Mr. CHARLES PARENT (Quebec West and South) (Translation):
Mr. Speaker, I do not wish needlessly to delay the vote on the address by a long speech, but I do not think it would be imposing on the kindness of the house to offer one or two observations, first, on the subject of civil liberty in Quebec, and next, on the advisability of beautifying Quebec city and preserving its historic character by extending the authority of the national battlefields commission over certain federal properties. Before broaching these subjects, however, may I tender my most sincere congratulations to the honourable members who proposed and seconded the motion. This oratorical classic always bears a stamp of its own. Whether it is to seek relaxation from patronage troubles, I cannot say, but it is undeniable that practically all members of the house follow attentively when these speeches are delivered. In addition, the galleries are filled with members of the fair sex, belonging to fashionable Canadian society for whom the social events of the Capital have much interest at this season. The task of the mover and seconder of the address is therefore a heavy one, Mr. Speaker, and the entire house rejoices at the success obtained.
Mr. Speaker, I have listened to some honourable members who have upbraided the government because, in the speech from the throne, no reference was made to the civil rights of our people. I may point out to the house that nowhere in the world do civilized people enjoy more freedom and tolerance than they do in the province of Quebec. In Quebec city, where I live, there are several thousand English-speaking protestants. We are all living in perfect harmony. Moreover, we see, withm a distance of a few hundred feet, the catholic and the protestant cathedrals, and every Sunday we witness the edifying spectacle of catholic French-Canadians and protestant English speaking people wending their way together towards their respective place of worship, mutually respectful of their religious belief, with never a clash or a display of unfriendliness. We speak of them as they speak of us, with the utmost regard. We respect their pastors, just as they respect our priests.
Since the days of Jogues, Brebeuf and Lallemand, three centuries of history have recorded the devotion, the sacrifices and the wonderful deeds accomplished in our country in the name of Faith. That constitutes the very basis of our existence. No wonder that those who preach among us the non-existence of God should be branded as barbarians.
I take this opportunity to bring to the attention of the government the great national eucharistic congress which will take place in Quebec next summer. I do hope the government will vote an appropriation towards the expenses of the congress and that a federal delegate will attend it.
In order to make my speech shorter, Mr. Speaker, I shall take up at once my second point, which is the advisability of providing for the improvement of the city of Quebec and for the preservation of its historic character, by extending to certain federal property the powers of the national battlefields commission. As you are aware, Mr. Speaker, not only is Quebec the oldest city in America, but it is also a city of priceless historical treasures. Thanks to the good breeding of its inhabitants, to its narrow streets, to its beautiful climate, to its monuments and its historic associations, Quebec is an interesting place whose quaintness attracts nearly a million tourists every year. It is also the summer residence of His Excellency the Governor General, and for that reason I believe the dominion government should take an especial interest in the improvement of the city. From the rock of Quebec, from that spot which is called Dufferin Terrace, tourists may admire one of the world's most beautiful panoramas. On either shore of the St. Lawrence are to be seen pretty villages whose white cottages stand out against the green mountains, while directly ahead is the island of Orleans which, rising amid the platinum billows of the great river, appears like a gigantic emerald. Mr. Speaker, every time you come to Quebec, I am sure you like to gaze, from that spot, upon some of the most beautiful parishes in your constituency. Perhaps it has occurred to you, as it has to me, that such a wonderful terrace might well be extended toward the west, as far as the National Battlefields park. Besides affording employment, this would provide the most picturesque site in the world.
In 1908, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, realizing the special and national character of Quebec city, appointed the National Battlefields Commission. The purpose of the act whereby that
The Address-Mr Parent
commission was created was to preserve the great battlefields which witnessed the epic struggle between Wolfe and Montcalm, and to restore, in so far as possible, their original features.
In 1911, the dominion government and the transcontinental railway commission acquired several properties and rights of way along the river; to-day these properties and rights of way are quite useless, owing to a change in the location of that railway.
Would it not be advisable, Mr. Speaker, to have these sites under the authority of the battlefields commission or even to have them transferred to it? Would it not be well to extend the commission's jurisdiction so as to include the Quebec walls which are being reconstructed, and, in keeping with our present needs, to lay out public walks as well as to rebuild the old gates which, for the sake of progress, have been destroyed?
In 1928, the dominion government voted an amount of $750,000 to be spread over a period of ten years, and the last payment is due this year. I hope that Laurier's plan may be followed up for many more years and that further appropriations may be voted for the improvement and conservation of that historic site in the oldest city of America. May I express the wish that the extension of the terrace, the general improvement of the city of Quebec and the preservation of its historic sites will have the support of those who, up to this day, have shown their judgment.
Mr. Speaker, I am confident that, with the strong support of my colleagues from Quebec city, the right hon. Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe) and the hon. Minister of Pensions and National Health (Mr. Power), my humble suggestion will be welcome. It is not only in the interest of Quebec city that I am making it, but also in the interest of the many visitors who come there from across the line. These visitors from abroad are very much impressed when they see Quebec for the first time, for it recalls many memories of the last three centuries, and it has been said of Quebec, that each stone reminds you of the past.
Mr. Speaker, it may be suggested that I make an appeal in behalf of my city and my constituency. In reply, I could quote these words of a writer: "One is always entitled to speak of his town when he loves it to the very depths of his heart."
Since I have yet a few minutes to spare, may I be allowed to draw the attention of the government to the fact that those conditions ought to be improved because Quebec is the oldest city in America and our modem needs
were not contemplated in the original plans. Quebec city, owing to its narrow streets and its lack of opportunity for future development, is in a peculiar position regarding the assistance to be given by the dominion government under the housing act. Particularly in my own constituency, where there are many workingmen, several requests did not get from the commission the consideration which they deserved. I hope that the government will see its way clear to have the act amended in order to help the workingman, for, up to now, it has benefited in our part of the country only those who could have built their homes without such assistance. I understand that this legislation is calculated to help those who have not had a very easy life, namely the labourers, our workingmen, who, through their savings, are anxious to provide for a living in their old days. I hope that a representative of the government, after examining the conditions such as they obtain in Quebec, will see fit to put aside a certain tract of land to allow the government to assist in the building of homes where the workingmen, along with those that are in better circumstances, may secure a comfortable life for their children.
At six o'clock the house took recess.
The house resumed at eight o'clock.
Topic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY