April 11, 1916 (12th Parliament, 6th Session)


Eugène Paquet

Conservative (1867-1942)


(Translation.) Mr. Chairman, on the 9th of March last, the hon., the acting Minister of Railways (Hon. Mr. Reid) made a. general survey of the situation. He expressed his regret at having to inform the committee of the ilness of the Minister of Railways, who at present is unable to attend to the business of his department. I, for one, and I am sure, all my fellow members earnestly wish to see Hon. Mr. Cochrane recover promptly.
I am glad to hear that the Intercolonial is perfectly equipped to handle , all the freight that offers. The Government has been energetic in its endeavours to improve the Intercolonial to as near .perfection as possible, with the result that our national railway is now getting its full share of the export and import trade.
We are urging our farmers to increased production. They answer the call cheerfully and patriotically for the sake of the country's prosperity.
So as to improve our trading facilities and bring into closer contact constimer and producer, the Government has been attempting to bqild up and complete the country's railway system. Since 1912, the Government wisely have asked Parliament to provide large amounts towards securing to Quebec city such improvements as will make of it a national harbour. The city is the trading centre of Eastern Quebec. When it is thriving, there is prosperity in the district. That explains why we follow with close interest the works carried on in Quebec harbour, as they are bound to secure for us the development of our railways, our agriculture and our industries.
Across from my constituency is found the historic region of Charlevoix. In the
interest of agriculture and trade Charlevoix should be connected to Quebec city by some railway. If the Quebec-Saguenay road were pushed to completion, it would be of great advantage to colonization, trade, industry and possibly winter navigation. The building of that road and the establishment of harbour facilities in the northeast section of the St. Lawrence would enable the country's import trade and the . exportation of Canadian wheat to be carried on almost, all the year round. Canada as a whole would share in the benefits derived from that great work. We ought to bend our best endeavours to the end of preventing our grain from ultimately reaching the elevators in American ports.
Of course we are handicapped by the absolute necessity for retrenchment in public expenditure, but nevertheless the building of a double road between Levis and Chaudiere, the Quebec bridge, the. workshops at St. Malo, the Levis dry dock, the new facilities provided by the Harbour Commission, the new grain elevator with a capacity of a million bushels, the car ferry, the building of terminals at Champlain market and of the Union station, will largely help to meet the requirements of the Transcontinental and put the city well on the way to pre-eminence.
The Minister of Railways claims that through trains will soon be running frofn Halifax to Winnipeg. I earnestly hope that he will be able to organize properly the line west of Quebec city; it is the best means of carrying out a colonizing scheme that will bring wealth to the country along the Transcontinental.
In November, 1914, the Government began to operate the Transcontinental between Levis and Moncton. Our people duly appreciate this great departure. The line runs from Levis to Mbnk, a divisional point in the county of L'Islet. On the 5th of April last, it was stated that the trains on the Transcontinental made only 13 to 15 miles an hour. The statement is incorrect. The distance between Levis and Monk is 112 miles and the train runs at the rate of 25 miles an hour. I do not think there has been a .single serious accident on that section of the line. For a few weeks the service was somewhat defective, but the severe snowstorms we had blocked the traffic on the best equipped roads.
I know that the Postmaster General has under consideration the mail service between Levis and Monk. I wish to urge updn the hon. the Minister of Railways the necessity of putting postal cars on the line

