June 26, 1920

UNION

Michael Steele

Unionist

Mr. M. STEELE (South Perth) :

In view of the fact that all three members of the Board of Commerce have resigned, and that there is now no board in existence, is it still necessary that merchants and others shall ecuitinue to supply the reports demanded by the former members of the board, and especially the report of the monthly purchases and sales by retail grocers.

Topic:   THE BOARD OF COMMERCE.
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UNION

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Rt. Hon. Sir ROBERT BORDEN (Prime Minister):

My hon, friend is not quite ac-

curate in his estimate of the situation. Mr. O'Conmr's resignation does not take effect until the 30th day of the present month. Mr. Murdock's resignation will be accepted as soon as an opportunity can be afforded of making the necessary recommendation to His Excellency the Governor General. In the meantime, I should consider it highly iadviaaible ithait the merchants and1 either persons mentioned should continue to supply the reports as required.

, CIVIL SERVICE ACT AMENDMENT.

Topic:   THE BOARD OF COMMERCE.
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CONSIDERATION OF AMENDMENTS BY SENATE TO BILL 53.-OBSERVANCE OF HOLIDAYS.


The House proceeded Ito the further consideration of amendments made by the Senate to Bill No. 53, to amend the Civil Service Act, 1918, and the Civil Service Amendmenlt Act, 1919.


UNION

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Rt. Hon. Sir R. L. BORDEN (Prime Minister) :

When I moved the adjournment of *the debate last Wednesday, I had not then made research into the law as it stood before the Civil Service Act of 1918 was enacted, Or into the precise effect of the amendmenlt introduced by the Senate. Since then I have had opportunity of having a memorandum prepaired, which was submitted to me only to-day, and I think it is my duty ito state its purport to the House. ,There seems to be no general statute declaring tvhat shall he public holidays throughout Canada. The' following appears ,to he the present state of the laiw:

. First, there are holidays by common law, what are known ias common laiw holidays. These are Sundays, Good Friday and Christmas Day. In addition to that, there are public holidays so declared by statute- Dominion Day and Victoria Day. Other days, so far as they are observed as general public holidays, laire observed either as a .result of ia proclamation of the Governor General in Council or by custom.

The Revised Statutes of Canada, chapter 24, An Act Respecting the Public Revenue, prescribes in isection 91, certain public holidays for the officers .and persons employed in the collection land management of the revenue, as follows;

No day shall be kept as a public holiday by the officers and persons employed in the collection and management of the revenue, except Christmas Day, New Year's Day and Good Friday in every year, any day appointed by proclamation of the Governor General for the purpose of a general fast, or of a general thanksgiving, such days as are appointed for

the celebration of the birthday of His Majesty and 'His IRoyal successors, and any (other statutory holiday, and any other such days as are, from time to time appointed as holidays by the Governor in Council.

The Bills of Exchange Act, in section 43, declares Ithait in all mailers relating to Bills of Exchange certain days shall be observed as legal holidays and non-juridical dlays, as follows:

In all matters relating to bills of exchange the following, and no other days shall be observed as legal holidays or non-juridical days:

(a) In all provinces of Canada: Sundays,

New Year's Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Victoria Day, Dominion Day, Labour Day, Christmas Day.

The birthday (or the day fixed by proclamation for the celebration of the birthday) of the reigning sovereign;

Any day appointed by proclamation for a public holiday, or for a general fast, or a general thanksgiving throughout Canada.

The day next following New Year's Day, Christmas Day, Victoria Day, Dominion Day, and the birthday of the sovereign when such days respectively fall on Sunday.

(b) In the province of Quebec in addition to

the said days: Epiphany, The Ascension, All

Saints' Day, Conception Day.

(c) In any one of the provinces of Canada, any day appointed by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor of such province for a public holiday, or for a fast or thanksgiving within the same, and any non-juridical day by virtue of a statute of such province.

Topic:   CONSIDERATION OF AMENDMENTS BY SENATE TO BILL 53.-OBSERVANCE OF HOLIDAYS.
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L LIB

Henri Sévérin Béland

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BELAND:

Is the right hon. gentleman quoting from the statute?

Topic:   CONSIDERATION OF AMENDMENTS BY SENATE TO BILL 53.-OBSERVANCE OF HOLIDAYS.
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UNION

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

I am quoting, as I have said, from the Bills of Exchange Act. My hon. friend will observe that I have quoted from two statutes, first, from the Act respecting the Public Revenue, and secondly, from the Bills of Exchange Act.

The Interpretation Act, subsection 11 of section 34, defines holidays as follows:

(11) "holiday" includes Sundays, New Year's Day, the Epiphany, Good Friday, the Ascension, All Saints' Day, Conception Day, Easter Monday, Ash Wednesday, Christmas Day, the birthday or the day fixed by proclamation for the celebration of the birthday of the reigning sovereign, Victoria Day, Dominion Day, the first Monday in September, designated Labour Day, and any day appointed by proclamation for a general fast of thanksgiving.

Hon. gentlemen will observe that this is simply a definition of the word "holiday." It does not declare that these days are holidays, but it declares that when the word "holiday" is used in any statute it shall include the days which are enumerated in the subsection that I have just read.

Now, up to 1918 there was no provision in the Civil Service Act which made any of these days a public holiday. To bring

about any such result it would be necessary to find in the Civil Service Act a declaration that the civil servants were to be relieved of their duties on holidays, and no such provision whether by implication or otherwise was to be found in the Civil Service Act up to 1918. Therefore, I should like to point out to my hon. friends on the other side of the House who have raised this question, that up to that time, and indeed up to the present time, the arrangement with regard to religious holidays such as are mentioned here was entirely a mat>

ter of custom and of convention in Ottawa. The civil servants were not entitled to them as a matter of right, but they received the privilege as a matter of custom and of convention. I want to make that absolutely * plain to my hon. friends on the other side and to all the members of the House, because the effect of the Senate amendment is very closely related to that fact, which I believe to be undoubted, from the information supplied to me in the memorandum from which I have been quoting.

Now, in the Civil Service Act of 1918 we find this provision:

The deputy head may grant to each officer, clerk or other employee a yearly leave of absence for a period not exceeding eighteen days in any one fiscal year, exclusive of Sundays and holidays, after they have been at least one year in the service.

That provision as it appeared in the revised statutes of 1906, chapter 16, section 101, was as follows:

The head of a department may grant to each officer, clerk or other employee, leave of absence for purposes of recreation for a period not exceeding three weeks in each year.

My hon. friends will observe that in the section as it stood up to 1918 there was no reference to the Sundays and holidays. The word "holidays" was introduced for the first time in 1918, and it might be argued that by implication the provisions of the Interpretation Act were brought into force and therefore the holidays enumerated in the Revised Statutes ought to take effect in respect of the Civil Service. We made inquiry as to where this particular amendment came from and how it came to be introduced into the legislation of 1918; and the secretary of the Civil Service Commission informs us that there was no special reason for introducing it and that it was not the intention of the Civil' Service Commission to bring about any such result as that which might be deduced from the use of the word in that way.

Now, I should like to point out that the introduction of a number of holidays into

the Civil Service Act is undesirable for the reason that if such a provision is applied to the inside service it cannot very well be withheld from the outside service. A regulation was established last year by the Civil Service Commission and approved of by the Governor in Council which not only gives a special allowance to persons who work on a public holiday on which they are not required to work, but further provides that they are to be remunerated at the rate of "time and a half," as it is called. Therefore, to establish a number of holidays by the Civil Service Act might entail upon the public revenues of Canada a very considerable burden. We have addressed ourselves to the Civil Service Commission with regard to the Senate amendment and they have made a statement to us from which I extract the following:

The Civil Service Commission is of the opinion that this amendment should be approved inasmuch as none of these five days are observed as holidays in the banking or commercial world throughout the Dominion generally; and it is found that the closing of Government offices on these days is a matter of very serious inconvenience to the public.

The commission further advise that some years ago the civil servants enjoyed a holiday on Corpus Christi, St. Peter and St. Paul's day and other Saint days of the same nature; that these were struck off the list a number of years ago and that the reasons which led to such action are equally applicable to the elimination of the other days alluded to.

As a net result of what I have said I need only emphasize these two points: first, that up to 1918, and indeed up to the present time-because the Act of 1918 was never regarded as having the effect I have suggested-the arrangements with regard to the exemption of civil servants on certain days of religious observance has been entirely a matter of custom and convention and not a matter of law; and, second, as a consequence of that (putting aside for the. moment the legislation of 1918), the amendment proposed by the Senate confers a right which was never conferred before, inasmuch as it gives the force of law to that which before had merely the force of custom and convention. [DOT] *

In the circumstances I hope that my hon. friends who have advanced their opinions, as it was their perfect right to do, with regard to this matter will realize that the Senate amendment is not of the character that they suggest. While it does not go so far as I would desire nevertheless it does give the force of law to an established custom as to certain days of religious ob-

servance, although there was no such force attached to the observance of these days in the years that have elapsed since Confederation.

/f Hon. H. S. BELAND (Beauce): May I ask the right hon. gentleman whether should some of the civil servants find it a religious obligation for them to attend church on, say, Epiphany, All Saints' Day, Ascention Day, and Conception Day, they could avail themselves of the privilege to ' do so?

Topic:   CONSIDERATION OF AMENDMENTS BY SENATE TO BILL 53.-OBSERVANCE OF HOLIDAYS.
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UNION

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

They have

availed themselves of that privilege during the past fifty years without any statutory provision whatever, and I can assure my hon. friend that 'it is not the intention of

Ithis Government to depart from or to violate in any way the custom that has thus prevailed.

Topic:   CONSIDERATION OF AMENDMENTS BY SENATE TO BILL 53.-OBSERVANCE OF HOLIDAYS.
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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Hon. RODOLPHE LEMIEUX (Maison-neuve-Gaspe):

Must I conclude from the

remarks of the Prime Minister that the Government concurs in the amendment of the Senate?

Topic:   CONSIDERATION OF AMENDMENTS BY SENATE TO BILL 53.-OBSERVANCE OF HOLIDAYS.
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UNION

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

Yes.

Topic:   CONSIDERATION OF AMENDMENTS BY SENATE TO BILL 53.-OBSERVANCE OF HOLIDAYS.
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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

Well, while I appreciate what has been stated by the Prime Minister, knowing his broad views on religious matters, I cannot but regret that we so to speak consecrate in the law of the land a principle which, up to the present time, has not been considered as part and parcel of our legislation. I am not accustomed to pay compliments to my hon. friend from Frontenac (Mr. Edwards), but I must tender him on this occasion my sincere congratulations on the broad spirit in which the other day he regarded this amendment. It does good at times, Mr. Speaker, to have an Orangeman and a Catholic stand together for the maintenance of a principle involving tolerance and freedom. Now, I appeal to my right hon. friend. He states, and he is right in stating, that since Confederation there has been no impediment imposed by any of the departments of the Government to prevent public officials from attending their religious duties whenever, on certain days, I they find themselves under a religious obligation to do so. The British constitution, Mr. Speaker, is made up of precedents, of old usages, and of customs, most of them not embalmed in the Statute Book. That is the spirit of the British constitution. Freedom, as Tennyson says, " broadening slowly down from precedent to precedent," until it has become what we know it as today. Whv should we in Canada, not re-271 J *

spect ancient usages and time-honoured customs which have been accepted by both elements of our population, Protestants and Catholics alike? Since Confederation we have had in the office of Prime Minister of Canada Sir John A. Macdonald, the Hon. Alexander Mackenzie, Sir John Thompson, Sir Mackenzie Bowell, Sir Charles Tupper, Sir John Abbott, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, and the present incumbent, the Rt. Hon. Sir Robert Borden. Never has this question been raised in any way, shape or form. It has been practically admitted that in this capital city of the Dominion, Roman Catholics in the Civil Service could attend reli- 1 gious service on these holidays, and that ; nobody would take exception to it. I am sure that nobody in this House, whether he be a staunch Orangeman, like the hon. member for Dufferin (Mr. Best), whether he be a Presbyterian, or a Methodist, will take exception to the fact that these religious holidays have been kept. Why should we not accept the precedent which has been created, which has been observed and which has never been challenged-

Topic:   CONSIDERATION OF AMENDMENTS BY SENATE TO BILL 53.-OBSERVANCE OF HOLIDAYS.
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UNION

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

Nobody is challenging it. [DOT]

Topic:   CONSIDERATION OF AMENDMENTS BY SENATE TO BILL 53.-OBSERVANCE OF HOLIDAYS.
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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

No, hut if we agree to

the amendment of the Senate we depart from the custom which has been established. We do away with a time-honoured usage and we may not always have a Prime Minister who is so broad-minded as is the right hon. gentleman. He says that no exception will be taken to the observance of these holidays. Well and good, but still under the amendment of the Senate in which we are askedi to concur, these holidays will be done away with.

Topic:   CONSIDERATION OF AMENDMENTS BY SENATE TO BILL 53.-OBSERVANCE OF HOLIDAYS.
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UNION

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

No.

Topic:   CONSIDERATION OF AMENDMENTS BY SENATE TO BILL 53.-OBSERVANCE OF HOLIDAYS.
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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

That is as I understand it.

Topic:   CONSIDERATION OF AMENDMENTS BY SENATE TO BILL 53.-OBSERVANCE OF HOLIDAYS.
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UNION

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

I should like to make it plain to the hon. gentleman. If there was no statutory provision on the subject, matters would go on in this country exactly as they have done for the past fifty years. It would continue to depend upon custom and convention to which my hon. friend has alluded. Now the Senate have given the force of law to a portion of that custom and convention.

Topic:   CONSIDERATION OF AMENDMENTS BY SENATE TO BILL 53.-OBSERVANCE OF HOLIDAYS.
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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

I take it that under the amendment of the Senate it is for the future decided that certain religious holidays which have existed by custom since Confederation are abolished.

Topic:   CONSIDERATION OF AMENDMENTS BY SENATE TO BILL 53.-OBSERVANCE OF HOLIDAYS.
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UNION

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

I thought I had informed my hon. friend that the acceptance of the Senate amendment is not intended to disturb the custom and convention that has existed for something like fifty years.

Topic:   CONSIDERATION OF AMENDMENTS BY SENATE TO BILL 53.-OBSERVANCE OF HOLIDAYS.
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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

I am quite ready to accept my right hon. friend's word. I shall never doubt it, but at all events I understood that the amendment of the Senate did what I have stated. I may be wrong, but that is my understanding. If my right hon. friend says that nothing will he changed in the customs and usages acceded to on all sides and intended to create in this capital city a spirit of tolerance and broadmindedness, I am very glad to accept the declaration.

Topic:   CONSIDERATION OF AMENDMENTS BY SENATE TO BILL 53.-OBSERVANCE OF HOLIDAYS.
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UNION

Samuel Hughes

Unionist

Sir SAM HUGHES:

If the Bill passes

as the Senate have amended it, what about [DOT]the civil servants on these holidays? Will they be able to take a holiday or have to go to the office?

Topic:   CONSIDERATION OF AMENDMENTS BY SENATE TO BILL 53.-OBSERVANCE OF HOLIDAYS.
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June 26, 1920