May 5, 1955

PC

J.-Wilfrid Dufresne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Dufresne:

To me, those guffaws of the Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources are ludicrous and unseemly. One would think he had taken leave of his senses.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

Jean Lesage (Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources)

Liberal

Mr. Lesage:

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I don't consider it unseemly to laugh at a member who is having a good time indulging in clownishness in this house.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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PC

J.-Wilfrid Dufresne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Dufresne:

I thank the hon. minister for his statement. At a time when the government is being asked to feed the hungry, and to undertake work projects so that there might be bread on the tables of the needy, the hon. member for Quebec West is said to be indulging in clownishness. I take due note of that remark by the minister, and I hope that newspapers in the province will feature in bold headlines those very words of the Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources who, unfortunately, for a moment, has just lost his bearings. For the gratification of my hon. friend, I will merely say that I have perhaps been somewhat hard on the government and the Prime Minister-

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
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LIB

Maurice Boisvert

Liberal

Mr. Boisvert:

Not at all!

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
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PC

J.-Wilfrid Dufresne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Dufresne:

Not too much?

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
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LIB

Maurice Boisvert

Liberal

Mr. Boisvert:

No, no. Keep it up!

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
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PC

J.-Wilfrid Dufresne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Dufresne:

I am glad to know that the hon. member for Nicolet did not feel involved.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
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LIB

Jean Lesage (Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources)

Liberal

Mr. Lesage:

Knowing where it came from-

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
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PC

J.-Wilfrid Dufresne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Dufresne:

But, aware as I am that it is time something was done about it, I am speaking on behalf of the hungry. This is not a time for rhetoric- and I hope I have not been guilty of any-but it is a time for action, and I made these remarks knowing

that, as a member of this house, I was doing the duty i undertook to fulfil.

Mr. Speaker, if the government votes millions to assist other nations whose economy needs restoring, and to prevent their enslavement by communism, I am all for it. But I am praying the Lord to mould the minds of our leaders and make them realize that, if it is their duty to prevent other nations from falling under the sway of materialistic and godless bolshevism, they will have to legislate in such a way that Canada may stop this hideous plague of communism from implanting deeper roots among our fine Canadian people.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
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Sub-subtopic:   ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

Jean Lesage (Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources)

Liberal

Mr. Lesage:

Will the hon. member permit a question?

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
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Sub-subtopic:   ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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PC

J.-Wilfrid Dufresne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Dufresne:

Certainly, go ahead.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

Jean Lesage (Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources)

Liberal

Mr. Lesage:

Did the hon. member not support the Liberal party in 1945 and, more particularly, did he not take part in a byelection campaign-in the county of Beauce, I think-as a Liberal party member?

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
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PC

J.-Wilfrid Dufresne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Dufresne:

Mr. Speaker, I had been told so many wonderful things about the Liberal party that I thought it necessary to see for myself. I took a jaunt about that party, but was so disgusted with the things that went on that I rushed out of there and returned to the true fold of common sense.

Is the hon. minister satisfied with my answer?

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
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LIB

Jean Lesage (Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources)

Liberal

Mr. Lesage:

I asked, because at that time, you were criticizing on the Liberal side.

(Text):

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
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Sub-subtopic:   ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Before I leave the chair, may I invite all hon. members and our colleagues of the press to come to my chambers so that we may perhaps argue some of the points which have not yet been touched on.

At six o'clock the house took recess.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
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AFTER RECESS The house resumed at eight o'clock.


LIB

Leon David Crestohl

Liberal

Mr. L. D. Crestohl (Cartier):

Mr. Speaker, in rising to speak in this debate I am impelled first of all to join my colleagues in congratulating the minister on the first budget he has brought down. It discloses evidence of deep and considered attention to every phase of our economy and is almost characteristic

The Budget-Mr. Crestohl of the minister's personality because in it he reflects cautious yet ingenious study but always with an eye to the well-being of our people. Those with a political axe to grind must of necessity, even though microscopically, seek reasons to criticize it, but I feel that deep down also in opposition hearts there is a secret admiration for the minister and his splendid budget, for which the entire country is grateful.

I should like to turn now, Mr. Speaker, to the two subjects which have principally engaged the attention of the house since the opening of the present session, unemployment and immigration. Neither of these two have by any means been satisfactorily solved. It is my respectful submission that, considered separately, it is difficult to solve them because, in my humble opinion, they are basically interdependent upon each other for solution, and since both of them seriously affect the overall national economy they are appropriate subjects for examination during a budget debate.

I therefore offer to the house some observations to indicate first the degree of interdependence of the one upon the other and then to suggest that in dealing with them jointly some progress might be made towards their solution.

I should like first of all to refer- in a general way to a number of complaints that repeatedly come before parliament affecting these two subjects. We are told almost annually that a large portion of the wheat crop cannot be easily sold. The dairy farmers lack markets to absorb their produce. The coal mined in the maritime provinces is crying for customers and mines are virtually at a standstill. The lumber output for 1953 was too high for the market then available. Thousands of people are laid off by the railways, and we hear constant complaints from the struggling textile industry, as we did this afternoon from the hon. member for Waterloo South (Mr. White).

All these, Mr. Speaker, create an alarming growth of unemployment that cannot be lightly brushed off by the words "seasonal" or "functional". We should explore the basic causes of these problems and attempt to find a basic remedy.

Let us first of all examine the western farmers' quest for wheat markets. They grow much more wheat now than they did previously, although the number of farmers has not increased. This, of course, is largely due to mechanization. To sell this ever-increasing output there must be consumers at home or abroad. Satisfactory export markets are becoming more difficult to find. What then will the farmers do with the surplus wheat?

The Budget-Mr. Crestohl

Does the house realize, for example, that every 100,000 people require 16 million loaves of bread yearly? By simple mathematical calculation it becomes obvious that sufficient people in Canada could turn the wheat growers' nightmare into a dream without having to depend on substantial foreign markets or on handout subsidies from the people of Canada.

The same applies to the dairy farmers in so far as their surplus butter, cheese and other products are concerned. More people in Canada supplying more domestic appetites and more domestic consumers of produce will certainly bring smiles to the faces of the dairy farmers. The advent of oil and dieselization is largely responsible for increased unemployment for coal miners, and cripples an industry that is already limping badly. Waves of new immigrants, many of whom may settle in the maritimes, will not only revive but will stimulate coal mining as an inexpensive fuel and restore employment for many of our coal miners.

The lumber industry, Mr. Speaker, is another poignant example of the urgent need for more immigrants. The president of the Canadian Lumbermen's Association called for a voluntary reduction-and I emphasize the expression-a voluntary reduction in output for 1954 because, he said, the 1953 production was not absorbed by the available market. Reduction in output means increased unemployment. The converse is equally true. Adequate markets mean increased production. More production provides increased employment.

Then the textile industry, we know, is suffering badly. Customers are its very lifeblood, and unless it receives a so-called shot in the arm large numbers of textile workers are facing unemployment. Does the house realize the extent to which technological advances have reduced employment in this industry? I am told that a factory's capacity, formerly requiring 100 employees working 40 hours per week, is now produced in half the time requiring approximately half the number of workers. To further aggravate the plight of textile manufacturers, it appears that notwithstanding all the legislation which we may enact it is impossible to stem the flow of American textiles into Canada. Consequently, without an export market and with the competition of low-priced textiles, there is little breathing space for Canadian manufactured textiles.

Most other industries in Canada are struggling with similar difficulties. Our markets are shrinking. Japan and Germany have now vigorously re-entered the export field. If a permanent peace is reached with the

iron curtain countries, they too will seek additional foreign markets. With low priced labour in these countries we will find increasing difficulty in competing with them for foreign trade. That is a fact, Mr. Speaker, and almost all hon. members who have spoken in this debate have agreed upon this fact. We cannot, therefore, afford to ignore it. It is a hard and cruel fact. We may not like it, and we do not, yet it is one that we must seriously wrestle with.

What is the answer to dwindling foreign markets? To me there is but one answer. Markets we must have. If we cannot have them abroad we must have them at home, and these must be developed and maintained at the same rate and at the same pace with our production. Unless this is done our entire economy is seriously jeopardized. This largely explains our present unemployment problem causing the country much distress. It is my respectful opinion that providing spasmodic relief for unemployment by way of subsidies, unemployment insurance, increased public works or any form of social welfare relief is, as the Quebec premier quite properly termed it, only a palliative. They are definitely not cures. We must seek and find definite cures. To find them, Mr. Speaker, I respectfully suggest that we should meet the serious problem squarely head on. We should stop dodging it as we have been doing for years. We should nationally take a forthright look at ourselves in the mirror. We may be astonished at what we will see.

