about the speech of the Leader of the Opposition. He complained about the speech from the throne and about the vagueness of language. That was rather a curious remark because as I read the speech from the throne it seemed to bristle with plans.
I will have occasion to read them again when I am replying to the hon. member for Essex East. The speech from the throne contains measures to accelerate house building; there is a reference to public works; to an amendment to the Unemployment Insurance Act; to slum clearance and so on. I shall have occasion to refer to that later on, therefore I shall not go on with it now.
596 HOUSE OF
The Address-Mr. Macdonnell
Another thing that I want to point out is that, apart from everything else, we have really got a new conception of the north country. The Prime Minister has really introduced a new dimension into our thinking about Canada-north as well as in the east and west. I am not suggesting that the former minister was not interested in the north. Indeed, I remember seeing a photograph of him once in the north; but I do suggest there was at that time no real interest which had affected the public mind as to the north country.
Perhaps the greatest satisfaction that I think we might have as a result of this election is that we can now proclaim in a way which I believe has not been true for many years that we now have national unity in this country. I think we can say that we have gone back many years, almost to the time of Macdonald, when he had a representation in Quebec which was, I am sure, the greatest happiness to him. Now that we have 50 members from Quebec it is going to be impossible for the old racial talk to go on which wounded so many of us so greatly, and which was practised in this house for so many years. I think it is fair to say that in this debate that we are taking part in now there has been practically no racialism. I cannot remember any. I am sorry to say I understand that that was not quite true of the election but nevertheless it is true now, and that is a very great thing to have happened and I am proud to be a member of this house and this party when that has happened.
I would like to say not more than a word about the gentleman, now sitting in rather reduced numbers in opposition, at a time when they were sitting on this side of the house. We remember the serried and disciplined ranks. We remember discipline even to the point that on a certain famous occasion they sang in unison "Onward Christian Soldiers."
That was part of the discipline of those days and we have got away from it. The official opposition, I might point out, was almost cut in two last June and then cut in two again this time. That is something I suppose we shall never see again in our day. So much for the official opposition.
I wish to say a word now about the C.C.F. They were reduced by 75 per cent but what a grand time they are having. There are only eight of them popping up and down like jacks-in-a-box. They can speak every day; they can ask questions every day. I should think their only difficulty is in doing their
homework. We notice that the hon. member for Kootenay West (Mr. Herridge) really does not seem to have the time to embroider his questions with all the quips and paradoxes that he usually uses. Indeed, when he asked a question yesterday it was just asked in plain, ordinary English.
I hope that the members of the C.C.F. present will not object in any way when I say that the situation reminds me of an experience I had in the first world war. There was a first war. Some people doubt it but there actually was. I remember being in the trenches one day as an artillery officer with a small group of survivors of the Royal Irish Regiment. They had been terribly decimated not long before but when their supplies left the base they had been still at full strength. These few survivors got the rum issue for the whole platoon. In other words, 5 or 6 men got the rum issue for 50 or 60 men and it was really delightful to see how they took the war. The war no longer had any terrors for them, not for the time being. It seems to me that the C.C.F. members are in somewhat the same position. They get all the nostrums sent up from the base. They get all the heady mixtures which they deal out to us and there are only a few of them in the position of discharging the ammunition.
I had not intended to deal further with any of the speeches from across the way. I thought my colleague, the Minister of National Revenue (Mr. Nowlan), had done that but by reason of what the hon. member for Essex East said today I certainly must have something to say in reply. The hon. member undertook to reproach this party for being careless, slack and negligent of their duty with regard to unemployment. I think the simple answer to that is just to read to him some of the things we have done in the short 8 or 9 months we have been in office. I would doubt if there is any record to equal it. I will read a few of these things which I think will impress the hon. member who, when he is himself, among friends and not feeling it necessary to take a party fine, is a fair-minded man.
We brought about substantial increases in pensions of all kinds, old age assistance, pensions for veterans, pensions for the disabled and for the blind. We increased the salaries of civil servants. We have restored the construction industry to good health by making $300 million of government funds available for mortgage loans. We have brought about a new atmosphere in relations between the federal and provincial levels of government and have increased the provincial share of personal income tax this year by an estimated $87 million. The hon. member talked a lot about doctrinaire grievances in
this relationship but the fact is that things have happened and things have been done.
We have increased the federal grant for hospital construction from $1,000 to $2,000 a bed. We have instituted a new system of support prices for agricultural products, provided cash advances on farm stored grain, sold and moved wheat at a record rate out of the huge stock accumulated in recent years, enlarged Canada's Colombo plan aid and embarked upon a program of development of resources in co-operation with the provinces far beyond anything ever known in Canada's history before. We have taken measures to expand Canada's trade abroad. A plenary commonwealth trade and economic conference will be held in Canada this year.
