November 30, 1951

LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

I should like to emphasize that this gentleman does not try any cases in the ordinary sense in which we usually use the word "case". What he tries are motions of what are called an interlocutory character; that is, for example, motions for an order for an examination for discovery, and other types of motions which are made before the actual trial of the case comes on and which would be made to the judge if the registrar did not have the authority to try them.

Another type of matter that the registrar tries is this. After the case is over he sits in judgment to determine what costs the successful party can tax against the unsuccessful party. In that connection he has to exercise the same type of judgment that a judge would exercise if he were determining the matter. Then he also has to deal with matters which are referred to him in his capacity as registrar by the judge, being matters of lesser importance than the trial of the case itself yet perhaps more detailed. He looks after those in a judicial capacity.

I must say that I cannot tell my hon. friend offhand how many these would be in number. I would have to get that information and supply it to him, but I have no doubt at all that they would be quite substantial. That is in addition to this other work of looking after all these documents and seeing that cases are properly set down, subpoenas are issued and all the other work a registrar does.

Topic:   AMENDMENT TO INCREASE MAXIMUM SALARY OF REGISTRAR
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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. Blackmore:

I must confess that all this is entirely new to me, but that does not make any difference to my responsibility as being one of those in this house who should contribute a little bit toward looking after the public purse. I shall have to ask a question or two to become informed on the matter. I should like to get some sort of idea of how much time on the average would be involved in trying one of these interlocutory cases.

Topic:   AMENDMENT TO INCREASE MAXIMUM SALARY OF REGISTRAR
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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

Exchequer Court Act

Topic:   AMENDMENT TO INCREASE MAXIMUM SALARY OF REGISTRAR
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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. Blackmore:

To the lawyers it is clear; it is a matter for fun. Well, it would not be a matter of fun to some of the farmers who have a mortgage on their property. We here have some responsibility, and I should like the minister to give information on the amount of work that is done. I do not mind paying this man; I have no objection at all to that, but I do feel that before we vote unanimously on a proposal like this we should get some sort of satisfaction as to whether or not the man is really earning the money.

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:

I do not know how I can emphasize any more strongly than I have already attempted to do that these positions are not in any sense sinecures. This particular position we are talking about, and in relation to which my hon. friend has just asked his question, is very much a full-time job that he works at the whole year round. In connection with that my hon. friend asks, how long does he spend on one of these interlocutory motions. I would say that it might range from perhaps an hour as a minimum to several hours. It depends upon the issues that are involved in the particular motion that comes before him. There will be a wide variation in the time it will take to deal with any one of these motions or references. It depends upon the facts and the points that are being raised and the like, and also probably upon the long-windedness of the counsel involved. Therefore no universally accurate answer can be given to my hon. friend's question. I do want to emphasize that this is not a matter of a man going down to the courthouse, hearing a motion and then going off to play golf or going home. He is there all the time in the ordinary course of his duties. When he absents himself from his office to hear these motions that are made [DOT]before him, or to deal with these references, the office has to remain open for the filing of papers, the issuing of court documents and the like, and that is the reason he has to have a staff.

Resolution reported, read the second time and concurred in.

Mr. Garson thereupon moved for leave to introduce Bill No. 31, to amend the Exchequer Court Act.

Topic:   AMENDMENT TO INCREASE MAXIMUM SALARY OF REGISTRAR
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CIVIL SERVICE ACT

AMENDMENT RESPECTING TENURE OF OFFICE AND SALARIES OF COMMISSIONERS

LIB

Frederick Gordon Bradley (Secretary of State of Canada)

Liberal

Hon. F. G. Bradley (Secretary of Stale) moved

that the house go into committee to consider the following resolution:

That it is expedient to present a measure to amend the Civil Service Act in respect of the tenure of office and salaries of the commissioners.

Civil Service Act

Topic:   CIVIL SERVICE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING TENURE OF OFFICE AND SALARIES OF COMMISSIONERS
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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knowles:

Would the minister like to make a statement?

Topic:   CIVIL SERVICE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING TENURE OF OFFICE AND SALARIES OF COMMISSIONERS
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LIB

Frederick Gordon Bradley (Secretary of State of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Bradley:

The present salaries of the civil service commissioners are greater than those actually specified in the Civil Service Act, the authorization for this being obtained annually by means of a special item in the estimates.

It is the purpose of the present amendments to the act to avoid the necessity of having recourse to the estimates by providing that the salaries of the civil service commissioners shall be set by the governor in council, which may also, on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, retain the services of a commissioner beyond the age of 65 years.

Topic:   CIVIL SERVICE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING TENURE OF OFFICE AND SALARIES OF COMMISSIONERS
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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Stanley Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Mr. Speaker, this has a little more to it than met the eye when one looked at the resolution. I have referred to the salaries of the civil service commissioners several times as an example of something that needs to be tidied up in our financial administration. The Secretary of State has just pointed out their salaries are fixed by statute at a certain amount, but in addition to that they have been receiving a further $2,000 by virtue of items in the estimates. For example, in the estimates of the current year, passed in the session that ended last June, there is item 76 which includes $2,000 for each of the commissioners additional to the amount provided by chapter 53 of the statutes of 1947. I have pointed out several times how the Auditor General has frowned upon this practice. He has stated that we should not legislate by having an item in the estimates year after year. If there is something we want to make permanent it should be written into the statutes. I have suggested several times that that recommendation of the Auditor General should be implemented, namely that this statute should be amended so as to provide therein for the full amount of salary being paid to the civil service commissioners.

When I saw this resolution on the order paper I complimented the Secretary of State (Mr. Bradley), when I was speaking on the Financial Administration Act, upon what I felt was the intent of this resolution. From what has just been said I gather that this resolution goes a great deal further. It will take the question of the salaries of the civil service commissioners right out of the statute, right out of the control of parliament, and make them subject only to the governor in council. I strongly object to that being done.

We have just had a debate on two measures which fixed salaries by statute. There was no change in the general principle of parliamentary control over those salaries. Earlier we

passed an amendment to the Judges Act in which the salaries of judges are fixed by statute. The salaries of cabinet minister are fixed by statute. I realize that the salaries of deputy ministers are not, and in fact I was surprised the other night when 1 learned that the salary of a certain deputy minister had been increased over and above what was indicated in the current estimates.

I think we should have some explanation as to why we are being asked to change the statute in this way. I think the government should tell us also whether they have any intention after this bill is passed of increasing the salaries of the civil service commissioners. At the present time they receive by way of statute and an item in the estimates $12,000 for the chief commissioner and $10,000 for the other two. I was sympathetic with the hon. member for Queens (Mr. McLure) a while ago in his attitude toward raising these other salaries, but those were salaries in brackets lower than these now under review.

As I say, I am wondering whether the bill to be based on this resolution will increase these salaries. At least we in parliament know in most cases what is happening, whereas this proposal seems to take this matter right out of our control. I question whether we should be asked to accept this without further explanation, without the government taking parliament completely into their confidence as to their plans.

Topic:   CIVIL SERVICE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING TENURE OF OFFICE AND SALARIES OF COMMISSIONERS
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CCF

Angus MacInnis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Angus Maclnnis (Vancouver East):

Mr. Speaker, following the point raised by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) I wish to protest at having a resolution in these terms placed before us. There is nothing in this resolution to indicate what the legislation to follow is to be. If we are not told that in the resolution, we may as well have no resolution at all. How are hon. members going to be able to prepare themselves to debate the substance of legislation if there is nothing in a resolution to indicate what is going to be done? To use the vulgar term, in the sense that it is common, a resolution like this is merely making monkeys out of hon. members. The Civil Service Act is to be amended in a very important way and there is no indication whatsoever in the resolution as to what is to be done. Surely the house is entitled to more respect. What was referred to the governor general? What was he told? The resolution reads:

That it is expedient to present a measure to amend the Civil Service Act in respect of the tenure of office and salaries of the commissioners.

I know what I would say if I were the governor general. I do not think I would

take it under consideration when I was offered a resolution like that. I would tell the fellow to bring me back a resolution that meant something, that I could understand. There is nothing in this resolution that indicates anything. The government may be going to abolish the Civil Service Act altogether. They may be going to pay the civil service commissioners $100,000 a year instead of $10,000 or $12,000, or they may be going to reduce them to $1,000. It is just the sheerest nonsense, and I am surprised that the Secretary of State (Mr. Bradley) should offer so little explanation when asked to explain the resolution.

Topic:   CIVIL SERVICE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING TENURE OF OFFICE AND SALARIES OF COMMISSIONERS
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PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. J. M. Macdonnell (Greenwood):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to associate myself with what has been said previously. I do not know which is the worst. We have a resolution which the hon. member for Vancouver East (Mr. Maclnnis) has described as being completely inadequate and on the other hand we have had a slight glimpse at what is actually going to be done. The result is most unsatisfactory. We will certainly need considerable satisfying as to why these salaries should be placed in a corner and dealt with in a different way from other salaries.

I can easily keep this going until 6.15, but I suggest that we give an opportunity to the Secretary of State to give us further information. If you will allow me to adjourn the debate, I shall, and if you will not, I shall continue until 6.15.

Topic:   CIVIL SERVICE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING TENURE OF OFFICE AND SALARIES OF COMMISSIONERS
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LIB

Alphonse Fournier (Minister of Public Works; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Hon. Alphonse Fournier (Minister of Public Works):

Mr. Speaker, this is really a simple resolution and as soon as it is passed hon. members will receive copies of the bill. I am not supposed to go into details, and I do not know whether my colleague will agree when I state that what we want is the power to extend the tenure of office of the commissioners beyond ten years. That seems to be the important section.

Topic:   CIVIL SERVICE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING TENURE OF OFFICE AND SALARIES OF COMMISSIONERS
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PC

George James Tustin

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Tuslin:

What will that mean?

Topic:   CIVIL SERVICE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING TENURE OF OFFICE AND SALARIES OF COMMISSIONERS
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LIB

Alphonse Fournier (Minister of Public Works; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Fournier (Hull):

That would take them to 65 or 70 years. There is not very much in the bill, and I do not think we should go on too long before we have the bill.

Topic:   CIVIL SERVICE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING TENURE OF OFFICE AND SALARIES OF COMMISSIONERS
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PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macdonnell (Greenwood):

Only three minutes.

Topic:   CIVIL SERVICE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING TENURE OF OFFICE AND SALARIES OF COMMISSIONERS
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LIB

Alphonse Fournier (Minister of Public Works; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Fournier (Hull):

The house can be kept going, as has been evidenced in the past, but generally the house takes more time on more important bills. I am not saying, of course, that this is not important; but it is not one of those major bills that imply a change of policy on the part of the government which would affect the lives of thousands of citizens. Experience has shown that perhaps it would

94699-96a

Dominion Elections Act be a good thing if we had the power to extend the term of office of the chairman and the commissioners of the civil service commission, which in my opinion is doing very good work. We can keep it up until 6.15.

Topic:   CIVIL SERVICE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING TENURE OF OFFICE AND SALARIES OF COMMISSIONERS
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PC

Gordon Graydon

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Graydon:

You practically have.

Topic:   CIVIL SERVICE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING TENURE OF OFFICE AND SALARIES OF COMMISSIONERS
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LIB

Alphonse Fournier (Minister of Public Works; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Fournier (Hull):

We have time yet.

Topic:   CIVIL SERVICE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING TENURE OF OFFICE AND SALARIES OF COMMISSIONERS
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November 30, 1951