-but simply in order to ask him-I have reason to believe, judging from what I have just read, that he is an expert on fossils-if the form I now exhibit does not represent a fossil or the outgrowth of the fossils he must meet on his side of the house.
Mr. LaVERGNE (Translation): It is possible. It bears a striking resemblance to Montmagny as it was prior to the change.
I really admit that Laprairie-Napierville, with 21,000 of a population according to the census of 1931 is too small a riding. It is necessary to build it up by the addition of surrounding territory. But do our friends the Conservatives count as nothing the history of a county, its people, its business, the mode of life of its citizens? Are the customs of a people to be set at naught? Is it reasonable to separate two old counties like Laprairie and Napier-ville? As a matter of fact, Laprairie is one of the oldest counties in Canada, after Montreal, if not the oldest, for it was founded only a few years later than Montreal. If our friends opposite consider the customs of a people as a matter of some importance, why do they not take into account the fact that the citizens of Laprairie-Napierville have lived together for more than two centuries?
Laprairie was founded a few years after Montreal and its excess population spread out southwards to form the parishes of St. Philippe, St. Constant, St. Edouard, Napierville, St. Michel, St. Remi. May I be permitted to say that one of the first families to settle at Laprairie was that of an ancestor of mine who, after leaving Paris in 1648 and spending some years in Quebec, arrived at Laprairie in 1668 and finally settled at St. Philippe, where his descendants have always resided. You will understand, Mr. Chairman, the close relations that unite these people, whom we find, if we go back to their origin, to be nearly all related to each other. As to their business relations, the farmers composing the population of the counties of Laprairie and Napierville have their markets either at Montreal or at St. John's. When have they business in Beaubarnois county?
only a dozen citizens of Laprairie-Napierville who, once a year, visit the Valleyfield
fair. No relations whatever exist between the citizens of Laprairie-Napierville and those of Beauharnois. They never meet. Supposing that at the next election a resident of the western end of Beauharnois county, of St-Barbe, for instance, were elected to this house, and that a citizen of St. Philippe had business with him. To see his representative this citizen would have to travel 70 or 80 miles and when he had done that the member would probably have to tell him that in order to obtain the position he seeks he must be within the age limit and possess the required qualifications.
If I may be permitted to use the expression, I would say that this merger, this marriage, is an absurdity. I appeal to our friends opposite, to their common sense, to their spirit of fair play, to their good judgment. Ever since I came to this house I have noticed that, no matter how just their claims, how serious the grievances they expose, members sitting on this side seldom succeed in obtaining justice for their people. It seems to me that every member should realize the consequences of the redistribution set forth in Bill No. 2 and which we have been denouncing. We all know that this measure, if adopted as planned, will prove so unpopular that, should the government sooner or later decide to appeal to the country, the wrongs inflicted by this bill, even were they the sole issue before the people, would suffice to bring about the downfall of our friends opposite and to assure to the Liberal party a large majority throughout the country. Our hon. friends on the government side must be aware of this; the thought must constantly haunt them. What consoles me when I appeal to their good judgment is the increased spirit of conciliation, the better understanding between the two parties, that I have observed in recent days. There seems to be a tendency towards mutual concessions, a readiness to yield certain points that had previously been insisted upon, with the result that grievances,are daily diminishing in number. There are still some left, however, and, to my mind, the gravest of them is the one relating to the ridings of Laprairie-Napierville and Beauharnois. In the name of justice, of common sense and of sound logic, I ask that this wrong be redressed.
Allow me to recall to the hon. members opposite that a similar attempt was made in 1892 when the Conservatives, then in power, were effecting a redistribution of constituencies. There was then before the house a plan providing for the dismemberment of the counties of Napierville, Laprairie and Chateau-guay. Up to the final days the intention was to leave the two parishes of Chateauguay and
St. Philomene in Laprairie and to transfer to St. John's the parishes of St. Cyprien, Napierville and St. Michel. But thanks to the good sense of certain Conservatives, thanks to the spirit of justice and fair play of the leader, Sir John Thompson, thanks to the conciliatory methods of the then leader of the opposition, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, better counsels prevailed and it was decided to unite the counties of Laprairie and Napierville without cutting them up, without scattering some of their parishes left and right, as it is sought to do now.
It seems to me that in the present case it should have been easy to yield certain claims based on political considerations. As the right hon. the Prime Minister said yesterday:
Is it not fair to say that hon. gentlemen opposite must recognize that fact and to recognize the further fact that when a choice ha3 to be made in one of two given ways we must expect that choice to be made in the way that would be most advantageous to the party in power.
Notwithstanding these very human sentiments expressed by the right hon. the Prime Minister, it seems to me that, while taking into due account the legitimate convictions of all concerned, it should be possible to avoid going to extremes, it should be possible to preserve a happy medium and to act in accordance with the principles of common sense. Would it not be possible, while adhering to these principles, to unite Laprairie-Napierville and Chambly? I put this question to the hon. Minister of Marine. Does he believe his chances will be better in Rouville? He is an intelligent man, a man whom I hold in high esteem; I have never missed an opportunity of saying so in public and I do not hesitate to say so in this house. I consider him a gentleman and I know he is well endowed with good judgment, sufficiently, in any case, to realize that in such a matter one must not look only at the results of 1930, but that one must go further back in a county's history to ascertain the political leanings of the various elements of its population. If the hon. minister will look up the history of Rouville he will find that that county has always acted loyally and freely and has sent to this house men of distinction, like Hon. L. P. Brodeur.