As mentioned in the speech from the throne, there are other things that are going to be done such as measures to accelerate public works, slum clearance, the railway to Great Slave lake and other things. The answer to the hon. member for Essex East is that an enormous number of things have been done and are under way.
The hon. member also tried to smear the commonwealth conference. He wants to know why it will not be held in Ottawa. There is a very good reason for that. You cannot be sure what will be happening here in Ottawa. It has not been unknown for parliament to sit in the autumn and there just would not be room to have the conference. That was given very careful thought and that is the reason for that. As to those who are going to attend it, all I can say is that the Prime Minister (Mr. Diefenbaker) is going to attend. What the hon. member said about the Minister of Finance (Mr. Fleming) is quite true, but the fact is that there will be the closest contact by the Prime Minister with what is going on. It is suggested that in some way the conference is going to be a second-rate affair because of the people who will attend. If I may say so, that to me is sheer moonshine.
The Address-Mr. Macdonnell
I think that is all I want to say about the hon. member's speech. To my mind what has happened in these last months is that we have taken a vigorous and constructive attitude towards unemployment. The situation has not been easy but a great deal has been done. The situation is still not clear but every effort has been made and will be made to take care of it.
I want to answer now one rather loud noise from the hon. member for Ottawa East (Mr. Richard) who demanded that $5 million be put into the civil service retirement fund. In that regard I wish to refer to the Ottawa Citizen of February 12. It is reported there that the Minister of Finance had said that day that "percentage increases in civil service pensions to correspond with general salary boosts are under active consideration by the government." I think we can fairly boast, with the record of the government so far, that "active consideration" when used by a minister of the present administration means something. It is not just a put-off.
With the permission of the house I should like to talk about democracy for a few minutes and the challenge which faces us. This is partly inspired by words which Field Marshal Montgomery used when he was here the other day. I often wonder whether we who have been born and brought up under a democracy and free institutions take enough time to realize, first of all how fortunate we are; second, that these things do not come down from heaven unassisted; and, third, that they must be preserved by the constant vigilance of serious men.
We sit in what we call a free parliament, and I should like to ask in a word what a free parliament is. To me the essence of a free parliament is a parliament where the rights of the opposition are scrupulously observed. I remember an incident in the election campaign of 1945, the first one in which I had any part.
One of the Russians who was here, and who apparently had been very sceptical about the reality of our free institutions, apparently was convinced at last that there was such a thing as freedom when he found that the opposition was free to criticize the government, the only restraint being the law of libel. I like to think of that. I think there is a great danger that some of us may, as I say, take it for granted. We may forget certain important things. We are inclined to think of it as something that has existed from time immemorial.
We have heard that the Athenians had democracy 2,500 years ago. We do not take the time to recall that that type of democracy was something entirely different from ours. It had no relationship to ours. We forget
The Address-Mr. Macdonnell that democracy, as we have it, with universal suffrage is less than 100 years old. We are apt to forget that it extends over only a small part of the earth. It is only when a country like France, for which we have the greatest admiration and respect, is faced with the difficulties she is experiencing there now that we recall these things. Even when we do recall these facts, we probably say to ourselves: "It could not happen here." The answer to that is it could happen any place where people are off their guard and are not zealously cherishing their free institutions.
I should like to read a short quotation from a speech by Viscount Montgomery. We do not usually take our political wisdom from soldiers, but he said some things that are very interesting and which are worth looking at. The other day, speaking to the Canadian Club here, he said some things which are reported in the Ottawa Citizen. I quote:
It is high time that the contest against Russia be regarded as a world-wide struggle.
We now face a global contest which will be a political, financial, and economic war, directed at the very foundations of our civilization and standard of living.
Political chiefs must put first things first and decide the priorities as to the tasks to be met on the various fronts.
Then, he had this to say about Canada, and this is what I want us all to consider:
"It seems to me Canada is in a unique position to provide robust world leadership", said the hero of El Alamein. "Your nation cannot be charged with the stigma of colonialism; you're lucky that way. You have a very good amalgam of French and British blood; that's good. It is quite clear to me that the nations of the world are looking to Canada for a lead. That is a fact. I am not saying that to please you. I would like to see Canada develop a foreign policy of its own, not tacked on to someone else, and give that lead."
I am not asking you to take Viscount Montgomery's words with exact literalness. I think perhaps he did exaggerate our part, but nevertheless it seems to me that we cannot do less than take them seriously, particularly when we contemplate what is going on in France at the moment.
I should like to quote briefly from a thoughtful writer. He is not a political partisan of ours but he is a man who I am sure loves freedom as much as anyone. I refer to Bruce Hutchison. He re-asks the famous question of Lincoln at Gettysburg, that is whether "a system conceived in liberty and dedicated to government of, by and for the people could long endure". He believes the answer is far from certain. He notes that democracy is in an ultimate crisis, and then he points out that the western world's superiority is now disappearing; that the feeling we have that no other system could ever
equal ours in power, intelligence, efficiency and wealth has broken down. Then he says:
After telling ourselves, and apparently proving in two wars, that all other systems were damned by their inward torsions, and by their enslavement of man, we ought to realize that this expectation is false, at least for the calculable future.
Then, he goes on to speak about the way government has entered our lives. He says:
Fifty years ago government was remote from most men's lives, almost irrelevant to their private business, but they could understand all it was doing and easily correct it from time to time.
I have brought this to your attention, not because I have any right to preach sermons, but because we in this house have to guide ourselves. We live in this world where democracy is being questioned, where it is under fire and is receding in certain quarters. I suggest that all of us, and I am perhaps thinking mostly of the large number of private members in our own party, should recall that the Prime Minister has given us a lead. He has shown unmistakable signs that he intends to treat that expression of "democracy-parliament" with scrupulous care. I drew attention already to one thing that has been done.
I should like now to read a short quotation from a great statesman of former years who was regarded as a great Conservative. I refer to Burke who said that he was not a member for Bristol, but a member of parliament; that he would consider the views of his constituents, but would never be bound by them; that his concern as a legislator with legislation was with the national, not with any sectional interest; and that the legislator must do what he considered right, acting on information not always available to the voters, regardless, if necessary, of their current opinions. Many of you will say that that is a counsel of perfection; how could we do that? We are sent here by the voters. All I can say is that I am not setting myself up as a prophet. All I am saying is that those are words which none of us can afford to neglect. This is one of the advantages of the strong position of the government in this house, that we are in a better position to look at questions of this kind in a serious, informed and responsible manner.
I feel if I have said any word which will cause us to consider these things for ourselves, to consider that we have great privileges and that it is an inescapable fact that with great privileges go great responsibilities, then I have achieved something. Whether or not we can do what Viscount Montgomery has put forward, there is a challenge which I think none of us can afford to ignore.
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased indeed to add my congratulations upon your appointment as Speaker of this house. Possessing as you do the necessary attributes for a good Speaker, we may rest assured that you will successfully occupy the chair during your sojourn in the House of Commons. I should like also to express my congratulations to the Deputy Speaker, as well as to the mover (Mr. Lafreniere) and seconder (Mr. Nielsen) of the address in reply to the speech from the throne. These hon. members can be satisfied that when their constituents read their speeches, they will be proud of their efforts.
I should like also at this time to pay tribute to our leader who, at the present time, enjoys the recognition of the world for his outstanding contributions to peace.
Since confederation North Renfrew has been quite a political battleground. I am very happy to be able to say today that the people of the constituency returned to the fold, although their decision was somewhat delayed. Lumbering, dairy farming and cattle-raising have been important factors in the development of my riding. Recently however, in the past 10 or 15 years, the situation has changed somewhat with the arrival of industry and the development of the Petawawa military camp as well as the atomic energy plant at Deep River. These two new industries, as I call them, have meant a great deal to the people of my riding, and it is to be hoped that they will continue for some considerable time.
As a member of the House of Commons and one who is not too ambitious because of age, I feel that my paramount duty is to my constituency and to contribute as much as possible to the welfare of all members of the constituency regardless of their political color or stripe. Industries of which we have not too many have suffered like others during this recession and, as a result, we have a substantial number of unemployed. The day before yesterday I obtained the figure. The number was 2,405 which compares with 2,719 a week ago and 1,380 a year ago. However, in fairness, it must be admitted that part of this unemployment is seasonal. The opening of the saw mills last week has returned jobs to 300.
North Renfrew is noted as well for its natural beauty, its many lakes and streams and as an outstanding hunting and fishing territory. The tourist trade in our riding is increasing each year, and we all know how important it is to maintain this business and to expand it throughout Canada.
While I have not the slightest desire to cry havoc with regard to the unemployment
The Address-Mr. Forgie situation, I think it is obvious that a public works program is not the answer to unemployment. I firmly believe that the solution lies in a policy of increasing the spending power of the consumer. That objective can be largely if not completely accomplished by increasing the income tax exemption of married couples and single people. If we were to construct five public buildings in the town of Pembroke, outside of which I live, it would not take up much of the slack as far as unemployment is concerned in my section of the country. This subject has been discussed by practically every hon. member who has risen in the house since the debate on the address in reply to the speech from the throne began and I shall therefore not belabour it. It can be discussed in the proper place later on. Of course, as to the increase in tax exemptions for both married and unmarried people I might say that, as you know, was our battle cry in the last election.
