Mr. ROCH LANCTOT:
Mr. Chairman, I regret that the hon. gentleman who just resumed his seat (Mr. Lamarche) should have concurred in the views expressed by the hon. member for Rouville. I must say right away that I am wholly opposed to any increase of salary for the judges, because, to my mind, they are already getting too much for the work performed in the country's behalf.
the Superior Court judges of the district of Montreal are getting just now salaries of $7,000 or $8,000 per annum, and I was not a little surprised at hearing the memorandum of the judges of the district of Quebec which the hon. member for Rouville has just read to the House. When complaints are being voiced as regards the high cost of living on behalf of people who earn $7,000 per annum, it strikes me as something laughable. I admit that in the case of a poor workingman earning from $1.25 to $1.50 per day, the high cost of
living may be made a consideration towards obtaining an increase of his salary, but such considerations cannot be urged in the case of people earning from $7,000 to $8,000 per annum.
As a matter of fact are there not in the province of Quebec retired judges who get more as pensioners of the State than they earned while on the Bench?
That question was never taken up before the Canadian electorate, and I intend during the next recess of Parliament to carry on a campaign against the increase of such salaries throughout the province of Quebec, whatever may be thought of it by hon. gentlemen who belong to the profession. In this connection, I put both political parties exactly on the same plane; hon. gentlemen on either side are always ready to rise in this House and. defend the privileges of the upper set; they remain silent when the rights of the common people are in jeopardy.
We have in the province of Quebec fifteen retired judges; out of that number, three get $8,000 per annum, though they earned only $5,000 while on the bench. That makes $3,000 more per annum than during their term of office, that is to say, they get $3,000 more per annum for doing nothing.
How could it be otherwise, when we have as Minister of Justice a retired judge in person? Of course, it may be that the law makers who provided such increases had their own cases in mind. In 1905, the then Minister of Justice was Mr. Fitzpatrick. The .salary of the Chief Justice was increased to $12,000, and he was on the point of himself going over to the Supreme Court.
I was listening the other day to the hon. Minister of Inland Revenue (Mr. Nantel) when he acknowledged that there were in his department poor people earning from $500 to $600 per annum as temporary clerks, for the past fifteen or twenty years; and he added that he did not see his way to granting them any increase. Besides, he said, if they are not content with that, there are hundreds of people who are ready to take their places.
Do you suppose, Mr. Chairman, that in the event of the judges of the province of Quebec resigning to-morrow, on the ground of insufficient remuneration of their services, it would be found impossible to replace them? I can assure you, Sir, that there are on the other .side of the
House some hon. gentlemen-I "have a certain number of them in front of me who, having deceived their electors at the last elections, would be very glad to slip into those vacancies. It would not take me a half-hour to fill in the gaps.
As for me, and I speak on behalf of the farming community which I represent here, I say that the latter class is unaware of all that is going on; and in this connection I may tell you of an incident which occurred in the course of my last electoral journey. I was addressing a meeting at St. Michael de Napierville, and in conclusion was pointing out the case of the hon. Minister of Justice, who is at one and the same time a pensioner of the State, Minister of Justice and member of Parliament. On these various heads, I told them, he is drawing three salaries. After the meeting some Conservative electors came to me saying: You have not stated the truth; the Minister of Justice can not be a State pensioner. I ascended the hustings once more and told them: Go and inquire from Mr. Patenaude, the local member for Laprairie (a staunch Conservative), and if he does not confirm what I have just stated to you, I undertake to give up my mandate. Those people would not believe me.
Now, I would like to know from the Minister of Justice whether he intends applying on my behalf to the Prime Minister for an opportunity to discuss the Bill I have on the Order paper in reference to the matter we are considering just now?
The contention is that there are not enough judges in Montreal; I know the reason, and I am going to tell you what it is. Our Montreal judges, like those in other parts, often suffer from slight headaches and travel for the benefit of their health. Several of them even cross over to Europe every year. While they are on such trips their salaries are by no means cut down. But take a poor customs officer, if he be sick two days in succession, he must show a doctor's certificate-which costs some money-to draw his salary. What I now state is a fact; many a time I have witnessed such things while I was sitting on the Government side.
I stated that a judge, even in the event of a six months' absence in Europe, draws his full salary. But that is not the whole story; should he be called upon to act as chairman of a commission of enquiry, or
to fill some other office apart from his judicial functions, he draws $50 per diem besides his salary as a judge which continues to run.
That is the kind of justice which is meted out to us farmers and workingmen.
I say that the time is near when we will show our resentment of such grievances.
Quite recently, in this House, when we urged cutting off the duties on agricultural implements, the objection was raised that we would no longer have sufficient revenue to meet tire expenditure incident on Civil government. To that I answer: Let us begin with the judges,, let us cut off, to begin with, the pension of the Minister of Justice-whom I see just now occupying a seat opposite. That pension amounts to $4,666.66. Mr. Chairman, that sum is surely equal to the net revenue of forty-six farmers in my constituency?
Let us now compare the pensions paid to judges in Ontario and in Quebec. Fifteen judges in Quebec are the recipients of nearly $100,000. In Ontario, one judge gets $7,000, two get $2,500 and one gets $.3,000. The comparison is greatly in favour of Ontario. I may add that the Ontario judges remain on the Bench until 83 years of age. Indeed, there are judges in that province who might have asked to be retired eight years ago, and who have not done so yet.
In conclusion, I shall once more inquire from the Government whether an opportunity will be given me to discuss in this House the Bill which I referred to a moment ago? Should the Government stand aloof in this connection, I shall undertake to myself go through the province of Quebec and discuss the question against any lawyer appealing to the electorate.