November 21, 1940 (19th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Louis-Philippe Picard


Mr. L. PHILIPPE PICARD (Bellechasse):

Mr. Speaker, I had not intended to take part in this debate. But some of my friends, and particularly my English-speaking friends, have asked me why more members from the province of Quebec have not expressed their views respecting the problems of the day. In fact I believe the hon. member for Lethbridge (Mr. Blackmore) said that somebody should speak on behalf of the eastern farmers. I admit I am not yet qualified to speak for farmers. I will tell my hon. friend, however, that before this parliament has run its course I shall have done my very best to learn the eastern farmers' problems, and I hope by that time to be able to express the views held by farmers, particularly in the light of the fact that I represent an entirely rural constituency adjoining the city of Quebec.
I suppose my first and most important duty would be to congratulate those to whom
I believe congratulations should go. May I begin by extending my congratulations to the mover (Mr. Claxton) and the seconder (Mr. Jutras) of the address in reply, each of whom performed his task perfectly. Both have shown, by their understanding of national problems, that Canada can be made into a great country, a country where both the east and the west, the people of both French and English descent, may meet on common ground to work for the greatness and unity of Canada.
As a French-speaking member I believe my congratulations should go, next, to the hon. member for Selkirk (Mr. Thorson), the hon. member for St. Lawrence-St. George (Mr. Claxton) and the hon. member for Nanaimo (Mr. Chambers), who, in the course of their speeches, showed they understood the views of the French-speaking people. They demonstrated that they understand our mentality, and were good enough to place their views before the house.
Above all, however, I believe our congratulations should go to the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King). First I would congratulate him upon the forceful manner in which h<e answered the critics of his administration, and for the splendid mastery of the situation he has always maintained. Then he is to be congratulated upon the part he has played in connection with the formation of the joint defence board, an organization for which he worked diligently and which, to the great advantage not only of Canada but of Great Britain, he obtained.
In this connection I would like to echo the words of the hon. member for Selkirk who spoke to the house a few days ago. On that occasion he said:
. . . but no one will deny him his fair measure of praise for the splendid part that he has played in promoting friendly relations between Canada and our great neighbour. We are deeply grateful to the United States for the assistance that it has given and for the assistance that it is still to give, and we are thankful-
I repeat the words of the hon. member for Selkirk, and make them my own.
-I think I can say this in the name of the whole Canadian people-that we have in the present Prime Minister a leader who can be relied upon to preserve and promote the strong and growing feeling of friendliness and common purpose which exists between our country and our great neighbour.
I believe, too, that the Prime Minister might well be congratulated upon the speech from the throne, which is in effect his responsibility. He is to be commended because of its conciseness, and yet by the way in which it has implied all that would be done by the country, under the guidance of the government, in the pursuit of the war.
The Address-Mr. Picard

He is to be congratulated, too, upon his action in connection with the report of the commission on dominion-provincial relations, commonly known as the Sirois report. I believe his promptness in announcing to the house the summoning of a provincial conference will please the whole country, and is evidence of the fact that when he decided upon the formation of the commission he had it in mind to take action on their findings and to study carefully any suggestions which might come from it and which would improve the administration of the country's affairs. I believe congratulations might be extended to the Minister of National War Services (Mr. Gardiner) upon his report respecting his mission to England, the description of his trip in general and his report as to conditions in the old country.
We might make special note, too, of the speeches delivered by the ministers who have taken part in the debate.. I refer to the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Ralston), the Minister of National Defence for Air (Mr. Power), the Minister of National Defence for Naval Affairs (Mr. Macdonald), the Minister of Munitions and Supply (Mr. Howe) and the Minister of Finance (Mr. Usley). They are to be complimented upon the splendid expose they have given of Canada's war effort, and the way in which they have dispelled any doubt which might have existed in the minds of some people-doubts which have developed through false and alarming pronouncements of the leader of the opposition (Mr. Hanson) and his own Tory press.
During the last week-end, Mr. Speaker, I visited my constituency. While there I met an old farmer friend, one who has always been a friend of the party, but whose acquaintance I have enjoyed for only a little more than a year. He is a witty old man, and has always kept himself well informed on public matters. He has reared many children, who work on his farm, and he now lives more or less retired. In a way which I thought was clever he expressed to me his wonder, and that of his friends, as to why the leader of the opposition had wanted a session at this time-a time when everything seemed to be going well concerning our war effort. As he expressed it to me, everybody seemed to be satisfied with the possible exception of the Montreal Gazette and the leader of the opposition. At first," he said, "we wondered why he wanted a session of parliament, but, now that he has spoken, we believe we understand why. The hon. gentleman wanted to show himself a true patriot; apparently he wanted to cooperate with the government, and indeed he has done so quite hand-

somely. He showed by his speech that he had very little to say, and very little constructive criticism to offer. He has helped to prove that the people of this country had placed their confidence in the right place when they elected the present Prime Minister and sent a Liberal government to Ottawa, rather than one formed by the opposition party; indeed, that they had made a proper choice."

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