Mr. Andre Gauthier (Lake St. John):
I deem it my duty to take part in this debate. Since my last speech in the house, important events have happened. I am pleased to congratulate the government on the wise measures they have adopted particularly with regard to unemployment insurance for lumbermen. At the very beginning of this session, the government extended the provisions of the Unemployment Insurance Act to this class of workers. They even went one step further and made these provisions retroactive.
The lumbermen need some protection against the hazards of an industry which remains unstable and seasonal in character, in spite of certain tendencies in the opposite direction. In extending the provisions of the act to lumbermen, the government has shouldered its responsibilities and protected an impressive number of workers in my riding. I am happy, on behalf of this class of worker, to thank the government for this measure of justice and foresight.
The various amendments to the Unemployment Insurance Act have attained their aim in partially decreasing seasonal unemployment, which hits more severely the lumbering industry.
The Aluminum Company intends to undertake in the near future important projects in the Chute au Diable district, which will solve for the present the problems of the working class.
But the farming class also has its problems. Since the government is keeping aware of the needs of every section of the Canadian people, and in view of the favourable way in which my requests have been received in the past, I am again confident in pleading the cause of our farming people.
Dairy farming is the basic industry in the constituency of Lake St. John and the most important one to the farmers. It is therefore not surprising that they should be highly interested in the price of milk, butter and cheese. In the past, owing to the excellent agricultural policies of the government, they have obtained a fair price for these products. The present instability of the market and a decline in the price of these products have brought about some degree of uneasiness among farmers. The price of feed and fertilizers remains high. It is easy to understand why the possibility of price gaps and the prospect of producing without profit, if not at a loss, should worry our farmers. I bring the matter of feed and fertilizers more particularly to the attention of the government so that every possible means may be taken to put these products within the reach of our farmers.
Through clubs in each parish of my constituency, the Union catholique des cultivateurs have asked me to urge the government to maintain floor prices on agricultural products, and on cheese in particular, at last year's level.
I take pleasure in acting as mouthpiece for the agricultural groups of the U.C.C. Agriculture is the Canadian economy's most stable industry. By helping to maintain the prosperity of the farmers, the government ensures the prosperity of the Canadian nation.
During the last session, Mr. Chairman, I urged old age pensions for all at age 65, without a means test. I am happy to note that the hon. the Minister of National Health and Welfare has moved that a committee be set up to make a complete investigation of the situation and to advise the government on
the policy to be followed. This committee will be given an excellent opportunity to suggest to the Minister of National Health and Welfare that steps be taken to protect those citizens who are invalids and those who suffer from some congenital or accidental infirmity. That is one social security measure that deserves to be carried out in the near future and the government would be well advised to give the matter its closest attention.
May I be permitted now,-and at this stage of my speech I am happy to see that the hon. the Minister of Transport (Mr. Chevrier) is in his seat,-to deal with a matter close to the heart of the people of the Saguenay-Lake St. John district, namely, the building of a railway between Chibougamau and Lake St. John. As a matter of fact, it is our duty, as Canadians, to encourage the development of our natural resources and the building of a railway between Chibougamau and Lake St. John. The government can make no mistake, since this mining area is already, without any doubt whatsoever, one of the most promising mining centres in Canada.
The natural economic outlet for the Chibougamau district is lake St. John. Historical rights, geographical reasons and economic interests all justify the building of a railway line up to lake St. John. Since 1897 explorers have always reached Chibougamau through lake St. John. As a matter of fact, even before the Abitibi district had been heavily settled, a proposal for a railway had been studied at lake St. John and submitted to the proper authorities. All those who are in good faith- and that is the case of everybody in the Abitibi district-admit the soundness of the demands made by the people from the Saguenay.
Hydroelectric power, the means of transportation such as planes, good roads and the water route of the Saguenay, all these reasons favour the selection of lake St. John as the natural outlet for the rich Chibougamau district. The wealth of a province should serve that province first, and those who suggest the building of a railroad to northern Ontario have surely forgotten that it would be wiser to keep for the lake St. John workers, and therefore, for the province of Quebec, the handling and processing of ore, the development of which has been made possible by the natural resources of the lake St. John district and the initiative of its people.
The Budget-Mr. A. Gauthier
This project would also help agriculture, colonization and the lumber industry in the district between St. Felicien and Chibougamau. In the interest of the district, of the province of Quebec and of the country I would request the authorities concerned, that is the government, the hon. Minister of Transport and the Canadian National Railways, to give careful consideration to the building of a railroad between Chibougamau and lake St. John and to carry out this project in the near future.
I was speaking a moment ago on the subject of the Canadian nation. I would like before concluding to speak of one of its most essential characteristics, namely its sovereign rights.
During the last electoral campaign, I stood, like the Prime Minister himself, for a really and truly independent Canada, a Canada owned and governed by Canadians at all levels of authority. What I was saying then was not the result of political expediencies, but the expression of a deeply-rooted conviction.
The results of the federal-provincial conference of January filled me with pride and confidence in the future. It is to be hoped that the interested parties will continue to work in the same constructive spirit and with the same understanding of the various points of view of the different parts of the country. This moderation, understanding and enlightened patriotism will continue, I hope, to govern the future negotiations so that we may have a truly Canadian constitution which will be acceptable to all Canadians.
I regret that I was not in this house on April 17 when the hon. member for Ottawa East suggested that a committee be set up in order to select a distinctive national flag. I am glad however that the budget debate is flexible enough for me to deal with this question. We are at a momentous period of Canada's constitutional development and this is a most opportune time to give our country a distinctive Canadian flag.
The nationals of a truly sovereign country are duty bound to insist upon a symbol of their common ideals.
Our national unity, our people's aspirations, our past history, our soldiers' sacrifices on the battlefields, our political freedom, won at the price of heavy sacrifices, our national prestige, our genuine patriotism, are many reasons, Mr. Speaker, which call for an immediate and final decision about a truly Canadian flag.
Much has been said about national unity. In my opinion nothing is better calculated to cement national unity than a flag which can
The Budget-Mr. Fulford truly and upon occasion serve as a rallying standard tor all Canadians. The citizens of this country are proud to belong to this happy and fortunate Canadian nation. The best way to show this common pride is to see to it that it takes shape in an exclusively Canadian symbol.
What I have just said of the flag may be applied also to the national anthem. "O Canada" by Calixa Lavallee, in its English and French versions, would certainly be the happiest and most logical choice. It is now accepted in every part of this country and all that is required now to ensure its definite acceptance and confirmation is an official declaration by the government.
Mr. Chairman, this spirit of Canadianism and enlightened patriotism shown by the Prime Minister and his cabinet colleagues give me reason to expect, in the not too remote future, a complete and unrestricted national sovereignty. A natural and indispensable complement to this sovereignty logically and sensibly calls for the prompt adoption of a truly Canadian flag and a national anthem. Around this flag we shall build together, in a spirit of unity and brotherhood, a prosperous, independent Canada, a true world power.
Topic: THE BUDGET
Subtopic: ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE