Thomas Wilson Crothers
You never contended that it ought to be abolished. I do not think that any hon. gentleman on the other side has ever suggested that the Government should not appoint a judge, one of the most important officers in the country. Have hon. gentlemen opposite ever contended that the Government should not appoint judges or senators by Order in Council? So that my hon. friends will see that patronage has not been abolished in toto, and there has never been any suggestion from either side o'f the House that it should be. This Government has exercised the power of appointing returning officers for fifty years. The Dominion Government, Liberal or Conservative as the case might be, has been responsible in the matter, and on the whole the system has worked perfectly satisfactorily. As my hon. friend, the Acting Solicitor General (Mr. Guthrie) has said, there has been only one case in the history of Canada where a man appointed returning officer for a constituency did not rise to the occasion and act honestly and with integrity between the two political parties, and that was in the case of West Elgin, the constituency which I have the honour to represent. That returning oflicer was appointed sheriff by the Liberal Government of Ontario, and he took an active part in defrauding the electors of that constituency of their choice of candidate to represent them in the legislature of the province of Ontario, and for that fraudulent conduct he was dismissed. So far as I know, from my own experience, that is the only instance in our history in which a returning officer failed to discharge his duties faithfully and well. Do we propose now, after the lapse of fifty years, to abolish a system that has worked exceedingly well? By whatever government, Liberal or Conservative, men have been appointed, there has been no question except, in that one case, of the intelligence and integrity of the appointee. What do my hon. friends say in substance? They say that the Dominion Government at Ottawa, either Liberal or Conservative, cannot be trusted to select a man to act as returning officer in any particular constituency, but we can implicitly trust a man named by the province of British Columbia, say. It is all right to appoint a sheriff nominated by the Government of Manitoba; it is all right to appoint a registrar of deeds appointed
by the Government of Nova Scotia or the Government of New Brunswick; but it is absolutely wrong for this Government to appoint any man. Any Provincial Government, no matter whether it be Liberal or Conservative, can safely be trusted to appoint a sheriff, a registrar of deed, a collector of customs, or a postmaster. They will all do; they are all intelligent; they are all honest. And there were three or four hon. gentlemen on the other side who took this view yesterday. The hon. member who moved the amendment said he knew a Conservative in Nova Scotia who had held a public office for forty-three years and who was a man of great intelligence and absolute integrity; and having served the public for forty-three years he was still a Conservative and an intelligent and honest man.