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


Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal


My hon. friend knows that my hair turned grey during that regime-I was between the devil and the deep sea all the time. If my hon. friend has any regard for a reasonably long tenure of life on my part he will let the Civil Service Commission continue to operate- because I am quite confident that within a few months we Liberals will be called upon to manage the affairs of the country. First, then, I say: Do not tamper with
this Act. The operations of the Civil Service Commission involve the payment of a very large sum of money-some $67,000,000 a year. In the case of the banking institutions of the country we do not revise the laws and regulations except every ten years. In the case of the tariff we make no revision until after a certain time has elapsed; it is too important a matter to be tampered with every year. I would do the same with the Civil Service Commission. I am opposed to this Bill because that commission is composed of men as independent as the judges who administer our laws. The merit system which has been introduced into this country, and which found no stronger and more eloquent advocate than the right hon. gentleman (Sir George Foster) who is now leading the House, should be given a chance. It is a new departure in Canada. Let us live up to the promises, aye the sacred pledges made by gentlemen on both sides of the House when through the leg-islation_in this respect adopted two years ago we declared this country virtuous. I believe in the merit system. This Bill is opposed, by the commission, by the independent press of Canada, and generally by public opinion. The Minister of Immigration (Mr. Calder) stated, when he introduced the Bill the other day, that the commission had had an enormous task to perform. That is true, and it is because of the very extent of the task that there may have been some disappointments in the administration of the Act. The reclassification in itself was a tremendous task, and although some mistakes were made we must give the commission credit for having accomplished it. It is evident that if

they had not had the task of reclassifying the whole service we would not hear to-day the complaints that are made against them. It is natural that in connection with the reclassifying of thousands of civil servants all over Canada there should be some complaints. We have great problems to deal with, and having regard to the present financial commitments of our country why should we subject members of the House to the temptations which go with the exercise of political patronage? The saner portion of public opinion is not in favour of any such revision of the Act as is contemplated. We should give it a chance to be administered during a certain number of years. Sir, I know what a part politics plays in the matter of patronage. We are fresh from an election in the county of Yamaska. I took part in that election, and I will tell the House what is the honest truth. I myself saw, and the hon. member for Quebec East (Mr. Lapointe) saw, electors in the possession of telegrams signed by party heelers inviting them to go to the nearest town and get a job in the dredging works of the Department of Marine and Fisheries. I do not say that the Minister of Marine was responsible for it; I am quite sure that he will not foot the bill when it is presented to him. But I know that in one instance Mr. Lacouture, who is agent of the department at Sorel, received instructions-not officially from the department, but from another gentleman, my hon. friend's colleague the Postmaster General, who was in the county-to give jobs on the dredging plant to fifteen men from Pierreville, one of the chief localities in that county. I do not say that it is a crime. Both parties in days gone by probably did the same thing at election time.

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