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 5 of 42)

May 3, 1955

Mr. Bona Arsenault (Bonavenlure):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to ask a question of the Minister of Justice. Could the minister tell us whether the inquiry by the combines investigation branch into the buying of pulp-wood and into prices paid for pulpwood, to farmers and settlers, will be extended beyond the Gatineau district of the province of Quebec, in respect of which district the hon. member for Gatineau (Mr. Leduc) originally raised his complaint?

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April 28, 1955

Mr. Bona Arsenault (Bonaventure):

Mr. Speaker, agriculture, offshore fishing and lumbering are among the chief means of livelihood of a great many people in the province of Quebec. More particularly in the eastern part, in Gaspe, on the north shore of the St. Lawrence, the people are almost entirely dependent upon those three sources

The Budget-Mr. Arsenault

of income to live on or, in some cases, to achieve a modicum of comfort.

Indeed very few farmers of that area earn their living through farming alone, and few fishermen engage exclusively in fishing operations. Therefore, lumbering and the sale of pulpwood constitute a necessary if not indispensable adjunct to the family budget. Those three sources of revenue, sea, land and forest, can be said to constitute the very basis of the economy of the eastern part of the province of Quebec.

Last year, because of bad weather and of the heavy damage done to crops by insects, in various parts of the province, many farmers sustained irretrievable losses. In Gaspe, many of them even lack the necessary seed for this spring. I have received numerous and pathetic appeals for assistance from farm organizations and individual farmers of my constituency. But that problem is not a responsibility of the federal government.

However, due to the urgency of the matter and the pressing needs of the farmers of my county, I feel I must call this situation to the attention of the provincial authorities whose responsibility this is. Let me make clear, though, that these words of mine, and the statements I wish to make in the course of my remarks today, are by no means intended to embarrass the Quebec government.

It is a well known fact that, for several months, the farmers of this country, more particularly those from the province of Quebec, have been expressing alarm over the very important matter of the price of butter. Federal members from that province have received numerous representations in this regard, notably from the officers and members of the Catholic farmers' union. Personally, I have received some 1,400 letters on this subject.

The Quebec members in this house have joined hands in placing those pressing demands before federal authorities. Farmers of that province have thus received renewed proof of the fact that they have good friends here, on whom they can rely in emergencies.

The federal government has attempted to protect the Canadian farmer, and more particularly the farmer from Quebec, from the disastrous effects of a drop in dairy prices.

Price support on butter has once more been fixed at 58 cents a pound.

On behalf of the farmers of my riding, I wish to extend my sincere thanks to the government, in particular to the right hon.

The Budget-Mr. Arsenault

Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) and to the right hon. Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) for this wise decision which will be beneficial not only to farmers but also, indirectly, to everyone in Canada. When agriculture is prosperous, the entire country is also prosperous.

I said that a large part of the population of the province of Quebec earns its living from fishing. I must remind the house, however, that the value of the catch in that province for 1954 was 23 per cent lower than in 1953, and 29 per cent less than in 1952.

For instance, in the province of Quebec 35 million pounds of cod were caught in 1954. This catch, as it came out of the net, was worth $773,000.

In comparison with 1953, the amount of cod caught was 28-5 per cent smaller, the value 15-3 per cent less. A comparison between 1954 and 1952 shows that the amount of cod taken was down 39-5 per cent, and the sums paid to the fishermen, 45 [DOT] 6 per cent.

The herring catch, which had been 28,000 tons in 1952 and 24,000 tons in 1953, was down to 18,000 tons in 1954.

The salmon catch has also been seriously reduced in the last few years. The gradual disappearance of salmon from the Atlantic coast is such as to give rise to the most serious misgivings.

On the other hand, in the Magdalen islands, the total value of the lobster catch was up from $485,000 in 1952 to $703,000 in 1953 and $721,000 in 1954. But that is only one happy exception to the rule, and of no advantage to the other eastern districts of the province of Quebec.

Generally speaking, then, it may be said that in 1954 there was a serious reduction in the revenue of fishermen from the counties of Bonaventure, Gaspe South, Gaspe North, Charlevoix and Saguenay, compared to 1953 and especially to 1952.

Consequently, if on one hand some sections of the eastern part of the province of Quebec met with serious difficulties last year on account of excessive rain and of insects, on the other hand the income from our offshore fishing, especially for the past two years, has been sadly inadequate, and is greatly missed by our people.

The catch and the prices paid to fishermen have dropped so much that the total revenue

of our Quebec sea fisheries is but $2,440,473 compared to $2,706,248 in 1953, and $3,088,448 in 1952.

I said just now that in the eastern part of the province, more particularly in Gaspe and on the north shore of the St. Lawrence river, the lumbering industry constitutes a necessary adjunct to the revenue of the people, more especially when farming and fishing fail.

Now, considering the serious conditions in agriculture and offshore fishing, which I just mentioned, farmers and fishermen of the province of Quebec, especially in the eastern district, who own woodlots had reason to expect from the sale of pulpwood a fair return which would have enabled them to support their families. On the contrary, even in that field, they have been shamefully exploited.

Considering the high cost of living, the cost of newsprint both on the national and international market, and the profits revealed in the financial reports of the pulpwood companies which are taking advantage of our natural resources, the ridiculously low prices paid in recent years, and last year in particular for pulpwood in the constituency of Bonaventure in the Gaspe peninsula, and in many other districts in the province of Quebec, are nothing less than an inducement to lawlessness.

I have here the results of investigations conducted during the winter by officers of the Catholic farmers' union in the counties of Bonaventure and Gaspe, on prices paid to pulpwood producers in the Gaspe peninsula.

Those investigations show that, in February and March 1955, prices as low as $10.50, $9.50, $8.50 and even $7.50 were being paid in the Gaspe peninsula for a cord of pulpwood delivered to the truck roads.

Do you know how much it costs to fell, saw or "bucksaw", as the lumberjacks say, and cart to the truck roads, often miles away, a cord of pulpwood cut on the average farmer's or settler's lot in the Gaspe peninsula?

Two good men, a good horse and ten hours of work a day are required to do the job.

It costs $2 a day to feed two men, and this is no exaggeration; and for a horse at least $1. For a good horse, the value of a day's work is $3, which makes a total of $6.

That means that when pulpwood is paid $10 a cord, delivered alongside the truck roads, there is left only $4 in net revenue to

be split between two men. It also means that not only do the pulpwood producers in eastern Quebec have to be content with a measly salary of $2 a day, for ten hours of hard work, but they are practically giving their wood away to the shareholders of pulpwood companies, the majority of whom are quite often foreigners.

And when pulpwood is paid $7.50 a cord, alongside the truck roads, as was the case last winter in certain parts of the Gaspe peninsula-and I have proof of it right here-we find, on the basis of the same figures, that those two men net only 75 cents each a day, which amounts to about 7 A cents an hour, on which to raise a large family.

When I see some printers of the Montreal newspaper Le Devoir, who already get a salary of $4,000, $5,000 and $6,000 a year, go on strike, I really wonder what they would do if their situation was that of the woodcutters and the pulpwood producers in the province of Quebec.

Some will say that, with modern equipment -which our woodcutters are not always able to get-two men can cut more than a cord of wood in a day. Of course they can, if this wood is cut on company limits, right in the middle of a virgin forest and close to the river down which the wood is floated. But not so on the woodlots of the farmers and settlers of the Gaspe peninsula, where the trees are sparse and have to be hauled long distances to the truck road during the winter, or even in the mud during the fall and spring.

From 75 cents to $2 a day for a man who works hard, often from morning till night, to raise a large family and try to make both ends meet! And things have come to such a pass in this twentieth century, in a Christian country which is often held up as an example for other countries of the world, in a democratic country which earmarks billions of dollars for the defence of our way of life, of that way of life, and especially in a province which claims to be in the vanguard of the fight against communism.

I say that our woodcutters and settlers in Quebec are not immunized against the seeds of revolutionary and communistic ideas, and I would add that the wonder drug that would immunize them has not yet been found. Let our industrial leaders take heed and consider seriously their responsibilities before it is too late!

The Budget-Mr. Arsenault

For, by enriching the foreigners who are taking advantage of our natural wealth while making capital out of indigence, the suffering and even the despair of our people, we sow the most fertile seed of revolution and communism to be found in the country.

Thus some capitalists, blinded by greed, avarice, or sheer stupidity, are acting as the best promoters of Moscow in our midst.

Communism! They are the ones who, by their unfair practices, arouse communism in the minds and hearts of our people. And unfortunately, those exploiters are beyond the reach of the padlock law.

Our own Canadian forests, the woods of Quebec, our own province and, in particular, those of the Gaspe peninsula, were not created by the Lord for the sole benefit of Thread-needle street, Wall street, Bay street or St. James street.

The lumber industry is one of the most important in the province of Quebec, if not actually the most important. The pulp industry, in particular, is an essential factor of our economic and social structure. It directly affects the standard of living of a large part of our population.

Lest we take for granted that the province of Quebec has become the colonial empire of a few privileged rich men, the development of our natural resources, of our forests, should first and foremost assure the subsistence and welfare of our population in Quebec.

If there is a field in which Quebec should be autonomous, it is that one, for our provincial government has the sole jurisdiction with regard to our forests, and our lumber industry within the province.

As a matter of fact, lease permits either for settlers' lots or wooded lands are granted or refused by the provincial government.

The only authority entitled to grant timber rights to individuals or companies is the provincial government. It is the provincial government that collects cutting fees. It is also the provincial government that has established the ceiling price to be paid by the owners of provincial newspapers for their newsprint by direct representations to the companies. In view of the uncompromising attitude of some pulp companies in their transactions with the lumber producers, and of the extreme unfairness they show to the farmers and settlers of the province of


The Budget-Mr. Arsenault Quebec, in spite of the solemn warning that was given to them in this very house, by the hon. member for Gatineau (Mr. Leduc) and in the very words of the premier of Quebec, I believe it to be the duty of the government of that province to intervene with regard to the establishment of the floor price to be paid the farmers and settlers for their pulp-wood.

The provincial government has the power to fix a maximum price for the newsprint sold to the newspaper publishers of the province. By the same token, it should have the right to fix a minimum price to be paid to settlers and farmers.

Because we live in the province of Quebec we should not have to pay more taxes than elsewhere. Because we live in the province of Quebec we should not be paid lower salaries than elsewhere. Because we are from the province of Quebec we should not be forced to sell our products more cheaply than elsewhere, pulpwood in particular.

This situation, Mr. Speaker, has lasted all too long. There is no reason in the world why a cord of pulpwood cut in Gaspe should not fetch as high a price as a cord of pulpwood cut in Ontario or on the Pacific coast.

I might add that a cord of pulpwood, which often costs as much as $25 to $35 delivered at the mill, when it has been cut on company limits and floated or hauled over long distances, should be worth at least $15 when delivered to truck loading points on roads by our farmers or settlers: not $7.50 nor $8, but $15.

Therefore I say that a minimum price of $15 a cord should be set right away throughout the eastern region of the province for pulpwood bought from farmers, settlers or other producers.

I do not mention any figure for the other parts of the province as I am not familiar with conditions there.

But I do know that since 1952, because pulpwood has been paid from $5 to $7 a cord less than should have been paid to our farmers and settlers, at a time when the price of newsprint kept going up and the profits of pulpwood companies kept piling up, the people of the Gaspe peninsula and of eastern Quebec have been cheated out of some $2 million a year. Thus the benefit of family allowances generously distributed to the families in those regions by the federal

government has, to a large extent, been cancelled out.

Such a highly unjust situation must be met with an immediate remedy. Here is what I should like to suggest:

1. I propose that the inquiry which the hon. member for Gatineau (Mr. Leduc) has asked the Department of Justice to undertake with respect to the Gatineau valley under the Combines Investigation Act be extended to every region of the province of Quebec and particularly to the Gaspe peninsula.

2. I respectfully urge the Hon. Maurice Duplessis, premier of the province of Quebec, and the members of his government, to pass an order in council fixing the minimum price to be paid to pulpwood producers in the province of Quebec. Such a minimum price would have to be at least $15 a cord, delivered at a truck loading site, for the eastern part of the province.

3. As a citizen of the province of Quebec, I respectfully urge the Quebec provincial legislature to adopt at its next session a legislative measure which would empower the minister of lands and forests of the province, among other things, to:

(a) investigate prices paid to farmers and settlers for pulpwood cut in the province on wooded lands or licenced lots;

(b) issue regulations governing the establishment of the minimum price to be paid to producers for pulpwood; concerning the measuring of the wood and the quantity of pulpwood to be bought each year from settlers and farmers, taking into account their other sources of supply and their needs;

(c) issue any other regulation to safeguard the interests of wood producers within the province of Quebec.

Before resuming my seat, I repeat that the remarks I have just made must not be interpreted as an attack either against the wood dealers, or the pulp companies or the provincial government.

I attack nobody in particular and I lay no charge whatsoever against anybody.

I am only stating facts that have lasted long enough, conditions I believe it is my duty to reveal and proclaim, and which I shall denounce and proclaim as long as they have not been efficiently remedied.

As a farmer's son, I know from my own experience how strenuously our men must work to support their families.

I also know, from personal experience, that a lumberman, a farmer, a settler or lumber producer, be he from the Gaspe peninsula, from the north shore of the St. Lawrence or the Gatineau, deserves as fair a compensation for a good day's work as any other Canadian, from any other part of our country, in a similar profession.

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April 6, 1955

Mr. Bona Arsenault (Bonaveniure):

Mr. Speaker, I will only take a few minutes of the valuable time of the house to voice a grievance. The house is already aware of the fact that on the occasion of the bicentenary of the deportation of the Acadians, a number of commemorative ceremonies will be held in various centres of the maritimes, of the province of Quebec and also in Louisiana where, as a matter of fact, some celebrations have already been held.

These observances, which have been organized in Canada as well as in the United States as a tribute to the survival and rebirth of the Acadian people, are of interest to over a million Canadians and Americans of Acadian descent.

They are also of interest to Englishspeaking Canadians from the maritimes, particularly those from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, who are generously co-operating in the organization of these celebrations.

There is an hon. member of the other place, for instance, a resident of Halifax, who has been enthusiastically taking part in this organizational work. Most of the maritime members of this house, in fact,

English as well as French-speaking, have extended to the organizers their kindest support. We know too that the state of Louisiana has already contributed a substantial amount to the fund set up by our Acadian cousins of that part of the United States for the purpose of these celebrations.

Next summer hundreds, even thousands, of visitors from Louisiana will come to this country, particularly to the maritimes. The conseil de la vie frangaise, under the skilled leadership of its secretary, Father Paul-Emile Gosselin, has already organized a useful tour of Louisiana by Canadians. It is also preparing several other friendship tours to New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

This year, then, a continuous flow of tourists will bear down upon the maritime provinces. These friendship tours, these pilgrimages made by Canadians from central Canada to the maritimes, and particularly to Nova Scotia, will no doubt continue from year to year. In that province, formerly called Acadia, there are several historical sites particularly dear to the hearts of Canadians and Americans of Acadian descent.

This constitutes for Nova Scotia a source of income that is hardly tapped and that the Canadian government should help to develop, if only from a strict touristic point of view.

We just learned, through the provincial treasurer, Hon. Mr. Fielding, that the government of Nova Scotia has just decided to grant a generous subscription to the fund for the organization of the Acadian celebrations which will be held this year in that province.

Moreover, the government of Nova Scotia, through its information office, just issued a fine stamp, with inscriptions in both official languages, to commemorate the bicentenary of the deportation of the Acadians. Both decisions, bespeaking broad-mindedness and generosity, are well calculated to promote national unity in this country and certainly deserve to be called to the attention of this house. They deeply stir those who, by reason of their Acadian origin, have maintained the love of tradition.

On behalf of the electors of Bonaventure county, whom I have the honour to represent in this house, about thirty thousand of whom are of Acadian origin, I wish to express deep gratitude to the premier of Nova Scotia and to his government for what they just did for the descendants of the first French pioneers who settled on the banks of the bays of Fundy and Chignecto.

The New Brunswick legislature, we have been assured, is about to subscribe, in turn,

Acadian Bicentenary

a substantial amount for the organization of these Acadian celebrations. Prince Edward Island also expressed its intention to contribute.

No doubt the government of the province of Quebec, which counts 350,000 people of Acadian descent, of whom about 100,000 settled there recently, will also wish to do its share.

We know indeed that the Canadian government already has done a great deal to help in the organization of these Acadian celebrations.

They have fortunately implemented several recommendations made by our colleagues from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and by those of us who represent constituencies comprising large groups of people of Acadian origin. We are grateful for what they have done.

Moreover, the Canadian government was officially represented at the ceremonies in Louisiana last January and on March 24 last. I believe, our ambassador at Washington went to New Orleans and made a moving speech, in French and English, which deeply touched the hearts of all Louisianians.

Nevertheless, Mr. Speaker, the Canadian government has not yet shown any intention of contributing financially to the organization of those commemorative celebrations of the Acadian festivities which will take place in various parts of the maritime provinces and in the province of Quebec during the year, or of issuing a postage stamp to commemorate the event. That is the grievance I wished to lay before the house.

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March 25, 1955

Mr. Bona Arsenault (Bonaventure) moved

that the house go into committee to consider Bill No. 232, respecting the Bonaventure and Gaspe Telephone Company Limited.

Motion agreed to and the house went into committee, Mr. Robinson (Simcoe East) in the chair.

Clause 1 agreed to.

On clause 2-Power to increase capital.

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March 11, 1955

Mr. Bona Arsenault (Bonaventure) moved

the second reading of Bill No. 232, respecting the Bonaventure and Gaspe Telephone Company Limited.


He said: Mr. Speaker, this bill concerns the Bonaventure and Gaspe Telephone Company^ Limited. This company, established in 1907, operates mainly in the province of Quebec, particularly in Bonaventure and Gaspe counties.

For this reason it is felt desirable to have the name in French as well as in English, as is provided in the bill.

The company also requests authority to increase its capital stock from $100,000, divided into shares of $100 each, to $2 million, divided into shares of a par value of $25 each.

The capital sum required for the operation of a small local telephone system a half century ago is no longer adequate to meet the necessities of a territory which is now undergoing a great economic expansion and whose

population has been in need of better and enlarged telephone communications for a long time.

This telephone company is now faced with growing demands for better equipment and extension of its facilities to individuals, as well as to several communities which are deprived of adequate communication in Bonaventure and Gaspe counties.

All other powers requested by the company through this bill are necessary to any telephone company that wishes to extend its services and are normally granted to telephone companies operating in this country.

The counties of Bonaventure and Gaspe are on the eve of unprecedented industrial progress, thanks to their rich mineral resources whose development is only now getting under way.

Two of the main factors which have so far delayed the normal development of this scenic part of the province of Quebec are on the one hand the lack of adequate hydroelectric power in sufficient quantity and at reasonable rates, and on the other the lack of quick and modern means of communication with the larger centres of the province and of the rest of the country.

