Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Bellechasse for his explanation, ibut I add that if he had wanted to show absolute intellectual honesty, he would have told the population why the government has granted a $100 million subsidy to western
DEBATES March 19, 1970
farmers who, this year, will face an unusual problem which does not occur every year.
In extraordinary and disastrous situations such as this one, any government must take unusual measures. Then it must be explained to the Canadian people, especially those in Quebec-where there are so many demagogues who take advantage of such things and misrepresent them totally and unrealistically- that the ten provinces are interdependent and that if some of them, for example, are deprived of a decent standard of living, all the others must suffer for it.
Besides, that is why was established the equalization system under which the province of Quebec will be receiving this year $350 million, and more next year. Those are the things which must be stated when one wants to be honest. I do not suggest that the member for Bellechasse did it intentionally. It is probably because, as he was running out of time, he knew he could not say everything he wanted to say. I feel that those facts must be told.
I think, personally, I would be remiss if at the beginning of my remarks I did not convey to the government the gratitude of my fellow constituents, and especially of the three municipal councils that represent the three municipalities which form my riding, for having decided to designate our region, and also for having decided that our region would be specially designated. That is another thing that the hon. member for Bellechasse (Mr. Lambert) could have mentioned since his own riding was designated, and specially designated. He could have added a word of thanks to the federal government, even if it is what we call justice distributive in French. It is a fact that the government has made a decision which probably represents the difference between poverty continuing for years and years and the achievement of a certain measure of prosperity, increasing little by little in succeeding years.
As far as the metropolitan area of Trois-Rivieres is concerned, it is in a rather strategic position since it constitutes the core of the province of Quebec. It has resources and an economic and industrial potential that are rather important.
For various reasons that I could not enumerate this afternoon, we have experienced during a few years some kind of stagnation. Now, the government has agreed to designate
March 19. 1970 COMMONS
our area and even make it a "special area". This augurs well for a future of real prosperity. When reading the newspapers from my area, one finds how pleased are some organizations, such as the Chambers of Commerce, including the Junior Chamber of Commerce, labour organizations and industrialists' and businessmen's associations, to see that the government has made this gesture. They are ready to do everything possible to take fullest advantage of the benefits made available by the government.
I therefore thank the government for I am convinced that I speak for all the taxpayers, for all my fellow-citizens in my area who are happy with the situation.
The hon. member for Bellechasse has said earlier that the federal government was not doing anything to help the farmers. Even if the federal government does not hand out all the grants to dairy producers-and I will not embark on that topic where I would be at a loss, since there is no farming in my riding- it has suggested alternatives for some rural areas in the province of Quebec. If the Quebec government would accept one or other of those solutions, the province would become highly prosperous, especially in the field of farming which is now stagnating.
For instance, when the federal government offers to develop a national park in the Gaspe peninsula or in the St. Maurice valley, they should rejoice, as a few million dollars investment could draw from tourists $15, $20 or $25 million a year, which would benefit people of these rural and surrounding areas. All people living along roads travelled by tourists would enjoy an increased annual income.
The member for Bellechasse is right when he contends that the present problem is an economic one. We must put an end to our barren quarrels on all aspects of the constitutional reform, as most of the time these are empty words spoken by lawyers striving for influence.
It is important to ensure to all Canadians their three meals a day. It is for this reason that the government is taking concrete measures such as the designation of special areas in order to erase regional disparities, to assist municipalities and to create conditions that will promote the setting up of new industries or the development of existing ones.
That is why the federal government is prepared to create national parks in Quebec, why it has implemented a retraining program designed to give a minimum of academic
The Budget-Mr. Mongrain background to those who lack it, to provide those whose skills have become obsolete with new ones, to teach skills now in great demand to those who have none at all. Those are concrete measures for the ehmination of unemployment. The people do not want charity. I commend the government's decision to review its social legislation in order that, as soon as possible, all Canadians may have a minimum guaranteed income allowing them to live decently.
The hon. member knows the government is concerned with doing all these things. He will have become aware that government policy aims at the goals so well spelled out by the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) when he said, in his own colourful style: If my neighbour is hungry and I give him a fish, there is no doubt that I have helped him but if I also give him a fishing-rod, he will be able to help himself.
This, in a way, is characteristic of this government's policy. To suggest that the present government is not doing anything to solve the present situation, is not true. Indeed, we should not forget that a cold wind of inflation is blowing on the whole world, including countries which were more prosperous at one time than Canada.
I am thinking, for instance, of England whose government has a philosophy that is very close to that of the NDP, of England that has a great deal of trouble trying to maintain some kind of stability. In fact, from time to time the workers protest. France which is a very prosperous country has succeeded due to a certain economic uncertainty, in overthrowing a giant named de Gaulle.
I might also mention Italy which is unable to form a government at the present time.
In Canada, we have succeeded at least in maintaining some sort of stability and in preventing the worst. It is true that there is unemployment in this country. However, if the government had not taken with our help the steps we know, the situation would be far more disastrous.
The opposition co-operated with the government about the implementation of social measures in Canada. In fact, the federal government spends billions of dollars throughout this country, all the year around, in order to maintam some economic stability. Were it not for this initiative and taking into account the crisis that prevails everywhere in the world, the situation would be very much worse.
March 19, 1970
The Budget-Mr. Mongrain
[DOT] (5:20 p.m.)
I do not think it is correct to say that 6.7 per cent of our workers are unemployed compared to 5 per cent last year. We must ask ourselves if the international situation is not a little bit responsible for that. If no steps had been taken, would things be better or worse?
It is obvious that the government has failed up to now to eliminate unemployment. It is certain also that it will not succeed without the co-operation of provinces, manufacturers and labour unions. But at least it took steps to prevent the situation from becoming worse and even to improve it in several fields.
For my part, I am sure that I speak for all my fellow-citizens when I thank the government for its efforts in order to reduce unemployment. As a positive suggestion, one could perhaps ask the government to organize, if possible, summer camps for university students who want to work. Two birds could perhaps be killed with one stone. These students would first of all be given the opportunity to earn some money with which to pay their tuition fees. In this way, instead of loafing through the summer, they could work for the municipal, provincial or federal governments, helping to develop our natural resources, such as our forests and our lakes, and also to reduce air and water pollution.
The youth of today would like to see such an organization being set up. I recall that there was at one time in the United States an organization known as the Civil Conservation Corps, which was devoted to keep university students busy in summer camps. If I remember well, that was at the end of the economic recession of 1930-39. Outstanding results were achieved by that organization.
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague the hon. member for Bellechasse for having mentioned the chaos in the textile industry, and I agree with his remarks. The Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce (Mr. Pepin) and the Minister of Finance (Mr. Benson) as well as their experts are looking after that problem. Indeed, I had the opportunity to meet them on many occasions, and I would like to repeat what the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe (Mr. Ricard) has already said, and confirm what the hon. member for Bellechasse has just said. I therefore wish to remind our government that the situation is urgent.
There is in my constituency a textile industry which has 2,100 employees. When I meet the management, they tell me how much they
are concerned about the present conditions and they suggest some solutions which seem satisfactory to me. I would therefore ask the government to consider as positively as possible this urgent problem which is in danger of increasing unemployment.
Some companies, because they did not retrain their employees or did not modernize their equipment on time, are condemned to disappear. We have to resign ourselves to that fact. But there are others, and I am thinking of Wabasso Cotton in my constituency which has always had the latest equipment and the best working conditions. It deserves, on account of its efforts, some consideration from the government for itself and its employees.
It seems there are some 85,000 workers in the textile industry in Ontario and Quebec, a substantial figure. I will read part of a communication from the Canadian Institute of Textiles which I have here:
-the Canadian industry of yarns and cottons invested an estimated $10.9 million as capital or maintenance expenditures in 1968. The amount was $21.7 million in 1967 and, according to estimates by investors it will be $11.2 million in 1969.
Therefore, the textile industry made efforts to modernize its equipment and to give new training to its workers in order to meet the competition of countries where wages are 15 to 25 times lower than in Canada.
In spite of all these improvements, the textile industry is in deep trouble. Statistics show that in 1965, woven cotton and synthetic fibres produced by Canadian mills accounted for merely 57 per cent of the Canadian consumer market. The rest came from abroad. In 1969, this figure had declined to 52.5 per cent. According to the leaders of the textile industry, this is an alarming rate of decrease, and they suggest, after conducting studies on what is done elsewhere, that Canada is probably the only country which does not enforce quotas high enough to protect its industry. In their opinion, at least 65 to 70 per cent of the Canadian textile production should be absorbed by the Canadian market. In Japan, there are laws, they say, requiring those who import textile products to secure special permits from the government which grants them only if it is deemed essential to the development of the Japanese industry.
The problem is not that simple, Mr. Speaker, for we have to consider international trade and maintain a trade balance in this field. Japan buys more goods from Canada than we buy from that country, but it is inconsistent to let our textile industry deteri-
March 19, 197C COMMONS
orate and its domestic market decline, when we are spending millions of dollars to try to boost the economy and set up new industries. It would be wise to maintain our existing industries. I therefore ask the government to take steps in order to increase the quota of Canadian consumption supplied with Canadian production. It is now roughly 55 per cent, including all products available. It should be increased to 65 or 70 per cent.
When it is intended to establish quotas, the industry should be advised a few years beforehand, so that it will know where it stands, and will be able to plan their investment budgets and have some idea of the kind of market it can count on. We would render it a tremendous service. In fact, we would prevent it at least from dying; it is a vigorous and open-minded industry, which managed to retrain its workers and modernize its equipment in good time. The others, of course, are still living under that basic law, that is, the survival of the fittest. Some people will always have to give up, as some farmers have. Indeed, while some farmers continue to prosper others are going bankrupt, because they are unable to manage with the means at their disposal.
I have another request to make to the government. At a time when my area, that of Trois-Rivieres, located in the heart of the province of Quebec, is on the threshold of a considerable industrial revival, having been designated as a special zone, when the federal government is prepared to give us also a national park, and when we are awaiting the decisions of a Quebec minister who is looking for periods and commas, when we need millions of dollars to get jobs for our people, I wish to call the attention of the government to the fact that Air Canada intends to curtail its daily service to Trois-Rivieres.
In the name of the municipal councils, Chambers of Commerce and businessmen at home, I wish to oppose Air Canada's decision very strongly, because we have built an up-to-date 6,000-ft. runway specially for Air Canada. The city has erected an air terminal that numbers among the most beautiful in Canada, whose design is probably the most modern yet. The government has spent considerable amounts of money to install an electronic control tower system designed to guide the landing of big aircrafts.
Many sacrifices have been made for Air Canada. That corporation is not justified, just because its operations are showing a deficit, to cancel its daily flights, and that for the
The Budget-Mr. Mongrain following reasons: first, the federal government as well as the Trois-Rivieres municipality have invested huge amounts of money so that Air Canada would come into that area. Furthermore, the profits of the corporation must not be computed simply on the basis of the tickets sold in Trois-Rivieres. Finally, Air Canada certainly brings a large number of people from the metropolitan area of Trois-Rivieres, which has a population of 350,000 to 400,000, to go to Montreal by air rather than by car when they go on holidays for one, two or three weeks.
These are profits accumulated by Air Canada but which are not taken into consideration in its computation to see whether the Trois-Rivieres air terminal is economical or not, while they should be included because otherwise people will travel by Air France, Eastern Airlines or CP Air. People are under no obligation to travel by Air Canada but the fact that this corporation is there induces them to use its services.
I admit that when I started to travel along distances by air I used Air France planes with much pleasure but today when my friends and I travel by air, we go by Air Canada.
Air Canada has incurred obligations on account of government investments. It gets something out of the advertising made in foreign air terminals as it is a company which is to a certain extent financed by the federal government. Therefore, it should help designated areas to prosper by maintaining its service there.
I ask the Minister of Transport (Mr. Jamieson), as well as the whole cabinet, to use their influence in order that the Trois-Rivieres area may keep its airport and so that Air Canada will maintain its daily service there. Moreover, schedules should be drawn up so as to make air travel even more attractive to business men, for instance, who wish to make connections with flights to northwestern Quebec or to other countries.
[DOT] (5:30 p.m.)
Mr. Speaker, I do not want to take too much of the time of my colleagues but I would have had things to say about the famous $200 million. Quite a fuss is made about the whole thing in the province of Quebec and it is used as a means of stirring up the province against the federal government. Such utter irresponsibility.
This is not only irresponsibility but criminal dishonesty in many cases because those
March 19, 1970
The Budget-Mr. Mongrain $200 million were distributed to the citizens of the province of Quebec. That amount was not given as a lump sum to the government so that it would use it as it thought best. It was distributed to all the Quebec citizens, under the form of pensions or welfare measures of all kinds, the cost of which goes up every year. One will recall that that was precisely the objective of that social development tax. If we have no medicare in the province of Quebec at the present time, it is not the fault of the federal government which is ready to pay half of it. It is the fault of the Quebec government, it could have implemented it last July. Indeed, the government intends to levy a premium in order to implement it. It will therefore not cost the provincial treasury very much. The taxpayers in Quebec will pay the share Quebec should pay.
It is therefore unfair to accuse the federal government without explanation, of fiscal violation, or even of theft. That is irresponsibility! That is criminal demagoguery, when arguments are used that only serve to stir the ill-informed, the naive souls in Quebec, against the central government which tries to maintain reasonable prosperity in all the provinces.
The province of Quebec is the first to benefit, thanks to equalization payments, and also to the direct or indirect contribution of the Department of National Defence which spends hundreds of millions of dollars in Montreal. If Quebec were to separate, it would no longer benefit from that financial contribution, nor from the subsidies to hospitals, to CEGEPs, and all the other things it accepts without a word.
I cannot deal with everyone of those points for I see my time is almost up. I thank my honourable colleagues for their patience and I conclude by saying again that my own electors are most grateful to the government for having given us the advantage of those special measures, thanks to designated areas and "special areas."
In addition, my electors express their deep gratitude to the federal government for having thought of having a national park in the St. Maurice Valley.
I also ask the government to protect the textile industry, which is a very important one in my area, and to consider that problem as urgent as that of the farmers out west.
Now, I should like to speak with every precaution, because I should not like to show the weakness I have reproached to others.
Although I am in favour of the $100 million that will be spent out west, I say the textile industry in Ontario and in Quebec need help.
As for Air Canada, I trust the members of the government will be firm enough to see to it that it does not disappear from the area, at least not before we have alternative service as convenient as the one we already have.
I forgot to say that another service has been added to that of Air Canada which is financed by the federal government, namely a meteorological service which is useful to us in many fields and which we may not be able to keep if Air Canada leaves us.
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: THE BUDGET