June 3, 1921 (13th Parliament, 5th Session)


John Best



I want to say a very few words on this question. It seems strange to me that the tan. member who has just taken his seat (Mr. Ethier), who was a member of the special comimiit-tee that considered this Bill, should find fault wnith the Bill that is now before the House in the way he has. I also have some fault to find with it, but the fault I find is that it does not go far enough. When I heard the hon. gentleman not more than five minutes ago speak of this Parliament delegating powers to two or three men who are not responsible to the people, and not responsible to Parliament, I thought he was telling pretty near the truth. What has this Parliament done? It has delegated to two or three men in Ottawa all the powers of a federation that is the strongest in the Dominion of Canada to-day. We have a federation here for which the people of this Dominion pay $67,000,000, and the amount is increasing every year. These are people who tell us what we are going to do, and where we get off at. I went to an office in the West Block a few days ago with two other hon. members, and we were discussing the expenditure of money on highways. I said that it had reached"such a stage that the people were beginning to find fault with the extravagance, and no wionder. What was the answer I got from that civil servant? The answer was " To hell with the public." That is what he told me. They tell you to-day, and they tell the people of this country, where we get off at. The Parliament of Canada has no say over them at all.
. CALDWELL: Which cabinet minister was it that made that remark?
. Mr- BEST: I did not say it was a Cabinet Minister. I said it was a civil servant that made that statement. The hon. member for Laval-Two Mountains (Mr. Ethier) was a member of the special committee that considered this Bill, and he has told us of the witnesses that appeared before that committee. It is strange that the only witnesses called before that committee were

deputy ministers and civil servants. There in the committee room was the Chairman and the Secretary of the Civil Service Commission sitting listening to all the evidence that was given by men who were under that commission. There were men who told me "We dare not give evidence. If we told the truth, our heads might go off." Is it not strange that the only ones who gave evidence were the parties interested, and that the Chairman and the Secretary of the Civil Service Commission should he right there watching them and listening to every word they said? I do not think there ever was a committee appointed by this House where such a ridiculous thing occurred, and where witnesses gave evidence before those who controlled them. If they did not tell what was expected of them, off would go their heads, if the commission wished.

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