I am very happy to say that the plans for the construction of buildings at Petawawa and Deep River, which were made by the former Liberal administration, have been accepted in the main by the government of the day and that the work is going forward in a satisfactory manner. Petawawa camp and the atomic energy plant at Chalk River make terrific contributions to the town of Pembroke which, as hon. members possibly know, is the county town. The combined payroll of Deep River and Petawawa military camp for those people who are residing in Pembroke or beyond-at Westmeath and other places-is greater than the combined payroll of industry in the town of Pembroke. It does not take any stretch of the imagination to realize that this matter is of great importance to my section of the country.
There is one point I should like to make and I should like to have the ear of either the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Green) or the Minister of Defence Production (Mr. O'Hurley). In the construction of these houses outside Petawawa military camp I should like to see the government co-operate, if possible, with the village of Petawawa which is anxious to co-operate, in order to see to it that when the services are laid on with respect to the 176 acres that were acquired there during the last regime they will meet with the council of the township of Petawawa and see whether a satisfactory arrangement cannot be made so that pollution of the Petawawa and Ottawa rivers will be stopped. I think that could be done. From discussing the matter with the council I know that they are prepared to pay what they can afford in order to remove this situation.
We were very fortunate indeed in securing these lands. We obtained 176 acres, as we
The Address-Mr. Forgie thought, for $13,500. But when the survey was put in, we found that we had 219 acres, so we obtained 43 acres as a gift. That went to the Veterans Land Act administration under which veteran homes are being built and the balance is turned over to the Department of National Defence for the construction of homes for the wives and children of soldiers who are at present at Peta-wawa camp or who will be there in the future.
There is one point that I should like to bring to the attention of the government, of the Minister of Public Works and the Minister of Defence Production, and it is this. We have an abundance of excellent timber and cement blocks that can be bought within five miles of Petawawa military camp. The Ottawa valley, as you know, was noted for its lumber production-that is what made the valley-until the last 20 years or so. I submit that these materials should be acquired by the contractor at Petawawa to carry out these contracts now awarded. I would ask the Minister of Public Works and the Minister of Defence Production to investigate this matter thoroughly and to see that the people in my riding engaged in lumbering operations and the construction of cement blocks be given an opportunity to supply these materials.
I may say that all along that has been the situation, except that we had difficulties when the Liberal administration was in power in connection with the contractor bringing in low-priced labour there and allowing our chaps in the district to stand by; they were unable to get a job in Petawawa military camp at the time.
At the present time one of the leading contracting firms at Petawawa has not been obtaining its labour from residents of the riding although the Department of Labour, through its representative in Pembroke, offered every co-operation to the contractor when the contract was awarded. It is my understanding that only four employees were sent up last week. There has been a great deal of ballyhoo about this thing, but I can assure you that no people have been employed from the unemployment office. The figure I obtained yesterday was four. As I said, we had a similar situation there during the Liberal administration and it took a bit of doing to straighten it out. It was not satisfactorily straightened out, in my judgment, even with all the work that was put on it. These unemployment insurance offices go to a great amount of trouble to secure jobs for people in the various localities throughout the country. It is my opinion that these contractors who secure government contracts should play the game with the government
when it comes to the question of employment, especially in times such as those through which we are now going.
In discussing with selective service this matter of employing men from Arnprior and Renfrew at Petawawa camp it was pointed out that these men would be compelled to seek board and lodging in Petawawa near the job, and that this would result in a substantial reduction in take home pay.
At a meeting held in Pembroke by organized labour prior to the last election I pledged my support to organized labour. It seems that many of the employees, to whom it has been stated jobs will be given at Petawawa, are opposed to organized labour and that even the contractor himself holds the same view. In a letter to the Pembroke Observer written, apparently, by a union carpenter, it is stated that non-union men are getting the preference on this new job.
I sincerely hope this is not the case, but if it is I would expect to have a complaint lodged with me so that I can discuss the matter intelligently with the Minister of Labour (Mr. Starr). I have no intention of ignoring the pledge I made to organized labour prior to March 31. Petawawa camp and the contractors who have been working there during the past 15 years or so have always played ball with Pembroke workers and veterans of both world wars. There have been one or two unpleasant incidents, but on the whole working conditions have been satisfactory and are so today.
I should like to see the contractors in our district awarded some of these government contracts but I am afraid they are unable to raise the large sums required as deposits when tendering for 250 or 300 houses. If these contracts were broken down I believe our contractors could handle the construction efficiently and expeditiously. I was responsible, in 1947, for building 15 houses for veterans in Pembroke beside the cottage hospital to exactly the same plans and specifications as houses of similar type built in Ottawa. Construction of the houses in Pembroke cost $400 less than that of similar houses in Ottawa. I say this to illustrate the advantage of having the work done locally. These contractors are thrifty, hard-working individuals and it seems a shame to me that outside contractors should be coming in to take these contracts. The only way in which the government could exercise any real measure of control over them would seem to be by way of the cost-plus system-
To turn to another matter. I do not think my riding would be facing its present unemployment situation had it not been for the attitude taken by Mr. Drew and later by Mr. Frost in the provincial government in transmitting from Des Joachims 450,000 horsepower and taking it to industry in south and southwestern Ontario. The Quebec government had the right idea in my judgment; they brought industry to power, with the result that they have developed important sections of that province. If that principle had been adopted in our case-and we did fight for it-I do not think we would today be discussing unemployment in my part of the country.
In this connection-and this concerns the Department of Trade and Commerce-I would mention that a new nuclear power generating unit is being constructed at Des Joachims by Atomic Energy of Canada in conjunction with the hydro electric commission of Ontario and the Canadian General Electric Company. At the present time progress on this project is in abeyance pending certain decisions which are of vital consequence.
I hope the government of the day will see to it that the expected 24,000 or 25,000 horsepower to be generated is retained in my riding for the use of industrial concerns which are prepared to come in, and not transmitted to southern Ontario. The power generated will not be produced economically, we know, but it will lead to the development of electrical energy on an economic basis, and I urge the government that it should be left in our section of the country.
I am, of course, deeply grateful for the soldiers' vote, but I am disturbed about the method of taking this vote. In discussing the procedure with authorities who know much more about it than I do, I suggested that the forces' vote be reported the same day. Machinery to accomplish this is not easy to provide, but the forces have strenuously objected to the present procedure, claiming their ballot is not secret. Possibly the soldiers' vote could be added to the advance poll vote, if it is decided to have advance polls in each riding. This vote, to be tabled at the same time as the main vote, would have to be taken in advance and, possibly, nomination day could be changed to three weeks before election instead of two.
Another problem concerns voting by wives of members of the forces overseas. This is much simpler. The wives of military personnel found that although they could have voted in Germany they were unable to vote in Canada because they had not been resident in Canada for 12 months prior to the issue of the election writ. The elections act
The Address-Mr. Forgie should be amended to avoid this denial of the right to vote.
Another matter which I should like to raise concerns the Canadian farm loan board.
I suggest that the field activities of the board be reviewed. I have no intention of being unduly critical of the board. As one of the solicitors for the board for some years prior to 1953 I know how efficient it is. But I believe the board is short of field men, and I suggest that they might use the field men of the V.L.A. who are outstanding. We who sit on veterans affairs committees are fully aware of this fact. It is obvious that the scope of the board will be broadened within the next few years. Loans will increase in numbers and amounts and additional field men are urgently required in my opinion and in the opinion of other members of the house as well. I believe an hon. member on the other side of the house has made a similar recommendation.
There is another matter which I think will be much discussed during the next few years. I refer to western crops, and I would urge the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Hark-ness) to see to it that more funds are made available to provide extensive research in the soybean field. I know a bit about this versatile bean, as two of us owned the first processing mill at Milton. It did not prove a financial success, but it was the beginning of the soybean industry in Canada. The farmers of Pelee island got 400 bushels of soybean seeds, and for the last 10 years they have been taking $350,000 off the island in beans, so that in the end it did prove a financial success. Our little camp was the beginning of the industry, and when Mr, E. P. Taylor came in with me he bought a $2,500,000 plant on the waterfront. I think it has now been transferred to another company.
I should just like to quote a few figures at this point. I am speaking from personal experience of this question. I have spoken to over 35,000 farmers in southern and south western Ontario on the growing of soybeans, and I think hon. members will find that the following figures are of interest as illustrating the growth of the industry:
Soybean Production in Ontario and Average Price For Past 5 Years
Acres Bushels Average Price
216,000 4,406,000 $2.451954
254,000 4,953,000 2.401955
214,000 5,650,000 2.091956
239,000 5,269,000 2.121957
252,000 6,476,000 1.95
And I read in Hansard that the Minister of Agriculture has placed the floor price at $2.10 a bushel. I am heartily in accord with the price. However, I would point out that we do not supply all of Canada.
602 HOUSE OF
The Address-Mr. Forgie
I have some figures which are of interest. In 1954 we exported to the United Kingdom
605.000 bushels of soybeans with a value of $1,700,349; in 1955, 945,122 bushels valued at $2,481,669; in 1956, 1,119,980 bushels valued at $3,026,369 and in 1957, 1,508,449 bushels valued at $3,948,209. Exports of soybeans to Germany in the same period are as follows. We exported 27,698 bushels in 1954 valued at $80,324; 7,541 bushels in 1955 valued at $21,868; 56,000 bushels in 1956 valued at $142,240 and 44,800 bushels in 1957 valued at $114,380.
As a result of effort expended there are now
4.000 bushels of soybeans planted in Manitoba. The difficulty is that the oil content of the soybeans produced there is not as high as in the case of Ontario-grown soybeans. There is no question but that the soybeans grown in the province of Ontario are the finest in the world.
Seven years ago there was a large stretch of sandy soil west of Pembroke covering at least 1,000 acres. I obtained from the experimental farm in Ottawa 45,000 tobacco plants. I planted four acres myself and distributed the rest among farmers in my area and we had a fine crop. These developments take place slowly but as time goes on improvements are noted. Under date of May 8 I received a letter from a representative of a large Canadian company the name of which I shall not divulge advising me that the company plans to conduct a small experiment this year growing flue-cured tobacco in the area. This is an industry which I think can be much further developed in our district. Because of the sterling situation the British market is quite restricted but many opportunities are available for the expansion of this industry in Canada.
Another matter was mentioned this afternoon but the Minister of Agriculture did not reply to the question that was asked. I would like to see pulpwood designated as an agricultural product and a floor price established for the farmer on pulp taken off his own land.
I sometimes wonder where this process of subsidization will lead us. There is an Ontario statute regarding pulp taken off crown land in this province. I am sure that the Minister of Agriculture realizes that pulp and paper companies are at most times in a much better position to bargain for pulpwood than are the farmers for its sale. Pulp and paper companies alone know what quantities of farmers' pulpwood will be sought in any wood year. This means that the farmers who supply approximately 25 per cent of the total pulpwood must wait for indications of demand on the part of the buyers. Pulpwood is the most important forest product in Canada and
in 1953 it had a total value of $371 million. It is of course higher now.
Referring again to soybeans I might mention that I hope to be a member of the committee on agriculture and colonization and doubtless the members of that committee will have ample opportunity to discuss this matter.
Several new hon. members have already spoken of the crisis in education in this country. There is no doubt but that many new problems are arising in the administration and financing of education but we in this parliament have to remember that the jurisdiction over education is not ours but under the constitution belongs to the provincial legislatures. There is, however, one way in which the federal government could help meet one of the greatest needs in this field without even the suggestion of interference with provincial autonomy.
The rapid growth of population, particularly of school age, has created a tremendous need for more classrooms all across the country. This need is all the greater because municipalities and school boards have not felt in a position to keep pace with the demand in a period of building boom. At the present time we are all worried by the decline in investment and the decline in construction which is certain to follow. We are also seeking ways to reduce seasonal unemployment. I would suggest the government might help education, assist the municipalities and succeed in reducing seasonal unemployment by setting up a fund to contribute a share of the cost of providing the new classrooms needed in this country.
My idea is that the contribution should not be on a percentage basis but that it should be a fixed amount per classroom regardless of total cost, somewhat analagous to the situation with respect to hospitals. This would give proportionately more help to rural areas and smaller communities where building costs are lower and where capacity to pay is also lower and indeed that is what we are after. We should get right down to the township level. I also suggest that such grants should be conditional upon construction being continued through the winter months and that they be paid direct to local authorities but only on a certificate from the provincial authorities stating that the school is recognized by the laws of the provinces and the additional classrooms are needed. Such grants would relieve unemployment quickly because standard plans for school buildings are available in all provinces and very little advance planning would be necessary before the work was undertaken.
In order to give new hon. members an opportunity to discuss this proposal I will subsequently give notice of a motion to be
placed on the order paper in substantially the following terms:
Resolved that the government should give consideration to the establishment of a substantial fund from which federal contributions would be made to new classrooms constructed by local school authorities recognized by the laws of the provinces at a fixed amount per classroom provided the need for such classrooms was certified by the appropriate provincial authorities and construction was continued without interruption through the winter months in order to assist in meeting the problem of seasonal unemployment.
It is my hope that many hon. members will find it possible to support my proposed resolution.
Mr. Speaker, my first words to you are words of congratulation for the honour bestowed on you in your re-election as Speaker of the House of Commons. Your great distinction and your spirit of decorum and impartiality have already qualified you for the holding of such a high office and I know you will discharge your tasks to the great satisfaction of hon. members of your party. Your selection as Speaker has been unanimously approved by all hon. members of this honourable assembly. Allow me to mention at the risk of shocking your modesty that when you speak the French language it reminds me of genuine Parisian French.
I am also happy to offer my sincere thanks to the Prime Minister (Mr. Diefenbaker) for having added to his cabinet the hon. member for Labelle (Mr. Courtemanche) as Secretary of State and the hon. member for Lotbiniere (Mr. O'Hurley) as Minister of Defence Production. Both are gentlemen of great merit and I assure him that in them the province of Quebec is very well represented.
Mr. Speaker, I am also very happy to avail myself of this opportunity to congratulate the hon. member for Longueuil (Mr. Sevigny) on his appointment as Deputy Speaker. I would also like to remind the house of his distinguished father, now Chief Justice of the Superior Court of the province of Quebec, who himself, forty years ago, occupied the Speaker's chair in this house. The hon. Chief Justice Albert Sevigny has been a model father for his son and has set him an inspiring example.
I might also congratulate my two young colleagues the hon. member for Quebec-Montmorency (Mr. Lafreniere) and the hon. member for Yukon (Mr. Nielsen) for the honour which has been conferred upon them on being invited to move and to second the address in reply to the speech from the throne and for having done so with so much talent
The Address-Mr. Bissonnette and authority. This was most certainly a fine mark of confidence that both had well deserved.
I had no intention of rising in the first few days after my arrival in this house, following in this the advice given by Sir John A. Macdonald himself to the new members of his day. The first thing to do, he said, is to learn to hang your coat and hat, to sit, to listen, to observe and to think. However, if I make so bold as to rise at this time and to fail to conform to Sir John A. Macdonald's advice, it is first of all to reassure those who might have some doubts about the matter and to tell them that, as a member for the province of Quebec, I sit in this house as a militant Conservative, as one who has long been fascinated and enthralled by the tales of the political careers of Sir John A. Macdonald and of Sir Georges Etienne Cartier whose names shine out above all other fathers of confederation.
Consequently, my party called me to service and I agreed to do what I considered to be my duty. I did not come here to create a situation for myself, because I had one in my profession which allowed me to be envious of no one. The noble medical profession which I practised for the past 38 years in the midst of an essentially working population filled me with satisfaction and happiness.
The electors of my constituency whom I served in great numbers and for a long time in the medical field have shown me confidence and have thought that I could be of service to them in this new field as I had tried to be as their family doctor.
Nor will I fail to dedicate myself to the interests of my province, within the limits of the rights and privileges guaranteed by the constitution, and also to the interests of other provinces with rights and privileges equal to those of the province of Quebec, and thus help achieve the legitimate ambition of all true Canadians, national unity, something which we Quebec Conservatives have been desiring and seeking for a long time.
It will then be simply a matter of respecting in good faith and harmony the rights and privileges guaranteed each of the provinces by our constitution.
May I now, Mr. Speaker, introduce to this house the electors of my constituency of Quebec West, 85 to 90 per cent of whom are workers of all trades-joiners, carpenters, plumbers, painters, laborers, and so on-a whole population seriously affected by unemployment at the present time. This is a serious problem for the worker and it must be solved. I promised them that I would continue to devote myself on their behalf as would a true doctor to heal this aspect of suffering.
Here, I must pay tribute to the right hon. Prime Minister (Mr. Diefenbaker) and to his colleague who, as good doctors would do, offered in the speech from the throne the emergency treatment which was necessary by extending for some time the unemployment insurance benefits. As true clinicians, they understood, with all due deference to my hon. friends from the opposition, that oxygen and a blood transfusion are always indicated to allow the patient to survive until the necessary treatment can be applied and prove effective. My electors were calling for that emergency treatment and will be glad to see that it is being applied.
If I were to be consulted as an intern on duty here, I would moreover suggest a substantial increase in family allowances and their extension to the age of eighteen. This increase and this extension in assistance for our families would indirectly contribute to the solution of the educational problem.
What is there left to do in my constituency? Put public works into operation as soon as possible. What public works? Our hon. friends in opposition and especially those who have now left us, know what works should have been implemented in the city of Quebec. In my own constituency, Quebec West, hard working and large families have traditionally been crowded into small homes in an already overpopulated area. A low cost housing project was being carried out on some extremely fine property, whose price had not as yet risen to an exaggerated level, when it was decided to bring in credit restrictions, thereby limiting the scope of this development. But now that a considerable sum of money has been voted and that the small house builder is now in a position to attain his ambition to become a home owner, I would urge the government to leave nothing undone so that this work may be undertaken as soon as possible in order to reduce unemployment. However, it would be highly desirable to reduce the interest rates on such loans. There is an old French saying which we often hear sung on the radio: "So goes the building trade, so goes everything" which means, of course, that all trades benefit from the building trade, that our many day labourers, carpenters and plumbers will find work in that industry. Our workers are no beggars, certainly not in my constituency. Let us give them work at a reasonable salary and they will be happy. Mr. Speaker, they remain with the farmers, the very pillars of society.
Mr. Speaker, in the field of public works and projects, our Liberal predecessors left us a wide field in which to carry out some achievements.
Great politicians whose names have illustrated our race, have left no monument, no important works in our city of Quebec. It was left for our present Prime Minister when he came to our city, to discover, run-
The Address-Mr. Bissonnette ning through it, the St. Charles river on the shore of which a cross is to be found precisely on the spot where Jacques Cartier, the great discoverer of our country, landed.
This cross, standing on the desolate and neglected grounds which surround this historic site, is situated in the constituency of our former great prime ministers, the Right Hon. Louis St. Laurent and Sir Wilfrid Laurier. This cross deserved a better fate.
Our distinguished Prime Minister, impressed and concerned with the preservation of historic landmarks, decided then and there to have the place made into a park dedicated to the memory of the great discoverer and to draw the attention of all Canadians to that site as a place of pilgrimage and reverence. I take this opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to mention to the Prime Minister that the St. Charles river which runs through our city has a very historical character and could become the pride of Quebec. London is proud of the Thames and Paris sings the glories of the Seine; the banks of the St. Charles river would therefore deserve to be improved, so as not to mar the beauty of that national park.
I therefore urge the government to carry out those projects as soon as possible. It would mean jobs for our workers, who need them very badly.
Plans for a post office, whose construction was proposed so long ago, are still buried in drawers. I am confident that this government will soon rescue them from dusty files, as a new post office is urgently required, because of lack of space in the present building. Our workers would be glad to find work there.
Quebec has the privilege of being the most beautiful natural seaport of Canada. It must be developed. Winter navigation, a project whose implementation seems possible, and the construction of piers and deep water wharves all along the reefs of Beauport, would make possible the handling of much traffic all year long. There is room on the magnificent plateaux overlooking those reefs for industrial plants. The Quebec north shore area up to Labrador contains abundant metals and the richest iron ore in the world. Once again I urge the government to encourage the development of our port and the establishment of industries to process our base metals here in Canada. The unemployment program would be solved for a long time and our foreign trade would by this very fact be better balanced. Let us not forget
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The Address-Mr. Bissonnette that our minerals which go to the United States and elsewhere come back in the form of automobiles, machines, knives and spoons, instruments of all kinds, to the prejudice of our economy.
Mr. Speaker, as a member of the medical profession as well as a member of parliament,
I cannot help being interested in our federal hospitalization insurance act. Under this act, six provinces are prepared to enter or have actually entered into agreements permitting them to get millions of dollars to care for the sick and to pursue medical education in our universities.
We know that the health problem, as the educational one, is one of provincial jurisdiction. But in Quebec, the problem is somewhat different from that of the other provinces. In our province, most hospitals belong to the religious congregations which administer them, although most of those institutions were built with the assistance of provincial government subsidies. Our hospital standards are certainly not lower than those of lay hospitals and their administration, generally speaking, is less subject to deficit financing for we know that the work of our underpaid nuns is a charitable contribution to the care of the sick.
Our nursing sisters deserve our trust and our admiration.
Our hospitals should not be denied federal aid, particularly if, following special agreements, we were able to pay these grants under the same conditions as our provincial government.
I refuse to pose as an expert on the solution of this problem, but as the only member from Quebec in this house who is a doctor, I offer my full co-operation to the Minister of Public Health and Welfare (Mr. Monteith), in seeking a formula acceptable to our governments, and thus have our hospitals and institutions benefit from the amounts available to the other provinces which entered into agreements to that effect.
Mr. Speaker, when for the first time I had the honour to meet the Prime Minister in Quebec city at our great assembly in Quebec East I told him that as a physician I was going to prescribe. But today I consider that I am no more than an ordinary assistant physician. I consider that our great diagnostician and physician to whom we look for the solution of our problems is our Prime Minister himself, and that all his prescriptions are contained in the speech from the throne. Consequently my prescription will be rather in the nature of suggestions. I therefore wish to conclude my speech by making these suggestions to our Prime Minister.
When in Quebec city on the occasion of its 350th anniversary celebration, in recognition of the great contribution of its four elected candidates on March 31 I suggest to him today, first, that he give to my constituents a message of hope and encouragement with respect to the serious problems of unemployment in my constituency where the unemployed are particularly numerous. A project of housing development giving them employment would fill their hearts with happiness.
Second, I suggest that he tell the labouring citizens of my city that there will be a commencement of our great harbour development; that would be an announcement for Quebec of an era of great prosperity. Quebec is the oldest city of Canada, so my third suggestion will be a project to beautify old cape Diamond of Champlain, its surroundings and the shores of the historical St. Charles river and to consecrate the old city of Champlain as a national site of pilgrimage where all Canadians might be brought to a realization of national unity in that atmosphere of historical remembrance.
Mr. Speaker, before taking my seat I am happy to express my feelings of admiration for the important contribution offered by hon. members of Her Majesty's loyal opposition with respect to the settlement of our problems. They performed their task with a high degree of distinction and authority. Let me congratulate them, even though on many occasions we shall not be in accord with them on certain aspects of our problems and decisions.