Personal Data

Bonaventure (Quebec)
Birth Date
October 4, 1903
Deceased Date
July 4, 1993
author, business manager, editor, insurance agent, insurance broker, journalist, public relations officer

Parliamentary Career

June 11, 1945 - April 30, 1949
  Bonaventure (Quebec)
June 27, 1949 - June 13, 1953
  Bonaventure (Quebec)
August 10, 1953 - April 12, 1957
  Bonaventure (Quebec)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 42 of 42)

October 24, 1945

Mr. BONA ARSENAULT (Bonaventure):

Mr. Speaker, since 1763, when Canada was ceded to Great Britain, the Indians in this country have been regarded as independent Indian nations under the protection of the crown. In the county of Bonaventure, which I represent iu this chamber, we have two Indian reserves, one in Maria East, and one at Ste. Anne de Restigouche. The total Indian population on these two reserves at the last federal census in 1941 was 871 souls. These Indians are Micmacs, a branch of the Algonkian tribe, whose total population in the eastern part of Canada at the present time is about 4,000 souls. In Bonaventure county, if we refer to the last federal census, we find that the population of Micmac Indians has increased by over forty per cent since 1911. That is a good sign, a healthy sign. It means that the population of Bonaventure county is very kind to them. These Micmac Indians are very industrious, clever, respectful of the law and peaceful. They are first-class fishing guides; they certainly know how to handle a canoe and drown a salmon. They do a lot of fishing in the summer time and hunting throughout the winter. They also

Old Age Pensions-Indians

make fine baskets, which they sell to tourists; they do very little farming. They have their schools and their church. They are good citizens and good Christians. Most of them are almost of pure blood, and they retain most of their primitive characteristics.

At the time of the coming of the white man, it will probably interest the house to know, these tribes of Algonkians and Micmacs occupied all the eastern part of Canada, including Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, the coastal region of New Brunswick, and the Gaspe coast, comprising the present counties of Gaspe, Bonaventure and Matapedia. The name "Micmac" is an Algonkian word which means "allies". As a matter of fact we owe these Micmac Indians many names of places along the Gaspe peninsula and throughout the eastern part of our country. May I recall here to the hon. member for Gaspe (Mr. Langlois) that the word "Gaspe" is a Micmac word which means "the end", "the extremity". But had it not been for the Micmac Indians, when Jacques Cartier landed at Gaspe there would have been nobody there to meet him. They greeted Cartier in 1534 at Gaspe when the French explorer took possession of this country in the name of Christ and the king of France and laid the foundation of a new colony which was to become the cradle of Canadian civilization.

An interesting Castilian legend tells that early explorers in searching for gold wandered along the coast of Gaspe and Bonaventure county in the baie des Chaleurs as far as the mouth of the Restigouche river, where there is an Indian reserve of Micmacs to-day, and, finding no gold, simply wrote on a rock "Aca nada", which meant "there is nothing here."

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October 24, 1945


All right; just give me one minute.

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October 2, 1945

Mr. BONA ARSENAULT (Boaaventure):

(Translation) Mr. Speaker, to indicate my opposition to the bill under consideration, I wish to add a few remarks to those already so brilliantly made by my colleague.

We, from Quebec, believe that the ties of marriage can only be broken by the natural death of the consorts. As long as both live, marriage remains indissoluble. Such is the fundamental principle enunciated in section 185 of the province of Quebec Civil Code. We, of Quebec, believe that the indissolubility of marriage is at the very foundation of the family, which, as was stated a few minutes ago, is the primary cell of society.

As Christians, we, of Quebec, believe that divorce is opposed to divine law and, as Canadians, we claim that it is in contradiction with natural law, in this sense that the indissolubility of marriage is directly connected with the best interests of society.

The real object of marriage is not only the raising of future generations, but also the protection and education of children.

For this reason, Mr. Speaker, I claim that we should find among the most indomitable enemies of divorce all those who profess to be Christians, all those who think in terms of society, all those who have at heart the lofty interests of the Canadian nation.

If we refer to the figures published in connection with divorce in Canada, we are appalled to realize to what an abyss we are sinking. And we understand that the time has come to alter our course in the right direction, to pull ourselves together, and the only way to accomplish this is to make it harder to obtain a divorce in our country.

In 1901 th'ere were only 661 divorces in Canada, for a population of 5,300,000; in 1911, 1,530 actions were taken and in 1921, the number had climbed to 7,401. Between 1911 and 1921, a period similar to the present one, inasmuch as it was marked by an armed conflict, the troublous times resulted in a five-fold increase in the number of divorces, which climbed from 1,500 to 7,401. In 1941, divorces numbered 14,032 in our country compared to 7,441 in 1931. This is an increase of practically 100 per cent. On the strength of these figures, unless we endeavour to curb this tendency, if the five-fold increase in the number of divorces holds for the period 1941 to 1951 as for that of 1911 to 1921, 70.000 homes will have been broken in Canada in the ten years previous to 1951.

Mr. Speaker, divorce is a national curse; in fact, it is national suicide. To-day every country in the wortd realizes how much divorce decreases the birth-rate and to what extent it constitutes not only a factor of family

disruption and social disorganization, but also a threat of extinction for the population of some countries. Quite recently, on September 27, the British government stated that the numerical strength and even the survival of the British nation were endangered by the increase in the number of divorces and by birth-control. In that white book, published in conformity with a procedure reserved for official statements of major importance, it is explicitly said that there is an ultimate danger, quite real although remote, that the British people may gradually disappear-and that statement is made by the British government itself. That blue book emphasizes that in 1919, for instance, Great Britain had about

16.000. 000 people under the age of twenty, while in 1939, twenty years after, she had only

14.000. 000. So much for England.

Let us see what happens to-day in godless Soviet Russia. In 1943, the government of Soviet Russia discarded the communist principle of coeducation and reestablished separate schools for boys and girls. Last year-I quote from an article published on July 10 by the newspaper Le Droit of Ottawa-the soviet government itself announced that they-

-had just taken new measures with a view to ensuring the morality and the survival of the Russian family, threatened in its very existence by the devastation of war and by the ravages, no less serious, of the anti-family policy forced upon the Russians during twenty-five years of communist administration.

I quote further:

The Soviet authorities make divorce more difficult to obtain.

If Russia has come to realize that after twenty-five years of communism she must make divorce more difficult to obtain it is high time that we should realize it in Canada. Again:

Russian couples only had to sign a form and appear for a few minutes before an official in order to obtain the dissolution of their marriage.

That is what we do not want in Canada. It is why I oppose the bill of the hon. member for Yukon (Mr. Black). Let me quote in conclusion, a most eloquent excerpt from a paper read by Mr. Leon Mercier-Gouin, now a member of the Senate, before a social congress held in Montreal in 1923. Here are a few lines which will certainly not fail to impress you:

Divorce is a demoralizing factor and it further checks the birth rate.

If there are children, divorce deprives them of the care and moral education they have a right to expect from their parents, for the latter have irrevocably separated and perhaps remarried. Thus the unwanted child is unnaturally divided between father and mother. Separation as to bed and board is a sad evil, sometimes necessary; it is a cruel hardship for

War and Demobilization

a child, but not an iniquitous injustice lacking all possibility of readjustment. Divorce does grievous wrong to tiny tots who did not ask to be born. Their young hearts are withered by this blot which, like cancer, gnaws at their conscience and sensibilities. Divorce destroys the family and thus shatters at its very base the whole social structure.

I maintain that divorce is anti everything that matters: family, society, legislation, contractual obligations, Christianity and nationhood. That is why we oppose it irrevocably.

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September 12, 1945

Mr. BONA ARSENAULT (Bona venture):

Mr. Speaker, my remarks shall be brief, as I had no intention of taking part in this debate. I represent in this house the county of Bon-aventure, which is situated in the eastern part of the province of Quebec adjoining New Brunswick. Its population of about 40,000 people are descendants of Acadians, empire loyalists, early traders and fishermen from France and the English channel, Irish, Scottish and English. Racial harmony has ever prevailed in that county, and the majority of the people speak both languages. I am thankful indeed to that constituency for having elected me to this house by a substantial majority. One of my predecessors representing that county here, one who certainly will be remembered by the older members of this house, was the late Hon. Charles Marcil, who was elected for the first time in 1900 and represented Bonaventure without interruption for thirty-six years.

As I mentioned a moment ago, I did not intend to take part in this debate until yesterday, when the hon. member for Nanaimo (Mr. Pearkes) made certain references to service men seeking their discharge from the army.

I should like to quote briefly from the address of the hon. member at page 78:

A soldier may go up to the sergeant-major, and if he cannot speak French all he has to do is to shrug his shoulders and say, "Me no speak English" and he is out-out to go and seek a job before the long-service men come back from overseas.

The hon. member for Nanaimo, who I understand has been in charge of the Pacific command for a certain period, should know better; but there is another aspect to this matter

The Address-Mr. Arsenault

which I should like to stress very briefly before this house. For many years a certain element in the Conservative party could not find any better solution for some of our most crucial problems than to play one part of the country against the other, than to stir up and spread prejudice against one-third of the population of our country, and to capitalize week after week, month after month upon the resentment which they themselves help to develop in certain sections of Canada against the province of Quebec. Yet to-day they wonder why that party has not had a chance to come back into offlce more than once during the last twenty-five years. They wonder why they were so badly defeated on the last polling day; and they wonder why an ex-Conservative like myself should be standing now on this side of the house supporting the Liberal administration. In referring to the service men in the terms he used yesterday the hon. member for Nanaimo was keeping in line with the familiar Tory way of playing ball. From 1939 to 1942 the shares of the Conservative party were so low in the minds of the people of this country that some drastic measure, some radical move had to be undertaken in order to save that party from total disappearance. In the fall of 1942 a convention of the party was held at Winnipeg, in which I actively participated in a last and vain hope that the party to which I had belonged all my life and to which I was very strongly tied by family traditions, would be regenerated. That was where and how the old Conservative party became overnight the young and up-to date Progressive Conservative party; at least I, together with many others throughout this dominion, strongly held that belief. A new leader was elected, certainly an outstanding man and, I must admit frankly, a man for whom I still have a great deal of admiration. A certain platform was adopted, and the younger generation in the party thought that at last it had got rid of the Tories and all their reactionary influence wu.iin the party.

For about a year and a half the new leader of this party succeeded in quieting down that element, so much so that at one time the name of John Bracken was popular not only throughout the other provinces of Canada but even in the far distant rural sections of old Quebec. But then came the Saskatchewan provincial election and the sweeping victory of the C.C.F. over the Progressive Conservative candidates, while the Bloc Populaire apparently was making decisive headway in the province of Quebec. That was enough for the highly inspired strategists of the Progressive Conservative party to change their

mind about Winnipeg and throw into the waste paper basket the gentleman's agreements which had been arrived at there after long days and nights of laborious discussion in committee rooms. This change of mind is confirmed by a Toronto weekly, Saturday Night, in an editorial which appeared on June 24, 1944, from which I wish to quote a brief extract:

In spite of Mr. McTague's clever pleading this new attitude-

They mean the attitude of the new party.

-is definitely a change of mind, and a change back in the mind of Mr. Meighen and the element which had charge of the party before South York. . . . It means in effect that the party has decided to capitalize on the resentment against Quebec and to abandon all idea of obtaining any Quebec support for many years to come.

Then followed my resignation as president of the Progressive Conservative association for Quebec and the announcement that I was leaving the ranks of the party;

Again I refer the house to a brief extract from an editorial published by' the Toronto Saturday Night. While this was published over a year ago, on July 1, 1944, it looks as if it had been written to-day:

The action of the Progressive Conservatives in tossing Quebec into the discard in order to improve their position in other provinces is probably, from the Liberal point of view, a more interesting development than even the Saskatchewan election itself.

It will make it extremely difficult for any French-speaking members from Quebec to cooperate with any other party than the Liberal, even if they do not admit to being Liberals themselves in the next parliament; and after the McTague speech they are unlikely to do anything that would bring into power a party which is practically going to the country on a platform of teaching Quebec what's what.

The short term result of such an attitude has been to consolidate the Liberal party's hold on Quebec, without lessening it to any substantial extent in Ontario where the Liberal vote was barely 5i per cent below the Conservative, in spite of the results of the provincial elections held in that province one week prior to the federal vote.

As a long term result, the Progressive Conservative party has thrown away the best chance it has had since 1930 to take office, and has thrown that chance away for a long period of years to come. In the past any attempt to lessen in the minds of the people of Canada the magnificent war effort performed by Quebec in the last five tragic years of war has not paid dividends to the Progressive Conservative party.

Turning to volunteer enlistments, I would challenge from my place in the house any hon. member outside Quebec to place beside

The Address-Mr. Arsenault

the record of the county of Bonaventure, which I represent, the record of his constituency in respect of the number of volunteers for the army, the navy and the air force, on a pro rata basis of population, and I am satisfied the comparison would reflect no discredit upon my riding. The same condition has obtained in the neighbouring county of Gaspe, and also in Dorchester and very likely in many other constituencies in my province.

Despite her two cultures, Canada has made a tremendous contribution to the war effort in the last five years. It is most doubtful whether the adoption of any of the drastic measures advocated by the Progressive Conservative party would have added materially to that contribution. On the contrary, I am sure that in the long run it would have torn confederation apart.

Mr. Speaker, you have now been told why I stand to-day on this side of the house pledging my support to what I believe to be the only national party in Canada, the only party the policies of which are accepted generally by all sections of the country and all classes of our population.

