanark-Renfrew-Carleton is now an executive assistant. Who would have thought that a preacher and an agriculturalist would become an expert on the Post Office? But he is now executive assistant to the Postmaster General (Mr. Ouellet). It is an odd coincidence that all the problems of the Postmaster General seem to coincide with the arrival of that former Member of Parliament and another defeated candidate of the party, a man well known to me, another member of the club by the name of Mr. Gervis Black, the man who ran, and lost at Leeds, has found his way into the public service. So when there is such an opportunity for people to serve in various capacities, it seems to me that members of the public service ought not to be excluded from the boards of these corporations as the hon. member suggested. On the contrary, I think it is important that they be included.

The motion before us says, among other things, that the committee should study, without restriction, the legal rules pertaining to employees of Crown corporations. If this proposition is carried to its fullest extent, the servants of these public bodies would not enjoy the reasonable protection which is accorded public servants in the service of Canada, namely, that their affairs ought not to become the subject of debate on the floor of this House or in any committee.

The motion then goes on to say that the committee ought to examine fiscal regulations, municipal, school, provincial and federal taxes; and this is to be done without restriction. I have not been in this House long, but I have heard the discussions which have gone on among hon. members with respect to the British North America Act and the division which has been made among the jurisdictions of the various parliaments of this country. I do not believe it would be appropriate for this House to consider a resolution whose effect might well be to infringe upon the time-honoured restrictions which the BNA Act imposes.

This is not to say that these restrictions ought not to be continually examined or that provision ought not to be made, when found necessary, to meet the needs of the people of this country. But we ought not to pass anything which would upset the delicate balance which men of good will were able to put together in 1867 and which has served us reasonably well, with notable exceptions, since that day.

The motion then goes on to deal with the status of the administrators. I am a little at a loss to understand what that phrase really means. Does it mean that the committee

should consider whether or not management and administrators are to be examined to determine whether they ought not to enjoy the same status in the business world as persons who, let us say, work for the T. Eaton Company or for Domtar? Does it mean that there are to be rules and regulations for the management of Crown corporations so that they cannot function?

What does the motion mean when it goes on in the next paragraph to say that the committee should examine "the privileges of such corporations resulting from their being 'commissioned by Her Majesty'." As I read the statutes, they are subject to the law. They can be sued and they can themselves bring suits. They are subject to all actions in the courts. If this is not the case, an amendment ought to be made immediately to ensure that they are.

The hon. member then goes on to deal with their purchasing policy. Is he advocating the placing of restrictions upon Crown corporations? Is he saying they ought to buy Canadian goods as opposed to goods from countries abroad?

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS MOTIONS
Subtopic:   FINANCE
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January 29, 1973

Mr. Walter Baker (Grenville-Carleton):

Mr. Speaker, on January 16 I asked a question of the President of the Treasury Board (Mr. Drury) with respect to the amendment of statutes affecting the employment of public servants and the legislative priority of those amendments, as reported at p^age 331 of Hansard. The question arose as a result of representations made to me by public servants who expressed concern over the fact that the public service staff association had in 1971 made extensive representations to the legislative review committee chaired by John G. Dryden, wherein there were many suggestions made with respect to changes in public service legislation. That occurred in 1971.

In the intervening period many questions have been placed on the order paper and many questions asked in this House as to when there might be some report on the matter and some legislative enactment. At last in the Speech from the Throne at the beginning of the present session, there was brief reference to the amending of those two statutes which affect the working conditions of public servants. The questions having been asked, the minister replied:

I cannot do more than give assurance that amendments will be introduced this session. I will discuss the precise timing with the House leader.

A similar answer was given to the supplementary asked at that time. In view of the delays, and in view of the great number of public servants in the national capital area and other areas who are anxious to know the answer to this question, it is important to raise it. They want to know, for instance, the limits on arbitration, the limits on negotiation, the resolution of the problem respecting redundant employees, the classification of employees and the standards, norms and rules that would apply; who will be prohibited from collective bargaining and who will not be. Then there is the whole question of managerial employees and confidentiality of certain procedures. There is also the matter of appropriate procedures with respect to the settlement of arbitrations and disputes.

The question of the appropriate procedure with respect to settlement of arbitration, the concepts of retraining because of the introduction of new technology, the whole question of delegation of authority, all of these are important and a large segment of the public service has been waiting a long time for answers. I expressed to the Clerk of the House my feeling that I was not satisfied with the answer given and that there ought to be a statement made by the minister telling us when these matters would be brought forward.

In addition to the budget surplus generally, there is the whole question of the House of Commons staff, the Senate staff, the Governor General's staff, staff locally engaged abroad and all other staffs which have to deal with an employer but which, unfortunately, cannot deal with him on a proper basis with duly qualified representation. I ask the parliamentary secretary whether he is able at this time to give a precise answer. I hope he will tell me that he has consulted the President of the Treasury Board (Mr. Drury) who in turn has consulted the government House leader, and that he comes into the chamber prepared to give a precise answer to questions which so many public servants are asking.

It seems to me the federal government should be the leader and point the way to industry and other governments as to what is the proper relationship and balance. This question was asked so that the matter could be brought forward at the earliest possible date. I would appreciate hearing from the parliamentary secretary, and look forward, as do so many public servants, to hearing that after the unemployment insurance legislation public service matters are next on the list to be dealt with.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   PUBLIC SERVICE-AMENDMENT OF STATUTES AFFECTING EMPLOYMENT-LEGISLATIVE PRIORITY
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