Mr. DUPUIS (Translation):
I know of
only a dozen citizens of Laprairie-Napierville who, once a year, visit the Valleyfield
fair. No relations whatever exist between the citizens of Laprairie-Napierville and those of Beauharnois. They never meet. Supposing that at the next election a resident of the western end of Beauharnois county, of St-Barbe, for instance, were elected to this house, and that a citizen of St. Philippe had business with him. To see his representative this citizen would have to travel 70 or 80 miles and when he had done that the member would probably have to tell him that in order to obtain the position he seeks he must be within the age limit and possess the required qualifications.
If I may be permitted to use the expression, I would say that this merger, this marriage, is an absurdity. I appeal to our friends opposite, to their common sense, to their spirit of fair play, to their good judgment. Ever since I came to this house I have noticed that, no matter how just their claims, how serious the grievances they expose, members sitting on this side seldom succeed in obtaining justice for their people. It seems to me that every member should realize the consequences of the redistribution set forth in Bill No. 2 and which we have been denouncing. We all know that this measure, if adopted as planned, will prove so unpopular that, should the government sooner or later decide to appeal to the country, the wrongs inflicted by this bill, even were they the sole issue before the people, would suffice to bring about the downfall of our friends opposite and to assure to the Liberal party a large majority throughout the country. Our hon. friends on the government side must be aware of this; the thought must constantly haunt them. What consoles me when I appeal to their good judgment is the increased spirit of conciliation, the better understanding between the two parties, that I have observed in recent days. There seems to be a tendency towards mutual concessions, a readiness to yield certain points that had previously been insisted upon, with the result that grievances,are daily diminishing in number. There are still some left, however, and, to my mind, the gravest of them is the one relating to the ridings of Laprairie-Napierville and Beauharnois. In the name of justice, of common sense and of sound logic, I ask that this wrong be redressed.
Allow me to recall to the hon. members opposite that a similar attempt was made in 1892 when the Conservatives, then in power, were effecting a redistribution of constituencies. There was then before the house a plan providing for the dismemberment of the counties of Napierville, Laprairie and Chateau-guay. Up to the final days the intention was to leave the two parishes of Chateauguay and
St. Philomene in Laprairie and to transfer to St. John's the parishes of St. Cyprien, Napierville and St. Michel. But thanks to the good sense of certain Conservatives, thanks to the spirit of justice and fair play of the leader, Sir John Thompson, thanks to the conciliatory methods of the then leader of the opposition, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, better counsels prevailed and it was decided to unite the counties of Laprairie and Napierville without cutting them up, without scattering some of their parishes left and right, as it is sought to do now.
It seems to me that in the present case it should have been easy to yield certain claims based on political considerations. As the right hon. the Prime Minister said yesterday:
Is it not fair to say that hon. gentlemen opposite must recognize that fact and to recognize the further fact that when a choice ha3 to be made in one of two given ways we must expect that choice to be made in the way that would be most advantageous to the party in power.
Notwithstanding these very human sentiments expressed by the right hon. the Prime Minister, it seems to me that, while taking into due account the legitimate convictions of all concerned, it should be possible to avoid going to extremes, it should be possible to preserve a happy medium and to act in accordance with the principles of common sense. Would it not be possible, while adhering to these principles, to unite Laprairie-Napierville and Chambly? I put this question to the hon. Minister of Marine. Does he believe his chances will be better in Rouville? He is an intelligent man, a man whom I hold in high esteem; I have never missed an opportunity of saying so in public and I do not hesitate to say so in this house. I consider him a gentleman and I know he is well endowed with good judgment, sufficiently, in any case, to realize that in such a matter one must not look only at the results of 1930, but that one must go further back in a county's history to ascertain the political leanings of the various elements of its population. If the hon. minister will look up the history of Rouville he will find that that county has always acted loyally and freely and has sent to this house men of distinction, like Hon. L. P. Brodeur.