May 17, 1932

LIB

Vincent Dupuis

Liberal

Mr. VINCENT DUPUIS (Laprairie-Napier-ville):

A few minutes ago I asked the hon. Postmaster General when he expected to proceed with his estimates. As he seems to be unable to answer I would ask the right hon. the Prime Minister if he is able to tell the house when the Postmaster General will proceed with his estimates.

Topic:   POST OFFICE ESTIMATES
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Right Hon. R. B. BENNETT (Prime Minister):

I do not think, Mr. Speaker, that any good purpose is served by gratuitous, insulting observations addressed to any member of the house. I can only say that the Postmaster General will proceed with his estimates when it is agreeable to him and acceptable to the opposition, as we said the other evening.

Topic:   POST OFFICE ESTIMATES
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INCOME WAR TAX ACT AMENDMENT

SPECIAL TAX ON INCOMES OP JUDGES AND MEMBERS OF MILITARY, NAVAL, AIR AND POLICE FORCES


The house resumed from Monday, May 16, consideration in committee of Bill No. 92, to amend the Income War Tax Act-Mr. Rhodes. -Mr. LaVergne in the chair. On section 1-Special income tax on certain salaries.


LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Hon. ERNEST LAPOINTE (Quebec East):

I am sorry, Mr. Chairman, that I was not here yesterday, owing to an engagement in my own city, and therefore could not register my opposition to the principle of this measure. I am grateful to the Prime Minister for giving me the opportunity of doing so to-day.

This measure is one of taxation, and according to my views it violates two great principles of British constitutional law with regard to taxation. First, the principle of equality. It is a well-known principle that in matters of taxation there should not be any discrimination. Everybody must be treated in the same way. In this bill there is a discrimination against a class. The judges of Canada, apart from being required to pay the income taxes every citizen of Canada has to do, are singled out for the purpose of levying upon their salaries a special additional tax of ten per cent. This is class legislation; there is no doubt about it. There is no more reason for it and no more justification for an additional income tax on judges than there would be for one on butchers or bakers or on people who happen to have red hair-

Topic:   INCOME WAR TAX ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   SPECIAL TAX ON INCOMES OP JUDGES AND MEMBERS OF MILITARY, NAVAL, AIR AND POLICE FORCES
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PRO

Agnes Campbell Macphail

Progressive

Miss MACPHAIL:

Or who are baldheaded.

Topic:   INCOME WAR TAX ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   SPECIAL TAX ON INCOMES OP JUDGES AND MEMBERS OF MILITARY, NAVAL, AIR AND POLICE FORCES
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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

Or who are baldheaded, as my hon. friend from Southeast Grey says, or anybody else in a special category or class.

41761-188)

There is no doubt whatever that this measure is certainly opposed to one of the fundamental principles of taxation, that of equality of taxation, and it becomes an arbitrary levy upon a certain class of men. More than that, even in that class there is a discrimination because the bill applies only to the judges who are paid by the Dominion of Canada. The recorders, the provincial judges, the judges of police courts, although some of them have salaries almost as high as the salaries of the members of the high courts, are not taxed. I am sure that everybody upon second thought will agree with me that this is an absolutely vicious principle. Our income tax statutes are based on the theory that the taxes are levied in a certain proportion on the annual gain or annual means of every citizen of Canada. This is a deviation from that principle. Furthermore, Lord Phillimore, in the case of Caron versus the King, which was based on our federal income tax laws, recognized that principle. He said:

They-

Meaning the income tax acts of this dominion:

-are statutes for imposing on all citizens contributions according to their annual means, regardless of, or it may be said, not having regard to, the source from which their annual means are derived.

The tax is levied on the annual gain or means of every citizen; the law does not say where it comes from, and it is not fair, it is against the principle of the legislation that a certain class or a certain profession in the community should have imposed upon it special taxation different from that imposed on any other class. That is one principle that is violated by this bill. But there is another one.

Topic:   INCOME WAR TAX ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   SPECIAL TAX ON INCOMES OP JUDGES AND MEMBERS OF MILITARY, NAVAL, AIR AND POLICE FORCES
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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

Would not the reverse also be true with regard to any exemptions from the tax? *

Topic:   INCOME WAR TAX ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   SPECIAL TAX ON INCOMES OP JUDGES AND MEMBERS OF MILITARY, NAVAL, AIR AND POLICE FORCES
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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

Quite right, but the judges are not exempted. They are paying the same tax in proportion . as any other citizen of Canada. This is the change. There was no change before this bill.

The other principle which is violated is the great British principle of no taxation without representation. The judges are not represented in this house. They have no vote here; they have no-

Topic:   INCOME WAR TAX ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   SPECIAL TAX ON INCOMES OP JUDGES AND MEMBERS OF MILITARY, NAVAL, AIR AND POLICE FORCES
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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

Oh, oh.

Topic:   INCOME WAR TAX ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   SPECIAL TAX ON INCOMES OP JUDGES AND MEMBERS OF MILITARY, NAVAL, AIR AND POLICE FORCES
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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

My hon. friend says, "oh, oh." The best evidence that they are not represented here is that yesterday there was nobody to say: "Well, you had better

Income War Tax Act

wait and at least have the bill printed and distributed before the second reading is proceeded with." There was nobody here to say that yesterday. If there is any legislation concerning the farmers or the fishermen or the civil servants, or anybody else in Canada there is always a voice or there are a few voices raised in this house on their behalf, but when it comes to the judges they have no representation.

Topic:   INCOME WAR TAX ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   SPECIAL TAX ON INCOMES OP JUDGES AND MEMBERS OF MILITARY, NAVAL, AIR AND POLICE FORCES
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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

They have an excellent advocate in the hon. gentleman, in my opinion.

Topic:   INCOME WAR TAX ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   SPECIAL TAX ON INCOMES OP JUDGES AND MEMBERS OF MILITARY, NAVAL, AIR AND POLICE FORCES
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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

They have an ex-Minister of Justice who wants to put himself on record in this house against this principle and against this legislation, but they are not represented in this house by anybody, and that is why things like that happen.

Topic:   INCOME WAR TAX ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   SPECIAL TAX ON INCOMES OP JUDGES AND MEMBERS OF MILITARY, NAVAL, AIR AND POLICE FORCES
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UFA

Henry Elvins Spencer

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. SPENCER:

We were informed by the Prime Minister that most judges were willing to pay the ten per cent.

Mr, LAPOINTE: I have no concern about that; it is possible they are willing to pay. If so, let them pay voluntarily. My point is that this parliament has no right to impose a special tax on the judges of Canada through the operation of a special bill such as the one now before us. Nobody speaks for them. We have taken away from them not only the right to vote but the right to speak. They cannot defend themselves. They have no right to say anything on public matters, and may I say that the present legislation is not very generous or courageous; it is not sportsmanlike to attack people who have not the right to defend themselves. They can say nothing in their defence. More than that, we have passed legislation prohibiting them entering other gainful occupations. We have prohibited them from deriving any other income or revenue from any sources whatever, as do other people in times of prosperity. Now we are asking them-we are forcing them, in a period of depression, despite the fact that when times were better they had no opportunity to benefit-to pay a special tax.

There is no doubt that the legislation now before us is makeshift, because the government found it could not place them under the bill to reduce salaries. They are doing indirectly what they could not do directly. Judges are not servants of the crown. Since the Act of Settlement that fact has been well established and accepted. They sit in judgment on differences and difficulties arising between the crown and the subjects. They cannot be removed by the crown as can other

[Mr. Lapointe.1

civil servants. After the Act of Settlement another law was passed affecting only the judges and enacting that they are not related, as are other civil servants, to the sovereign; they are not servants of the crown. I quite realize that the government could not have included them in the bill which has now become law. The present legislation, however, is only a subterfuge, and is opposed to the principles of British law. I know the Minister of Justice does not like it; he could not like it. I can remember very well a time when he blamed me for not taking the means to increase judges salaries. I can remember his eloquent words to the effect that judges are not paid adequately, and that in fact they were underpaid. Well, he is doing worse than I did; at least I did not reduce their salaries.

I know that in certain quarters it is stylish to attack judges. As I have already said they cannot defend themselves. The statement has been made that it is easy to find people prepared to accept a position on the bench. That may be so, but the present Minister of Justice knows as well as I do that it is difficult to find the men we would like to appoint to the higher courts of the land. Certainly it is possible to find some men, but let me tell hon. members that there is no doubt a poor servant is always overpaid. Let us suppose that we should apply the same principle to the House of Commons. When I came to parliament the indemnity was only $1,000. It was increased to $1,500, then to $2,500, and now it is $4,000. May I suggest that if it were again $1,000 quite possibly there would be people who would be willing to accept office. That, however, is not a fair basis upon which to decide the amount which should be paid to judges, to members of parliament or to any other servants of the people. I do not desire to say more in this connection except that it is of supreme importance to Canada that we should have an impartial and independent judiciary. I do not think it is right to subject judges to the necessity of looking to parliament to learn whether their salaries or taxes are going to be increased or decreased from year to year. Judges must be altogether independent of parliament; they must be fearless. They have a tremendous responsibility. We exact from them high standards of living, and as I said we exclude them from all other gainful occupations. We are proud of our Canadian bench, and I think we should make it so that our judiciary would be in a position to maintain the prestige with which it has always been surrounded.

Income War Tax Act

Last night when I entered the chamber the estimates of the Minister of National Defence were under review. There was discussion on an item of almost $2,000,000 for the training of the non-permanent militia. Let me tell hon. members that the country might more easily dispense with the training of the nonpermanent militia than impose a special tax on our judges. To please the hon. member for Southeast Grey may I say I would also be quite willing to cut off the amount set aside for cadet training, rather than make a levy on the salaries of judges.

There is another point upon which I should like to say a few words. The government was blamed for not having put a tax, similar to the one now under discussion, on the salaries of lieutenant-governors. Well, this one is bad, but the other one would also be bad. I have heard the suggestion in this house that we could very well dispense with the office of lieutenant-governor in the provinces. Well, my reply to that is that under the British North America Act the lieutenant-governor is part of the constitution; it is part of the legislature of a province. The act says that the legislature of the province of Quebec shall be composed of a lieutenant-governor, a legislative assembly and a legislative council. It states further that the legislature of Ontario shall be composed of a lieutenant-governor and a legislative assembly. Lieutenant-governors form part of legislative bodies. So long as we have autonomous provinces the lieutenant-governors represent the king in those provinces, and no hon. members in this parliament have the right to do away with that office in the provinces.

I am not sure either that the people of the provinces favour this change, and I know in Quebec they would not. In Quebec the office of lieutenant-governor is part of our national life. The home of the lieutenant-governor is the national home of the province. The lieutenant-governor represents the king; he represents law; he represents order; he represents authority. I do not think there would be even a very small minority in the province which would favour doing away with the lieutenant-governorship. Let me say also that the salaries of the lieutenant-governors are perhaps the only ones that have never been increased since confederation. All the other salaries have been increased; the lieutenant-governors are being paid to-day what they were paid in 1867. Is it to be suggested that we should have only wealthy people as representing the crown in the provinces? I am opposed to that suggestion. We have in my own province at the present time a lieutenant-governor whom I would not change for any

millionaire, no matter whence he came in this country; far from it; and he has the esteem, the good will and the affection of every citizen of the province. The salary which is being paid to the representatives of the crown, instead of being too large, in my opinion is much too small.

Those are the considerations I wanted to express to-day, and I am thankful to the Prime Minister for having given me the opportunity of doing so,

Topic:   INCOME WAR TAX ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   SPECIAL TAX ON INCOMES OP JUDGES AND MEMBERS OF MILITARY, NAVAL, AIR AND POLICE FORCES
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CON

Hugh Guthrie (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

Mr. Chairman, with a

great deal of the speech of my hon. friend from Quebec East (Mr. Lapointe) I am in hearty accord, but with some of the opinions which he has offered to the house I cannot agree. We all realize that it is not a pleasant nor an agreeable thing either on the one hand to impose taxation or on the other to reduce salaries. Measures of this kind are not brought forward unless there is some urgent necessity for them, and it was felt that at the present time there was an urgent necessity in Canada of decreasing expenditures in every direction. It is for that reason that the reduction of salaries in the civil service and extra taxation in regard to the judiciary are proposed. And the proposal is only for a single year.

My hon. friend has based his objections-upon two grounds. First, that it is illegal or unconstitutional to impose taxation upon the judges; secondly, that we are violating * principle in this measure by imposing taxation without representation. Viewed in regard to our strict legal rights, I think the matter is one upon which there cannot be very much division of opinion. We have in this parliament under the British North America Act authority to tax anything we see fit to tax. The powers of this parliament are practically unlimited in that respect; they are to be found in section 91. We are empowered to raise money by any mode or system of taxation. My hon. friend says that in this measure we do not propose a fair or general tax, but that we discriminate. In my humble opinion, we are entitled, if we see fit, to discriminate. That is our legal right.

Topic:   INCOME WAR TAX ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   SPECIAL TAX ON INCOMES OP JUDGES AND MEMBERS OF MILITARY, NAVAL, AIR AND POLICE FORCES
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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

I did not say otherwise.

Topic:   INCOME WAR TAX ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   SPECIAL TAX ON INCOMES OP JUDGES AND MEMBERS OF MILITARY, NAVAL, AIR AND POLICE FORCES
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CON

Hugh Guthrie (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

It is not a question of the right of parliament; but there is a question as to the propriety of our doing certain things.

Topic:   INCOME WAR TAX ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   SPECIAL TAX ON INCOMES OP JUDGES AND MEMBERS OF MILITARY, NAVAL, AIR AND POLICE FORCES
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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   INCOME WAR TAX ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   SPECIAL TAX ON INCOMES OP JUDGES AND MEMBERS OF MILITARY, NAVAL, AIR AND POLICE FORCES
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CON

Hugh Guthrie (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

In this case we propose

not to discriminate, but to impose taxation upon all the members of a class, and that class consists of those who receive money by way of salary from the treasury of the dominion. My hon. friend points out that in his good

Income War Tax Act

province of Quebec there are a number of individuals who are not, strictly speaking, judges, but who are appointed by the province to administer law as in other provinces magistrates do. They are provincial officers, and we have not sought in any way to interfere with the salaries or emoluments which they receive. But all members of the judiciary who receive money from the federal treasury are under this proposal taxed in respect only of the salary which they receive from that treasury. That is the special tax that is imposed.

Now, on the legality of the proposal I submit there cannot be two opinions. As to the propriety of our doing so there may be a very great difference of opinion. Personally, I do not favour a reduction in judges' salaries, and under other circumstances I would not feel justified in imposing this taxation upon them. I remember the incident which my hon. friend referred to when I did urge in this house an increase in judges' salaries. It was at a time when there was affluence in the country, when our treasury was overflowing-

Topic:   INCOME WAR TAX ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   SPECIAL TAX ON INCOMES OP JUDGES AND MEMBERS OF MILITARY, NAVAL, AIR AND POLICE FORCES
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May 17, 1932