Quebec Hydro is at present completing a gigantic project which, through underwater cables laid on the bed of the St. Lawrence river from the north to the south shore, opposite Matane county, will extend the benefit of electric power to the mines of Gaspe and the whole of the peninsula.

By virtue of this bill, which will increase to $2 million the capital stock of the Bonaventure and Gaspe Telephone Company, that company will be able to carry out a program of development and modernization of its telephone system, a program which calls for the investment of more than $1 million during the coming years.

For the last ten years or so the Gaspe peninsula has been undergoing a complete change in its fisheries and its agriculture along with its commercial and industrial expansion.

Seaports, wharves and fishing harbours have been built at great cost on the north side as well as on the south side of the peninsula. New shipyards, including that of Gaspe, are modernizing fishing fleets and changing the age-long Gaspe fishing industry. One of the largest plants for the production of fish by-products has just been built in Paspebiac, in Bonaventure county.

Private Bills

In recent years a federal experimental farm for the farming people of this important district of the province was also established in Bonaventure county.

Improvements to the Matapedia-Gaspe railroad branch line have certainly been noteworthy and continuous.

A belt highway, fully paved on practically its whole length, runs around the peninsula. Good roads, allowing both summer and winter [DOT] traffic between the counties of Gaspe North, Gaspe South and Bonaventure, were built inland, and connect Mont Louis and St. Anne des Monts with Murdochville, Gaspe and Cascapedia.

It is now the turn of the telephone network of the Gaspe peninsula to undergo the transformations and modernization which have been expected for so many years.

On many occasions in the past, and especially on March 13, 1952, I drew the attention of the house to the urgency of carrying out the improvements of the telephone network which serves both the Bonaventure and Gaspe constituencies.

I am therefore pleased to introduce this bill providing for an increase of the share capital of the Bonaventure and Gaspe Telephone Company to $2 million, allowing this company to go ahead with a development program, to face the increasing demand for better equipment, and to improve and extend its services.

The telephone network modernization program will cost the company more than a million dollars, of which almost half a million will immediately be invested in the installation of new equipment in the following localities: Oak Bay, Carleton, New Richmond, St. Alphonse, Caplan, Bonaventure, New Carlisle, Paspebiac and Port Daniel, in the county of Bonaventure, and Chandler, Grande Riviere, Cap d'Espoir, Perce, Barachois, Gaspe, Riviere au Renard and Cap des Rosiers, in the county of Gaspe. In these communities the company will multiply its lines so as to decrease to a considerable extent the number of party-line subscribers.

This company already has on file close to 600 applications for new telephones, both business or private, in the counties of Bonaventure and Gaspe. At present the company cannot act on those applications because of the heavy load its lines are carrying at this time. The Bonaventure and Gaspe Telephone Company Limited proposes to instal 3,000 new telephones on its lines between now and 1957. For all those reasons, I believe that the house should not hesitate to grant the powers requested in this bill.


Private Bills


Mr. Speaker, this bill has to do with the Bonaventure and Gaspe Telephone Company, doing business in the province of Quebec, more particularly in the counties of Bonaventure and Gaspe. Under the provisions of the bill the company is seeking an increase in its capital stock in order to improve its facilities and extend its services. The purpose of the bill is to obtain authority to increase the capital stock of the company from $100,000, divided into shares of $100 each, to $2 million, divided into shares of a par value of $25 each.

The capital sum required for the operation of a small telephone system a half century ago is now found to be entirely inadequate to meet the necessities of a territory which, as I have explained fully in French, is now undergoing a great economic expansion, and wherein the demands of the population for a better and enlarged telephonic communication system are constantly increasing. The telephone company is faced with a growing demand for better equipment and extension of its facilities, which will require an investment of well over $1 million during the coming years. The Bonaventure and Gaspe Telephone Company wishes to obtain under this bill other powers which are necessary for the undertaking of a telephone business and which are normally granted to telephone companies throughout Canada.

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