We will realize, Mr. Speaker, that our 15 million people are living at a national cost that could easily sustain a population of at least 30 million. For example, I am told that it costs about $60,000 to build an average mile of highway in Canada. It costs the United States, immediately across the border, the same amount to build a similar mile of highway. Yet, by ratio, a mile of highway in Canada services only 100 automobiles by comparison with 1,000 serviced in the United States.

The railroads offer a sharper illustration. It costs as much to build a mile of railway in Canada as it does in the United States. The figure, I believe, is about $100,000 per mile. Yet, the same mile of railway is put to much greater use in the United States than it is in Canada. Statements were made on the floor of the house that large numbers of railroad employees have been laid off. The hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles), who is always so genuinely and extremely concerned about these matters, asked the Minister of Transport (Mr. Marler) during one of the debates, "to allay fears of

further Canadian National lay-offs". The minister explained that the officials are most anxious to hire the men, and will in fact hire them as soon as the traffic improves. Sure, the hon. member's fears might be allayed if he and the members of his party will help to provide traffic for the railroad. But they will certainly not do so by supporting a program of selective immigration, as does the hon. member for Cape Breton South (Mr. Gillis.) They will have to be more generous than that in their views on immigration.

Do they not realize, Mr. Speaker, that the lay-off is directly due to a lack of sufficient people in the country to use our expensive and costly railway systems. The two transcontinental railroads could, with present equipment or with little added rolling stock, handle at least two or three times the volume of their present traffic. This additional volume would certainly not only prevent lay-offs, but would moreover provide additional employment. Must there, Mr. Speaker, be only three or four daily trains between Montreal and Ottawa, and only two trains daily between Ottawa and Toronto or between any other similar terminals? This may be sufficient for the present population.

In the United States, on the other hand, there are trains between comparable centres every hour on the hour. We have the roadbeds in Canada. We have the rolling stock, but, alas, we do not have the traffic. If we had the population more trains would run, more people would travel, more freight would be carried, and thus many more railroad people would be employed.

The same thing applies to all our other public utilities, be it our canals, telegraph lines, harbours, air terminals or the seaway. The cost of operating these services, as well as the cost of government, defence, public works, and social welfare would also be more economically sound, following the well known economic theory that increased volume reduces cost.

The fact is that our present per capita overhead is out of proportion with that of other countries. The sooner we have the courage to recognize it, the sooner will we realize that only a greater number of taxpayers can distribute these carrying charges more equitably and to a proper ratio.

We speak with a sense of pride, Mr. Speaker, about our having astonished the world by our productive capacity. But we must realize that unless we provide consumers who absorb our production, we are actually in danger of being crippled by this industrial colossus which we have ourselves created. It seems to me that our increasing

The Budget-Mr. Crestohl

productivity, stimulated by technology and science, without adequate markets, will progressively constrict our economy and accelerate our tempo of unemployment to the point that our manufacturing needs in Canada today will require only a fraction of our present labour force to produce.

I repeat and emphasize, Mr. Speaker, our productive ability has actually outraced our consuming and marketing capacity to a point that may ultimately strangle us. It is like a spiral working its way inwardly towards the choking centre and is extremely dangerous.

Think of it, Mr. Speaker; we are just a tiny country populationwise and yet we are one of the largest producers in the world. We make nearly everything, aeroplanes, tanks, ships, locomotives, atomic products and so forth. We are one of the world's largest suppliers of aluminum, wheat, nickel, asbestos, gold and other minerals. We enjoy the reputation of having made more progress in the last 50 years than any other country in the world, and yet despite all that we have an aggravated unemployment problem.

In our position, we should be the last country in the world with this type of headache. It is not a natural consequence of our progress. Quite the contrary, it is a most unnatural one and should disturb us as to its cause. It appears to me, Mr. Speaker, that whilst we have raced ahead in every field of productivity, we have been woefully delinquent in the one thing that could sustain this development. We have failed to keep our population growing collaterally with our other levels of progress.

There seems to be an underlying fear of more people in Canada. Whether or not this emanates from labour circles I am not sure, but it does exist. In my judgment, Mr. Speaker, its very existence is a disservice to the future well-being of our country. This fear, I believe, is the basic reason for this menacing imbalance in our entire national economy.

This is indeed a painful situation, Mr. Speaker, and forebodes increasing national problems unless vigorous and courageous steps are promptly taken to remedy it. I therefore, respectfully urge that we now accelerate our activities to make up for lost time and bend every effort to return to a proper balance our growth in population with our growth in industrial and scientific development.

