Mr. Brassard (Lapointe):
I am convinced that all those who know him and who have seen him at work, either in Quebec or in this house, will feel his loss very keenly. This is no reflection on the hon. member for St. Antoine-Westmount (Mr. Webster) who must not be altogether devoid of merit since he has managed to get elected. Mr. Marler's contribution to the debates of this house would have been far more useful and far more intelligent than that of yours truly, especially in the present position of the Liberal party here. The fates have willed otherwise. This may however make it possible for him as well as for his charming wife to enjoy life for a few years, a very legitimate pleasure which has been largely denied them for almost twenty years.
The Address-Mr. A. Brassard
The constituency of Lapointe, which I have the honour of representing, Mr. Speaker, is a young constituency. It is situated in that part of the province of Quebec called by some the Kingdom of the Saguenay, by others, the Lake St. John area and by others still the Saguenay-Lake St. John region. It includes the cities of Jonquiere, Kenogami, Arvida, as well as several other surrounding municipalities, together with Chute-des-Passes, almost 200 miles from Jonquiere, where in September 1956, construction work was begun on an underground power plant of a one million h.p. capacity. The cost of the project is [DOT]estimated at about 150 million dollars and the Aluminum Company of Canada Ltd is the one undertaking this project which will .surely rank among the marvels of the genius of man. The Price Brothers mills are in Jonquiere and Kenogami, while those of the Aluminum Company of Canada Ltd are in Arvida. The population of the constituency of Lapointe is therefore largely made up of workers, to which must be added a large farm population.
The constituency was represented for the first time, from 1949, by the devoted notary Mr. Jules Gauthier, a Liberal, who a few months before the 1953 elections decided not to run for re-election in order to be able to spend more time in the practice of his profession. Among the main achievements to which !he devoted much of his time, there are the federal buildings in Jonquiere and Arvida. Mr. Gauthier was painfully struck by the recent death of his wife and I wish to repeat to him here how I sympathize with him in his bereavement. From 1953 to 1957, the -constituency of Lapointe was represented by Mr. Fernand Girard, an independent. Mr. Girard was one of those mainly responsible for the coming of the reverend Oblate fathers in Jonquiere where they have opened a classical day college which is a great honour to the community and of which, not only Jonquiere and the constituency, but the whole area is proud.
Mr. Speaker, may I now express my deepest gratitude to the electors of my constituency who saw fit to re-elect me to this house. I was greatly flattered by their decision, especially when I consider I am the only Liberal member of the four constituencies of my area. The results might have been different had more ministers come to my constituency to try and convince the electors to vote against me. This may or
may not be an invitation to do so at the next election! But I am in no way referring to the Minister of Transport (Mr. Hees).
I must say that my Conservative opponent put up a good fight. I also had the great honour and pleasure of having as my opponent the provincial leader of the Social Democratic party in the federal election. In case my hon. friends to the immediate left of Mr. Speaker do not know about it, the phrase "parti social democrate" is the Quebec version, I was going to say a literary translation, but it is rather almost a literal translation of the phrase "Co-operative Commonwealth Federation". If the universities decide some day to award diplomas for demagogic vocabulary, I am sure that one of the first men to receive one will be the provincial leader of the C.C.F. party in Quebec. I hope however that great care will be taken that such a diploma is not awarded "honoris causa".
I was very much interested in hearing the leader of the C.C.F. party reading in this house, on May 13, part of the second paragraph of the Declaration of Regina of 1933, as recorded on page 44 of the debates official report. This was a confirmation of what I had said during the election campaign.
I feel all the more indebted to our workers who could have allowed themselves to be deceived by the mean exploitation of their misery at a time when unemployment has struck, in my riding, harder than ever before for the past few months. The Arvida factory workers especially, among whom my late father worked for several years, have suffered more than others because, last year, they had to bear, for more than four months, the hardships of a strike which seemed endless. Many workers wondered, and are still wondering, whether the strike could not have been settled in the office of the hon. minister of labour of Quebec, who, for almost five weeks, showed the greatest consideration for the representatives of union as well as for those of the Aluminum Company.
Nevertheless, Mr. Speaker, I wish to pay tribute in this house to these gallant workers of the Aluminum Company who have given to the labouring class of the whole country, in these difficult times for them and their families, the most impressive example of discipline towards their union leaders. It is very seldom that we witness such a frank co-operation and friendly comprehension be-
tween the workers, the tradesmen in general, the owners, the municipal authorities and school boards as well as the professional classes. In a word, everyone joined hands to support those who for four months were without a means of livelihood and I repeat, Mr. Speaker, that we very seldom see such an example of brotherly co-operation among our population.
Today, many problems confront the population of my constituency and of my whole district. I do not hesitate to say the most acute problem, the one which requires an immediate solution, is obviously the problem of unemployment.
I do not claim that the government is entirely responsible for that deplorable situation. It is not by passing the buck that we shall solve the problem. What no one can deny is that in my district, as everywhere else in this country, unemployment has reached alarming proportions; what nobody can deny is that the government has the responsibility of taking steps without further delay. The Canadian National has dismissed a great number of its employees in my area. Some of them had 12, 15 and 17 years of service. These are questions which I propose to deal with in detail on the budget debate in this session, together with the ever growing requests in favour of an increase in family allowances, the implementation of the health insurance plan, the assistance to our municipalities by means of loans as well as the payment of subsidies to our universities.
I regret that the time at my disposal will not permit me to speak at length on the many important subjects of interest to me and my constituents. I must, therefore, limit my remarks to the vital topic of trade and to the so-called trade policy of the government. In order to deal with this matter from the beginning, we should remember that the Prime Minister when he was leader of the opposition spoke feelingly of the imbalance of trade between Canada and our neighbour to the south. In the election campaign of 1957 this was a major platform of his party.
Immediately after becoming Prime Minister and on his return from the commonwealth conference he trumpeted to the newspapers of Canada that we would have to divert 15 per cent of our imports from the United States to the United Kingdom. He stated recently outside of the house that the newspapers had misinterpreted the meaning of his statements to the press. This is rather astonishing to me because it seems to be a rare occasion of misinterpretation by the 57071-3-31
The Address-Mr. A. Brassard press when we recall that there were no words of criticism about how well and how often he had been correctly quoted during the last election campaign. In any event, the Prime Minister surely cannot deny in the house that he has stated publicly on numerous occasions that we must reduce our imports from the United States. At no time, however, has he given the slightest inkling of the manner, the method or the products involved whereby this could be accomplished.
I am sure the Prime Minister will agree that this diversion will have serious effects on part of the economy of our country and that it has already had some effect on certain Canadian industries and businesses. By his action with regard to the subject of trade the Prime Minister has not proven himself to be a serious statesman. He should, I submit very humbly, have kept in mind the real need in the western world today to retain our good relations, but it seems that he did not give serious concern to our friendship with the United States before making these statements.
We all agree that the matter of trade is most serious to our country. I believe, however, that the Prime Minister would have been better advised if, rather than making his approach by talking about United States trade and diversion to the United Kingdom, he had given more serious consideration to retaining the trade channels we then enjoyed and at the same time not aiming for trade solely with Britain but seeking new trade outlets which would be advantageous to Canadians.
In order to maintain a favourable balance of trade with all of our customers, as we enjoyed under the previous Liberal government, there is some need for the Prime Minister to take action. But such action should not have been in the hasty manner of the Prime Minister, it should have been taken after serious and careful reflection and consideration, particularly with a view to avoiding the undermining of our good relations with any other country.
In my view, by making these hasty and ambiguous statements for publication our country was left in a position for retaliation by the United States. The Prime Minister did not, and does not even now, give us any firm plan of operation. On the other hand, the United States within a very short time put into effect what we may consider as a retaliatory measure, namely a serious reduction in the import of crude oil. In fact, the reduction took place the day it was announced. This 15 per cent reduction in the amount of our export of crude oil amounts to approximately 72,000 barrels per day. It does have a far greater effect on our population of 17 million persons, than a reduction of 15 per
The Address-Mr. A. Brassard cent would have on the population of about 170 million in the United States.
Let us look at the logic of the Conservative government. In the field of trade and commerce they make unfriendly statements and arouse ill feeling and, on the other hand, in the military field they seem to want to bend over backwards in an effort to co-operate. For example, an American is the commanding officer for the unified defence of Canada, United States and Alaska. It is evident that our continental defence requires the closest co-operation between our two countries. Why, on the other hand, do we salute them by a kiss on the both cheeks and on the other hand give them the boot?
I do not hestitate to say that the Conservative government has not acted in the best interests of Canada in the field of trade. As an example, of what use would it be to purchase more goods in England when they would continue to buy from countries other than ours? The cost of production in England is much lower than ours because, as one example, the wages and the standard of living of our workers are much higher. What will happen if we import from the United Kingdom large quantities of their products? There will be a continuation in a larger form of what has been happening in Canada for the last few months. Our manufacturers will be seriously concerned about the government's continued and future policy on trade, and will have to stockpile because of the lack of sufficient markets in which to sell their goods. We all know that in business a company can continue to thrive only so long as the flow of production is kept going by consistent and steady buying. If this flow is cut off, even to a limited degree, lay-offs of our workers is eventual.
I am not afraid to say that in my view the lack of foresight, the instability and also the lack of a definite trade policy by the present government did not in any way give assurance to our people for a continued expansion of trade or full employment. The Canadian people, by their vote in the recent general election, have indicated that we should now have more stability in government. However, if the government persists in following the obstinate, vague policy of trade as has been expressed, I am much afraid that our figures of the number of unemployed in this country will continue to astonish us.
I wish now to deal briefly with the subject of trade relating to the United Kingdom. Over the years Canada, under previous administrations, has encouraged trade with the United Kingdom but we must take into account the complexities involved. As I understand it, the basic principle of trade is that individuals, groups or countries exchange goods and services that each one needs for his
own good living and betterment. We have, as I have said, had exchange of goods with the United Kingdom to the point that has been of mutual advantage to both countries. Can the government let us know how and in what way we can increase the number of products that we can supply when the United Kingdom can purchase these items at a more favourable price from European countries. In line with the same thought, the United Kingdom has been faced with similar problems in this connection because the right hon. prime minister of the United Kingdom, when speaking of trade last fall, said: "We have no friends, we have interests".
I do not want to be misunderstood about my feelings in this regard. My reaction is not an ethnic one. It is simply a matter of sound economics and good business. In this connection, I should like to mention that if the former prime minister, Right Hon. Louis St. Laurent, had advocated a policy of trade with France similar to the one proposed by the present government with the United Kingdom I would have objected as strongly as I do now. Every one knows that the Right Hon. Louis St. Laurent had so deeply in his heart the welfare of Canadians that he would not espouse an approach of this type.
I think it would be of interest to look at a few matters having a direct bearing on this relationship. For example, the present government had a block of advertising posters about Canadian bonds printed in the United Kingdom. In answer to a query in this house, the Minister of Finance (Mr. Fleming) said that the number printed was negligible. If this was the case, of what particular advantage was this order to the British people? I would think that the cost of shipping from England to Canada alone would be high in comparison to that of shipment from Montreal or Toronto to Ottawa. Was consideration given at the time to giving the entire order for those posters to our own competent Canadian printers?
A trade mission appointed by this government was sent to indicate to the United Kingdom producers that we wished to buy additional products from them. It was of interest to read in the press that during a visit of the mission to a shipyard the members were informed that the yard had a five-year backlog of business. Is it not surprising that we should show a desire to purchase under these conditions when some of our shipyards are barely existing? Is it any wonder then that there seems to be a feeling on both sides of the ocean that this mission was in fact a present to the people of the United Kingdom.
I look at this problem of trade with the feelings, as I understand them, of a Cana-
dian. Our fellow countrymen expected that the government in this great country of ours would develop a continued policy in trade and in all other international matters that would reflect wholeheartedly the views and opinions of the majority of Canadians. In this whole question of trade this government has ignored the interests of the Canadian people. Under no circumstances should we try to trade with any country on a sentimental basis. It is an old adage that there is no room for sentiment in business. Those people who have had more centuries of experience in this field and from the experience have the most logic, namely the British people themselves, give us the most eloquent lesson from which we should learn.
Mr. Speaker, I listened with a deal of attention to what was most elegantly put by the hon. member for Quebec South (Mr. Flynn) in connection with the help of the Union Nationale given to and accepted by certain Conservative members for the province of Quebec. Like many other hon. members I would have been most interested in finding out if this assistance was received with as much thankfulness as was the withdrawal of the two original Conservative candidates in Quebec East and Quebec West.
Mr. Speaker-and 1 will conclude by these words-the government is now confronted with a very heavy task, a huge task both in the national and international fields. It must give it its immediate attention. The results of its labours, of its attitude and of its policy will allow us to tell if it will measure up to the situation and whether it is capable or incapable of conducting the affairs of this country. We will wish it well in the interest of all of us here as well as in the interest of each and every Canadian.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY