January 18, 1957 (22nd Parliament, 5th Session)


André Gauthier


Mr. Gauthier (Porineuf):

It has not been half as much the concern of the Liberal party as it has been that of the Conservative party throughout its history. If the hon. member would only read history, instead of taking up time to interrupt me, he would know a lot more about it and he would be able to speak far more intelligently than he does now.
Mr. Chairman, I felt that it was fitting to express a French Canadian point of view here this afternoon. I know some who would have been far better qualified than I am. Nevertheless, I have summoned forth all my courage in order to say something interesting, even though there may be some who will not find my remarks to their liking.
Canada Council
The Canada Council, to my mind is timely. We could hardly have had it a hundred years ago. We could hardly have had it even twenty-five years ago because we were not yet ready for it.
Character and mentality must have reached maturity in certain fields before talent can find self-expression. Such endeavours should not be attempted too early. Consequently, I do believe that this measure is timely.
As regards French-speaking Canadians, it is true that our development in the arts has been gradual. I am thinking here of drama, music and the humanities. However I pay special tribute to commercial and classical colleges for the good education they have given us in these three fields, especially in that of the humanities. Quite often in the course of controversies in newspapers and magazines, some writers who do not see the use of studying dead languages blame our seminaries for clinging to the teaching of Greek and Latin. However, knowing languages and specially the roots of the French language, our educators are well aware that, in order to have a good knowledge of French, one must also have a knowledge of Greek and Latin roots. Even for English-speaking people, specially those whose origin goes back to Normandy, it is certain that the knowledge of Greek and Latin roots is a great help to anyone who wishes to understand and speak English really well.
That is why, Mr. Chairman, we should pay a well-deserved tribute to our classical colleges for continuing to teach the so-called dead languages, and be grateful to them for developing among French Canadians able talents which would probably have remained dormant. It is in the seminaries and the classical colleges that we see certain talents blossom out thanks to the vigilant and solicitous care of teachers in our classical colleges, thanks to the attention they give to the education of youth, and especially, to their great learning.
The mention of a few names should be sufficient. For instance in my district, that of Mgr. Camille Roy, and in the Montreal district those of Canons Chartier and Groulx, are examples in support of my statement. There are others, of course, but those are the three which come to my mind at this time. Those people are educators who have helped a great number of French Canadians gain a high degree of proficiency in the dramatic arts. More recently, there has been Rev. Father Legault, who trained the famous Compagnons de Saint-Laurent, a group that has won medals in all Canadian festivals and from which have come such distinguished actors as Gascon, Coutu and Groulx.

We even had, in the theatre, Fiench Canadian actors whose great talents have enabled them to grace the English stage. I shall mention only one, Paul Dupuis, who for years played on the stage in London. He is now back in Montreal and we have been very pleased to welcome him. Here is a man with a latin culture, with a French culture, who, nonetheless, has brought enjoyment, relaxation and satisfaction to a great number of English people who saw him on the stage or on films, or heard him on the radio.
I could mention a host of other artists, people like Plamondon, Jobin, Mercier, Simoneau, the Alaries and I take care not to forget a name for ever famous, a name whose renown has never been surpassed in the whole world, that of Madame Albani.
Ladies and Gentlemen-
Mr. Chairman, excuse me, it's a force of habit. Elections are coming and this most likely explains my lapsus linguae.
I believe, Mr. Chairman, that the French Canadian people will be pleased at the establishment of the Canada Council. I easily imagine that somewhere certain clouds will show up, bearing the words: "Keep watch upon autonomy, federal government should not interfere with education, and if song, the drama, the fiddle and the piano are part of education, there is danger that the federal government will interfere in the field of education."
I do not fear at all the interference of the federal government in the field of education; I can say so, I think, without causing offence to anyone, even the staunchest partisans of provincial autonomy.
I do not see either any danger in the payment, to universities, of grants such as have been offered by the Right Hon. Prime Minister in the speech he delivered not long ago. It is therefore my contention that the universities of the province of Quebec should accept those grants. I do not know why they did refuse them. They have no doubt their reasons; they may have excellent arguments but I think that we have, in the person of the Prime Minister and of the present members of his cabinet, strong enough arguments and a consistent enough record to be in a position to tell them that their fears are groundless. Universities should accept those grants which would help them go on with their magnificent work in the field to which they have devoted their efforts for such a long time in order to ensure the ever-growing success of education in the province of Quebec.

Oh, as somebody has said, I do know that the primary school may seem to be the solid foundation for the education of our young French Canadians. However, there is not only one stone in a building; there are several and all must be placed solidly and normally on top of one another, not only in the field of university education but also in the fields of primary and secondary education. When our universities and colleges need money, no autonomist outcry will be strong, powerful or sincere enough to prevent them from accepting the grants which the federal government wishes to make without any condition whatever.
A moment ago I was listening to the hon. member for Peace River (Mr. Low) and the hon. member for Saskatoon (Mr. Knight) exchange a few pleasantries with regard to the danger of communist infiltration in this council which the federal government proposes to establish. I am convinced that we can make progress in the arts, social sciences and the humanities without any danger of communist deviation. I do know for a fact that the communist leaders a few years ago had asked some musicians to change their style of composition because it was not close enough to materialistic ideals. I do know too that certain historians or certain scientists such as Lysenko, have attempted to destroy some theories such as the Mendelian theory since they went against communist ideology and more especially communist dialectics. I hardly think that that is a danger at the present time in this country with regard to the Council which the federal government proposes to establish, since our leaders are not communists but good democrats. I know also that Canadians are at present sufficiently warned against communist dangers, possibly not all but most dangers, so that there will always be among us people who are sufficiently wide awake to prevent such an infiltration in a Council such as this.

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