Gustave Adolphe TURCOTTE

TURCOTTE, Gustave Adolphe, M.D.

Personal Data

Nicolet (Quebec)
Birth Date
November 19, 1848
Deceased Date
October 4, 1918

Parliamentary Career

December 30, 1907 - September 17, 1908
  Nicolet (Quebec)
October 26, 1908 - July 29, 1911
  Nicolet (Quebec)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 6 of 8)

February 18, 1910


There is the approach to the wharf, and then there is

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February 18, 1910


an extension by a crib on account of the water going too low this summer.

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February 18, 1910


Besides the road there is cribwork to be built alongside the wharf, because the wharf is too high at low water. It is to be an extension of the wharf. The money was asked for that crib-work and the raising of the road.

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January 14, 1910


(Translation.) I lay down the principle so as to come to a conclusion, and I will reply that the militarism which is in existence in old countries, and which is an evil, has been treated in this very House, by the hon. the Prime Minister, in the famous and historical sitting of the 24th March, 1909. as a plague, of which effects he would protect this country. That was an unofficial statement made under such peculiar conditions and at the verv same moment when the question of the introduction of a new principle of administration was under public considera-Mr. TURCOTTE.

tion, that it must live, not only in the memory of those who then heard it, but in everybody's mind as a solemn pledge on behalf of the government headed to-day by the hon. the Prime Minister. That is exactly what was heard here about that subject, and which at first sight resembles^ the policy followed in the old countries, but which is entirely different. In fact, nobody has called for a compulsory military service to be established for one, two or three years for certain terms. Even, as concerns our militia, although every man from 18 to 60 years is legally bound to military service, the government does not force anybody to join the army nor does it have any drawing lots except in case of war, when the voluntary recruit is insufficient.

As for the navy service, the obligation will not reach such an extent, because under the proposed law voluntary engagements shall be made, even during war, though, as I stated, it is certain that they will not make use of this to frighten our population.

The question of plebiscite which was brought out in order that the people might express an opinion on the subject, and they supposed they were doing much by asking that the people be heard on the matter. The people of this country are not in favour of a plebiscite; it does not derive from the principles of our representative government. The nation is represented in the House by members chosen by itself, and as long as the latter are entrusted with its mandate, they enjoy an unlimited freedom, as long as they remain within the limits of the constitution. Some years ago we had a plebiscite on the question of alcoholic beverage. People wanted prohibition. The people's verdict is known. It would seem that the people would be in favour of prohibition, and what was the result? Nothing, and who has complained because the government did not "see their way clear in prohibiting the sale of alcoholic liquors?

It cannot be gainsaid that such an appeal to the people on a particular issue would not be strictly in harmony with the principles of responsible government. Such a procedure would, to my mind, be only^a means of misleading public opinion.

What would likely be the. result were we to have a plebiscite on this question of naval defence? Hon. members opposite would flock to their various constituencies anxious 'to win the people over to their views, that is to say, to prevent the establishment of a navy. Thev would repair to the various parishes and villages, however distant, there to work on the prejudices of the people and fill their hearts with the fear of conscription, of warfare, and of warfare not on land, but on sea. They would persuade them that a heavy expenditure would be necessary, and that accordingly bankruntcy and ruin would be inevitable. We all know what effect

such appeals are apt to have on people's minds. I am satisfied it would bring about a state of things more fraught with danger than any witnessed since confederation. And herein would lie the danger: Supposing that in answer to that plebiscite a great majority of the people should declare themselves opposed to the building of a navy, that would not deprive the representatives of the people, in parliament assembled, of the right to ignore the verdict of the people and to estabish a naval service despite the hostile attitude of the people. Such might be the possible outcome of a plebiscite. Even should the people take a stand against the establishment of a navy parliament would in no way be deprived of the right to make provision for such a service and carry out such a measure. As a result, there would be much excitement, and widespread uneasiness. me now take up and deal briefly with another matter. There is much cause for rejoicing in going through the estimates ior 1910-11. When submitting last year the budget to the consideration of the House, the Minister of Finance did so not without many misgivings: he was not satisfied with the outcome of the current year's finances, as the revenue had fallen short of his expectations. A financial depression was making itself felt at the time, not only here, but throughout the world, and in consequence, the customs receints had fallen. This year such _ fears no longer exist, and it is with genuine pleasure that the House and country have learned of the great imnrovement noticeable in the business of the country Accordingly the Minister of Finance has thought fit to appropriate larger sums to various purposes and to provide for certain unavoidable and urgent requirements.

The hon. member from L'Islet has referred to the Tanscontinental. Well, $7,000,000 more will be expended this year in this connection. Last year, $20,000,000 were expended on the Transcontinental; this year, $27,000,000 will be expended for the same purpose. Further, $1,000,000 will be expended on the Quebec bridge. Toward the incease of the militia force, $2,000,000 more are provided this year. Toward the establishment of a marine, $3,000,000 appear in the estimates. That makes a total of $13,000,000, over and above our previous expenditure.

It is contended that the National Transcontinental is an undertaking which cannot be dispensed with; but could the same be said of a navy? There is no possible mistake on that point, such an expenditure cannot be dispensed wdth. It will be effected, and I think that the people of Canada, and especially the farming community, realizing what our requirements are for the time being, will gladly contribute their share towards providing for the naval defence. And why? Because the

necessity of such a service is asserted by those faithful trustees who have held office for a number of years and know what is required just now. The farming community will approve of the expenditure made for the purpose of naval defence as heartily as they have approved of the building of the Transcontinental. The House has not forgotten how strenuously hon. gentlemen opposite criticised the proposal of such an undertaking. At the time, in 1904, these hon. gentlemen stated that the country would be ruined on that account; that Canada was not in a position to spend such a large sum. To-day, not only are they all agreeable to it, but they even go so far as finding fault with the government for not spending enough in this connection.

Mr. Speaker, we should not be forgetful of the prestige gained by our statesmen during the many years they have been in office. The right hon. Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance have been administering their departments ever since 1896. They have shown themselves to be loyal servants of the people. Thev have creditable records to show, and that is good reason why the people should trust them whenever they decide on taking a course That question of the naval defence of Canada did not spring into existence on that memorable day of the 29th March, 1909 It was brought before the meeting of the Colonial delegates, in London, in 1902, and later on, in 1907, a complete scheme was submitted. The only question left in abeyance was the manner of providing the necessary funds. While some were of opinion that a money contribution should be forthcoming, and while others favoured the gift of warshins, a third partv among whom the right hon. Prime Minister, in 1907, v'ere satisfied that the matter of uaval defence should be left in the hands of the various colonial governments m accoi dance with their means, and under their own responsibility. In other words, the fleets were to be made up of vessels built, if possible, in the various colonies, with the labour and material available to them, and equipned with sailors recruited locally.

That proposal, Mr. Speaker, was patriotic in its inspiration. The other day, I heurd the hon. membeT for Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk) and the hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. R. L. Borden), state that the right hon. Prime Minister was inconsistent, having in 1907 informed Mr. Smart that he was opposed to the proposal of a contribution either of ships or money. As a matter of fact, the Prime Minister stated that he was opposed to contributing either money or warships to be handed over to the imperial authorities, as he wished that the various self-governing nations of the empire should be left free to organize, control and manage

their various naval services as they thought fit. That is what we are doing to-day, and I see no inconsistency in such a course.

To my mind, the expenditure which we are about to incur towards the establishment of a Canadian navy is not only in accord with our best interests, but also with the aspirations of the Canadian people. For, say what you will, in the more or less distant future, the ties which bind us to the mother country will become more and more distended. And, inevitably, a time will come, twenty or fifty years hence, may be later, may be sooner, when these self governing nations having little by little become more independent at home, will as it were through necessity, break the feeble colonial tie binding them to the mother country.

Great changes are wrought on the face of the earth in the space of a quarter of a century and great countries even are parcelled up. Of late years, and since confederation, we have seen Spain, for example, deprived of important dominions; we have seen great countries like France lose part of their territory. And we would accept as a foregone conclusion an everlasting state of dependency in regard to another nation, whatever its policy and whatever its destiny? Such is not my belief; and without wishing that such changes should come to pass, we should legislate not for to-day nor for tomorrow, but in the interests ot future generations.

When the fathers of confederation, through an effort of genius, evolved the constitution under which we have the privilege of living to-day, there was opposition forthcoming; but these men foresaw the future though perhaps not realizing the fullness of the resources of Canada. But they h*d that deep insight with which superior men are endowed, and they knew that. a day would come when Canada would increase its territory through the acquisition of the great expanse of the far west. And those things came about. At the time nobody suspected what great riches lay within Manitoba, the western prairies and British Columbia. Since 1867 those various territories have been incorporated in this great Dominion of Canada, and possibly to-day the mam strength of Canada lies in its western provinces.

Such facts of recent occurrences in' the history of the world should induce us to look ahead and unhesitatingly make all necessary sacrifices towards protecting ourselves against any encroachment on our national territory. I certainly am of the opinion that a vote of $3,000,000 to start the building of a navy is in no way extravagant. It is not proposed to build a large fleet. If I rightly grasp the scope of the estimates submitted to our consideration in regard to this matter, that amount Mr. TURCOTTE.

of $3,000,000 is required to make provision for naval defence, that is to say, not only the purchase, building and maintenance of ships, but also the maintenance of the dock yards at Esquimalt and Halifax, the building and maintenance of training schools for sailors. Now, with only $3,000,000 at our disposal, it seems to me we would not be in a position to do very much, we would this year have barely an amount sufficient to improve the ports of Esquimalt and Halifax, and possibly purchase a training ship for the Pacific, as was stated, to make a beginning in naval instructions. Nothing of that should cause any uneasiness in this country.

Our revenue will aggregate over $100,000,000 this year; so it is only 3 per cent of our total revenue that we are appropriating for this service.

It has been contended that other services would be depleted on that account. Well, let me show as against that expenditure of 3 per cent what we propose to spend for the benefit of the farming community. The estimates for this year exceed by $165,500 the amount voted last year for the same purpose. In 1909, $948,500 were expended; this year $1,114,000 are asked for, which represents $165,500, or 17 per cent more than last year. It will be seen from this that the farming community are not lost sight of.

The hon. member for l'Islet felt rather uneasy over the experimental farms. By referring to page 42 of the estimates he would have found that the Minister of Agriculture has put in, as provision for new experimental farms, an amount of $110,000 and still another amount of $55,000.

Mr. PAQUET (Translation.) Is that for an experimental farm in the vicinity of Quebec?

1 Mr. TURCOTTE (Translation1.) I say that there are two amounts put in, in the first place, $110,000 for experimental farms; and, in the second place, $55,000 to make provision for the establishment and maintenance of additional farms.

Sir, this is an addition of $37,000 to the appropriation of last year, which only amounted to $128,000, whereas they aggregate $165,000 this year. This sum of $37,000 has not been put in the estimates without a purpose. I have even heard the Minister of Agriculture stating in this House that he approved of the establishment of an experimental farm in the province and district of Quebec. Though I am not aware of the program of the government-because these appropriations have not been voted and the minister will have to give explanations on that point-I think it is generally understood that a large sum will be placed at the disposal of the Department of Agri-

culture to enable them to establish this very year an experimental farm in the neighbourhood of Quebec. We do not know where it shall be located, but the government will let us know what their intentions are. We have always trusted the government statements and justly so because they have always kept their pledges.

In conclusion, three per cent of the revenue for the naval service and an increase of 17 per cent for agriculture; such an allotment showed that the government is well aware of the general interests of the country and know how to apportion the funds to serve public interest.

Mr. Speaker, I have taken more time than I intended. To conclude I shall say a few words about another public service. I mean the Marine Department and specially the deepening of the St. Lawrence river from Montreal as far as Father Point. Large sums have been placed in the estimates to further that end. Firstly, there is an amount of $800,000, and then another amount of $250,000. The government have been blamed on account of the deepening of the river above Quebec. I frankly believe that the further ships can go into the interior of the country the better it is for trade in general and that if we could do so, we should make Montreal the terminal point of our big ocean liners. But I am one of those who think that we should in the first place render an efficient and as safe as possible the service of sea-going steamers beween Quebec and the ocean. Until now Quebec has been the terminal port of large ocean vessels. Never a man-of-war of large tonnage has ventured in the channel beween Quebec and Montreal. On the other hand, we know that there are dangerous spots below Quebec such as St. Roch's crossing. Works must be done there, and so long as there is not a depth of 30 or 40 feet at low tide, it is useless to dig the bottom of the river and to try and have a depth of 35 feet beween Quebec and Montreal. I hope that the government will yield to the desire that has been expressed and that part of the sums appropriated this year will be expended in the necessary deepening of that part of the river which extends from Quebec to the seaboard.

In concluding my remarks and while I ask the House to excuse me for having taken so much time, I must say that I think I have played my part, however unimportant it be. in the solution of one of the most vital problems of administrative machinery. Because when it comes to a matter of dollars and cents everybody is concerned. All are called upon to play their part.

The Minister of Finance and the ministry in general must be congratulated for having met the largest expenses we have incurred since confederation, amounting to 127 millions, without adding anything to the

taxation. That is the best evidence that the present government are worthy of the mandate thev received from the people at the last general elections.

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January 14, 1910


(Translation.) I accept the explanation given by my hon. friend; it does him credit, and I will drop the mat-Mr. PAQUET.

ter. As for the other remarks of the hon. member for L'Islet, I think they are entirely in line with the ideas of the majority in this House, a majority that also represents the majority of the electors of the country.

In his opening remarks, the hon. member urged the necessity of further extending our commercial relations with foreign countries and of organizing a thorough system of consuls and commercial agents. The thing exists already, and though it may not he as perfect as the same institutions in other great countries, we have good reasons to believe that before long Canada will have its own diplomatic service for administrative and commercial purposes, and that legislation to that end will be submitted to the sanction of the electors, through their representatives in parliament.

That question is not a new one; it has been discussed before. I remember that when it was proposed to have a Canadian attache at the English embassy in the United States, to watch Canadian interests in that country, the right hon. Prime Minister stated that the time had not come yet for a change. I do not think it would be proper for me to go beyond that statement made by the man entrusted with the administration of this country.

The hon. member for I,'Islet, speaking of the National Transcontinental, said it was a national, a necessary and an indispensable enterprise. That admission on his part may go a long way to atone for a lot of sms of a party that for years has assailed the policy of the government in this matter. To-day it is readily admitted that the construction of that road must be pushed to completion as rapidly as possible, and that, as a consequence. it is necessary to provide the means, that is to say, the large sums without which it is not possible to complete a work of such magnitude.

I am totally in accord with the hon. member for L'Islet when he states that the progress of the city of Quebec is essential to the progress, the expansion and the development of eastern Canada. It is indispensable that we should have a connecting link between the city of Quebec and eastern Canada, and the construction of the Quebec bridge is an absolute necessity for the commercial and industrial development of the country.

I admit, that a serious accident has occurred, and I have even heard an hon. member on the other side jeering at the matter. But an accident can be overcome, and the more so with a government such as the one which presides over the destinies of the country. The greatest, misfortune can then he overcome, and that is the reason whv, at this very session, we have in the estimates a vote of one million dollars for the preliminary disbursements entailed hv the reconstruction of the Quebec bridge. I have not the least doubt that the money will be

voted without discussion, as it is the first step in the improvement of our transportation system.

The honourable member for l'lslet has also criticised the management of the Intercolonial. I feel rather inclined to share his views; still, if there have been deficits, it is not owing to the Liberal government's policy, but to that of the preceding Conservative governments. Since many years, the tradition of deficits has been transmitted by the Conservative governments that consecutively managed this line. A known fact is, that much efforts are being done towards covering those deficits, and amending the management generally.

I do not pretend that the work of reform undertaken by the hon. Minister of Railways shall at once put an end to the deficits of the Intercolonial; but, what I believe, and what seems to be the prevailing opinion of the moment is, that the information of a special commission such as the one appointed, is bound to bring the railway on the basis of a financial business. I do not mean to say that this commission has given everybody satisfaction, not in the manner in which the line has been managed by its members-I do not pretend that perfection has crowned the first efforts-as perfection does not exist in the world-but I state that under the circumstances, the creation of a commission formed of four members to manage this line constitutes a remarkable progress compared to the old system; it shows how anxious this government is to put an end to a very bad management.

The complaints on the members of this commission were filed independently of the channel of the member for l'lslet, and that, long ago. It is possible that the government met with unavoidable obstacles in the pursuance of its policy. There is a favourable occasion to redress a mistake or do what has been, so far, forgotten, and we think, on this side of the House, that the government will rectify such mistake or do what had been forgotten. We trust the government to'be very just, and we believe that if wrongs exist, they shall be promptly redressed, since a favourable occasion is presently at hand. As regards the formation of this commission, we are all of opinion-not only the French-speaking members, but the English members also- that this board of management for national railways should contain at least one French commissioner. This request was often made in my presence, and I know it is the government's intention to grant it.

As a member of an agricultural county, it seems to me, that when the times comes to furnish the government with the necessary sums to administer the affairs of the country for the coming fiscal year, it is

not strictly urgent to study, to weigh all the theories concerning free trade and protection, or to go backward to see if the methods of the past were ahead of or worse than the present. The pe.ople, whose attributions are to decide about these matters every four or five years, determine to the best of their judgment what party is more fit to hold the power. Now, one party has the supremacy, then it is the other. In certain details the methods are somewhat different; practically, I believe that the fundamental principles of the administration are the same with either party in power. What is certain, since 1896, when the actual government took the reins, the people thought the public affairs well directed since the same men were elected three or four different times to attend to public interests. Nobody, I think, except those whose ambition is to see the power come to their side-nobody, I think, amongst the people, has complained that the management was bad or dishonest and contrary to the pubic interest.

In the objections filed by the members of the opposition, what is most remarkable is that they each have their sore spot, and think they have discovered something crooked in the management of this country or region. But, as regards the country generally as a nation, the depression which was talked about does not exist either in commerce or in the industries, and as far as the citizen's pride is concerned, nothing shows that the people is wrongly governed nor that he has reasons to complain of the administration. It is all the contrary, it seems that the commerce is taking much extension, that industry is more active and makes much progress and that the neople is generally satisfied of its lot. I do not pretend that this state of affairs is totallv and exclusively due to the government; I don't belong to the class of people who believe that the governments can make the people happy or unhappy, prosperous or not; but on the other hand, I believe that in a society such as ours, where aspirations are apt to cause frictions and sometimes much dissentions, much credit is due to those who hold the power to administer the business of this immense country without bringing conflict amongst these different aspirations, but on the contrary to help to the harmony which contributes to the general welfare. It is the state of affairs that we witness actually, and as far as the agricultural counties are concerned, those on which the government is supposed to bestow more attention, I feel satisfied that things are going altogether well.

I know very well that the supporters of the protection nolicv who sip on the other side of the House would like to see a higher tax put on foreign industrial products. Thev are of oninion that it would be an issue to develop our national indus-

try, and that, consequently the farmers would have the benefit of it. The interests of the greater number is to be taken into consideration would be the answer to that argument which seems to be somewhat catchy.

All the question would be to find out whether the producers are more numerous than the consumers. As the industrial class is limited, and the consumers account for nearly the entire population, a financial standing for this country should be such as to give satisfaction to the larger portion of the ponulation and to prevent any complaint from the consumers. It is an unquestioned fact that when protection was in full swing, at the time when scandalous fortunes were accumulated by the owners of industries, it is exactly the time when the mass of consumers were most unhappy, it was at that time also that the farm products were sold at the lowest figure, this statement is supported by the statistics.

I therefore, believe that the government, while imposing taxes sufficient to cover the expenses of administration without favouring the manufacturer at the expense of the consumer acted wisely. The great powers of Europe have been spoken of ; it has been stated that they were surrounded by protection, and in spite of that, strange to say, the money obtained that way by their government has been spent at the expense of the welfare of the public. For instance-and I am going to aeal now with the question of militarism, the plague of Europe-which will soon be put forward as a stepping stone to frighten the people of this country, is it not a fact that the largest part of those incomes levied in order to encourage industry, has been spent in huge armaments, for the maintenance of troops brought together by compulsory service laws leaving their country in a state of poverty, after spending foolishly to a certain extent the money paid in by the people.

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