Mr. Wilfrid LaCroix (Quebec-Monimo-rency):
Mr. Speaker, if there is to be any budget, which of course I doubt very much, and if there is to be any decrease in taxes, I hope that with regard to income tax the government will respect the family organization of agriculture in the province of Quebec, and will not impose unwonted charges on a system of agriculture which has been the strength of our nation.
I hope the basic exemptions with regard to income tax will be increased from $1,000 to $1,500 for single persons and from $2,000 to $3,000 for married taxpayers, in line with the wish I have expressed more than once on the floor of the house and also in line with promises made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Diefenbaker). Let us hope, too, that the Unemployment Insurance Act will be amended to take into account agricultural problems and, more particularly, to cover agricultural workers. I also hope the qualifying period for unemployment insurance will be reduced.
I take advantage of this opportunity to protest against the new trade policy of the government. The London government knows full well that Canada is incapable of allowing British industry free access to our markets. This would spell the doom of our woollen and
The Address-Mr. LaCroix cotton mills, of our factories producing shoes, gloves, slippers and other goods, which provide employment to several hundred thousand workers in Canada, several hundred of whom are in my own constituency. At the present time these industries survive only because of the protection afforded by customs tariffs. Free trade, preferential tariffs or anything of the sort would certainly bring about their disappearance. Everyone knows that the cost price of anything made in England is lower than that of goods manufactured in this country, where salaries are higher.
The attitude adopted by the Conservative government since it has come into power with regard to our trade relations with Great Britain has caused unemployment in almost every branch of industry and commerce in this country. At the present time there is unemployment on a scale unknown since the days of the Bennett administration. Mr. Bennett had already tried his economic policies with England, and the only thing they brought our country was a period of intense unemployment and, to Mr. Bennett, a seat in the British House of Lords where he spent the rest of his life. Unless we maintain the Liberal policy of protecting our industries against depreciated currency and low salary countries our Canadian industries will be wiped out and foreign investments in this country will diminish. The best means to increase our exports to the United States is to insist upon the processing of our natural resources here in Canada, as we have already done in the case of pulpwood and as we should do also in the case of iron ore, processing the latter into steel by means of smelters built in Canada. That would facilitate shipping through the St. Lawrence seaway and reduce our trade deficit with the United States.
Representatives of several manufacturing concerns in several industrial sectors have already stated categorically that to accept the British proposal or something similar would be deliberately courting disaster. It would mean the shutting down of several factories and the laying off of many thousands of Canadian workers at a time when owing to a recession in a certain sphere of our economy and to wide scale immigration, unemployment is on the increase. As a result of the high salaries and the standard of living prevailing in this country, in many fields we cannot compete with British industry and the industries of many commonwealth countries. This new trend which is apparently taking place in the trade policy of Canada will likely cause another period of uncertainty in financial circles, which will then hesitate to make further industrial investments as long as the future trends of our trade policy are not definitely set out.
The Address-Mr. LaCroix The Prime Minister, who before the election of last June 10 blamed the Liberal government for not standing by England's side in her declaration of war on Egypt, notwithstanding the fact that Great Britain had not consulted Canada, went through his whole electoral campaign stirring up the fanatical feelings of certain imperialists in Canada on this subject. However, the day after the election he did not hesitate to put under the direction of an American the whole of our air defence thus sacrificing our independence; and he did so after a conference with the United States Secretary of State, at which he had meant to speak firmly to the Americans. The only result so far discernible by Canadians is that the Prime Minister of their country has beaten a hasty retreat.
Since the last British garrison left our shores, about a century ago, we have assumed full authority over our armed forces. By this fact Canada has been able at least to direct its own international policy, of which military establishments are but an expression. It is owing to this Canadian independence in military matters that the hon. member for Prince Albert, acting as leader of the opposition, could blame the Canadian government last year for following the policy of the United States in the Suez incident instead of pursuing a policy which should have been, in his opinion, an endorsement of the British operation. That, however, would not only have brought us automatically in the war beside England, but would have unmistakably brought on a third world war, which fortunately we were spared thanks to the firm attitude of Canada's former secretary of state for external affairs, the hon. member for Algoma East (Mr. Pearson), whose gallant efforts in that field have just earned him the award of the Nobel prize for peace, a unique honour since he is the first Canadian to receive this prize for his contribution to world peace. How will Canada be in a position to pursue its own foreign policy if national defence passes to United States command?
I wish to draw another matter to the attention of the government. Here are the comments made by L' Action Catholique on Tuesday, September 10, 1957, after Right Hon. Louis St. Laurent had announced his decision to relinquish the Liberal party leadership:
History will recognize that the Hon. Mr. St. Laurent was a great prime minister. At all times, he has enjoyed the respect and consideration of all Canadians. He had political opponents taut no enemy.
Notwithstanding certain attitudes which they would have liked to be different, French Canadians will admit that, under the administration of the Hon. Mr. St. Laurent, the cause of bilingualism in Canada and of our representation in the civil service has improved. His views and actions in
such matters have placed his successors in a position from which they cannot back out with impunity.
Has our racial group lost ground since June 10 last as far as its representation and influence are concerned? The following is what I read on that subject in Le Soleil of Friday, August 9, 1957:
It will be the first time in a very long time that the French element is reduced to such a minor role in the administration of our country, which is bad from the simple electoral point of view for the party in power and particularly for Canadian politics.
With two ministers confined to minor assignments the voice of French Canada will hardly be heard. Such a situation is a matter of concern not only for the province of Quebec but for all political observers who have the future of our country at heart. Looking back on history, Mr. Bruce Hutchison, in a recent issue of the Financial Post, said that the first condition of success for a Canadian government was to rely on the support of French and English Canada.
As for the criticisms levelled at the government on that score, the new Minister of Justice (Mr. Fulton) said in Montreal that the province of Quebec must elect more Conservative members if it wants more representatives in the Progressive Conservative government. He also emphasized the fact that his leader had chosen three ministers among the eight Conservative members elected in Quebec. He even felt it necessary to add that those three ministers hold very important posts.
The Prime Minister was in the position of a lawyer who must rely on doubtful arguments to defend a very bad case. British Columbia has three representatives in the cabinet, including the Minister of Justice, (Mr. Fulton), and these three departments are still more important than the three assigned to Quebec representatives. Yet British Columbia elected but seven Conservative members, and its population is but one-third of Quebec's population.
It is possible, without violating parliamentary tradition, to choose ministers outside the House of Commons. The Prime Minister, Mr. Speaker, did not hesitate to call on Mr. Sidney Smith of the University of Toronto to make him his Secretary of State for External Affairs. French Canadians, on the other hand, must be satisfied with two ministers, since the Postmaster General (Mr. Hamilton), the third Quebec minister, represents the Anglo-protestant minority, and those two representatives must accept the two least important portfolios of the whole federal administration.
The appointment of the Secretary of State for External Affairs gave the province of Ontario a seventh representative in the cabinet. However, in a speech delivered on television some time after the election the
Solicitor General (Mr. Balcer) told us that the eight elected Conservative members in Quebec were all qualified for ministerial positions, a statement confirmed recently by the Prime Minister in a television broadcast. The Prime Minister argued that we are living in a bilingual country. I can tell him, in this respect, that it is not enough to come to the province of Quebec and read a few words, with the help of a Mona Lisa smile, to convince my fellow citizens of his sincerity, but it is necessary to translate those ideas into facts.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY