Alfred Johnson Brooks
Will the hon. member tell us what salaries the heads of labour unions are getting in Canada and the United States?
Subtopic: CONSOLIDATION AND AMENDMENT-SALARIES, ETC.
Will the hon. member tell us what salaries the heads of labour unions are getting in Canada and the United States?
I am not concerned with the United States. But I am satisfied that there is no head of a labour union in Canada who is getting a salary of $10,000.
What about the
The Comintern?-what is the sense of that question? I have no connection with the Comintern. Let me give my hon. friend to understand that I enjoy the distinction of being the only member of the House of Commons who tried to gain entrance to Russia and was refused. Any person who asks a question like that shows his stupidity, if he does not show anything else.
Not only are these judges provided with good salaries, but they are also provided with generous pensions, so they need not worry about the future. They have not to put by something for a rainy day, because the people of this country have put by something for them.
It never rains.
Then we make provision
for their widows. In looking over the estimates I find pensions for widows of judges ranging from $1,600 to over $2,000, and perhaps there are some higher than that, because I only glanced through the list. What is the position of the widow of a longshoreman, of a lumber worker, or of a street car conductor, such as I was myself? If they are seventy years of age they will get $30 a month in some parts of Canada, but only if they can prove that they are not in receipt of an income of more than $365. While in receipt of that pension, every six months they must make an affidavit that their economic condition has not changed. I do not think that is democracy; I do not think it is a reasonable and satisfactory social organization for our country. If any hon. gentleman here passed on-there are no judges here-their widows would consider themselves just as worthy as the widows of judges. Why should they not be looked after? Can anyone give a reasonable explanation of that?
I have here a letter which I received from a woman in Vancouver under date of July 15,
and this is only one of hundreds that I have received. I have another interesting letter from a woman in Montreal who is sixty-nine years old and who cannot get an old age pension because she has not reached the age of seventy. She is wondering where in the world she is going to turn in order to live until she is seventy. I imagine the reason she wrote to me is that she noticed I had raised the question of old age pensions in the house. This Vancouver woman writes:
My husband receives the $25 from Manitoba-
This couple are living in British Columbia but the husband receives the pension that would be paid in Manitoba.
-and I help a little by sewing or washing sometimes. My health broke down last fall and so it is very little I can do. I shall be seventy if I live till next March, so you see if only the age limit was sixty-five it would help some.
I sometimes wonder how the men responsible for this situation can sleep in their beds when such hardship has to be endured by the pioneers. We lived in Manitoba from 1904 till 1940, then we came here to avoid the cold winters. My husband, who will be seventy-six on August 19, attends to a furnace and garden for a free small cottage, but there is no money goes with it. So you will see we have to do some stretching, and the only way to get clothes is when some friend passes on.
I ask hon. members of this house if they are going to pass a bill to increase the salaries of persons who do not need it when there are hundreds of thousands across Canada in the same position as this woman? Are we called here to look after the poor and the needy who are not in position to look after themselves, or are we here to do something for people who are already well looked after? That is the question hon. members have to decide. Hon. members must justify their position in this house before the old people of this country.
When the Minister of Justice introduced the resolution that preceded this bill he said, as reported on page 3178 of Hansard:
The salaries that are being paid at this time are those that were fixed in 1920. Personally I feel that they are out of line, not only with what are the salaries elsewhere, but also with what prevails for salaries and income in our own country. The suggestion is, now that there is being some relaxation in the controls over wages and salaries,-
I wonder just how much relaxation there is? Evidently there is not very much. If there was some relaxation I doubt if we would have so much industrial unrest in this country. The minister continued:
The suggestion is, now that there is being some relaxation in the controls over wages and salaries, that a provision which will come into
effect on January 1, 1947, will not be out of line with what will be happening generally in the readjustment of the post-war period.
I wish that this matter of increases in the salaries of judges was under the Department of Labour and another judge was appointed and instructed to make a recommendation in regard to the salaries of his brother judges just as they make recommendations in connection with the wages paid to trade unionists. He would then bring down a recommendation, not that the salaries be increased by one-third-I have never heard of a judge as generous as that when dealing with a labour dispute-he would say: "Taking into consideration the ability of this country to pay, I recommend that they be given an increase of ten cents an hour." If he were on the national war labour board and hearing a case where no strike threatened, he would give them two cents an hour, as was given the maintenance of way employees some little time ago.
If that applied to judges it
would be considered dictatorship.
A judge who appeared
before the committee yesterday accused union leaders of this country of being dictators.
The report of that committee is not before us.
I did not say it was.
It should not be discussed until it has been received in the house.
As I said, when the minister was introducing the resolution he said that the salaries being paid at this time were fixed in 1920. I imagine that there were more lawyers in the house than there are now, as the salaries were fixed at a generous rate. Hon. members will remember what this country went through from 1920 to 1946. While millions of people were depressed in poverty, while a million and a half were receiving relief, these judges continued to have a standard of living that is considered a good one even to-day.
For their services.
Of course, for their services. I am not saying anything against their services. But they are not giving any more service than any other citizen of this country. If there were some real criterion by which to judge the ability of these men when they are appointed, we could judge better of the services given, but a great many of them were appointed because they failed to win a seat in an election. Ini British Columbia, so far as I can see, the road to a judge-
ship is defeat in an election. The hon. member for Vancouver South defeated a lawyer in the 1935 election-and mot only a lawyer; he was also a Liberal. When1 he was a lawyer- I cannot speak of him as a judge-I do not think he was blessed with an overabundance of grey matter. But he was made a judge. In 1940 my hon. friend defeated another lawyer, and he also was made a judge. That is the general pattern across the country. So that before we begin talking about the services they are giving to the people we should think about their ability to give that service. I hawe a high regard for the great majority of the judges of this country. But I do say that they are well paid, whichever way you look at it, and exceptionally well paid when you compare them with the generality of people who must come before them in the courts. I have not time to go into that, but I should very much like to do so and to show what is the real basis of crime not only in this country but in every other. The real basis of crime lies in poverty, in misery, in lack of education and lack of the social amenities which people must have before they can live rational lives.
Let me refer for a moment to the incomes on which taxes are paid, which in the Idst analysis must be taken as the criterion of the income that people receive. I have figures here taken from the Financial Post of May 4 of this year which show the number of persons in the various income tax brackets in 1945 and 1944. The figures show that 70 per cent of the income tax payers in 1945 and 1944 were in the categories from $660 to $2,000. This was before the proposed increased exemption. The figures showed that 90 per cent of all the income tax payers had incomes of $3,000 or less. So that all the judges in this country, even the lowest paid judge are in the upper 10 per cent of income tax payers. Surely persons in such a position are not being dealt with hardly by the people of this country. As a matter of fact they are in a very favourable position. I do not think I need take up the time of the committee by reading all these figures, but I would again ask the committee to consider carefully what we do in this matter.
I do not want to raise again what we did here last session in relation to members' indemnities, but I warned the house on that occasion of what the consequences would be; and let me say that in every application for an increase in wages that has been made since then, the increase in our own1 indemnities has been brought forward as a justification, and the justification is properly made. So, I would advise hon. members not to do the
same sort of thing again and drive still further apart the people in the low income brackets and the people in the high income brackets in this country.
Mr. Chairman, I do not think there is any topic which comes before the house that arouses more violence in expression of opinion than that of the judiciary. Perhaps one should make an exception, as to the source of these expressions of opinion, of the province from which I have the privilege of coming, and of the provinces to the east.
I listened the other day to the remarks of the hon. member for Cariboo and of the hon. member for Weyburn, and I listened this morning to the speech of the hon. member for Vancouver East. Some of the time-honoured sneers at the legal profession creep from time to time into a debate of this kind. Possibly this debate, so far as it has been participated in by members who do not believe in the judiciary in the form in which we have it, has been freer from them, than most.
I hope the hon. gentleman is not referring to anything I said, because I do not think that any member of this group, and I include myself, has any exception to take to the form under which the courts and the judiciary operate in this country. I would not have that impression left, not even by my hon. friend, whom I regard so highly.
No. I was going to point out-and I am, sorry that my hon. friend's duties take him away-that he and those associated with him do not believe in the form of government which has developed this type of institution, and I shall attempt in the remarks that I am about to make, with calm and fairness I hope, to show that the point of view which has found expression by them is part of a philosophy which would entirely do away with the form of government which we have and with many of the institutions which uphold it.
When the hon. member says "form of government", will he be more explicit and tell us what he means? Does he mean the existing political parties, or does he mean the democratic system? I want to be clear on what I am being accused of.
I am not accusing anybody and if the hon. gentleman will listen to what I have to say-I am not asking him to agree with me-I think he will have no difficulty in finding an answer to his question. I am attempting to point out that theirs is
a type of prejudice, a point of view, which is entirely subversive of our form of government and of the institutions upon which it rests.
I listened, with great interest to what the hon. member for Vancouver East had to say a little while ago. He argues that judges are overpaid; he invites the government to withdraw legislation which would increase the salaries of judges, and he gives as his reason that there are many people in this land who are in w'ant. He read the letter of a woman whose husband is seventy-six and who, being sixty-nine herself, is not entitled to an old age pension, as a justification for his own point of view. The fundamental difference is this. The hon. gentleman represents a socialistic group who would invest all activities in one agency and make the state the general administrator of everything, including justice.
Mr. BRYCE :
That is not true.