Mr. Remi Paul (Berlhier-Maskinonge-Dela-naudiere):
Mr. Speaker, sincere and deepest gratitude impels me to say to the electors of Berthier-Maskinonge-Delanaudiere how thankful I am to them for the confidence they showed me at the election of March 31st last. They can be sure that I will devote all my energy on their behalf so that, as all the other citizens of Canada, they may enjoy the blessings of a sound Conservative administration.
Honour to whom honour is due; I interpret, here, Mr. Speaker, the feelings of my electors in congratulating you for the mark of unanimous confidence given you by this house
The Address-Mr. Paul when you were again elected as its Speaker. No doubt your experience will permit you to direct proceedings of this house even more efficiently. No doubt, in your paternal kindness, you will forgive us the few mistakes which new members like myself are bound to make.
I extend my most sincere congratulations to the hon. members for Longueuil (Mr. Sevigny) and Spadina (Mr. Rea) who have been chosen respectively Deputy Speaker and deputy chairman of committees of the whole.
The hon. members for Lotbiniere (Mr. O'Hurley) and for Labelle (Mr. Courtemanche) have been entrusted with portfolios and we know, there again, that their experience, their devotion to duty and their sense of responsibility will help the government in its efforts to solve the serious problems which now face all Canadian taxpayers.
When we read in the newspapers that the mover of the address in reply to the speech from the throne would be the hon. member for Quebec-Montmorency (Mr. Lafreniere), the electors of Berthier-Maskinonge-Delanau-diere felt deeply honoured, since the hon. member is an excellent citizen of the parish of Maskinonge; and those who had placed their legitimate hopes in him were rewarded by the tact and the eloquence with which he has delivered his speech.
The hon. member for Yukon (Mr. Nielsen) also deserves congratulations for affording us the opportunity of getting to know a part of our country about which we had been unfamiliar, and he has also helped us gain a better insight into the great projects which the government is contemplating for that area of Canada.
Mr. Speaker, other hon. members have referred to a problem which I have much at heart, as a representative of an industrious working class. I should like to touch briefly upon the textile and knitting industries.
The hon. member for Sherbrooke (Mr. Allard), the hon. member for Joliette-L'As-somption-Montcalm (Mr. Pigeon) as well as several other members referred to the textile problem. You will permit me to associate with this problem that of the knitting industry which I consider equal in importance to the cotton industry, to the wool industry and to the dressmaking industry. In the constituency of Berthier-Maskinonge-Delanau-diere, there are 5,000 workers, men and women, who earn their living in those plants. It is unfortunate that the hon. member for Drum-mond-Arthabaska (Mr. Boulanger) whom we heard yesterday, blamed the Conservative party for this recession in the textile industry and knitting mills. On the contrary, Mr. HOUSE OF COMMONS
The Address-Mr. Paul Speaker, this situation has prevailed in our province and in the province of Ontario since 1953, as well as in the riding of Berthier-Maskinonge-Delanaudiere, and, more particularly at Louiseville and St. Gabriel of Brandon where staff reduction was 18 per cent from 1953 to December, 1956. When quoting these figures yesterday, the hon. member for Drum-mond-Arthabaska was not fair to this government, because our workers at home are confident that Conservative policy will solve the problem now obtaining in the textile industry and in the knitting mills, in order to give the men and women in those plants greater prosperity and a little more work.
I know that the problem deserves attention and I am sure that the hon. ministers of trade and commerce and of finance (Mr. Churchill and Mr. Fleming) will seek an early solution taking into account, however, the difficulties of free trade with some countries like China, Japan, the United States and India.
It is a mistake to hold the Conservative party responsible for this situation in the textile industry when it is well known that, from 1935 until last year, the Liberal party was in power and did absolutely nothing to stop that depression which could be seen coming. Furthermore, for years goods prefabricated at a lower cost than that which our manufacturers have to pay on the market to sell their products before processing were allowed to come into Canada.
I know that the right hon. Prime Minister last fall asked the tariff board to review, if possible, the matter of custom tariffs so that this essential industry, the second largest in the province of Quebec, can recover the confidence it lost as a result of the Liberal party's inertia, lack of vision and of sound management.
Another matter with which I wish to deal very briefly has to do with agriculture. I deem it a duty to thank the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Harkness) as well as the members of the 23rd parliament who enacted the Agricultural Prices Stabilization Act. Why? Because through this legislation, the Canadian people, particularly the agricultural community, is in a position to enjoy an expansion and a prosperity such as they never knew under a Liberal administration. If farmers are now somewhat more prosperous, it is due to the sound administration of the government under the leadership of the Prime Minister seconded by the cabinet and particularly, in matters of agriculture, by the Minister of Agriculture.
A moment ago, the hon. member for St. Jean-Iberville-Napierville (Mr. Dupuis) asked
whether the Conservative party had ever enacted a truly social measure to help our farmers. I don't know that any finer legislation has ever been passed to help solve the problems of agriculture, not only in western Canada, but in the whole of this country, particularly to protect the farmers of eastern Canada. Hon. members of the opposition are a bit confused. They wonder why it is that they, who held power for 22 years, should now have to go through the cold region of opposition to refresh their memory and remember that they allowed themselves to drift away from the people, that they mocked the people and refused to give the people what it had the right to expect from them. They now attempt to make provincial politics here in the House of Commons; they seek to blame the premier of the province of Quebec for the failure of the provincial Liberal party. Well, the fact of the matter is that the federal Liberal party in the province of Quebec always sought to monopolize power through sentimentality, and succeeded in doing so, especially in 1949. Last March, the people recognized that the Conservative party was blessed with an innate sense of administration. The same thing happened in June, 1957, and today it is the federal Liberal party which has to sit in opposition. We who have been elected are pleased to encourage this opposition party so that it can fulfil its role bravely for a great many years to come.
Steps have already been taken to support agricultural prices. I would ask the Minister of Agriculture to carry out the necessary investigations so that certain agricultural products, which can be found in abundance in my own constituency, may be protected by a support price in order that those who carry out certain types of farming may henceforth obtain the return they deserve. I refer at this time to tobacco and potato farming.
No doubt the hon. member for Beauce (Mr. Racine) who mentioned yesterday the cancellation of subsidies for the purchase of aluminum buckets for the maple sugar industry, had forgotten that this happened in 1954 while the Liberals were in power.
Mr. Speaker, I take this opportunity of asking the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Harkness) to set, if possible, a base price on maple products so that the maple industry, whose importance cannot be questioned and which enjoys a certain degree of prosperity may bring to the producers higher returns than it does now.
In addition, the Department of Agriculture might perhaps at some time consider the advisability of subsidizing the agricultural community in order to facilitate the purchase of fertilizers.
I believe, Mr. Speaker, that it is necessary to amend the Farm Loans Act. It has been said about this act, and rightly so, that no loans are made under it. The members of the opposition have enacted that legislation without taking into account the needs of the farmers and the economic situation of our country. Well, it is to be hoped that this government, and particularly the Minister of Agriculture, will see to it that the interest rate on loans is lowered and the terms for obtaining these loans eased as far as possible, so that the farmers may benefit from this legislation and our agricultural class throughout the country may survive.
It was stated in the speech from the throne that we shall be called upon to consider legislation to check the plague of unemployment, that unfortunate legacy left to the Conservatives by the Liberals on the morrow of their defeat of June 10. May I be allowed, in the name of the workers in my riding, to thank the government, and more particularly the Minister of Labour (Mr. Starr), for having kindly considered their position when amending the Unemployment Insurance Act, and extending the additional benefit period by another six weeks. There is no doubt that this social security legislation would give our workmen not only enough money to meet the difficulties with which they have to cope, but also some hope of a better and more prosperous future.
Yesterday, I listened to the hon. member for Hull (Mr. Caron), in a splendid outbreak of oratory, request grants for his constituency. The situation which he described must have grown overnight like a toadstool since, before the present government took power, those problems did not exist, the municipalities were not in need, needed no grants, could do without federal help. That, at least, is what the hon. member for Hull would have had us understand yesterday. He asked for an interprovincial bridge for his constituency. I congratulate him on that score and I hope that the chilly atmosphere of opposition will help him understand that he, and other members of the Liberal opposition, have possibly not worked in the best interest of those they represent in the 22 years their party was in power.
The problems facing the municipalities are not new and the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Green) will no doubt allow me to remind him of the urgent needs of my home
The Address-Mr. Paul town of Louiseville as well as those of Berthierville, of St. Gabriel de Brandon and of many other municipalities of my fine constituency, which are faced with the necessity of building sewers, waterworks and public buildings. I am convinced that the hon. Minister of Public Works will see that works of this description will be carried out not only to relieve unemployment but to help municipalities out of their present difficulties. Why? Because they have not always been treated as they should have been, especially by the Liberal party which was in power far too long.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY