Mr. H. J. Robichaud (Gloucester):
Mr. Speaker, like those who have preceded me in this debate I too at the outset should like to extend my congratulations to the mover and seconder of the address in reply to the speech from the throne. I want also to congratulate the right hon. Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) and his cabinet upon their wise
decision in selecting the experienced and most able member for Timiskaming (Mrs. Shipley) to move the address in reply to the speech from the throne. The choice was most appropriate as the speech advocated the introduction of a bill to provide that women shall receive pay equal to that paid to men for equal work in industries which are under federal jurisdiction. It was most logical that the hon. member, representing as she does the electors of a great constituency, speaking as one entitled to speak in the name of all the women of Canada, should be the first one to congratulate the government for another move in the right direction and for the adoption of a policy which will protect and widen the freedom of thought, speech and action for which all citizens of our great country are so grateful.
The seconder of the address (Mr. Laflamme) has clearly shown that the electors of the beautiful agricultural constituency of Belle-chasse were well advised in sending him here as their worthy representative in the government of the country. The electors of that constituency may without fear increase the confidence they have placed in him at the by-election of last fall; his electors, the majority of whom practise the noble profession of farming, may rest assured that their interests are in good hands.
It seems rather difficult to explain why the leader of the official opposition should classify the speech from the throne as uninformative and containing less information than any previous speeches from the throne. Anyone who reads the speech carefully-and this should include the hon. member who has just preceded me-will surely find more than the revision of two acts and the amendment of ten others.
Was the hon. member who has just spoken forecasting the policy now being formulated at his party's convention, which is being held at the present time in Ottawa? May I repeat in English in a very few words what he has said in French, for the immediate benefit of the few members of his party now sitting in this house? He asked the government of the country to double family allowances and to increase the old age pension to $60 per month without any means test. Is this a forecast of what is to be decided by the convention being held at the Chateau Laurier? I am sure the position of his party was quite different when the law was passed a few years ago introducing the family allowance in this country.
Anyone who reads the speech from the throne carefully will surely find much more
-than has been presented to us for our consideration by the short amendment of the Leader of the Opposition. This government, which we on this side of the house are prepared and proud to support, has been a government which deals in action, a government ready to meet criticism and accept suggestions, a government whose past history will show that vigorous and searching inquiry has infallibly proven its trustworthy integrity and zealous devotion to the welfare, prosperity and freedom of a great nation.
How can a well-thinking representative of the Canadian people justify an accusation of indifference, inertia and lack of leadership in the face of serious national problems, against the present government of this country? Was it not a Liberal administration under the great leadership of Wiliam Lyon Mackenzie King that so wisely and so successfully administered the affairs of this country during the second world war? And today is not our country under the able leadership of our present Prime Minister, of whom all Canadians are so proud and from whom the free nations of the world are so earnestly seeking co-operation and advice?
Is Canada today not taking a leading role in the international field? Were we not ably and successfully represented when we had our Prime Minister touring the world on a mission of peace and good will? Are we indifferent when we have men like our present minister of external affairs, our ministers of national health and welfare, of trade and commerce and of labour, or others, leading our Canadian delegations at Geneva and at NATO meetings, or in our determination to ensure a lasting peace for the free nations of the world? Are we so indifferent and can we be rightfully accused of inertia when our country's economy, under the present administration, is constantly increasing and, within an over-all climate of political and economic freedom, reaching records never dreamed of by our present generation? Are we inactive, and is our Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation Act inefficient, when our construction of new homes reaches the fabulous figure of 130,000 units in a single year and when our construction program exceeds $5 billion in the same year?
The Leader of the Opposition was right for once when he said:
I do not for a moment suggest that I expect the Liberal members of this house to vote for the short amendment that I shall present.
It is true to say that we have to face serious national problems, but I want to express my complete disagreement with the mover of the amendment when he says that the advisers of Her Majesty lack leadership in facing such problems.
The Address-Mr. Robichaud
A growing and progressive country like Canada is bound to be faced from time to time with problems of a serious and national nature. In fact some of these problems are mentioned in the speech from the throne and these, I might add, are not included in the revision of the two acts and the amendments to ten others which have caught the attention of the opposition. Canada is today playing a prominent role and contributing a substantial portion of its resources to the maintenance of armaments and the assurance of peace in the world.
In facing our national problems, it has been the aim of our government to maintain a Canadian unity; unity among our population from coast to coast, as well as unity in our economy. We from the maritime provinces, who for so long have been referred to as originating from what have been called "have-not" provinces, have always consented to any major policy which could contribute to the benefit and welfare of our great nation. We realize that to achieve and to maintain this economic unity and stability, the farmer in the prairie provinces as well as the labourer in Ontario and Quebec must be provided with earning facilities which are inherent in a healthy and sound national economy.
We realize that we have to face with broadminded views the problems confronting the wheat farmers in the west and the difficulties arising from the diversified industries of the central provinces. We disregard any parochial or sectional attitude which could paralyse or even delay the march of progress and development of this great nation, a democratic country where peace and freedom may reign forever. We support assistance to the wheat farmer, the construction of the St. Lawrence seaway, and the participation of our government in the financing of the trans-Canada pipe line. We accept, although with some reluctance at times, the centralization of those numerous industries necessary to maintain our vast production program for defence purposes.
