November 30, 1951

PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Has the minister any statistics at all?

Topic:   AMENDMENT TO INCREASE MAXIMUM SALARY OF REGISTRAR
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LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Solicitor General of Canada; Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

No, we have not. One reason for not attempting to secure them is that we think the time is too short to accurately measure any increase in that work.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Has there been a material increase in consequence of making the supreme court the final court of appeal?

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LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Solicitor General of Canada; Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

I think I would be correct in saying there has been. I would not say a material increase, but a significant increase. Whether that is due to the abolition of appeals to the privy council I believe it would be difficult to say; for the time within which appeals from cases which were current at the time the amendment to the Supreme Court Act was passed has not yet run out. Until that time does run out the privy council is just as available as the court of last resort for cases then current as it has been heretofore. It will not be until that period has run out that we can trace with any accuracy the effect upon the volume of work in the supreme court which the abolition of appeals to the privy council might bring about.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

When will it run out?

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LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Solicitor General of Canada; Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

It is not a definite period. It will run out when the last time for appeal has lapsed for a case which was current in the trial court at the time the legislation came into effect. It is very difficult to forecast just when that will be.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

One other thing in connection with the exchequer court. I take it from the recital of the responsibilities of the registrar that one of his duties is to bring to the attention of the judges the question of judgments which should have been rendered. I do not raise this by way of criticism at the moment, but I do believe something should be done to assure more expedition in the giving of judgments in the exchequer court. The delay in some of these cases is difficult to explain to one's clients. After all, in the administration of justice it is just as important that justice be rendered with expedition as it is that justice be rendered. I would suggest that the attention of the registrar be directed to the situation.

Has the minister any record before him showing the number of judgments that are a year and a half overdue, or even more than that? The situation is not due in any degree to the judges; nonetheless it is the subject of very strong criticism across the country.

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LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Solicitor General of Canada; Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

It just so happens, Mr. Chairman, that within the past week I received a report upon the arrears of judgments in the Exchequer Court of Canada. While I cannot recall the exact figures I am quite certain there was a substantial reduction in the number of delayed judgments from what was the case on the last occasion I had cause to check it. I sent this list to one of my colleagues as a matter deserving comment, and I am sure he would regard it with some gratification. There has been a distinct improvement in the condition to which the hon. member refers, although I agree there were formerly good grounds for his observation.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

I thank the minister for that explanation. I do not want to ask a question on the order paper, but if he has a record showing the present condition of judgments it would be most helpful. In the past these delays have been unexplainable to clients and sometimes, in the opinion of those who know, inexcusable. A delay of one and a half or two years after a case has been heard might very well lead to a condition of affairs where the judge would remember the name of the case but the facts would long since have passed into the limbo of forgotten things. Regardless of the notes a judge takes, unless a judgment is delivered within a reasonable time certainly the client who loses the case is always of the opinion that had the judgment been given earlier the result might have been otherwise.

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LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Solicitor General of Canada; Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

I have just received from my efficient staff here the statistics in question. For the year 1950 there are seven judgments outstanding; for the year 1949, one. That is

Exchequer Court Act

the lot. I think the hon. member for Lake Centre will agree that is definitely an improvement from the situation of, say, two years ago.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Yes, that is an improvement. How many are outstanding of those heard in 1951?

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LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Solicitor General of Canada; Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

There are a number.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Has the minister the record of that?

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LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Solicitor General of Canada; Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

Yes.

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PC
LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Solicitor General of Canada; Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

Twenty-two in 1951. But my hon. friend knows that it is still necessary to be realistic. They may be outstanding for two days. As soon as the argument is heard and the case is closed, they become outstanding right away. To be realistic about a thing like this, the statistics should be in relation to the preceding year.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

That is true. Now that the minister has the statistics before him, is he able to say how many judgments were given in 1951 in cases heard in 1948?

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LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Solicitor General of Canada; Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

No, I have not that statistic. They do not come in that form.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

The minister has not that information?

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LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Solicitor General of Canada; Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

No. I could get it for my hon. friend if he wishes me to do so.

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November 30, 1951