This urgency is abundantly supported by Canadian public opinion. I have in my files a collection of editorials and statements from the press across Canada calling for more

The Budget-Mr. Crestohl people. It will be most informative to hon. members to briefly review some of them, and with the indulgence of the house I would proceed to do so. I start by quoting from an article and editorial appearing in a paper on the west coast.

I quote from the Cowichan Leader of Duncan, British Columbia, for December 30, 1954:

If we could wish Canada any one thing in particular for the New Year it would be a recordbreaking immigration wave . . .

We need immigrants. We can never develop fully without many millions more. The year 1955 is a good time to start, now that we are taking the lid off our large treasure house of resources.

And from the east of Canada, quoting editorially from the Truro, Nova Scotia, News of January 3, 1955:

The case for immigration is simple. In peacetime, "New Canadians" mean enlarged domestic markets for Canadian products barred by restrictive trade practices from export markets . . .

In wartime . . . "New Canadians" are a source of strength to this country's manpower resources.

Then the Kelowna Courier of June 21, 1954, states editorially:

Canada needs more, not fewer immigrants; indeed it is ridiculously underpopulated at present, and this is reflected in a domestic market which is so small as to hamper both industry and agriculture. The Okanagan, for instance, would have no marketing problem if Canada had a population of thirty or forty million.

And from the Bowmanville, Ontario, Canadian Statesman of January 21, 1954:

A greater population for Canada affords the solution of so many national problems, that it astounds thinkers on the subject that it is not more vigorously attacked and pursued by government on all levels.

The Hamilton Spectator of March 7, 1955, states editorially:

Canada can now produce far more than our people can consume. The larger our population, the larger the Canadian market-and the more jobs and better pay.

Then the Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Sun, of February 10, 1954, states editorially:

So long as immigration progresses at a snail's pace, economic independence for Canada from the vagaries of the export market will not soon be realized.

Why this timidity about immigration? Surely people, and more people and still more people is the only answer to the problem of markets.

Then, Mr. Speaker, the Hon. Charles Daley, minister of labour in Ontario, is quoted in the Port Arthur News-Chronicle of December 29, 1954, as follows:

Canada needs more immigrants for her expanding economy, development of her domestic market and the spreading of her national overhead over more people.

Editorially the paper continues:

Such views are both sound and timely. Just how timely is indicated by Mr. Daley's statement that in Ontario alone, since 1949, over 350 new

industries have been established by immigrants from the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and other countries.

Number one target for tomorrow in Canada should be more people.

The Montreal Star of November 13, 1953, reports the statement of Mr. J. D. Ferguson, president of the Canadian Manufacturers Association, as follows:

Canadians are acting like a bunch of ostriches . . .

They depend on the sale of goods to other countries for 24 per cent of their income, and Americans for only six per cent.

Accordingly, Canada, to raise its standard, must either assure itself of its foreign markets and increase them, or else create a domestic market.

And from Ottawa, quoting the Canadian Labour Journal for January, 1954:

With some adjusting of our economy, and a larger population, a much greater home market could be developed in Canada which would free us to a great extent from our present dependence on foreign markets as outlets for our products.

It is interesting to observe, Mr. Speaker, that much of this vast wave of public opinion some 25 or 30 years ago opposed immigration into Canada. Of course the times have changed, and the circumstances and conditions today most certainly justify this change in public opinion.

Some labour circles, however, do not go completely along with these views. They seem to prefer a slower and more selective form of immigration. They are apprehensive that immigrants would crowd the labour market. I would like to say that I would be the first to oppose any move that might be harmful to the workers of this country. In this instance, however, I do not share their view, because they seem to place the emphasis on the immediate consequences of increased immigration, while I prefer to take the longer-range view.

It is true that there may be some pockets of employment during the adjustment period, although I feel that it would not be worse than it is at the present time. But in the long run, Mr. Speaker, immigration would prove to be a great boon not only to our labour force but to the over-all future of our country whose well-being is our first concern.

There seems to be a view that immigrants may deprive Canadians of their jobs. I would like to attempt to explode this bogey. In 1953 I believe some 200 fur workers in the Montreal area were unemployed. They blamed this on the government for having that year admitted 194,000 immigrants, among whom they said there were some 200 fur workers who grabbed their jobs at sacrifice salaries. They therefore urged that immigration to Canada be stopped.

