May 23, 1933

LIB

REDISTRIBUTION BILL


The house resumed from Monday, May 22, consideration in committee of Bill No. 2 to readjust the representation in the House of Commons-Right Hon. R. B. Bennett-Mr. Smoke in the chair.


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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Three cheers for Kinistino 1

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LIB
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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Hon. ERNEST LAPOINTE (Quebec East):

Mr. Chairman, I quite understand the joy of my good friends from Saskatchewan. That verdict in the constituency which is represented here by the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Weir) is the best evidence that no carving of constituencies, no incision or excision or manipulation can prevent the voice of the people being made effective.

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An hon. MEMBER:

The handwriting on

the wall.

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An hon. MEMBER:

We found that in

North York especially.

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An hon. MEMBER:

You will find it next time.

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

Before I continue, my

hon. friend the member for Melville (Mr. Motherwell) has handed me a telegram in which he is given the information that Kinistino has been won by a majority of 2.000.

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

Redistribution-Mr. Lapointe

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

Before beginning the

observations I desire to make, which will be very few at this stage of the bill, I wish to refer to a somewhat personal matter. In my absence from the house yesterday I am told that my right hon. friend the Prime Minister seemed to suggest that the special committee that had been formed to negotiate on this question did not sit because I had gone home. I must tell my right hon. friend that I am rather surprised that he is not better acquainted with the facts. The committee, which had made good progress on Friday morning, as the hon. member for Acadia (Mr. Gardiner) said in the house, was adjourned to 2.30 in the afternoon. I went there at 2.30, so did my hon. friend from West Edmonton (Mr. Stewart) and the hon. member for Acadia, but we did not meet the other members. At six o'clock my right hon. friend the member for Argenteuil (Sir George Perley) told me that we would meet at 8.30. At eight o'clock in the house the Prime Minister suggested that we should proceed with the bill, but on request agreed to postpone it until yesterday. Sir George Perley then crossed the floor and told me that it was useless to go to the meeting room because all was off and there was no possibility of an understanding. I left for home the following morning.

Now, Mr. Chairman, I desire to refer to the two reasons given by my right hon. friend the Prime Minister for the changes which are being made in the electoral map of the province of Quebec. On two occasions he said that first this parliament must undo what had been done in the previous redistribution-[DOT] of course, I assume he means done unfairly. Secondly, he said there must be a readjustment on account of the increase of population in the cities. With these two principles I agree. And I wish to say immediately that in any place or any constituency where any change was made, as my right hon. friend suggests, in 1924, which should not have been made-I go further, any change that was made either fairly or unfairly-I am quite willing to undo. But it is not necessary to change the whole map of the province of Quebec for that purpose.

As to the second reason, the increase of population in the cities, Montreal being given three more seats, it is easy to unite two counties in three places without carving them, without disfiguring them, and provide the additional seats required by the increased population in the city. I repeat; with these two principles I agree, I accept them as a basis for a fair redistribution of seats in the province of Quebec.

Now, Mr. Chairman, before I show what is being proposed, I desire to say, for the benefit of those hon. members who perhaps do not know conditions as they exist in the province of Quebec, how deeply attached the citizens of that province are to their municipal lines, which have existed from time immemorial. That applies to the municipal lines, the county lines, even the district lines. If the province of Quebec has grown united as it has, it is due to that spirit of union which has always existed. Every man, woman and child there in those old parishes of Quebec is as a member of one family. Then, the counties have always existed. There is a moral bond uniting those various places in every constituency of the province of Quebec from time immemorial. It was so in old France, la commune, and even in England. This house is called the House of Commons; the commons representing the counties between which there has always been a noble spirit of emulation and, of competition. The people of Quebec want to live together; they are living together not only municipally, but in their agricultural and other associations. There is a spirit of friendly rivalry between the various counties, the men serve as jurymen in the district courts, and they meet together very often. Now what is proposed is to carve up most of the counties of Quebec, to change absolutely the boundaries and, even to create constituencies by adding together four or five parts of adjoining constituencies. I say it is a desecration of the fair province of Quebec, and I do not believe that this bill will go through in its present form when my right hon. friend has considered the matter as it should be considered. I do not blame him so much as I blame those who know what the conditions are in the province and who yet have not only permitted this thing to be done but have insisted that it should be done.

I propose to show what the situation will be in my owm district of Quebec, where there are twenty-five seats, leaving to my hon. friend the member for Richelieu (Mr. Cardin) the task of showing what is done in the Montreal district. There are twenty-five constituencies in what is commonly called the Quebec district. Out of those twenty-five it is proposed to keep two and to alter twenty-three. I am going to show, from the first to the last of these twenty-five, whether the principles as set out by my right hon. friend could be applied in the changes which are proposed, namely to undo what has been done or because of the necessity of increasing the number of seats in Montreal. .

Redistribution-Mr. Lapointe

We start with the constituency of Gaspe, which it is proposed to change by the addition of two parishes, being in the townships of Dalibaire and Romieu West, the parishes of Mechins and Capueins. These parishes now are in the county of Matane. For what purpose is this change proposed? Gaspe is one of the largest ridings in Canada in point of territory, as all hon. members know. There are three provincial constituencies included in that area, Gaspe North, Gaspe South and Magdalen Island. To go to Magdalen Island the member for Gaspe has to proceed to Pictou and sail from there. The population of Gaspe at present is 45,617, while Matane has a population of 45,000. Why put those two parishes in Gaspe, where they do not *belong? The constituency of Matane is represented here by a Conservative member, accidentally. Two parishes are being transferred from Matane to Gaspe in the northern part of the riding, but that is not all.

The second constituency is Bonaventure and the Baie des Chaleurs. There again three Liberal parishes are being moved from Matane to Bonaventure in order to try to save the head of my hon. friend from Matane (Mr. Larue). Fie is a nice fellow, but I do not believe it is necessary to disfigure these constituencies and tear away these places which always 'have been in Matane and which should stay there, in order to get rid of some Liberal votes from that constituency.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

My hon. friend said they were being put in Bonaventure?

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

Yes. The first two

parishes to which I refer are being put in Gaspe while the other three are being put in Bonaventure. Matane is changed accordingly. The next constituency is Rimouski, which has a population of 33,151. Three places are being taken from Temiscouata and added to Rimouski, Begon, Ste. Frangoise and Trois-Pistoles. These places are not in the same judicial district as Rimouski; Trois-Pistoles always has been a proud town of Temiscouata county, and it has nothing to do with Rimouski. These places are being taken away from Temiscouata and added to Rimouski in an attempt to deprive my hon. friend from Temiscouata (Mr. Pouliot) of one of his strongholds. Well, I know the conditions there better than they are known by any man in this house, and particularly any man who sat on that committee. I am a native of TemisfMr. Lapointo 1

couata; I was bom a few miles from that town of Trois-Pistoles. I know the feeling of resentment which will be created there if they are forcibly detached from Temiscouata. Trois-Pistoles was the home of Hon. L. P. Pelletier, who was a distinguished Conservative minister from Quebec. He was very fond of his parish, and once he was a candidate in Temiscouata. I should like to know what he would think of the very idea of taking Trois-Pistoles away from Temiscouata in order to serve some political end. Against this I protest, as every one in Temiscouata will protest, and if it is done for the purpose of trying to defeat my hon. friend from Temiscouata let me tell you, Mr. Chairman, that he will be elected next time by a much larger majority than he had at the last election.

On the western side of the constituency Notre-Dame-du-Portage, another fine place, is added to the adjoining riding of Kamouraska, which is changed not only by this addition but by the further addition at the western end of three or four parishes from the county of L'lslet. You will see something very interesting here when the maps are laid on the table. They take from the county of L'lslet parishes that usually give a Liberal majority but at the end of the line, near the United States boundary, there is a strong Conservative place, St. Pamphile, which is left in L'lslet. Then L'lslet is added to Montmagny, forming a united constituency of Montmagny-L'lslet. As to this I have nothing to say; I agree that one constituency should disappear there. I submit, however, that L'lslet, with a representation of 19,000 and Montmagny, with 20,000, should be joined without being carved at both ends. This would make a constituency of 39,000, which is still below the unit of representation, and there are many constituencies in the province which have a greater representation. I say L'lslet and Montmagny should be joined as it is proposed, but they should not take away those parts of L'lslet and Montmagny which are Liberal, St. Francois and Berthier, which are perhaps the largest Liberal places in the county of Montmagny. It simply is not fair. Yesterday I was pleased to hear even my hon. friend from Montmagny (Mr. LaVergne) say he was prepared to keep St. Francois and Berthier; even he seems to admit that this redistribution is not fair, but he asks why we do not unite Kamouraska and L'lslet

Redistribution-Mr. Lapointe

instead of Montmagny and L'Islet. Well, there is this difference, that Kamouraska already has a representation of 24,000 and with the addition of Notre-Dame-du-Portage that number will be increased, while Montmagny has only 20,000. That is the first reason, and the second is that Montmagny and L'lslet are in the same judicial district. They go together for various purposes, while Kamouraska is in another district altogether. Instead of seeing L'lslet and Montmagny carved in the way they have been, I should prefer to have Kamouraska and L'lslet together. I should prefer to have that rather than see that carving perpetrated. Of course, the natural division is to add L'lslet and Montmagny, for all the rules of the game are in favour of that amalgamation instead of the other one. But I protest against the carving of L'lslet and Montmagny by separating St. Roch des Aulnais, that fine old place in L'lslet, proud of having been part of L'lslet. As my friend from L'lslet (Mr. Fafard) said yesterday, we have the absurdity now that the warden of the county of L'lslet will be an elector of Kamouraska after this has been achieved.

We come now to Bellechasse. My hon. friend, the member for Bellechasse (Mr. Boulanger) is rather a fortunate being. Bellechasse is what is commonly called a Liberal hive, a strong Liberal constituency. Well, it is being proposed to make it stronger by adding to it part of Dorchester, part of Levis -and you will see how interesting is that part of Levis which goes to Bellechasse-and part of Montmagny.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

The population is only

21,000.

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

Yes, but that is no reason for carving all the Liberal parishes from the adjoining constituency and putting them into Bellechasse.

The next constituency is Levis. Levis is an old historic constituency situated in front of Quebec city. There are two towns. There is the city of Levis, which has a population of about 11,000; there is the town of Lauzon, and there is also the large village of St. Romuald there. It is a county with an historic background. The population as it stands today is 35,656. It is in many respects a city constituency, because the city of Levis is situated in the riding. But it has only a population of 35,656. Now it is proposed by

this bill to take away the old parishes of St. Henri de Levis and St. Jean Chrysostome, which are among the oldest places in the province of Quebec, as well as Riviere Boyer and St. Henri village, and to put them all in the county of Bellechasse, which is situated east of the county of Levis. To achieve this result you have to make a geographical monster. The county of Bellechasse is extended behind the town of Levis and St. Romuald, these fine places being driven from the county of Levis.

But that is not all. The western part of Levis is also composed of Liberal parishes, they are drawn into the county of Lotbiniere, which is another Liberal stronghold, where no Conservative has been elected since confederation. It is simply carrying coals to Newcastle. They have taken from Levis St. Etienne de Lauzon, St. Lambert de Lauzon, St. Nicholas, St. Nicholas Sud and the village of St. Redempteur, and this is being done for the purpose of trying to build up a Conservative seat in Levis. Levis, as I have said, is a city constituency with a population of only 35,000, and it will be reduced to 27,000, when so many rural seats have 40,000, 45,000 and even 50,000 of a population.

This is unfair on the face of it; it is a manipulation that cannot be excused. People laughed when this change was suggested. Nobody believed that it would enter into any sane mind to do this in the county of Levi3, and my hon. friends on the other side representing the province of Quebec know the feelings of the people there. They know for instance that St. Nicholas is the home of the Paquet family as well as of so many other prominent families in Quebec-people who are proud to call themselves sons of Levis. And now they are to be thrown into Lotbiniere.

My hon. friend from Levis (Mr. Fortin) is a good fellow; he is an excellent physician. But let me say to him in all sincerity that I do not think that Levis should be disfigured just to save his political head. I do not think this wound should be inflicted on the fine old constituency of Levis just for the purpose of trying to save a Conservative candidate. Everyone knows that it is not necessary; it is not useful, it is inexcusable. How therefore can we accept such a proposal as this?

Lotbiniere, the next constituency, as I have said, is a Liberal stronghold, and it is being

Redistribution-Mr. Lapointe

added to from Nicolet, from Levis, from Megan tie and from Beauee. My hon. friend from Lotbiniere (Mr. Verville) said to me, "There has been an increase on all sides except the north, because in that direction lies the St. Lawrence river and they could not very well put it into Lotbiniere."

Now we come to Dorchester. In Dorchester there is a place called St. Luc, which has be,en erected into a municipality in that county. It has always been there; it was included in Dorchester when it was created a municipality; it has always been part of Dorchester, provincially, federally, municipally and otherwise. It is a small place, but apparently there is virtue in its smallness, because it has always voted unanimously Liberal; it has always given a large Liberal majority. My hon. friend from Dorchester (Mr. Gagnon) wishes to put St. Luc in the county of Bellechasse. He mentions also St. Maxime de Scott, which, when originally erected, was situated partly in Beauee and partly in Dorchester. Geographically, as the map will show, it should be in Dorchester, because, as I have said, it is in Dorchester provincially and should be federally as well, as it has been since 1924. I am quite willing to abide by what I say. I think it is a fair thing to put St. Maxime de Scott in Dorchester because it is there provincially and it is there geographically. The population of Beauee is over 50,000 while the population of Dorchester is under 30,000. If my right hon. friend wants to undo what has been done, I am quite willing. St. Maxime de Scott was put there in 1924, so let him take it away if that is the purpose of this redistribution bill.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Dorchester forms part of three counties.

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LIB

May 23, 1933