One point which must not be overlooked, but which must be recognized, is that the leader of the government has performed an outstanding and almost superhuman task under most adverse circumstances. During these long and tragic years of war he has spared no effort in shaping the development of an extremely powerful military and economic war effort, while at the same time safeguarding in all ways humanly possible that measure of Canadian unity, understanding and friendship which is the basic fundamental of that true and sincere collaboration shared by citizens of Canada of different racial origins. I firmly believe that this Liberal government is the one government which can bring about the best understanding in Canada, and lay the most solid foundation of a great Canadian nation of the future.

In conclusion, I should like to make a special appeal at the beginning of this session to all members of the house, both new and old, and to ask them to do their utmost to bring about goodwill, better understanding and sincere friendship among Canadians of different racial extractions and different creeds. I appeal to all true Canadians to lay aside past dissensions and to join hand in hand in building up on this continent a great and prosperous Canadian nation.

This war has taught us many things. It has taught us, for instance, that Canada is a nation among the nations of the -world. It has taught us also, that what we lack most in Canada at this time is Canadian-minded

Canadians. We now know things that we did not know before the war. We know that Canada is capable of great achievements. In the past perhaps we have suffered from a lack of a spirit of enterprise, a lack of vision and of initiative. Now that we have learned how to use men, money and machinery, our generation will undoubtedly benefit from that knowledge. We have used men, money and machines for war-time purposes and we must continue to use them for peacetime progress. Our society must be given the conscious purpose of inspiring peace-time devotion as well as war-time sacrifice. This aim, this objective can be attained by collaboration between the different nations of the world, but it can be obtained in the first place and more surely by cooperation by individuals. That is why I stand for cooperation. I never stood and I do not stand for a separated Quebec in a disunited Canada. I am a Canadian-minded Canadian and I stand for a united Canada which will secure the full benefit of our British connections.

The diversity of racial origin in Canada to-day should not be a problem. We have so many other problems to deal with. Why try to divide the French and English speaking people of this country on five per cent of our differences when we should stand united on ninety-five per cent of our resemblance, of our mutual interests and of our common ideals? After all, we are proceeding, sometimes perhaps by different roads, toward the same goal, toward the same aim, which is the greatness, the progress and the prosperity of this country. It is the combined efforts of all the elements of our beautiful land carried out in a spirit of justice, mutual understanding and mutual loyalty that will guide us Canadians, French and English speaking, toward glorious realization.

Mr. Speaker, may I add just one word to thank you, as well as the hon. members of this house, for the keen attention which you have had) the kindness to give me, and to assure you, Mr. Speaker, of my full cooperation.

The needs of the constituency I represent are many. I shall no doubt have the opportunity of pointing them out to you in the debate on the budget, but to-day I do not wish to dela}' any longer the proceedings of this house.

Mr. PAUL-EDMOND GAGNON (Chicoutimi) (Translation): Mr. Speaker, your nomination as Speaker is a tribute of esteem and an unequivocal mark of confidence on the part of the hon. members of this house. I take pleasure, with the hon. members who have spoken before me, in tendering you my most

SEiPTEMBER 12, 1945

The Address-Mr. Gagnon

sincere congratulations and my best wishes of success in the discharge of your important functions.

The mover of the address in reply to the speech from the throne the hon. member for Kenora-Rainy River (Mr. Benidickson) carried out his task with a brilliance and a skill which portend splendid successes for the future. His performance has given me much pleasure.

No one could have lauded or eulogized the right Iron, the prime minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) and his government more sincerely or with more enthusiasm than did the seconder of the address, the hon. member for Gaspe (Mr. Langlois). I congratulate him, without however envying him, for having felt the liberal grace at such an early age, and I wish he may have perseverance. May he always see, in life and in politics, only the bright side of things.

No one in this house is more delighted than myself to hear that at long last, the government intends to provide the Canadian nation with a flag of its own. If the supreme consolation of pressing to their dying breast the glorious emblem of their race and country was denied our gallant soldiers, we who shall reap the fruits of their sacrifice shall joyfully feel our hearts thrill to the sight of the glorious symbol whose folds will ever show the stain of their blood and sweat.

The plan to make Ottawa a gigantic memorial in commemoration of our -brave fighters who fell on the battlefield was a happy thought. I heartily endorse it, but as a finishing touch to this magnificent scheme, I should like to see an isolated1 plot of soil -of sinister and mournful aspect set apart for the raising of a cold unadorned pillar, similar in the style to a government order, in honour of all the civilians victimized by the wartime prices and trade board and selective service, so that the memory of the countless dictatorial annoyances and vexations borne during the war by the people on the home front may be kept alive.

I hope that the government will codify the social legislation it will submit to the approval of the house during the present session so as to grant equal privileges to every Canadian citizen. In this sphere, we -already have the family allowances act which is excellent in itself but vitiated in its form and application to French Canadians. That is why the Duplessis government, hoping to supplement the federal act and to remedy its shortcomings, has decided to contribute a part of the allowance and thus ensure to large families the benefits which accrue from this security measure.

This family allowance measure is a striking example of things to be expected in the legislative and economic fields were we to allow the federal government to centralize our sources of income together with the privileges now held by the provincial administrations.

If, on the one hand, we have reason to commend the wisdom and excellence of the measures forecast in the speech from the throne, I believe that, on the other hand, the deficiencies noticeable make it an incomplete and unfinished document. I realize that the government cannot give at the opening of a new parliament, a thorough outline of all the steps contemplated; however, I think the greatest attention and the first place should have been devoted to the problems inherent to the transition from a war-time to a peacetime economy. The people of Canada want work. The earnest desire of the man on the street is to bring home a pay envelope sufficiently full to take care of his needs and those of his family. I know the worthy workers of my constituency. They are skilled men closely grouped together and who ask nothing but the opportunity to earn a living honourably, but I know that in the event of a return of unemployment, of a decline in the number of jobs available, which is the case at the present time, our workers will not relish the total or partial closing of their plants, even though the national flag be unfurled over the buildings.

Chicoutimi constituency, which I am honoured to represent in this house, besides being one of the most beautiful in the country, is among those who have been foremost in helping and speeding the war effort. Not only have we supplied, for the armed services, numerous recruits who have fought courageously on every battlefield of the world, but, by the intensive production of aluminium at Arvida, by the surprising volume of our agricultural output, our district, I am proud to say, has been one of the principal factors of victory. Having shared in the battles on all fronts, we are to-day entitled to share in the reward.

In our midst lie tremendous opportunities for industrial expansion. The possibilities for development of the Saguenay region are unlimited. We now have, besides those already in existence, previous to the war, one of the mightiest hydro-electric plants in the world, the Shipshaw power house. Thousands upon thousands of horse-power presently go to waste in the absence of industries which could utilize them. A group of far-sighted and patriotic citizens, concerned about the future of our district, have formed a board of economic guidance to develop an extensive

The Address-Mr. Gagnon

programme designed to attract Canadian and foreign industries interested in establishing their headquarters or branch offices in Canada. However, the aim of these enterprising men of my constituency can be realized only with the help of the government. We ask neither for money nor special privileges; all we want and wish is a proper and permanent job for every member of our working class which would ensure the development and prosperity of one of the most beautiful parts of the province of Quebec. We wish the government to undertake, in and out of Canada, an advertising programme informing capitalists and business men that we possess hydraulic developments awaiting utilization and an available and skilled manpower comparable to any for efficiency and service. We demand to be free from the fear of unemployment, for we wish to live in peace and enjoy the freedom for which our soldiers, airmen and seamen have fought and died.

I believe I am right in presuming that the yearnings of my constituents, both male and female, are shared by the whole population of Canada. Our ideal is that of the youth of our country who at last desire to get their share of happiness and welfare which Divine Providence has placed within the reach of everyone.

Our ambition is to forget the hideous spectre of war and to give a deeper meaning to the word brotherhood; it is to forsake the road leading to misery, pain, hatred and death, to enter resolutely the path of hope, life and love.

Our people must not be left under the impression that war is a great cause of prosperity and that a solution to the probr lems which confront mankind must always be sought on the graves of our sons.

Therefore, I say that the great task facing the government, and which is one of its main concerns, is to strive unremittingly to achieve a prompt and smooth reconversion of our war-time economy to a peace-time one.

And one of the most powerful means of providing our country with a permanent and real standard of prosperity is to possess a merchant marine which will enable us to export our manufactured goods to all the countries of the world and especially to South America.

I therefore support wholeheartedly the suggestion of the hon. member for Gaspe who has made interesting and timely remarks in that respect, and I feel that the government should regard this matter as a vital one. One need not be a great economist to know that if we have a favourable trade balance,

the whole economy of our country will benefit therefrom and the lot of all the classes of society will improve correspondingly.

(Text): Because I love my country and because I want it to be great, strong and prosperous, my collaboration is pledged to those who assume the responsibility of assuring its greatness, its prosperity and bringing about its financial, economic and moral strength. While keeping my full freedom of thought and action and remaining totally independent of all political parties, I feel it my duty to cooperate with government authorities so as to promote and protect Canada's interest, and I shall not fail to keep my pledge.

On motion of Mr. Stewart (Winnipeg North) the debate was adjourned.

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