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Description found in Archives
Place of creation
No place, unknown, or undetermined
Scope and content
Fonds consists of transcripts of hearings, with an index, submissions and supporting documents, correspondence and research studies. The transcripts of hearings and the submissions are also available on microfilm.
Microfilm reel C-6980
Microfilm reel C-6982
Microfilm reel C-6983
Microfilm reel C-6985
Microfilm reel C-6984
Microfilm reel C-6990
Microfilm reel C-6993
Microfilm reel C-6994
Microfilm reel C-6992
Microfilm reel C-6996
Microfilm reel C-6981
Microfilm reel C-6987
Microfilm reel C-6989
Microfilm reel C-6991
Microfilm reel C-6995
Microfilm reel C-6986
Microfilm reel C-6988
from 1 to 67
from 69 to 72
from 68 A to 68 B
Copyright belongs to the Crown. In order to protect the fragile originals, the microfilm copies of these records must be consulted rather than the originals.
Finding aid 33-20 is a typed file list digest. 33-20 (Paper)
Biography / Administrative history
The Royal Commission on Dominion-Provincial Relations was established under Order in Council P.C. 1908, 14 August 1937, under Part I of the Inquiries Act (R.S.C., c.99, 1927) and on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. The Commissioners were instructed : (a) to examine the constitutional allocation of revenue sources and governmental burdens to the dominion and provincial governments, the past results of such allocation and its suitability to present conditions and the conditions that are likely to prevail in the future; (b) investigate the character and amount of taxes collected from the people of Canada, consider these in the light of legal and constitutional limitations, and of financial and economic conditions, and determine whether taxation as at present allocated and imposed is as equitable and as efficient as can be devised; (c) to examine public expenditures and public debts to determine whether the present division of the burden of government is equitable and conducive to efficient administration, and to determine the ability of the dominion and provincial governments to discharge their governmental responsibilities within the framework of the present allocation of public functions and powers, or on the basis of some form of re-allocation; (d) investigate dominion subsidies and grants to provincial governments. The original commissioners were: Newton Wesley Rowell, Chairman, Thibaudeau Rinfret, John Wesley Dafoe, Robert Alexander MacKay, and Henry Forbes Angus. Rinfret resigned in November 1937 on account of illness and was replaced by Joseph Sirois (see Order in Council P.C. 2880, 18 November 1937). Rowell became ill in May 1938 but his resignation was not accepted until November when Sirois was appointed Chairman (see Order in Council P.C. 2946, 22 November 1938). The Secretaries were Alex Skelton and Adjutor Savard.
Because of the Great Depression, the financial difficulties of the provinces reached the point where they could no longer be solved simply by alterations in federal subsidies to provincial governments. Further, the ruling by the courts that most of Prime Minister Bennett's so called "New Deal" legislation was unconstitutional made it plain that their difficulties could not be alleviated by increased activity of the federal government, especially in areas that might encroach on provincial rights. The provinces were burdened by crippling responsibilities, especially for social welfare. The provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, for example, were in such financial straits that it was impossible for them to meet their financial obligations and provide needed public services. The need to reduce Manitoba's provincial debt had concerned the King government since its return to office in 1935. In January 1937, the Prime Minister discussed with C.A. Dunning, Minister of Finance, and Graham Towers, President of the Bank of Canada, the possibility of the Bank of Canada making a report upon the financial relations between Manitoba and the federal government to which Towers agreed. Cabinet discussed the Towers report on 15 February and realized that Manitoba was not the only province with financial difficulties. Other sections of the country were facing problems that differed in degree but were quite similar to those of Manitoba. To deal with the situation, Towers recommended the appointment of a federal royal commission to inquire into federal-provincial relations. The Cabinet concurred in his recommendation but the prime minister did not make a formal announcement of the commission's terms of reference nor of its personnel until August 1937. Pending the report of the royal commission, the government decided to give temporary aid to both Manitoba and Saskatchewan (see John Kendle, John Bracken: A Political Biography, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1979, pp. 147-156).
Hearings of the Commission were held in Halifax, Charlottetown, Fredericton, Quebec City, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina, Edmonton and Victoria from 29 November 1937 to 1 December 1938. There were 427 Exhibits were filed with the Commission. RG33-23 General Inventory
Researchers may view a microfiche copy of this report by consulting finding aid 33-1, Henderson #304.
For more information about royal commissions, researchers should consult: Records of Federal Royal Commissions (RG 33) / James Murray Whalen. -- (General inventory series / Government Archives Division). -- Ottawa : National Archives of Canada, 1990).
Source of title
Many research studies were published. Several are included as appendices to the report of the commission. For a list of studies, see George F. Henderson, Federal Royal Commissions in Canada, 1867-1966, A Checklist, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1967, pp. 132-34.
Availability of other formats note
Other system control no.
Related control no.
1. 1985-86/065 GAD
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