Canada. Royal Commission on Dominion-Provincial Relations

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Canada. Royal Commission on Dominion-Provincial Relations

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      • Rowell/Sirois Commission

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      The national Royal Commission on Dominion-Provincial Relations was established by Privy Council Order-in-Council (P.C.1908) on August 14, 1937 under Prime Minister William L. Mackenzie King. Chief Justice Newton W. Rowell of Ontario was appointed chairperson, subsequently replaced by Professor Joseph Sirois of Laval University Quebec City in 1938, with Justice Thibaudeau Rinfret of Supreme Court of Canada, John Wesley Dafoe, lawyer of Winnipeg MB, Professor Robert Alexander Mackay of Dalhousie University Halifax NS, and Professor Henry Forbes Angus of University of British Columbia Vancouver, BC appointed as co-commissioners.
      Its mandate was to examine the divisions of power and revenue between the federal and provincial governments; investigate the current taxation system for efficiency and equity; examine the public spending accounts and debts; and to investigate the existing system of federal grants and subsidies paid to the provincial governments. Their goal was to determine the facts of the situation and make recommendations for stabilizing government finances and strengthening the federation of Canada.
      The Royal Commission made visits to each provincial premier in September and October 1937 before conducting 85 days of public hearings at Ottawa and at each provincial capital city starting in Winnipeg, MB on November 29, 1937 and ending in Ottawa on December 1, 1938. Only governments, recognized public organizations, and selected individuals were eligible to appear at hearings and/or submit briefs. The Commission collected over 10,000 pages of evidence, 427 exhibits, and 154 briefs.
      At the same time as hearings were being conducted, they launched a detailed research programme on the economic history of Dominion-provincial relations including the national income, the financial history of Canadian governments, the economic effects of the Canadian taxation system, the role of municipalities, transportation, social welfare services, and labour legislation. In addition, they researched constitutional and legal matters such as the historical context of Confederation and the growth of governmental functions from 1867 to 1940. They also conducted a comparative study of public finances from questionnaires sent to all provincial Ministers of Finance covering 1915 to 1940.
      Professor Joseph Sirois submitted their final report to Prime Minister William L. Mackenzie King on May 3, 1940 and the Royal Commission disbanded.


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      CREATED 2022-12-06 Karen White


      • English



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