May 24, 1933 (17th Parliament, 4th Session)


Onésime Gagnon

Conservative (1867-1942)


That is the seventeenth
interruption. Of course when hon. gentlemen who live in other provinces look at the map of Quebec, they always wonder why the counties have been thus carved and are different from those in the other provinces. They need not be scandalized, because this can be explained to a certain extent owing to the tenure of the land. In the other provinces the land is divided into townships, whereas in Quebec many districts have been taken from the old French seigniories and the French settlers, instead of using square pieces of land, preferred to gather in a small village, so that when the counties were carved out, they showed some more or less strange shapes. I will be fair enough to admit that: It has been more or less the custom since confederation to have some strange carvings of constituencies, and in showing these exhibits I did not do so with the view of offending hon. gentlemen opposite or of trying to minimize their efforts, but rather to show that when they were trying to explain that our map was funny, it was much less strange and funny than the map which was drawn up by hon gentlemen opposite.

May I try to prove the first proposition that I discussed before this committee, the proposition that the new arrangement that was made by the special committee was fair and was drafted in order to secure a more just and fair representation to the population of Quebec.
Before I tried to show the carvings of the past I was explaining that in the city of Quebec the distribution has been fair. It is true that the county of my hon. friend from Quebec South (Mr. Power) has a much smaller population than the others, but hon. gentlemen opposite will remember that ever since confederation it has been the practice and the cherished custom to leave the county of Quebec South to the English minority in the province of Quebec, and this county has been represented almost I think since confederation by an English-speaking member. If this year we had taken away some parts of the county of Quebe.c West or of the county of Quebec East and merged them with the county of Quebec South, the hon. gentleman from Quebec South, who is a friend of mine and a distinguished gentleman, might have thought that the Solicitor General (Mr. Dupre) was desirous of being unfair to the Irish and the English minority of the city of Quebec. But when the French speaking people of all parts of Canada are asking that the English minority make sacrifices in order to give satisfaction to the aspirations of the French race, we are happy to say to them that in the province of Quebec we have always been fair and desirous of giving fair play to the English minority of the province of Quebec.
I must apologize to you, Mr. Chairman, if like the hon. member for Richelieu (Mr. Cardin) I sometimes speak in a high tone of voice. I know that small things cannot be compared with great, but nevertheless I have been made like him in that way. I have no desire to offend or intimidate in any way hon. gentlemen of this house.
I turn now to the other group of seats which I will call the rural group. If hon. gentlemen will bear with me for a few minutes I shall try to show that the rural seats in the province of Quebec have almost the same unit of population. For instance, Dorchester has a population of 27,156, and other counties as follows:
Country- Population
Dorchester 27.156
Argenteuil 27.885
Bellechasse 27.480
Chateauguay-Huntingdon 24.412
Stanstead 25.118
Compton 31,858
Wright 27,107

Redistribution-Mr. Gagnon
County- Population
Sheft'ord 28,202
Montmagny-LTslet 30,869
Brome-Missisquoi 32,069
Kamouraska 30,852
Berthier-Maskinonge 35,575
Portneuf 37,305
Lotbiniere 38,546
Laval-Two Mountains 31,896
St. John-lberville 32,259
Riehmond-Wolfe 36,568
Those are what I might properly call the rural seats of the province of Quebec. It is true that in some of those counties you will probably find a small city or a town but the largest town or city in these counties will have a population of less than five thousand people, and if hon. gentlemen have listened attentively to my humble remarks they will agree that in these rural seats the population on the whole does not vary by more than 1,500 people. Now is not that a fair representation, a fair distribution of population as between all the urban seats of the province of Quebec irrespective of their party affiliations?

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