so as to give the district a better mail service.
Now I may be allowed a few remarks on the question of the use of the French language on the Intercolonial and Transcontinental. On the 28th of February last, 1 intended to speak in favour of the resolution of the hon. member for Kimouski (Mr. Boulay) regarding the use of French on the Intercolonial and in the Civil Service. After stating that I supported the resolution, I moved the adjournment of [DOT] the debate because the storm had prevented the Minister of Railways from reaching Ottawa. For that act of courtesy, I was taken severely to task. A parliamentary correspondent who criticised me in his paper, published at Fraserville, was at his seat in the House when I moved the adjournment of the debate. Why did he not speak against the motion? Why did he state in his paper that' the resolution of the hon. member for Rimouski was perhaps untimely? Why did not the French-Canadian members,
i [DOT] _ 11- . nn/vimnl' +V*o+ fVio
who were in me aauuoc, iciiucnt debate go on?
On March 9 and 31, while the estimates of the Intercolonial and Transcontinental were under discussion, our opponents had a grand opportunity to stand up for the rights of our language and our people. They sat still. During Sir Wilfrid Laurier's administration, the same system was followed, and the House never heard any protest from them.
Last fall, the " Progres du Golfe " had. a stirring article on the absence of French in the management of the Intercolonial. The author complained, and rightly so, that the French people were unfairly, discriminated against on that road. Between Mont-Joli and Campbellton the section is 105 miles long, 92 miles of which are in Quebec. The residents all along the section are French-speaking; yet the higher officials do' not speak our language. Mr. Price was superintendent of the Moncton-Mont-Joli division, where the great majority of the people are French-speaking. After his death, the hon. member for Rimouski made strenuous endeavours to have a 'French-speaking superintendent appointed. I also asked the minister to give the late Mr. Price's position to one of our race. In so doing, I was simply asking that there be righted a wrong which we have been suffering since the Intercolonial was built.
In the superintendent's office at Camp-belton, there are 55 employees, of whom 50 are English-speaking Canadians and five are French-speaking. At Moncton, 26 of

the higher officials are of English nationality, and there is only one French-Canadian. In a French-Canadian town, where the Intercolonial has a large staff, the application of an educated young man was turned down because he had not a perfect knowledge of English shorthand.
The French people of Quebec and the m Maritime Provinces have paid rates for the building, maintenance and improvements of the Intercolonial. They contribute considerably to the earnings of the road, and aTe entitled to a fair representation among the higher officials of that national railway.
In November, 1914, the management of the Transcontinental appointed as assistant superintendent at Monk, a division in the county of L'Islet, an official who could not speak a word of French. After vigorous protests, we secured the appointment of a French-speaking assistant superintendent. After the demise of Mr. Dion, the management appointed a man who was familiar with both official languages.
Lately, changes have been made in the management of the Transcontinental, and the assistant superintendent of our section is located at Edmundsten. That official cannot speak our language, although every day he has to deal with French-speaking employees and French-speaking people. I must register a most vigorous protest against that appointment. At the same time, I ask the Minister of Railways to heed the French-speaking people's request for a higher official of their own; let the minister put his name to a reform which after all is but an act of justice.
Mr. Gorrie, the superintendent of the Transcontinental at Quebec, could not speak a word of French; he has been replaced by a French-Canadian who speaks the two official languages of the country. In this appointment, the Minister of Railways has done his duty, and I feel most thankful to him. I congratulate him on having thus dealt fairly by Quebec city and our race.
On the 28th of February last, the hon. member for Rimouski, at the close of his address in this House, exclaimed: " If
justice is to be denied us, let us be told frankly; the province of Quebec is then prepared to secede from the rest of Confederation." My hon. friend wishes to come to the rescue of the Ontario minoriy. He wishes to uphold the rights of our compatriots in all the provinces of Confederation. How could he defend the minority if the province of Quebec should secede from the Dominion?
The French-Canadians are loyal British
, APRIL 11, 1916
subjects. They do not dream of annexation to the United States, nor are they scheming for political independence. We hope to have justice by placing our grievances at the foot of the Throne. To-morrow, as at the most trying epochs of our national history, we shall find allies and friends in both Britain and Canada. There -will be found in the Dominion men of the calibre of Messrs. Cameron and Pope' willing and able to help in our struggle for our most sacred rights.
To-day, as in the past, the French-Cana-dians are doing their duty towards Canada and the empire.
My words are not instigated by any ill-feeling when I .ask the hon. the Minister of Railways to do justice by the province of Quebec and by the French race which inhabits that great province as well as many important centres in the several Canadian provinces. I appeal for justice for the sake of our past, and our traditions, and as a necessary means to the harmony and progress of the Canadian people.

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