However, allow me to say that we from the maritimes-and this would apply more so to us from New Brunswick, and particularly to my constituency of Gloucester-have about reached what we could call a saturation point. The days have gone by when we wish to be called beggars or "have-not" provinces. We have at our front door the vast resources and the richness of the Atlantic ocean. We have in New Brunswick over 15 million acres of productive forests, further implemented by soil and climatic conditions excellent for natural reproduction. This can be a most valuable asset to a large percentage of our population provided, however,
The Address-Mr. Robichaud that our lumbermen are assured a lair deal and that lumber dealers are prepared to pay a reasonable and profitable price to those participating in this industry.
The recent discoveries of lead, zinc, copper and silver ore, chiefly in the northern and northeastern parts of the province, are most important to our economic future. In my own constituency of Gloucester, the town of Bathurst, the centre of this great development, whose population has increased by 48 per cent in the last 15 years, could easily be called upon to double its present population within the next three to five years. In fact it is in most urgent need of a public building to house the personnel of various government departments, and its citizens have warmly welcomed the recent announcement of the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Winters) respecting the construction of a new structure at the earliest possible date.
I sincerely hope that the Minister of Public Works will include in this year's estimates a sufficient appropriation to proceed without delay with the construction of this most urgently needed public building. At a later opportunity this session I intend to stress the urgency of proper improvements to shipping facilities for the port of Bathurst.
I have just said that we have in the maritime provinces vast natural resources of the sea and the soil which could assure our population their rightful participation in the general economy of the country. This participation in the welfare of the entire nation has been assured us by confederation. Unfortunately our geographical position, our limited population and our competitive transportation problems have had the ill effect of weakening the links of this union of provinces created by the Canadian confederation.
I do not want at this particular time to elaborate on the need of future developments in our fishing industry. I expect also to have the opportunity to discuss this vital question at a future date during this session. However, I must say that we are amazed to learn from reports originating from scientists of the fisheries research board that we have in our gulf of St. Lawrence waters one of the largest potential herring fisheries in the world, and to see that our Atlantic coast fishermen are still using the outmoded and obsolete methods of their forefathers to catch this particular type of fish. If we are to reap the harvest of the sea and maintain a flourishing industry, the federal Department of Fisheries must activate its research program without delay and at the same time make it more practical and accessible to the average fisherman.
We all realize that all power resources as; well as raw materials that can be taken from the soil are the property of the provinces. Our Prime Minister said, when addressing the federal-provincial conference last fall, and repeated in the house as found at page 49 of Hansard of January 12:
. . . we lelt that parliament should not provide lor sharing in the cost ol provincial projects except in special circumstances and as part ol a policy which we could justily on national grounds.
The discovery of large deposits of lead, zinc, copper and silver in the Bathurst-Newcastle area of New Brunswick, which has occurred in the last few years, can be considered as one of the most important events in the economic life of our province since confederation. Preliminary surveys have indicated that mining costs will be relatively low, and the deposits being within easy reach of water, shipping facilities are well situated from the standpoint of world markets. We know, however, and I must repeat, that the key to the future development of these mines is the provision of large supplies of relatively cheap electric power. When such an opportunity is offered to a section of the country which has been seriously and adversely affected by faith in the union of confederation, we of the maritime provinces must insist on the restoration of these differentials which could rectify the ill effects of the union.
The capital investment required to provide our potential industries with relatively cheap power is tremendous and, furthermore, we are deprived by nature of the numerous flows of water from the far north which are generating power so abundantly for industries of the central provinces. A project known as Beechwood is now under way on the Saint John river which will provide-I would have liked the hon. member who has just spoken to hear this-barely enough power to supply the normal requirements of an increasing growth in the demand for domestic consumption and small industries. The undertaking of an over-all program which would include the entire Saint John river system would involve the province of Quebec and the state of Maine.
The development of the hydroelectric power potential of an international river valley system, like the Saint John river in New Brunswick, presents problems of great complexity and beyond the financial capacity of a small province like New Brunswick. It is our belief that the development of such projects should be undertaken under the joint auspices of the provincial governments concerned and the federal government. Otherwise a province may have to alienate a portion of its resources to the United States in order to obtain the necessary funds for hydroelectric power
The Address-Mr. Robichaud
development. In such a case I cannot help but remind the house that there exists a policy of the federal government which affects in many ways, both directly and indirectly, the conservation and utilization of Canada's natural resources.
If we are to participate in the strengthening of the Canadian economy as a whole, if we are to benefit from this economic growth and are not to be regarded as a burden or a weak link in the Canadian confederation, we must insist that the federal government establish a policy to assist our province or other provinces in essential natural resource development. Is New Brunswick to become an exporter of its newly found raw materials for
the benefit of other countries, or are we in a position to assure the citizens of Canada that the possible new industries to be derived from these discoveries are not to settle beyond the borders of the province or the dominion?
Yes, if we want this assurance it is the duty of our governments to provide these mining companies with relatively cheap power, thus giving for the future that balanced economy so earnestly desired by our entire population.
On motion of Mr. Robichaud the debate was adjourned.