The Deputy Chairman:
Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the committee to continue his remarks?
I want to thank the committee and I can assure you I will not encroach upon its generosity.
I should like to say, with reference to this question of the R.C.M.P., that this is a continuous policy that has been carried out. No one in this party or anywhere in the house will ever object to the enforcement of law or to the arrest or punishment of those who, by overt actions, are seeking to overthrow democratic government by the use of force. However, when we prosecute innocent people on the basis of secret reports which they have never seen, on the basis of gossip, on the basis of evidence from stool pigeons, we violate the basic tenets of justice and of the bill of rights. I am prepared, when we get to the estimates of the Department of Justice, to document some of the things which I know personally have happened. I do not lay this
at the door of the present Minister of Justice. This has been going on for many years, both under this government and the former government.
The other matter I want to raise is the abandonment of railway lines on the prairies. I hope some opportunity will be given for discussing this subject. I hope we shall have some statement from the government at an early date because this is a pressing matter. As a matter of fact, I understand the premiers of the three prairie provinces are calling a conference to consider this subject. They will undoubtedly be making representations to the government as a group. I know some of them have already made representations to the government individually.
In a nutshell the situation is this, Mr. Chairman. The royal commission on transportation, in its report, said that there were about 4,300 miles of light density lines on the prairies. The Canadian National has informed the three prairie governments that there are about 2,200 miles of railway lines that are candidates for abandonment. Mr. R. A. Emerson, the operating vice president of the Canadian Pacific, has indicated there are about 2,500 miles. This means that there are between 4,000 and 5,000 miles of line that may be abandoned, and between 2,000 and 3,000 miles of this is in the province of Saskatchewan.
I will not take the time of the committee to go into what it means to have lines abandoned, to leave small communities in rural areas without railway transportation for shipping their products; the loss of investment in grain elevators, places of business and homes that have been constructed along those railway lines. What I do want to point out is that the royal commission on transportation recommended that if there were to be a program of abandonment it should be conducted in an orderly manner; that there should be a five year period of adjustment between the time permission was granted to abandon the line and putting the abandonment into effect. It was recommended there should be larger depreciation allowances to ease the adjustment, and other forms of compensation.
Mr. Donald Gordon, president of Canadian National Railways, has advocated that a master plan should be drawn up so that the citizens would know what lines were going to be abandoned and when they were going to be abandoned. He advocated that this be done in an orderly fashion. I should like to suggest to the government that representations should be made to the board of transport commissioners that no more abandonment be authorized until the government has formulated a policy and a master plan containing adequate compensation provisions.
Already over 180 miles of line in Saskatchewan have been abandoned or are the subject of applications for abandonment. The chairman of the board of transport commissioners quite properly said that legally he must hear these applications and he must pass upon them. It is not his business to hold them up until the government has produced a master plan.
I hope that before we come to the next request for interim supply the government will be prepared to give some statement to the committee concerning their program and that in the meantime they will make representations to the board of transport commissioners to hold up any further authorization for abandonments.
In closing, Mr. Chairman, may I say that I have dealt with several matters, concerning all of which we would like an opportunity to question the ministers, and to hear from them statements of policy. When we come back after the recess we will be asked to pass the eleventh twelfth of these estimates. I should like to say that we should not then be blackmailed into passing them by being told, "We must have this money passed in two or three days, otherwise we cannot pay the civil service." I think we have a right to expect that when the interim supply motion is considered again we are going to get adequate replies to some of these questions, and we are going to have an adequate opportunity to question the responsible ministers regarding the supply which they are asking this parliament to pass for them.
Mr. Chairman, we have been in session for 58 days, as shown on the order paper, and, all the while, we have been entitled to ask ourselves what the government intends to do about the great problems facing this country.
I quite understand why the government decided to wait until September 27 to convene the twenty fifth parliament for its first session. That does not surprise me at all. I also understand why, in a few days, the government will give us a month's holiday. It is because it has not been able to prepare legislation to deal with the great problems that are crushing the people.
The government is undecided; it does not know where it is going. The fact is borne out by the speech from the throne of the first session of the twenty fifth parliament and that of the last session of the twenty fourth parliament. Those two speeches are almost alike. If, at the time of the last session of the twenty fourth parliament, we were faced with important problems, if, at the opening of the current session, we were faced
with even more serious problems, as the Prime Minister indicated after the election, I completely fail to see why the government persists in refusing to adopt a definite policy concerning the great problems of the moment.
At the opening of the last session, a series of measures had been proposed. We came back to parliament on September 27, and the problems were still the same. We had been told that the problems were very serious.
The government, in my opinion, is incapable of dealing with the situation. We are now at our third interim supply. For the third time since the beginning of the session, the government is asking us for interim supply. We are still without a budget and we know that, upon our return in January, the government will again ask us for interim supply.
When will the government bring down a budget?
On the other hand, we know also that within the cabinet there is not so much unity as discord. In fact, the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Fulton) has seen fit, only a few months before the general election, to leave this house in order to become the leader of a provincial party which is not represented in the legislature.
Ministers are absent from the house when we are discussing legislation which the government tells us or would have us believe is important legislation. They are not here for the examination of their own interim supply. That is strange; where could they be? They must have very good reasons for being absent from the house.
When you look at the present situation, it is obvious that the government does not know where it is going.
The Deputy Chairman:
Order. The hon. member's speech is very interesting and I should like to hear it. I am sure all other hon. members will agree with me and kindly co-operate.
Would the hon. member permit a question? The hon. member was mentioning absenteeism, and I wonder if he could tell us where he was during the Quebec election?
Where was your party?
If the hon. member does not know, then he does not follow what is happening in this country.
Where was the Tory party in the Quebec election?
Mr. Chairman, hon. members on at least two occasions have noticed the filibuster engaged in by members of the government party on two bills. They were so much afraid of presenting new legislation that they kept on questioning and questioning various ministers. We have never seen filibustering conducted this way. May I add that in another field the government is also avoiding its responsibility; we know very well that the establishment of a national flag and anthem is solely the responsibility of the federal government. However, the government is calling a federal-provincial conference and leaving it to the provinces to decide. Then it will say to the provinces "We cannot get an agreement; it is your fault, not our fault."
Why did you not have them before 1957?
As my hon. friends who are learned in economics would say, when there is no input there can be no output.
Mr. Chairman, this government has no policy, either with regard to all the great Canadian issues or in respect of significant international problems.
Indeed, last September, all Canadians were ashamed of the attitude taken by our Prime Minister (Mr. Diefenbaker) in London, when he condemned the action of Great Britain who was about to decide joining the common market. Mr. Chairman, I say that what is good for Great Britain is also good for Canada. The Prime Minister should have satisfied himself of that fact before his departure, and he should have resorted to logic rather than expediency. Indeed, our friends in Great Britain took it upon themselves to tell him at the time what they thought of him and his policy.
The Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Green) attended the NATO conference. What did he do there? He simply told our western allies: I have no policy, I cannot commit my government, my government does not know what to do, therefore I am waiting and you should wait too-you should wait as far as western defence is concerned.
I might go on and on, Mr. Chairman, and mention many other issues.
In fact, according to some forecasts, there will be 500,000 unemployed in Canada this winter. The spokesman of the Canadian Labour Congress and of the federation of national unions came to tell us that we might
have even more than 500,000. The Minister of Labour (Mr. Starr) just said: "There are more people working now than last year."
There probably are more people working now than last year. But the fact remains that those 500,000 workers are unemployed, and have been looking for jobs for quite some time. Will the reply of the Minister of Labour give them jobs?
The position of those 500,000 unemployed creates an urgent problem which the government is unable to face.
Neither does the government know how to organize this country's economic development. Experts told us so, and everybody has noticed it since 1957. The pace of national production has slowed down, yet the government just tells us one month after another: "There may, perhaps, be an increase".
We have some extremely serious problems in the field of national health. A royal commission has been investigating the problem for two years. There is no answer yet, no decision yet.
And we come to the famous Columbia river issue. I remember that during the elections, in 1957 and 1958, hon. members of this government were roaming about Canada, stating that the Liberal party did not always look after the interests of Canadians, but that they would look after them, and defend them, in spite of ever effort made by the United States.
They were promising to stand up for our interests. But did they stand up for our interests when the Prime Minister himself and the then minister of justice signed in Washington a treaty through which we were sold down the river to the United States, without the least guarantee. Since then, they have realized what they have done and they do not want to answer for it before parliament or have the matter discussed by a committee. And those are only a few of the problems I could mention. We are facing housing problems, municipal problems.
In Quebec, these last few years, efforts have been made to bring the province up to date. An economic planning board has been set up and has already produced its first report. They have tried to develop an education policy which would enable every youth to continue his studies, whatever his financial resources. School allowances have been given to parents of 16 and 17 year old students who want to continue their studies.
The provincial government has embarked upon a hospital insurance policy.
The Deputy Chairman:
Order. I regret to have to remind the hon. member for Iles-de-
la-Madeleine that he has to stay within the limits of federal policies and that he cannot comment on acts or legislation of the Quebec government.
By so doing, Mr. Chairman, Quebec wanted to become an asset for the rest of Canada. We want to be full citizens and we want our confederation partners to make things easier for us. We, from the province of Quebec, want to be equal partners within confederation.
I wish to recall the wonderful speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Pearson) on this issue, as well as those made by other hon. members who have supported the fine words of the Leader of the Opposition.
What is our impression when we consider what has happened since confederation? What do we French Canadians think of federal politics? We certainly get the impression that we have given our partners the right to govern without our effective participation.
We have often given our mass support to this or that party which has made up the government, but we have given to our partners, to the Anglo-Saxon majority, the right to govern. We have nearly always obtained unimportant portfolios. True, there have been exceptions, but one constant trend can be noticed. No French Canadian, for instance, has ever been Minister of Finance. To support that statement, I only have to look at the guide of Canadian ministries since confederation. And if I had had time to peruse it further, I might have found out that there are other departments which have never been headed by a French Canadian.
That is within the jurisdiction of the house. Political parties are responsible for the present situation.
When I consider what goes on, and when I read the document entitled "Federal Administration in Canada", I find the same situation again: little or no French Canadians in important positions in the administration.
Within parties, what happens when it comes to solving problems which are particular to the province of Quebec? The situation is the same in any party. When it comes to the province of Quebec, we are told: "That is a Quebec problem. You, members from Quebec, settle that among yourselves; you discuss the matter and solve the problem."
Fear is the only word for it. Our English speaking fellow citizens are afraid to interfere in our particular problems, so that we tend to isolate ourselves. We are led to close our ranks, even in the house, and we forget
that there are Canadian problems of extreme importance which it is our responsibility to solve.
I must say, Mr. Chairman, that our English speaking partners do not always make our task an easy one.
On the other hand, I note that throughout Canada there is great sympathy for our dual culture, for the French fact in Canada. Our colleagues in the house have certainly shown much understanding and interest in the French fact, in French culture.
I should like to point out here that some members of the Liberal opposition are taking French lessons every Wednesday night.
But that is not the problem. Mr. Chairman, there exists, in some quarters, a state of mind which is not in keeping with this generous ideal shown towards the French fact in Canada by a great number of our English speaking colleagues and by the majority of English speaking citizens of this country.
One has only to consider the board of directors of the Canadian National Railways to understand my point. Besides the same situation prevails within the board of directors of the Canadian Pacific, where there is not a single French Canadian. The same goes for several crown corporations.
I have here the Directory of Directors published by the Financial Post, an annual publication in which are found the names of 10,000 directors of companies, of which 550 or 600 only are French Canadian names. These figures indicate a state of mind. There is a lack of faith in us. It is no wonder then that following an incident such as the one that occurred recently in the committee on railways, when the president of the C.N.R. gave evidence, there should have been an outburst of nationalism in the province of Quebec. It made it possible for a nationalist feeling to flare up.
That incident in the committee on railways simply gave us an opportunity to show what we feel since confederation. It is often said that no French Canadians are available, that they do not want to come to Ottawa, that they refuse to sit on the boards of large companies, that they do not want to leave the province of Quebec and settle in other provinces-that is probably true-but you know as I do that we are not in a bilingual environment in Ottawa, that we do not feel at home.
How can you expect a French Canadian to settle here permanently when he does not feel at home? As long as he does not feel at home, he will hesitate to settle here.
We want to feel at home here, in Ottawa, as well as in the other provinces. If we are equal partners, we have the right to take part everywhere in the nation's business, whether in Montreal, Ottawa or Vancouver.
It is possible that if one or two great French Canadian personalities were brought to Ottawa and gathered around them other French Canadians, there would come a time when the number of French Canadians would increase in the civil service. Perhaps a solution could be found then. Perhaps it would be advisable to find a man of competence and good will who would try to attract, both to the public service and to private enterprise, other French Canadians who would work with him. It is not by limiting ourselves to the recruiting of "professional French Canadians" that we will solve the problem.
Mr. Chairman, we have been in a difficult position since confederation. In my opinion, the house earnestly wishes to find a solution before the centennial, in 1967. We will have to work hard and show some generosity because if we fail to get along with each other, we will then be in an extremely difficult position. Our English speaking partners are well aware of the problem which has been facing Canada since confederation.
Over the past ten years, the Massey royal commission, the Gordon royal commission and others have carried out investigations which have led to the conclusion that French Canadians have a tendency to make their voices heard more and more and that Englishspeaking Canadians wish to fight against the influence of the United States.
We know very well that the United States may soon exert progressively as much influence on our political decisions as they do at present in the military, cultural and economic fields. That is why our partners in confederation, English speaking Canadians, are just as anxious as we are to maintain the political sovereignty of our country. However, we wish to be equal partners. If we fail to achieve that ideal, we may well start having our doubts about confederation, thus jeopardizing the interests of all Canadians, both French and English speaking.
All French Canadians, I am sure, will want to support the proposals put forward by the Leader of the Opposition yesterday. The sooner we learn to understand each other, to remove difficulties and to intensify comprehension between us, French and English speaking Canadians, the sooner we will be proud to be Canadians.
I take the liberty to say this, Mr. Chairman, because I represent the Iles-de-la-Madeleine riding which, proportionately speaking, had the largest number of men and women in the armed forces during the last world war. There were more "Madelinots" enlisted in Canadian armed forces than people from any other riding in the country, and I am very proud of that fact.
I do not intend to speak at great length about my riding in this debate. I will have another opportunity to do so later on. I should simply like to draw attention to an anniversary. On January 11, 1963, it will be 35 years since the inauguration of air mail service in the Iles-de-la-Madeleine, which meant that the Madelinots could get mail during the wintertime. But even today there is still one island that gets its mail from the air during the winter. In fact, they must wait till spring for mail shipments out of Entrance island. That is a problem I will discuss when the post office estimates are before us.
Mr. Chairman, my time is just about over and I should like to insist that this government must introduce legislation in accordance with the needs of the country. We want appropriate legislation to meet our needs and we are conscious that in working to that end, we are doing it for the good of the nation and in the best interests of our country.
Mr. Chairman, I should not want this debate to end without making my modest contribution.
First, I wish to congratulate the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Pearson), the Associate Minister of National Defence (Mr. Sevigny), the hon. member for Lapointe (Mr. Gregoire) and all the members who took part in the debate, whatever party they belong to, for having ventured into a field which has been neglected for too long. I refer of course to the debate which took place all day yesterday on full bilingualism and the harmony which should exist between the two great Canadian cultures, that is the French and English cultures. This debate, in my opinion, should have been held long before today.
Mr. Chairman, in a few years, we shall be celebrating the confederation centennial. I feel that the Canadian government should begin to take its responsibilities right away and give Canada all it needs to achieve national unity.
It was said yesterday that a board of inquiry, made up of representatives from the federal and provincial governments, was on the point of being established for the purpose
of providing Canada, at last, with a distinctive national flag and a national anthem.
Mr. Chairman, I must point out that, since the beginning of the session, many members have made speeches on those two questions. As a matter of fact, the hon. member for Chicoutimi (Mr. Cote) introduced a motion for the adoption of "O Canada" as our national anthem. His motion was discussed for an hour and killed at six o'clock.
The same thing happened when the hon. member for Medicine Hat (Mr. Olson) put forward a proposal to provide Canada with a distinctive flag. Several members took part in that debate, congratulated the hon. member for having introduced a motion of that nature. In short they made their comments to extend the debate, and at six o'clock the bill was talked out.
Mr. Chairman, I sincerely believe that the adoption of a flag and a national anthem is not a matter for provincial authorities, but rather for the Canadian parliament. I do not see why the premiers should participate in the discussion since, as the country has ten provinces represented by three different parties they might perhaps raise difficulties.
Mr. Chairman, I do not intend to go on speaking about national unity, bilingualism, a distinctive flag and a national anthem, because I think that we are now considering the supplementary budget which will enable the government to continue its operations during the Christmas recess.
In fact, I am of the opinion that the best way to attain this national unity which we all want would be to start by agreeing ourselves, among Canadians, and for the government, whichever it is, to understand the needs of Canadians in order to be in a position to give them what they ask for and what they need.
If I consider the details of the supplementary budget that was issued to us recently, I see that very few estimates can interest the working class, our family heads and our Canadian unemployed.
Maybe it is normal that we have a deficit budget every year. But if despite these deficiencies we have unemployed and Canadian citizens who starve to death in a country as rich as ours, I do not believe it is normal to have such deficits. I would agree to a deficit if we were giving to one and all a decent living. But if we visit the country, we see that those deficits have not settled unemployment and that the ills which existed in many of our ridings are still there.
The Deputy Chairman:
It being five o'clock it is my duty to leave the chair in order that the house may proceed to deal with private members' business under the provisions of standing order 15.
It being five o'clock the house will turn to private members' business. We shall consider, first, private bills appearing on page 21 of today's order paper.