By so doing, Mr. Chairman, Quebec wanted to become an asset for the rest of Canada. We want to be full citizens and we want our confederation partners to make things easier for us. We, from the province of Quebec, want to be equal partners within confederation.
I wish to recall the wonderful speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Pearson) on this issue, as well as those made by other hon. members who have supported the fine words of the Leader of the Opposition.
What is our impression when we consider what has happened since confederation? What do we French Canadians think of federal politics? We certainly get the impression that we have given our partners the right to govern without our effective participation.
We have often given our mass support to this or that party which has made up the government, but we have given to our partners, to the Anglo-Saxon majority, the right to govern. We have nearly always obtained unimportant portfolios. True, there have been exceptions, but one constant trend can be noticed. No French Canadian, for instance, has ever been Minister of Finance. To support that statement, I only have to look at the guide of Canadian ministries since confederation. And if I had had time to peruse it further, I might have found out that there are other departments which have never been headed by a French Canadian.
That is within the jurisdiction of the house. Political parties are responsible for the present situation.
When I consider what goes on, and when I read the document entitled "Federal Administration in Canada", I find the same situation again: little or no French Canadians in important positions in the administration.
Within parties, what happens when it comes to solving problems which are particular to the province of Quebec? The situation is the same in any party. When it comes to the province of Quebec, we are told: "That is a Quebec problem. You, members from Quebec, settle that among yourselves; you discuss the matter and solve the problem."
Fear is the only word for it. Our English speaking fellow citizens are afraid to interfere in our particular problems, so that we tend to isolate ourselves. We are led to close our ranks, even in the house, and we forget
that there are Canadian problems of extreme importance which it is our responsibility to solve.
I must say, Mr. Chairman, that our English speaking partners do not always make our task an easy one.
On the other hand, I note that throughout Canada there is great sympathy for our dual culture, for the French fact in Canada. Our colleagues in the house have certainly shown much understanding and interest in the French fact, in French culture.
I should like to point out here that some members of the Liberal opposition are taking French lessons every Wednesday night.
But that is not the problem. Mr. Chairman, there exists, in some quarters, a state of mind which is not in keeping with this generous ideal shown towards the French fact in Canada by a great number of our English speaking colleagues and by the majority of English speaking citizens of this country.
One has only to consider the board of directors of the Canadian National Railways to understand my point. Besides the same situation prevails within the board of directors of the Canadian Pacific, where there is not a single French Canadian. The same goes for several crown corporations.
I have here the Directory of Directors published by the Financial Post, an annual publication in which are found the names of 10,000 directors of companies, of which 550 or 600 only are French Canadian names. These figures indicate a state of mind. There is a lack of faith in us. It is no wonder then that following an incident such as the one that occurred recently in the committee on railways, when the president of the C.N.R. gave evidence, there should have been an outburst of nationalism in the province of Quebec. It made it possible for a nationalist feeling to flare up.
That incident in the committee on railways simply gave us an opportunity to show what we feel since confederation. It is often said that no French Canadians are available, that they do not want to come to Ottawa, that they refuse to sit on the boards of large companies, that they do not want to leave the province of Quebec and settle in other provinces-that is probably true-but you know as I do that we are not in a bilingual environment in Ottawa, that we do not feel at home.
How can you expect a French Canadian to settle here permanently when he does not feel at home? As long as he does not feel at home, he will hesitate to settle here.
We want to feel at home here, in Ottawa, as well as in the other provinces. If we are equal partners, we have the right to take part everywhere in the nation's business, whether in Montreal, Ottawa or Vancouver.
It is possible that if one or two great French Canadian personalities were brought to Ottawa and gathered around them other French Canadians, there would come a time when the number of French Canadians would increase in the civil service. Perhaps a solution could be found then. Perhaps it would be advisable to find a man of competence and good will who would try to attract, both to the public service and to private enterprise, other French Canadians who would work with him. It is not by limiting ourselves to the recruiting of "professional French Canadians" that we will solve the problem.
Mr. Chairman, we have been in a difficult position since confederation. In my opinion, the house earnestly wishes to find a solution before the centennial, in 1967. We will have to work hard and show some generosity because if we fail to get along with each other, we will then be in an extremely difficult position. Our English speaking partners are well aware of the problem which has been facing Canada since confederation.
Over the past ten years, the Massey royal commission, the Gordon royal commission and others have carried out investigations which have led to the conclusion that French Canadians have a tendency to make their voices heard more and more and that Englishspeaking Canadians wish to fight against the influence of the United States.
We know very well that the United States may soon exert progressively as much influence on our political decisions as they do at present in the military, cultural and economic fields. That is why our partners in confederation, English speaking Canadians, are just as anxious as we are to maintain the political sovereignty of our country. However, we wish to be equal partners. If we fail to achieve that ideal, we may well start having our doubts about confederation, thus jeopardizing the interests of all Canadians, both French and English speaking.
All French Canadians, I am sure, will want to support the proposals put forward by the Leader of the Opposition yesterday. The sooner we learn to understand each other, to remove difficulties and to intensify comprehension between us, French and English speaking Canadians, the sooner we will be proud to be Canadians.
I take the liberty to say this, Mr. Chairman, because I represent the Iles-de-la-Madeleine riding which, proportionately speaking, had the largest number of men and women in the armed forces during the last world war. There were more "Madelinots" enlisted in Canadian armed forces than people from any other riding in the country, and I am very proud of that fact.
I do not intend to speak at great length about my riding in this debate. I will have another opportunity to do so later on. I should simply like to draw attention to an anniversary. On January 11, 1963, it will be 35 years since the inauguration of air mail service in the Iles-de-la-Madeleine, which meant that the Madelinots could get mail during the wintertime. But even today there is still one island that gets its mail from the air during the winter. In fact, they must wait till spring for mail shipments out of Entrance island. That is a problem I will discuss when the post office estimates are before us.
Mr. Chairman, my time is just about over and I should like to insist that this government must introduce legislation in accordance with the needs of the country. We want appropriate legislation to meet our needs and we are conscious that in working to that end, we are doing it for the good of the nation and in the best interests of our country.