Mr. Ovide Lailamme (Bellechasse):
Mr. Speaker, at the outset of my remarks I would like to join with those hon. members who have preceded me in offering my sincere congratulations to the mover of the address in reply to the speech from the throne, the hon. member for Calgary South (Mr. Smith) on his good performance in delivering his speech. I wish him good luck. I think his constituents must be happy about the able way he delivered his first speech in this chamber.
May I say to you, Mr. Speaker, that I fully concur in what has been said by all hon. members who have extended congratulations to you on your election as Speaker of the House of Commons.
Mr. Speaker, at the outset of the few remarks I propose to make, I feel I should thank my constituents for the marvellous support they have once more given me and for the confidence they have shown in the Liberal party, at the general election, last June 10. Having been returned with close to 80 per cent of the vote in my county, I think I can say that my constituents have brought to the Liberal cause vigorous support and keen interest. This also means, I think, that they have approved the measures adopted by the last parliament.
During the sessions of the last parliament, of which I was a member, that is since January 10, 1956, I had occasion to raise a few problems with regard to which the people I represent would like some concrete action on the part of the government. I have already urged amendments to the personal income tax legislation for farmers who operate their farm on a family basis. I raise this problem once more, even though I now find myself sitting in opposition.
In my opinion the demands of the various local groups of the Catholic Farmers' Union throughout the province of Quebec, in this regard, are perfectly fair and reasonable. They should meet with favourable response from the government. I have more particularly in mind at this point the formula used for calculating the revenue of a farmer who operates his farm with his sons. This work done in common is such that, to my mind, the total revenue of a farm, under those conditions, cannot properly be charged to the head of the family alone, whether the children have been paid in money or otherwise since, in the final analysis, the farm becomes the property of the whole family.
At the last session of parliament I also raised in this house the question of decentralizing the unemployment insurance offices, and here I want to congratulate my colleagues the hon. member for Dorchester (Mr. Landry) and the hon. member for Beauce (Mr. Poulin) for their remarks in that sense. The purpose of such decentralization would be to put the offices within easier reach of the unemployed and to facilitate the quick processing of their claims. At that time I had pointed out, and I repeat it today, that the unemployed is in urgent need of money and should not be forced to cover great distances to reach the unemployment office in order to submit his claim.
The decentralization of unemployment insurance offices is closely related to the essential purpose of the act which created the commission, that is to say, assistance to the unemployed while seeking a new job, especially assistance to relieve seasonal unemployment which exists particularly in areas such as the one I represent. I am convinced that such improvements can be brought about without further increasing the burden of administrative costs of the Unemployment Insurance Act.
I also wish to point out to the house the fact that there is at this time in my constituency, as in various centres throughout the country a considerable number of workers who will not be able to find sufficient work to qualify for unemployment insurance benefits, even seasonal benefits during the coming winter. In this regard I do wish to draw the attention of the Minister of Labour (Mr. Starr) to this problem so that the regulations for the application of the act be amended in order to allow unemployed people greater facility in qualifying for seasonal benefits.
Mr. Speaker, under present regulations, an unemployed person cannot benefit unless he has fifteen weeks worth of stamps in his book since the month of March before his 96698-15
The Address-Mr. Laflamme application. At the present time there are -and this is something which has never happened before to my knowledge-a great number of people in my riding who have not worked for more than six months in a single year, and I doubt very much that they will be able to find work before next spring.
The Unemployment Insurance Act should, to my mind, be continually readjusted to meet the present needs and those of the immediate future. I therefore think I am speaking for many of my fellow citizens when I say that if seasonal benefits are not made more accessible, a large proportion of Canadian workers will, apart from being unemployed in winter -which is already the case of quite a number -be barred from all help.
About this very matter of unemployment, I should like to draw the attention of hon. members to the motion of non-confidence tabled by the Socialist group of this house, upbraiding the present government for its failure to apply the necessary measures with regard to unemployment. Allow me to say, Mr. Speaker, that I consider this motion on the part of the Socialist group as mere publicity, at this stage, because it does not agree with the statement made by the leader of the Socialist group, on the day following the last elections, when he said that the Conservative party should be given the opportunity of running the country for a certain time.
Now, two days only after the opening of the present session, the Socialist party propose an amendment liable to involve the dissolution of parliament and consequently, a new general election. I would therefore ask the Socialists whether they are not actually bracing themselves for another electoral campaign or, at least, if they do not admit that their amendment would prevent the house from sitting and enacting the necessary legislation.
That is why I say that the statements made by the leader of the CCF party, in the wake of the last election, and his deeds and gestures are in fact contradictory and can but serve a publicity purpose.