At first blush their complaint seemed to have a basis. What they did not realize however was that these immigrants were also

194,000 potential users of fur coats, since our climate calls for the use of fur coats. That, they completely forgot, or they completely overlooked. The immediate problem may have existed; there may have been some dislocation for the fur workers; but in the long run there were 194,000 additional fur coat customers in Canada, which would provide work in the years ahead for many more than just 200 fur workers.

This is so true of every other commodity produced in Canada and is abundantly confirmed by authorities on the subject and public opinion across Canada, some of which I would like to quote briefly.

The first quotation is from the Letter-Review of April 7, 1952-as far back as 1952-published in Fort Erie, Ontario, which states:

Unemployment, in part seasonal, is causing leaders of labour unions to press for restriction of immigration. This is a short sighted policy advocated regularly by economic illiterates.

More immigration, not less, is the cure for unemployment. Every immigrant is a new customer for the products of Canadian industry and agriculture, increasing opportunities for employment in all parts of the country.

I quote now from the Winnipeg Tribune of December 18, 1954, in which G. S. Thor-valdson, Q.C., president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, states that "experience through the years had shown that immigration creates jobs rather than unemployment".

Again I would like to quote the Hon. Charles Daley who, on November 25, 1954, is quoted in the Grimsby Independent as follows:

Immigration in the long run creates work for others in Canada rather than taking jobs away from others.

And from the Amherst, Nova Scotia, Daily News of December 21, 1953, speaking editorially:

The truth, of course, is that immigrants make jobs: that instead of an immigrant taking away a job from somebody born or already here he actually makes more jobs for him.

That, in its simplest form, is the case for more immigrants.

Then from the Windsor, Ontario, Daily Star of August 7, 1954:

In normal times the argument that immigrants take jobs from other people is fallacious. Because they create, by their purchasing power, as many jobs as they take-or more.

Then my final quotation is from the Winnipeg Tribune of February 25, 1954, which contained an editorial which stated in part:

During the past few years there has been a growing outcry from certain quarters to restrict 50433-221i

The Budget-Mr. Crestohl immigration on the ground that newcomers grabbed jobs and caused unemployment. The government should ignore these outcries. The fact is that Canada needs more people to help the country develop and to provide stable markets for industrial and agricultural products.

To bulwark these opinions I should like to offer a few figures. Since the end of the war Canada has admitted over one million people. During this period we enjoyed years of reasonable prosperity, as one hon. member who spoke today clearly stated. The Financial Post made a survey which partly explains this prosperity. It points out that these immigrants produced a market for some 210,000 houses, 220,000 radios, 100,000 passenger cars,

100,000 refrigerators, 200,000 washing machines, besides food, clothing and everyday requirements.

There was little or no unemployment during the waves of immigration into Canada. Apparently our accelerated production is now catching up with our almost stagnant Canadian consumer market and our dwindling foreign market, and I fear that our problems will grow progressively worse until we compensate or create the necessary replacement markets.

We in Canada speak with the greatest pride of our God-given natural resources. We are fortunate to possess them, but let us recognize that the greatest natural resource of them all is not that which is buried in the ground but that which walks upon it in the form of human beings and is able to convert the buried treasures into their real national asset. Let us also realize that it is the people of a country that represent its very strength and its very life and develop its future.

What, after all, has contributed most to make the United States the world's greatest nation? Its natural resources? Or its people? It was the continuous waves of immigration between 1890 and 1910 that enabled our neighbour to the south to become the leading nation in the world; not its natural resources but its people, uniquely its people.

Therefore I urge respectfully that a courageous change in our immigration policy should be promptly and seriously considered. It should be altered from a negative to a positive approach. Our policy should direct the immigration inspectors to examine prospective immigrants with a view to finding grounds to admit them rather than to ferret out reasons to exclude them. There are thousands of prospective immigrants waiting. The department has the applications but processing is delayed because policy does not permit the officials to deal with them. What a pity!

Among those who are waiting are many highly trained technicians, skilled craftsmen

3500 HOUSE OF

The Budget-Mr. Girard and families of substance, but they are excluded because they do not yet fall within the so-called admissible categories. These must be changed. We should stop playing around with categories and with choking restrictions and display the dauntless courage of our convictions. Additional staff should be hired if necessary to expedite processing and a vigorous assault should be made on every possible source of immigrants.

Our fast-growing country, our vast industrial potential, our advancing standard of living and our defence requirements create a voracious appetite for people. This appetite cannot be satiated by a spoon-fed immigration program. No, not by a mere selective trickle of immigrants will we meet our country's ever-increasing need for people. We need millions, not hundreds or thousands, but millions.

Our approach should frankly be that we seek and want immigrants, and if they are in good health, if they meet our security requirements and have integrating possibilities, they should be welcomed. Our immigration officials are compelled by regulations to make decisions which I know they wish were otherwise. I know they would personally be much happier men if they could say "yes" more frequently than "no". A change in policy and regulations should be made to make this possible and help produce the results we seek.

It is my respectful submission that if we are really to benefit from our vast natural resources, we should not deal with them in a dog in the manger fashion. Some countries live behind an iron curtain; let us not behave as though we have dropped at our ports of entrance a golden curtain behind which we Canadians gloat and past which no one but the select can enter.

On the other hand I am convinced that only a generous lifting of this golden curtain, together with a farsighted and courageous immigration program, will enable us to enjoy the blessings of a happy country. More people will provide an abundance of consumer markets. This will sustain an abundance of production, and this in turn will provide an abundance of employment. This program will in addition help build our defences, assist in lowering our per capita overhead cost of maintaining our ever-increasing national responsibilities, and cumulatively shower upon our country heavenly benedictions for sharing with our brethren in greater numbers the bounteous natural resources which the Almighty has placed in our trust.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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IND

Fernand Girard

Independent

Mr. Fernand Girard (Lapointe):

Mr. Speaker, before going on with my speech I would like to give a friendly welcome to the

new member in our corner. While he is sitting to the left he is not a leftist member. If there are any others who feel that they would like to come here, they will be welcomed. We do not accept everyone, but we need some good members.

(Translation) :

Mr. Speaker, during the next few minutes I would like to raise a problem which is now stirring public opinion in the province of Quebec, a problem which only Ottawa can solve equitably.

I do not intend speaking at length on the budget, because I fully approve the judicious remarks of my colleague, the hon. member for Beauce (Mr. Poulin). As independent members of the house, we have, although with some reservations, deemed it our duty to support the present budget, because it is a step toward lowering of taxes. We regret, however, that the minister left aside other important matters, such as increasing the basic exemption for personal income tax, decreasing extravagant government expenditures, finding an efficient solution to the unemployment problem, and adjusting family allowances in conformity with the rate intended by the government in 1945 and the spirit in which they were enacted, from which they have strayed as a result of the increase in the cost of living during the past seven years. However, we believed that by supporting the new Minister of Finance (Mr. Harris), we might be able to bring him to decrease government expenditures, which are truly extravagant.

Mr. Speaker, the matter I would like to bring to the attention of the house relates to the name of the future Canadian National hotel in Montreal.

I understand that the right hon. Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) and the hon. Minister of Transport (Mr. Marler) have received numerous requests from every corner of the province and even from outside, asking that the hotel be called "Chateau Maisonneuve". If my information is correct I believe that over 200,000 protests and representations have been or will be received by the Canadian National. I have personally received several hundreds of them; that is why I am rising to support the project.

Mr. Speaker, why do we want a French name for this Montreal hotel? I hardly feel it necessary to indicate any reasons here since they all seem so perfectly evident, the

point at issue being the respect due to the rights of the French-speaking citizens of this country, within the confines of their own home.

We want a French name for the very reason, no doubt, which has prompted the officials of the Canadian National Railways to refuse it. It is clear that the company has been guilty of no excessive zeal with regard to the respect of the confederative rights of the two great races of this country.

May I add that as far as the immediate interests of the tourist trade go, a French name would certainly be preferable, financially, since it is the very French character of the province of Quebec-where this future hotel is to be built-which constitutes an attraction for American tourists.

On behalf of various tourist trade promotion groups campaigns have already been launched in order to ensure that our Quebec cities and towns retain that French character which business interests are unfortunately causing them to lose.

There is already a Queen's hotel in Montreal; a second one would create confusion. Personally, I dare say that a queen must prefer having her name honoured elsewhere than in the commercial field.

Mr. Speaker, is it not unfortunate that, on matters which may seem so unimportant, we should have to create a movement of opinion in the midst of an entire population, as is the case in relation to the name to be given to that hotel?

Why is it that in addition to their normal legislative functions, French-Canadian members must insist so often upon the respect of the rights of the French-speaking element with respect to details, perhaps, but which are nevertheless important because of their dangerous recurrence?

We may be insisting upon many matters which may look trivial when compared to the great problems which confront our nation but it must be realized that the accumulation of little injustices encroach dangerously upon the sacred rights of the French-speaking population.

French Canadians would not deserve the title of true Canadians if they did not exert themselves to remain true to themselves, thereby contributing to the enrichment of our Canadian spirit.

Imagine for one moment that a French name were to be given a large Toronto hotel; maybe then our state of mind would be understood.

Our constitution and our government acknowledge, of course, the French fact and its handsome contribution to the cultural

The Budget-Mr. Girard vitality of our country, but we must fight constantly and frequently to obtain constitutional bilingualism on a bit of a cheque.

The government treats us as equal partners in the development of our country, but its public service won't give us more than 13 per cent of its higher positions.

French is one of the official languages in our country, but on the very floor of this parliament it is spoken by only a few, at the risk of not being understood by the majority.

Furthermore, in order to show that we must fight always, even though the French fact is recognized by the constitution, 1 quote the following from page 2 of the Montreal Gazette of yesterday:

(Text):

Decision of the Senate-Commons committee currently studying capital and corporal punishment to hear evidence from one of Canada's two official hangmen, raises new problems. The official in question, Quebec's own official executioner, is reported to speak only French.

(Translation) .[DOT]

If indeed our rights were recognized, it should read instead that as the official representatives of our bilingual country were not able to understand one of the official languages, that had caused some difficulty. As a matter of fact, the recognition of our rights with regard to bilingualism should not be practised at the bottom but at the top.

Of course, we are at home within the confederation, but it is made unbearable for us. There is always a "but" implied in a thousand details, which is perhaps unpleasant for the house, but much more so for those who suffer from them and those who have to denounce them.

There might be the temptation to apply the famous speech from Rostand's L'Aiglon "Not a prisoner, but"; when talking of our people. There is always a "but", which is the only real obstacle to national unity, a "but" that fathers separatism, a "but" that keeps us constantly on the defensive, a "but" that stops us from co-operating openly in the normal process of our national destiny.

It is from Ottawa that the initiative must come for the removal of this "but" that is jeopardizing national unity in this country. By asking the Canadian National Railways to agree to give a French name to a hotel being built in one of the largest French cities in the world, this government would make a gesture of fairness and national unity. Therefore, in concluding my remarks, I would like to make a personal appeal to the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) who cannot refuse his fellow countrymen not a

3502 HOUSE OF

The Budget-Mr. Perron favour but the recognition of their rights. He cannot refuse his intervention for a measure which not only is in the interest of the future hotel itself, but constitutes a safeguard for the sacred rights of the French-Canadian people.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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PC

Robert Perron

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Robert Perron (Dorchester):

Mr. Speaker, the economic slowdown in this country over the past fiscal year has been mainly due to the poor wheat crop in the west. Or so, at least, the Minister of Finance's budget speech would have us believe.

I would like to call to the attention of the government the fact that the crop in the province of Quebec has been no better. Because of constant rains throughout the summer our farmers, who have had great difficulty in seeding last fall, have had almost complete failures. I do not think it exaggerated to state that, at least in my county and adjacent counties, the crop has been just about one-fourth of what it generally is and that the grain produced is of inferior quality.

This has possibly not influenced the national gross product in as spectacular a fashion as the poor wheat crop in the west, but it has nevertheless placed the farmers of our rural counties in a difficult position. They are faced at this time with a shortage of good quality seed grain. This short supply means that the seed will cost more, so that farmers will have to spend hundreds of dollars more than before for spring seeding.

The situation is serious and many farmers do not expect to be able to sow their fields, which would be a disaster for themselves and for the economy in general.

Other members of the house have mentioned that situation, in particular the member for Bonaventure (Mr. Arsenault). The member for Bonaventure writes excellent books but sometimes makes bad speeches. He told the house about the situation in the province of Quebec on the agricultural front, but it is to the provincial government that he applied for help. It seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that he would have been wiser to put to good use the marked influence he exerts upon the federal government and ask it to take action to solve that very acute problem.

And he might have put forward numerous precedents. To mention only two cases, when Nova Scotia apple producers were heayily hit and when the western farmers needed help recently, the central government was not reluctant to grant them the help called for in such

predicaments. I do not see why, when it is the farmer in the province of Quebec who needs help, the federal government should not be as liberal as it has been elsewhere, in the face of a situation which is exactly the same and which is due to identical causes.

Therefore I ask the government to provide them with some assistance, in co-operation with the different agricultural organizations of our province, either by way of loans-for our farmers do not want handouts-or by way of subsidies.

There is no doubt that the prosperity of our farmers is the very basis of the general prosperity of our country; as a matter of fact, unemployment is directly connected with and due to our agricultural recession. It will come to an end at the same time as the agricultural depression.

If you read the report of last year's operations under the Farm Improvement Loans Act, R.S.C., 1952, chapter 110, you will see that the loans to farmers, and guaranteed by the government, have gone down by $35 million in 1954. In other words they were reduced from $98 million in 1953 to $63 million in 1954, a difference of $35 million. These figures are clear enough, and show how the farmer is in need of money, either to buy agricultural implements, improve livestock, or to carry out certain building and improvement projects on the farm.

The effect of that situation is to paralyse the general economy of this country, and this is why the government should not hesitate to help eastern farmers who had a poor crop last year, in order to solve the economic problems of this country and prevent them from getting worse.

To go on with my suggestion, Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the government should not amend the Farm Improvement Loans Act so that it might be possible to ensure the loans of money needed by the farmers in the spring for their seed purchases.

The loans made to date, under this legislation passed in 1945, amount to $513 million, and the loans which the government is called upon to reimburse, according to its guarantee, amount to only $149,814, which is a very insignificant figure, that is, of 1 per cent. This means that loans to farmers are very secure investments. They are probably the best the government could make.

At all events, if the government decided to amend the law in this way, I would be pleased to vote in favour of the amendment.

There is another question I would like to deal with briefly and which concerns the price of pulpwood in the province. It is obvious, Mr. Speaker, that the price of pulpwood is much too low when compared with the cost of paper.

The hon. member for Bonaventure suggested a minimum price of $15 per cord. Objectively speaking, being one who has never bought or sold any, I believe that the price should be much higher, in the neighbourhood of $25 or $30. When paper was cheaper, indeed much cheaper, companies paid from $25 to $30 per cord. In my opinion, such an amount would be fair to the farmers and settlers of the province. However, prices offered by the companies during the last season have been extremely low, so much so that the hon. Minister of Justice (Mr. Garson) had an inquiry made to ascertain whether there was collusion between the various companies to fix the sale price, so as to do away with competition. I congratulate the hon. Minister of Justice for having instituted that inquiry.

I am sure that this thing will be inquired into with that earnestness and that fair-mindedness typical of such inquiries.

However I should like to refer to a point which I note in the speech of the hon. member for Bonaventure, and which shows that my hon. friend was not in earnest. Here are his words as reported on page 3248 of Hansard for April 28:

2. I respectfully urge-

The hon. member wanted the provincial government to set a minimum price. I quote:

I respectfully urge the Hon. Maurice Duplessis, premier of the province of Quebec, and the members of his government, to adopt an order in council fixing the minimum price to be paid to pulpwood producers in the province of Quebec. Such a minimum price would have to be at least $15 a cord, delivered at a truck loading site, for the eastern part of the province.

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister of Canada is most assuredly one of the most learned members of the Canadian bar. With your permission-if I may be allowed to digress- I would like to point out that this year marks the fiftieth anniversary of his admission to the bar of the province of Quebec. This happy occasion will be observed in Quebec city next Saturday, at the same time as the similar anniversary of the chief justice of Quebec, and of other distinguished members of the bench and bar. Chief Justice Albert Sevigny, by the way, once sat as Conservative member

The Budget-Mr. Perron for Dorchester in this house before becoming its Speaker, a position which you now occupy with such dignity and which he himself also occupied with great dignity.

I would like to avail myself of this opportunity, even though the Prime Minister is not in the house at this time, to offer him my congratulations and my best wishes for a long and happy life.

To come back to the point, the member for Bonaventure has asked the provincial government to set the price of the wood at $15 a cord. I wanted to state that he had committed a great legal heresy when he made that statement and that the legal sense of the Prime Minister must have been shocked by such a request on the part of a government member.

No doubt about it, from the legal and constitutional point of view, no government has the right to fix the selling price of a given product unless as a measure of national emergency, as was the case during the last war when the federal government fixed and froze prices, under the authority granted by the War Measures Act. Outside of that, apart from those measures of national emergency, the fixing of prices is a legal impossibility under the system which now prevails in Canada.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

Bona Arsenault

Liberal

Mr. Arsenault:

May I direct a question to the hon. member?

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink

May 5, 1955