I wish to speak frankly. If the hon. Minister of Marine will study the history of the
county of Laprairie he will find that it is not necessary to go very far back to see that, as recently as 25, 30 or 40 years ago, the Liberals in the town of Laprairie could be counted on the fingers of both hands. He will find that for 25, 30 or 40 years Laprairie county was represented by Conservatives, the last of whom, prior to 1896, was a friend of his and of mine, Mr. Conrad Pelletier, a former baton-nier of Montreal, who resided in Laprairie. Would it not be in his own interest to join Laprairie-Napierville to his own county? I do not wish to leave t'he house under the impression that. I am tendering bait to the hon. Minister of Marine. He knows human nature; he is not unaware of what has happened in Laprairie county at the last three or four elections. He knows that the citizens of Laprairie are not intense partisans; they are men of honour and I have no hesitation in stating that the spirit of liberty prevails in the constituency of Laprairie-Napierville.
this spirit of liberty the citizens of Laprairie have given a Liberal majority. When they found out that the Liberal party was the party of liberty-with all due deference to the hon. member for Montmagny-when they found out that the Liberal party instilled a little more happiness in their life and gave their children a little more hope for the future, they voted Liberal. I am unable to foresee the destiny of my party. Should the day come-which God forbid-when the Liberal party finds itself guilty of the distressing blunders committed by the Conservative party in recent years, I am sure that the civic spirit and good judgment of the citizens of Laprairie will lead them to vote against the Liberals and for the Conservatives
In that event, will the hon. Minister of Marine find himself better off with the citizens of Rouville than with those of Laprairie?
Mr. DURANsLEAU (Translation): Will the hon. member allow me to put a question?
might as well dispose of the subject immediately. Does the hon. member consider that it would be fair, from the standpoint of the unit of representation, to join Chambly to Laprairie-Napierville? Does my hon. friend not know that the south shore, that is Chambly, is increasing its population from year to year? With this constant increase Chambly
will likely have, within five years, a population from 20 to 25 thousand greater than it has now. Would it be fair to join Chambly to two other counties? I must say to my hon. friend that the committee took all that into consideration when it prepared the schedule to this bill. The question of political advantage or of whether the Minister of Marine would find himself in a better position at the coming election, should he be a candidate, did not enter into consideration at all.
hon. friend is well aware of the high regard in which I hold him. I thank him for the kind words he uttered about me a moment ago. I may say that the feeling is mutual. What I said about the conformation of Laprairie county was spoken in jest. All the circumstances were duly weighed before preparing the schedule to the bill, and my hon. friend is well aware of the difficulties the committee encountered in respect of Laprairie-Napierville in its endeavours to effect a suitable redistribution. The hon. member admits that it was necessary to merge two counties in that part of the province in order to give Montreal a larger representation. Having gone through all these difficulties, the committee deemed it well to perform the marriage to which my hon. friend has referred and which is not such a bad one after all. I acknowledged yesterday that the arrangement was not a perfect one; but, in the circumstances, the committee considered it was the best it could do.
Mr. Chairman, in reply to the hon. Minister of Marine,
I would point out that the combined counties of Laprairie, Napierville and Chambly would have a population of 47,601, which is slightly higher than the unit established by the 1931 census and far lower than that of many electoral divisions described in the schedule to Bill No. 2. My hon. friend entertains great hopes for an increase of population in Chambly. I readily admit that Chambly, like Laprairie, being contiguous to a large city, wilt likely increase faster than other counties, but I do not think that the next ten years will see its population increase as greatly as the hon. minister appears to think. In any case, we are legislating for to-day. I am ready to believe that, in the redistribution of electoral
divisions planned by the hon. minister and his friends, this factor of future increase in population was not taken into account. Why, therefore, should it be taken into account as regards Laprairie, Napierville and Chambly?
The hon. minister told us just now, in the course of his remarks, that he was not speaking for himself personally.
heard the hon. Solicitor General speak in the same sense and go even further. He went as far as to say that the redistribution had been effected in such a manner as to improve the chances of the Liberals. See, he exclaimed, we have increased your chances in eight Liberal counties, while we have increased ours in two only! Indeed, if I have to accept the statements of my hon. friends opposite-I am obliged to do so in this house, for it is one of the principal rules oif parliament-I shall be inclined to think that, seeing bankruptcy on the point of overtaking the country as a result of their policies, noticing the value of our money decline, in consequence of their disastrous administration, to a point where, within a few months, the Canadian dollar will be worth only 40 cents and perhaps less, foreseeing the fate that awaits them, they feel like doing all they can to bring about their eviction. If we must believe our hon. friends, they are the instruments of their own defeat. We Liberals have therefore but to sit still.