May 24, 1933

LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

That is what I understand from my hon. friend's argument. He finds it absurd. I am expressing what he said as I understood it, and when he said it I found it most absurd. When a man votes for a candidate and when that candidate is by that vote and others elected to the House of Commons, he has to return to the same people to tell them whether he has been true to his promises.

Mr. LaVERGNE : What about those who have moved out of the county?

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

If my hon. friend will be kind enough to say that in a louder tone, I shall be glad to answer him.

Mr. LaVERGNE: What about those who have moved out of the county? Would he have them brought back to the county to vote?

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CON

George Reginald Geary

Conservative (1867-1942)

The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Geary):

I should be glad if the speaker were allowed to proceed without interruption.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

I am pleased to answer questions to the best of my ability. If they decide to move out of the constituency, that is an entirely different matter, but when they remain in the same constituency, they expect their member to return and to tell them what he has done in parliament; they have a right to judge him; if they are satisfied with him, they will reelect him and, if not, they will send him back home. That is my viewpoint in regard to the matter and why I say it is a question of fairness. If you give a power of attorney to anyone he has to report back to you and not to your neighbour. This is an elementary principle of law based on common sense and this is why I find the contention of the hon. member for Montmagny most absurd and illogical. I do not see how he can explain it any further except by saying that he is afraid to go back to his electors; that is all.

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LIB

Joseph-Alexandre Mercier

Liberal

Mr. MERCIER (Laurier):

I had no intention of taking any further part in this debate, but in view of the citations by the Minister of Railways and Canals (Mr. Manion) from the debate of 1924, believing that citations, like chickens, very often come home to roost, I thought it might be well to quote a little further from the speech of the hon. member for York-Sunibury (Mr. Hanson). I have a copy of the 1924 debates; I am sorry if the fact of its being in my possession has deprived anyone else of its use, but I was very much interested in the debate and for that reason I still have the volume with me. I quite agree with the quotation made by the minister from the speech by the hon. member for York-Sunibury. The minister naturally, [DOT]being who he is, quoted correctly and I notice that, as reported on page 4517 of volume 5 of Hansard of 1924, the hon. member for York-Sunbury said:

As a member of the redistribution committee, and as a member of the subcommittees for the provinces of Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, I must confess that I fully appreciated the responsibilities that were placed on my shoulders. The work was arduous and I desire at the outset to convey to the other gentlemen of the subcommittees my sincere thanks for the courteous treatment which was accorded me and for the consideration that was shown me as a member of each of the subcommittees-

And particularly by the members of the subcommittee for Quebec. I notice in this debate the main issue in so far as the redistribution in Quebec is concerned, was the same as it is now, the disparity between the rural and urban populations. The hon. member for York-Sunbury, as reported on page 4518 of the same volume, went on to say:

With regard to the province of Quebec I expressly reserved to myself and my colleagues the right to discuss the disparity between the urban and the rural representation in that province. If hon. gentlemen have examined the census statistics, and also if they heard the observations that fell this morning from the lips of the hon. member for Chambly and Vercheres (Mr. Arebambault), they will at once agree with me that the work of the committee has not done full justice to the population of the city and district of Montreal.

The same question comes up to-day. Montreal, like someone whose name should not be mentioned in polite society, is blamed for many sins, 'but I want to repeat that the main subject matter of discussion at that time was in reference to rural and urban representation. The hon. member for York-Sunbury, as reported on page 4525, continued:

So that it will at once be apparent that with one or two exceptions there is a very great disparity between what might be termed the purely rural seats in the province of Quebec

Redistribution-Mr. Dupuis

and what might 'be termed the urban seats. That disparity is altogether too great and it will some day have to be corrected, because it is growing. I have no doubt, however, that the redistribution for the province of Quebec is probably as fair as any that could be arrived at under the method adopted, and I for one propose to stand by the report of the committee in this regard.

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LIB

Pierre-François Casgrain (Whip of the Liberal Party)

Liberal

Mr. CASGRAIN:

From whom is the hon. gentleman quoting?

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LIB

Joseph-Alexandre Mercier

Liberal

Mr. MERCIER (Launier):

From the hon. member for York-Sunbury, at page 4525 of Hansard of July 15, 1924.

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LIB

Pierre-François Casgrain (Whip of the Liberal Party)

Liberal

Mr. CASGRAIN:

That is what I quoted

this afternoon.

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LIB

Joseph-Alexandre Mercier

Liberal

Mr. MERCIER (Laurier):

The hon. member for York-Sunbury goes on to say, and here he is very prophetic:

I would like to point out, however, that those who come after us ten years hence will have to grapple with this situation, and so far as I am aware there is only one possible excuse for maintaining the disparity that it is apparent now exists, and that is the question of sentiment. This, of course, is a very strong element. No member and no group of members like to see any particular historic constituency disappear, and the province of Quebec being in sentiment the most Conservative province in the whole confederation, probably that sentiment is stronger there than in any other part of Canada.

Further on he says, speaking of the county of Sunbury in New Brunswick:

The people of that county and the people of that province did not take to that change very willingly, but the fprce of events was so strong as to compel them to do so, and it will be necessary for the people of the province of Quebec to look forward, at least in the next redistribution, to seeing some of their rural constituencies disappear and be united with others of a like population if the disparity is not to continue.

In his concluding remarks the hon. member for York-Sunbury says:

That duty has been cast upon parliament, and while I have no doubt that in days gone by there have been what might be termed outrages, yet in my humble opinion, in so far as I have personal knowledge, the committee in this case, at least the subcommittees I have had the honour of serving upon, did their work in as fair and equitable a manner as was humanly possible, having regard to the fact that there were three divergent elements on every one of the subcommittees. On that very acount it has been no easy task to arrive at a settlement.

And again:

With the exception, therefore, of the disparity with respect to the urban and the rural constituency, I am free to say that, in the light of all these circumstances, having regard to the long and patient sittings of the subcommittees, in which the spirit of compromise at times had to be called into effect, and with the further 53719-341^

possible exception of some individual cases of certain constituencies in different parts of the country, I believe that redistribution as now presented to the house in this bill is at least an attempt at a fair settlement of what, in any event, is bound to be a very difficult problem.

The present Minister of Public Works (Mr. Stewart) in the same debate, at page 4526 of the same volume of Hansard, says that the problems in the province of Ontario are more difficult than those in the province of Quebec owing to its geographical formation, and on the next page, 4527, the Minister of Public Works says:

This, however, is not so serious, and the objections which I desire to urge to this report are those with respect to the city of Toronto, the county of York, and the Niagara peninsula.

I feel that something has been gained in the direction of removing some of the anomalies and inconsistencies that existed prior to our meeting. We have not hud a full measure of success. There has been some comp-omise in which we have all been concerned; bur subject to these reservations and criticisms wnich I have made I propose to support the report of the committee so far as it affects the province of Ontario.

And his concluding words were:

The work has been very trying indeed and very difficult to all concerned, but as I have said, subject to these objections and these criticisms, I intend to stand by the report of the committee.

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LIB

Vincent Dupuis

Liberal

Mr. VINCENT DUPUIS (Laprairie-Napier-ville) (Translation):

Mr. Chairman, I had intended replying in English to certain statements of the hon. member for Montmagny (Mr. LaVergne), but, as he is not in the house at the moment and as the remarks I was going to make would require his presence, I shall speak in French on the subject that interests most particularly the riding of Laprairie-Napierville, which I have the honour to represent in this parliament. Just now, I heard the hon. Minister of Railways (Mr. Manion) bewail the fate of a former member whose constituency had been divided in 1924. I do not propose to ask any one's sympathy for my own person. It is quite natural that, from a personal point of view, I should somewhat resent what the party in power has done respecting the riding of Laprairie-Napierville; but allow me, sir, to rise above personal considerations and to discuss the question on its merits. Last autumn, towards the end of the first part of the present session, this bill was presented to this house, it was first suggested to merge Laprairie-Napierville with Chambly. Some time afterwards another plan was evolved by which Laprairie-Napierville was to be joined to St. John's-Iberville.

Redistribution-Mr. Dupuis

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CON

Onésime Gagnon

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GAGNON (Translation):

Will the hon. member allow me to put a question? The hon. member for Montmagny is here now; do you wish to reply to his statements?

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LIB

Vincent Dupuis

Liberal

Mr. DUPUIS (Translation):

I do not look upon the hon. member for Dorchester (Mr. Gagnon) as the guardian or protector of the hon. member for Montmagny. I consider the hon. member for Montmagny capable of looking after himself and, if need be, of helping the hon. member for Dorchester.

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CON
LIB

Vincent Dupuis

Liberal

Mr. DUPUIS (Translation):

When the hon. member for Dorchester feels like speaking, he will have his turn.

Mr. Chairman, I was enumerating the various plans submitted respecting the riding of Laprairie-Napierville. I had mentioned the second one: the union with St. John's-Iberville. Subsequently, the party in power, that brute majority to which the right hon. the Prime Minister referred a few days ago, decided to add Huntingdon to Laprairie-Napierville. I shall refrain from mentioning in this house the influences that led the Conservative party to drop the second plan; however it may be, the third one was the Huntingdon-Laprairde-Napierville combination. A little later, the suggestion was made to join Laprairie-Napierville to St. Johns and Iberville to Brome-Missisquoi. Finally came the last plan, which, I am sure, will make the hon. member for Montmagny change his mind when he hears of it, the plan to join Laprairie and Beauharnois.

The ex-Minister of Marine (Mr. Cardin) showed us yesterday how lacking in sense was this union from the geographical standpoint. The member for the new division created by the bill will represent a portion of the people of the province of Quebec whose virtues are many, whose prosperity is well-known, a people endowed with various advantages of which it may well be proud.

Let us, however, lay aside such considerations and consider rather what the hon. member for Montmagny has called a geographical monstrosity. May I be permitted to exhibit to this house the results of the efforts of the hon. member's friends. I hold in my hand the last part of this misshapen plan.

Mr. LaVERGNE (Translation): All I can say is that it is beautiful compared with the riding of Quebec East.

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LIB

Vincent Dupuis

Liberal

Mr. DUPUIS (Translation):

It is beautiful in comparison with Quebec East! Well, I

am not accustomed to be satisfied with a thing because my neighbour has something worse.

Mr. LaVERGNE (Translation): It is not very beautiful.

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LIB

Vincent Dupuis

Liberal

Mr. DUPUIS (Translation):

May I ask the hon. member for Montmagny what he would call this drawing, judging it by its shape, if he could not see the geographical map traced upon it?

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LIB

Joseph-Alexandre Mercier

Liberal

Mr. MERCIER (St. Henri) (Translation):

A rhinoceros.

Mr. LaVERGNE (Translation): I would have to know what it is. What county is it?

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LIB

Vincent Dupuis

Liberal

Mr. DUPUIS (Translation):

I thank the hon. member for Montmagny. I see that he does not understand it. His question shows that he agrees with me that it is a geographical monstrocity. I shall explain it to him: the portion of the map that I hold in my left hand represents the county of Laprairie, which extends this far. The white part is the Caughnawaga Indian reserve. The part enclosed by a red line constitutes what the ex-Minister of Marine called the famous corridor. Here it is. It would be dangerous for a drunken man to drive his automobile here, for the laws of Quebec are strict and he might fall out of the corridor and be severely punished.

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LIB

Joseph-Alexandre Mercier

Liberal

Mr. MERCIER (St. Henri) (Translation):

He should not let his horse run away.

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LIB

Vincent Dupuis

Liberal

Mr. DUPUIS (Translation):

The corridor is detached from Chateauguay county. This portion is inhabited by very distinguished people. The other part, extending up to this one, which I do not dare to name, but which my hon. friend certainly recognizes, is the county of Beauharnois. This slice, cut off here from the lower end of Beauharnois county, is the parish of St. Etienne, with which the hon. member for Chateauguay-Huntingdon is so much in love. He wants some more Conservatives! This part is the parish of St. Etienne, which, in 1930, gave a Conservative majority.

Mr. LaVERGNE (Translation): It has been removed.

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May 24, 1933