Like all my colleagues in the opposition, Mr. Speaker, I have heard the numerous promises of the Conservative party concerning tax cuts; considering that it would be difficult for the Conservative party not to make good on at least some of these promises, I would like to suggest that all school and university fees be made deductible and that the law be amended so that school teachers, whose salary is below $3,000 in the case of bachelors and below $5,000 in the case of married people, be totally exempted from income tax. In my opinion, this would provide the government,
The Address-Mr. Laflamme under the constitution, with means to help the education and instruction of our youth and would also, on the one hand, encourage parents to give their children a higher education and, on the other hand, would promote the recruiting of teachers throughout the country.
I have followed with interest, Mr. Speaker, the last campaign of the Conservative party and I have also found that the spokesman of that political party expressed different opinions according to the place where the said opinions were voiced. We all know the result of the last general election which was, in my opinion, a direct consequence of that double thinking of the Conservative party which does destroy the very foundations of national unity, a goal which has always been and still is one of the fundamental objectives of the policies of the party I support.
I have been shocked, as were several others, by certain statements made by Mr. Alvin Hamilton, of Saskatoon, leader of the Conservative party of the province, when he said, during last election campaign-repeating by the way, what had been said by the hon. Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Churchill) that the government of the country could be made up and did not need Quebec to govern. And while the Conservatives were boasting that they are the confederation party, which had as its essential aims the union of the two great racial groups composing the nation, they were jeopardizing this union which is essential to the development of our country. This conservative thinking was again exemplified in the political pamphlets distributed even in the province of Quebec, and representing 26 important figures of the Conservative party, among whom we cannot find one single Canadian of French origin belonging to a group which includes nevertheless one-third of the population of our country. This provocating attitude of the Conservative party is again confirmed by the formation of the present cabinet with only a token representation of French-speaking members.
It is an insult to five million Canadians, and all the flattering speeches made by Conservatives for Quebec consumption have nothing in common with reality.
I wish to take this opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to congratulate the hon. member from Parkdale (Mr. Maloney) to whom I listened carefully this afternoon, for the wonderful statements he made to this end, and, as all the hon. members in this house, I look forward to the time when the Conservative party translates all its fine ideas into action.
The best and finest years of harmony and economic expansion Canadians have known have been under the Liberal governments which have always based their fate upon the undeniable fact that Canada is a great country, because two important racial groups had decided in 1867, to work together to the composition and development of our country as a nation.
Those who, among French-speaking Conservatives, have accepted to play a token part in the present government, are acting detrimentally, to my mind, not only to their fellow citizens but to their own party, which is guilty of more than refusing to work for national unity. When in 1930 the Conservative party came into power, it was with the support of a good majority of the people of Quebec; but since 1935, the Liberal party has obtained majorities not only in Quebec but in nearly all provinces. The formation of the present cabinet constitutes a major insult to our whole history and a humiliating blow against a third of our population. This we will never forget.
I condemn the Conservative theory under which the Prime Minister himself (Mr. Diefenbaker) and his Minister of Justice (Mr. Fulton) say to the province of Quebec: give us more members and you will have more ministers. Accepting such an understanding would be extremely humiliating and would go against our democratic freedoms, for, until now, all members of this house have been chosen by the will of the people, and whatever their number, no government may commit any grave discrimination with regard to a racial group in this country.
We must keep in mind that our country has a dual ethnical character and to put an end to proportional representation within the cabinet would gravely affect national unity. The present Conservative government had some members of French origin elected in other provinces of Canada, but none of them were actually asked to join the government. Moreover, supposing a larger Conservative representation from Quebec would bring about a more numerous representation within the cabinet, it must nevertheless be kept in mind that, as all ministerial posts are filled, what would the Prime Minister do in case of the re-election of all his ministers, if he wanted to find portfolios in order to give the French element a larger representation on the morrow of the next election? In any event, I repeat, every important post has been filled. My objections have regard both to the prominence of those posts and to the number of French-speaking Conservative representatives in the cabinet. The statements made by the Prime Minister and by his Minister of Justice
are very unfortunate indeed. This type of tactics can only be interpreted by the people of Quebec as meaning: "Vote Conservative and then we will recognize you."
Of the three Progressive Conservative members who were returned from the Prime Minister's own province, two have been appointed to the cabinet. Seven Progressive Conservative members were returned from British Columbia, of which three were appointed to the cabinet. I fail to see how the same argument cannot hold true for the province from which I come.
Mr. Speaker, in closing these few remarks I simply wish to say that I was quite impressed by the attitude taken by the member for Parkdale and the member for Timmins (Mr. Martin).
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY