Mr. Si. Laurent (Temiscouala):
Mr. Speaker, today the red shadow of communism casts its grim light over humanity and even in the drama of party battle, political leaders- unless they are to betray the trust of the people-must talk and act with a new degree of maturity. It is just not good enough for any political leader of any party in any part of Canada to sit back and enjoy the luxury of condemning what Canada is doing to help fight communism in the North Atlantic alliance or in southeast Asia.
I am not a separatist and the people of Quebec are not separatists, even though we assert with persistence the rights which were guaranteed us under the constitution. The best proof that we in Quebec are not separatists is that since confederation the majority of the members of parliament elected from Quebec have almost always been on the government side, even when the great Conservative leader, Sir John Macdonald, was prime minister of this country, which means that they have almost continually been in agreement with the majority of the members elected throughout the country.
As a Canadian citizen living in Quebec, I believe it is my duty to condemn in this house any effort to create the impression throughout Canada that Quebec is not a loyal part of the Canadian confederation. I believe that all members of this house have a right, if not a duty, to take as active a part as they can to ensure the best possible government in Canada or in their own provinces.
One of the questions that is now being asked in my province is this: "Why do we sell western surplus grain at ridiculously low prices to communist countries rather than to Quebec livestock men?" The short answer is that Quebec livestock men can buy grain cheaper in Quebec than the price charged for any Canadian grain to any other country, communist or otherwise, and Quebec livestock men do not think it is ridiculously cheap. Canada is not giving any of her surplus grain to the communist countries, nor is she selling them any bargain-priced grain that she denies her own people. We are selling our wheat at good prices, thanks to the good sense of this government.
The Budget-Mr. J. P. St. Laurent
The people of my province have been asked about gifts to other countries. There have been no gifts to any countries, apart from the Colombo plan and the United Nations technical assistance, and a few very small amounts for relief of disasters in friendly countries, some of which have helped us when we had disasters.
Another question we are being asked is, "Why do we give half a billion dollars of our income tax money to Colombo?" It is even said that nearly half a billion dollars has been thrown away on the countries of southeast Asia. To the members of this House of Commons who have voted the Canadian contribution to the Colombo plan countries during the past half-dozen years, it is not necessary to say it was no half billion dollars. The total amount voted since the inception of the Colombo plan in 1951, up to 1956, is $127,900,000.
All members of this House of Commons have agreed, as have the Canadian people, that it is necessary that Canada should join with other fortunate nations of the free world to help create conditions in these southeast Asian countries so that communism will not get control of that area with its strategic supplies.
The blunt fact is this, that in southeast Asia today there is a battle for the hearts and minds of one-quarter of mankind. The kind of world we and our children will live in may well be determined by the events in southeast Asia. The fight for the control of the world is between the communist nations and the free world. Canada has sent her dollars out to this vital economic battleground. She has sent her scientists, her engineers, her technicians out there in one of the greatest crusades in history.
Today, Canada is helping to write one of the most glorious chapters in the history of man, and yet there are a few irresponsible critics who think that this does not matter to our people. Last Saturday, April 14, the editor of the French newspaper Le Devoir, Mr. Gerard Filion, who visited the areas benefiting from the Colombo plan, had this to say about this great humanitarian effort:
The Colombo plan is a joint assistance scheme of the commonwealth countries, to enable India, Ceylon and Pakistan to feed their undernourished men, women and children, who are exposed to every deficiency disease and to all epidemics that undermine the peoples of Asia.
Contrary to general opinion, Colombo plan funds are not used to provide foodstuffs but to pay for the necessary equipment which will enable Indians, Pakistanians and Cingalese to produce their own food. The Canadian contribution has been used to build an irrigation and power dam north of Calcutta, to purchase farm tractors and
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The Budget-Mr. J. P. St. Laurent buses for public transportation in the province of Bombay. Each country tries to safeguard the identity of the achievements made possible by its contribution.
Altogether foreign assistance, either under the Colombo plan or under Mr. Truman's point four, has allowed India to reach the objective of her first five-year plan and to launch a second one. Of course, the objective of the first plan was a modest one: restore the Indian's diet to what it was in 1939. Now that diet amounted to 1,800 calories a day, whereas at least 2,700 calories a day are required to keep the human body in good health.
In India, 85 per cent of the population, i.e. about 300 million people, are undernourished. The everyday care is to keep body and soul together. When famine strikes in one area and public authorities lack the means or the time to send supplies, thousands of deaths occur each day. In our American cities, each morning the garbage collectors pick up the leftovers from our tables: in an Indian city struck with famine, the collectors pick up, each morning, the bodies of people who, during the night, died of starvation.
Only those who have seen India can realize to what depths of misery humanity can sink. The poorest among our poor are millionaires compared to the 60 million untouchables of India.
No true Canadian will forget or forgive the way communists in Canada tried to sabotage the Canadian war effort in the days before Russia was attacked. Well, attempts to weaken the efforts of the free nations are just as truly attempts to sabotage a great economic and social crusade against communism.
Today the hot hells of hydrogen bombs are just 26 minutes away from places like Quebec city. Today human life is probably less secure collectively than at any time in history. Today, as never before, we need clear vision and a firm will if we are to avert the dangers that threaten us.
So today, as a very junior member of this house, and as a father who loves his children,
I express the hope that all Canadians in Quebec, and in other provinces as well, measure up to the challenge of these times. In these days, when human life is probably less secure than at any time in history, surely we can all unite to support Canada's sincere efforts to build up the united strength of a free world so that it can be strong to defend itself against communism.
I believe that, so far, my constituency has been the only one where two prime ministers of Canada, Sir John Macdonald, and the present Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent), have had their summer residence. The former premier of Quebec, the Hon. L. A. Taschereau, also used to spend the summer months there.
The Right Hon. Ernest Lapointe and the Hon. Adelard Godbout were born in Temiscouata. Thus Temiscouata is well known for its prominent men, but, unfortunately, it is not so well known to Canadian industrialists.
This is why, Mr. Speaker, many business men of my riding supported my campaign last fall, outside of any political considerations, hoping that I might be able to interest some of my business friends to visit our area, and perhaps convince them to settle there. During my campaign, I promised the voters- and it was the only promise I made to them- that I would do my utmost to have industrialists visit my riding, in the hope that they might see the advantages of settling there: a large, experienced and orderly labour force; an excellent geographical location; a link between Canada and the United States, and between upper and lower Quebec; transport facilities by sea, by land and before long, I hope, by air.
Possibly the Temiscouata electors were not entirely wrong in giving me their support, for I am happy to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that, starting in 1956, our county will share in the economic development about which the minister waxed eloquent in his budget speech of March 20 last, inasmuch as an industry which will employ between 250 to 300 people within two years is about to start operating in my county any day now.
I hope, Mr. Speaker, to deserve the confidence of my electors, of the greater majority of the members of this house, and of my party as well.
Topic: THE BUDGET
Subtopic: ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE