Mr. H. A. MACKIE (Edmonton East) :
While I do not propose to vote for the resolution before the House, I believe that if the abuses under the present system were tabulated they would lead one to the conclusion that they form the general rule and not the exception in the administration of affairs by the Civil Service Commission as it is constituted to-day. It appears to me that, in effect, patronage has been taken from the hands of the individual member and placed in the hands of deputy ministers, post office inspectors, post masters, and various menial employees of the Dominion Government. It is unfortunate that all members are not prepared to lay their complaints before the House and establish the fact that this substitution in the bestowal of patronage has really been made. The crux of the Civil Service Act lies in section 45. If-there is any merit at all in the Act, it is to be found particularly in that section. Promotion, and promotion upon merit, is the basis of the Civil Service Act. Otherwise members might as well go back to the old system, and appoint those whom they thought best regardless of whether or not there might be a better person in the field. Section 45 of the Act says: Promotions
(1) Promotion is a change from one class to another class with a higher maximum compensation, and vacancies shall be filled, as far as is consistent with the best interests of the civil service, by promotion.
(2) Promotion shall be made for merit by the Commission upon such examination as the Commission may by regulation prescribe. The Commission may by such regulation restrict the competition at such examinations to employees or to employees of a certain class or classes of a specified seniority, and may prescribe what marks may be obtained by such employees for efficiency and seniority. Such marks shall not, however, exceed one-half of the total marks that can be obtained at the examination.
Now, Sir, I have a case in point which I brought to the attention of the House last session and which in set out at page 4,518 and following pages of Hansard. I thought when I brought this matter before the House last session, that the undertaking given to me by the Minister in charge of this Act would have led the Civil Service Commission to remedy the injury which had been done us in the province of Alberta in this particular instance, but we are yet waiting any redress. In that particular case three men made application for the position of assistant Postmaster in the city of Edmonton. The three men were Clendenning, Thompson and Cryderman. Notwithstanding the fact that these three men had made application in writing to the Civil Service Commission, notwithstanding the fact that they were supposed to pass an examination and to receive marks in competition with each other, the Superintendent, Mr. Ross, the Deputy Postmaster General, and the members of the Civil Service Commission arranged it among themselves so that a man by the name of Rutledge, of Winnipeg, would be transferred to the position of Assistant Postmaster in Edmonton and the men in that city had the satisfaction merely of receiving a letter from the Civil Service Commission that the appointment had been made. Now there is a distinct breach of the Civil Service Act in that instance, and that is not the only case which I have tabulated, but as to which I shall not bother the House. If this was done over the Dominion of Canada, as I have reason to believe that it is to a fair extent, then the usefulness of the Civil Service Commission has ceased.
On the left of the Speaker a number of jocular references have been made to the appointment of the census commissioners. Well, perhaps that is not entirely as it should have been; but the complaint that they make in that respect is the complaint that I make in another respect. Where inspectors of post offices, for instance, who belong to the political persuasion to which my hon. friends opposite adhere, go about the country and appoint, whether things are equal or not, men of their political persuasion, then I say that they are also violating the principles of the Civil Service Act in that they are exercising a patronage that they ought not to exercise because they are really taking it out of my own hands to make our own appointments and making appointments of people of their own political persuasion. If that condition of things
exists, I say, Sir, that I feel quite as capable so long as I represent East Edmonton, of making the appointments myself. I think it is well that there should be some appointments made such as I have in my mind, and for this reason. Up at Lake LaBiche, in Alberta, the appointee is of the Liberal persuasion, and he is active at the present time in making accusations -both against this Government and against myself-sweeping accusations that cannot he substantiated. I am perfectly willing that he should keep on doing that because it will be easier for me to destroy him and his friends when I get started.
I was in favour of the abolition of patronage in 1917, I am in favour of the abolition of patronage now; but I was not in favour of the transfer of patronage from members to deputy heads, and other officials in 1917; neither am I at the present time. I submit that while I cannot vote for the resolution before the House when it comes to a vote, it is urgent upon this Government to see that there is some remedy under this Act whereby patronage if not under the members of Parliament throughout Canada, that there will be a cessation of patronage dispensation within the public departments whether it is at Ottawa or elsewhere.
I wish to call attention to another point before I resume my seat, and it is in anticipation of an argument which may be made against me-that if appointments are made of politicians who use their positions for political purposes it is possible to remove them under section 32 of the Civil Service Act. That section which is headed "Political Partisanship" and reads as follows:
No deputy head, officer, clerk or employee in the Civil Service shall be debarred from voting at any Dominion or provincial election if, under the laws governing the said election, he has the right to vote; but no such deputy head, officer, clerk or employee shall engage in partisan work in connection with any such election, or contribute, receive or in any way deal with any money for any party funds.
You will see from what I have read that there is only one condition under which a remedy can be given to a member who feels that he is aggrieved by
10 p.m. a person who is a partisan, and it is that this person must be a partisan during election time. So that the party complained of has five years or four years, as the case may be, during which he can carry on political propaganda against the employer, and the member has no remedy unless the offender continues
that attitude during the time there is an election. I submit there should be some remedy in this respect also. I have no objection to any man having his political opinions; this is a free country and he should have the liberty to exercise those opinions as he sees fit. But I also believe that there should be some recognition of the respective positions of employer and employee; and it is undignified, if not disloyal for a person to accept a position from the employer and then contrive all he can against him. If that is true in the case of the particular individual it is also true of the state. I submit, therefore, that the state should be in a position to see that the employees who do not behave themselves and who do not care to serve loyally, at all times and not merely when there is an election, shall be dismissed from the service.
Topic: POLITICAL PATRONAGE IN THE CIVIL SERVICE.