Mr. Andre Gauthier (Lake St. John):
Mr. Speaker, I do not want to extend this debate; I would like nevertheless to take this opportunity to mention once again a matter which has long been debated but is still timely, namely the construction of the St. Felicien-Chibougamau railroad. Hon. members will recall that last December I placed on the order paper of the house the following resolution:
That in the opinion of this house, the government should consider the advisability of taking whatever steps are necessary for the early construction of the eastern section of the St. Felicien-Chibougamau-Beattyville railway, for the purpose of connecting the lake St. John industrial district with the Chibougamau mining centre.
That resolution was not the first representation I had made in favour of this project; it was but the conclusion of constant and continuous efforts for the logical and rational development of the rich mining resources of the Chibougamau district.
In fact, I was the first in the house to request the extension of the Canadian National Railway lines to encourage the development of our large natural resources, which are so abundant in the Chibougamau district as well as in the lake St. John region.
On May last, in introducing the bill which has now become law, the Hon. Mr. Chevrier stated:
It is expected that by the time the proposed line is completed from the western end into Chibougamau, if not before, projects for new industrial development in the Lake St. John-Saguenay area, which are now being considered by prospective investors, will have reached a stage which will justify the construction of this line and a decision can then be reached about any subsidy required and warranted in respect of the line. In the meantime, the Canadian National Railways will proceed to assist and encourage further developments in the lake St. John region as a means for building up potential traffic for this new line.
Now then, Mr. Speaker, this confidence in the future development of Lake St. John is shared by the whole population of my district. That is why, following the announcement of the Canadian National Railways' new policy to insist on guarantees of a sufficient volume of traffic, I stated last May 25 that the population of the Saguenay area intended to work in a constructive and intelligent way towards the achievement of this objective. Thus, since May last, I have not been chary of representations to the C.N.R. authorities, by the lumbering operators and especially to the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) and the new Minister of Transport (Mr. Marler).
Guaranteed traffic proposals have now been submitted to the Canadian National authorities, who are now considering them. It is not within my province to assess the value of the guarantees offered, but the government might hasten a decision on the part of the Canadian National authorities by offering them the appropriate subsidies.
A decision along this line, at a time when there is evidence of a drop in employment, would stimulate the Canadian economy and contribute to maintain a high level of national income.
I have every confidence in the foresight and judgment of the Prime Minister and of the Minister of Transport. By deciding to grant this subsidy, the government would at last favour the achievement of this railway project, one eagerly awaited by the whole population of my area.
Subtopic: RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING