April 5, 1921

LIB

William Cameron Edwards

Liberal

Mr. EDWARDS:

I may have misread into the resolution something that was not intended.

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L LIB
LIB

William Cameron Edwards

Liberal

Mr. EDWARDS:

My hon. friend should consult a specialist down town with regard to his hearing. If I have misread or misinterpreted the resolution prepared by the Minister of Justice (Mr. Doherty), some members in the House will, I am sure, be good enough to excuse me to a certain extent. It is not always easy to arrive at a conclusion after a resolution has been prepared or a sentence uttered by the Minister of Justice. It is unquestionably my fault or my misfortune, that I have not had that legal training to enable me to follow, if I may speak without offence, the twists and turnings of a legal mind.

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L LIB
LIB

William Cameron Edwards

Liberal

Mr. EDWARDS:

I had no reference to

the hon. member for Brome when I used that expression. Now, Mr. Chairman, even if I did come to the conclusion that some members of the bench were receiving travelling expenses when they did not travel, am I to be blamed for coming to that conclusion? I do not have to remind the Minister of Justice of the very outstanding instance in this country where a certain legal gentleman collected money for travelling expenses when he did not travel, and that there were certain gentlemen connected more or less closely with the law in this country who were prepared to excuse that action on the part of the Chief Justice of the Dominion of Canada. I am one who will not excuse him. The Lord defend me from the legal quibbles and technicalities that we have handed out to us here on the floor of this House.

The Minister of Justice says that when the salary was fixed at $15,000 there was no increase made in the salary of the Chief Justice. I say that in my estimation, and I believe this was also in the minds of other hon. members of this House, there was an increase made in his salary when it was fixed at $15,000. It was in my mind, and I believe in the minds of many hon. members, that he was not earning the $5,000 he got for coming down here once in a while and acting on behalf of the Governor General

that he was not earning $5,000, nor $4,000, nor $3,000, nor $2,000, in doing that;-and when it was agreed to fix the salary at $15,000, that was taken into account, and it was considered that we were giving him a definite, and a pretty substantial, increase in salary. That is the way I viewed it, at all events; I considered that it was an increase. Formerly, his salary was $10,000. The other was, of course, a little side line that gave him another $5,000, but we made the thing definite and fixed his salary at $15,000.

We hear a good deal about the independence of the judiciary, that it is necessary to fix their salaries at a certain figure in order that they may keep their honour above reproach, and all that sort of thing; we have heard that time and again. So, when the salary of the Chief Justice of Canada was $10,000, in order that he might not be subjected to any temptation to stray from the path of virtue, we gave him another $5,000 for trotting down here once in a while and signing his name when the Governor General was absent. Then

in order to shield him still further from temptation and keep him in the path of rectitude, we gave him another $5,000 to trot over to England once in a while to attend the sittings of the Privy Council. But all that did not prevent a Chief Justice from collaring the money even though he did not go overseas. What was wrong? There was no income tax at that time to lead him away from the path of virtue-Were we remiss in not fixing his salary at $100,000 so that he would not feel like pocketing $5,000 that he did not earn? Something was wrong. He took money that he was not entitled to, that he had never earned. Even though he was the Chief Justice of this Dominion, I repeat, he took money that he never earned and was not entitled to. If we are to fix their salaries at the point where, like Caesar's wife, they will be above suspicion, we have never yet reached that point, apparently.

The principle of the thing is wrong in my estimation. We have our income tax. We have a man who is supposed to be something superior in intelligence dropped down from Heaven to this earth to make regulations in regard to the collection of income tax in this country. We have regulations now which make every man in this country who is liable to income tax, and even if he is not liable, his own assessor and his own collector, and he is liable to a fine, if he makes a mistake in assessing himSelf. That applies to people who are above the $2,000 mark, if married, and above $1,000, if single. But you must not touch the man drawing $15,000 because it was not in the Act that his salary was raised. Well, if that was not included in the Act, I submit that the proper procedure is to bring in a Bill to amend the Act and fix it up right instead of following this roundabout way. I object to any man in this country who is drawing a salary of $15,000 getting out of paying income tax; I do not care if he is the Chief Justice of Canada or who he is.

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UNION

Robert Laird Borden

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

Mr. Chairman, I could perhaps put this matter before my hon. friend from Frontenac (Mr. Edwards) from a layman's point of view. The position before the legislation of last session was this, as I understand it, and I am following in this regard the statement which has just been made by the Minister of Justice. Each of the puisne judges of the Supreme Court of Canada received a salary of $9,000. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada received a salary of $10,000. As Chief-

Justice he was called upon, under the constitution of this country, to perform certain other duties, to act as deputy of the Governor General, and to discharge the duties of the Governor General whenever he might be absent. I might point out to hon. members that the duties in that respect are somewhat more extensive than has been suggested by hon. members who have addressed this committee in opposition to the proposed legislation. Not only had he the duty of representing the Governor General from time to time, at the opening of parliament when a new parliament had been assembled, and during the sessions of parliament from time to time when legislation required the assent of the Crown, but he also had the, duty, and discharged the duty from day to day, during the Governor General's absence, of examining all the Orders in Council and giving his approval to them. I know personally that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada has spent a considerable amount of time each day during the absence of the Governor General in performing that duty.

To go back to the observation which 1 made a moment ago, each puisne judge of the Supreme Court received a salary of $9,000, and the Chief Justice received as such, a salary of $10,000 a year. In addition to that, in view of the obligation placed upon him under the constitution to discharge the duties to which I have alluded, he had the additional remuneration mentioned by the Minister of Justice, amounting altogether, I think, to $5,000 per annum. By the legislation of last session the salary of each puisne judge of the Supreme Court of Canada was raised to $12,000-I think I am correct in that -and the salary of the Chief Justice of Canada was fixed at $15,000 a year. It was provided that that sum should include everything which had previously by way of allowance been voted to him from year to year in remuneration for the duties which he discharged as deputy Governor General. So that after the legislation of last session had been passed the Chief Justice of Canada received in all precisely the same remuneration that he had been receiving before, and each of the Puisne Judges of the Supreme Court of Canada receives $3,000 in addition to the salary that had been provided for him up to that time. The Minister of Justice has spoken of the further provision, of the Act of last session which declared that any judge receiving an addition to his salary under that legislation should be liable to income tax. In the terms of the fSir Robert Borden.]

statute, that was made applicable to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, although, as a matter of fact, he received no actual increase to the remuneration which had been provided for him before. I am perfectly confident, and I am sure every hon. member must be confident, that the gentleman who is filling the position of Chief Justice of Canada would desire no exceptional treatment. It is merely suggested that he should receive fair treatment and, inasmuch as the remuneration which he is receiving at present is the same in amout, although differing in the method of appropriation, as that which he had received before, he naturally would feel that he ought not to be treated as if he had received an actual increase of salary. If I understand the statement of the Minister of Justice, that is exactly the position which he is placing before the committee to-day, and under all circumstances it seems to me that hon. gentlemen, on reflection, ought to reach the conclusion that the proposal, upon its face, is not unreasonable and is no more than just.

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LIB

William Cameron Edwards

Liberal

Mr. EDWARDS:

If this resolution

carries, as I understand it the Chief Justice's salary will be exempt from income tax. Suppose, as suggested by my hon. friend from Royal (Mr. McLean) this House saw fit to increase the Chief Justice's salary to $20,000, would he then come under the Income Tax Act?

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UNION

Robert Laird Borden

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

I really do not desire to enter into a discussion of hypothetical questions, but in the case which my hon. friend has cited, there would be a distinct increase in remuneration, and there-a liability to income taxation. The point I have endeavoured to make, if I have succeeded in putting it clearly before hon. gentlemen, is that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada is receiving, in respect of the duties which he performs as Chief Justice and as Deputy Governor General, exactly the same amount as that which he received before the legislation of last session was passed.

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LIB

William Cameron Edwards

Liberal

Mr. EDWARDS:

But if his salary were increased to $20,000 he would be liable to income tax, because there would be in that case an actual increase in his salary. How is it that he is liable to income tax now, in view of the fact that there has been no actual increase in his salary?

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UNION

Robert Laird Borden

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

It is' clear, I

think. The form of remuneration has

changed, without the necessary qualification of the statute which should have been thought of last year, and which the Minister of Justice is now bringing to the attention of the House.

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LIB

William Cameron Edwards

Liberal

Mr. EDWARDS:

That is to say, his

salary does come under the income tax law. Why?

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UNION

Robert Laird Borden

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

Owing to an

oversight in the legislation of last year which is now being remedied.

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LIB
UNION
UNION

Horatio Clarence Hocken

Unionist

Mr. HOCKEN:

It is interesting to observe that if the salary of the Chief Justice had not been increased, but $5,000 had been appropriated as formerly, he would be liable for taxation on that $5,000. Was there any contract exempting him from payment of taxes on that $5,000 as well as on the $10,000? I do not think the question of the independence of judges comes into the matter at all; you might as well talk of the independence of members of Parliament. We had to pay income tax before our indemnities were increased, and every business man must pay his taxes, no matter what he makes. The situation is a rather strange one in view of the fact that this gentleman would be liable to pay taxes on $5,000 if he had been left in the position he was in before the Act of last session was passed.

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UNION

Robert Laird Borden

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

The legislation proposed by the Minister of Justice has no effect whatever except in respect of the present incumbent of the office of Chief Justice. The purpose of it is to place him in the same position as he would have been in, if the legislation of last year had not passed.

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UNION
UNION
UNION

John Best

Unionist

Mr. BEST:

I believe that the Chief

Justice and every judge should have a good salary. I am in favour of that, because they should be placed in an independent position. But we have a lot of trouble in Canada to-day, principally because, in my opinion at least, the people think that there are some who get too much and others who do not get enough. How can I go before

my electors, who are honest people, some of them working hard the whole year round for $3,000 on which they have to support their wives and families, and justify a thing like this, when those people have to pay income tax on what little they make, while the Chief Justice goes scot free? I oppose that principle, for I do not believe that any man should be allowed to get off without paying the tax. If the salary is not enough, increase it, but let us have the same system applicable to all classes. I oppose the resolution on principle, and not because I think this gentleman is receiving too much. Probably he should get more. But the principle is wrong, and I cannot support it.

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L LIB

James Alexander Robb

Laurier Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

The Minister of Justice, in introducing this resolution to-day, is creating embarrassments for his colleague the Minister of Finance, upon whose department devolves the duty of collecting the taxes to meet the extravagances of the Government. How can the Minister of Finance go out and demand taxes from people who are drawing $2,000 or $3,000 a year, when they know that his colleague the Minister of Justice has passed special legislation to exempt the Chief Justice of Canada, who has a salary of $15,000? The minister says it was owing to a mistake of last year; but that particular mistake and the resolution which the minister brings in to-day are creating new embarrassments for the Minister of Finance, who already has lots of trouble, and it seems to me that the minister would be well advised to accept the advice of his own supporters and withdraw the resolution.

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April 5, 1921