VILLENEUVE, Georges, B.A., B.C.L.

Personal Data

Roberval (Quebec)
Birth Date
February 20, 1922

Parliamentary Career

August 10, 1953 - April 12, 1957
  Roberval (Quebec)
June 10, 1957 - February 1, 1958
  Roberval (Quebec)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 10)

January 23, 1958

Mr. Georges Villeneuve (Roberval):

Mr. Speaker, when the house adjourned last night, I was dealing with the psychological

aspect of this bill which provides for the stabilization of the prices of agricultural commodities. I should now like to touch upon the practical aspects of this plan.

It is no exaggeration to say that the dairy industry is the backbone of Quebec agriculture. I might add that, in my own constituency, Roberval, it accounts for at least half of the total annual farm income. The support price of butter at 58 cents a pound has saved the farmers of my riding from bankruptcy. It has brought them a degree of security which, although it has not made them rich, has allowed them to pull through. The former St. Laurent government saw fit to support the price of butter at 58 cents a pound although at certain times 125 million pounds of it were in storage throughout the country and butter was selling at 38 cents a pound on the international market. May I congratulate the former minister of agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) on his understanding of the problems of eastern farmers, and especially those in the province of Quebec when in 1955, at a time when he was considering to discontinue the support price for butter, because of a surplus in excess of a hundred million pounds, he yielded to the representations of a delegation from rural counties, of which I was a member, requesting that the support price be kept at the same level. Instead of letting that butter spoil in warehouses, the former government sold much of it on the international market and allowed our educational institutions and hospitals to take advantage of the international market price, 38 cents a pound. No sooner had the present government come to power than that privilege was withdrawn from those institutions, to their utter dismay and my own personal deep regret.

Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization

Under this bill, unless the new board of stabilization of agricultural prices uses other standards than the average price over the previous ten years, what will be the new guaranteed price for butter?

In 1957, the average price of first grade butter on the Montreal market was 60.6 cents a pound. According to the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, in the ten years prior to 1958, (that is from 1947 to 1957 inclusive) the average price of butter was 62 cents a pound. Under this bill,-if the board does not take into account other factors than the average price on a 10-year basis,- the guaranteed price of butter will be 49.6 cents a pound, 8.4 cents less than the support price granted by the former Liberal government under the Agricultural Prices Support Act. And if there should be a surplus of butter, as happened these last few years, farmers could count only on this guaranteed price of 49.6 cents a pound, and would have no alternative but to sell their herds as beef cattle and give up the none too prosperous dairy industry.

That is why I urge the government to give special consideration to the basis it will adopt in setting the floor price of butter, so that the price will not be lower than the 58 cent support price now in force. This is a matter of primary importance to the farm people of my constituency, whose interests it is my duty to protect.

According to figures supplied by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the 80 per cent average which is to be set as a guaranteed price for the following products would be these:

Guaranteed price 1958

Average price 1957 80 per cent

Commodity cents Grade Market centsHogs B-l Toronto

23.36 per poundButter

60.6 per pound No. 1 Montreal

49.6 per poundBeef .... 18.95 per pound Good Toronto

17.44 per poundEggs "A" large Montreal

45.4 per doz.Cheese

34.1 per pound White Toronto

27.0 per poundSheep

22.75 per pound Good Toronto

19.58 per pound

As this bill concerns the stabilization of farm prices by the establishment of guaranteed minimum prices set a year in advance, I would see in it the possibility of some security for the farmer if there was some relationship between the cost of the services required by the farmer-namely the price of farm implements and other farm equipment he has to buy as well as his labour costs- and the standards to be used in setting the

stabilization prices of farm products under this bill. That is why I really wonder about the advantages which this legislation would bring to the Canadian farmer. I realize it is by no means easy, at a time when agriculture is undergoing radical changes, to find a perfect solution to the difficult problem facing our agricultural class which, in our part of the country, is passing from the family stage


Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization to the industrial stage, a change tor which our farmers are not all adequately prepared.

It would seem that, to face competition, our farmers will soon be forced to become something like managers of medium sized industrial concerns, and deal with such matters as market trends and production costs. Many of them, already, are clearly aware of those hard realities of our times. In my constituency in particular, with its growing number of progressive farmers, I have noticed a trend toward mechanization, development of larger farm areas and even specialization in a particular type of agricultural production, for instance poultry, hogs or eggs. It seems to me that those trends should not be ignored, and I believe it is time the agricultural loans' act were substantially improved for the benefit of farmers who wish to expand their farms and to make greater use of machinery so as to lower their operating costs as much as possible and also to encourage them to put on the market the finished products required by the consumer. All such capital expenditure requires funds beyond the means of the average farmer, however anxious he may be to keep up with the times.

Along with this last suggestion, I would like the industrial development bank to make its facilities more readily available to small industries in our agricultural communities, so as to open up local markets for our farmers. Not only would those small industries absorb a certain amount of agricultural manpower not at present interested in agriculture-therefore unwittingly overcrowding the farming profession-but would create jobs for those people.

It has always been my view that farming and industry should go hand in hand and that industry and farming in Canada will prosper only at such time as the farm worker can count on a yearly income comparable to that of the industrial worker, taking into account the particular obligations, risks and advantages in each group and profession.

As I like to believe in the good intentions of everybody, I am prepared to adopt this attitude towards the minister, whom I admire for piloting this far, with unruffled patience, so ungainly a bill, and I ask him in closing to avail himself wisely of the discretionary powers which are his under subsection 2 of clause 2 of this bill, if it passes, so that this legislation might serve the interests of farm people, as he expects it will. A 100 per cent farm legislation for an agricultural class 100 per cent worthy of the name, that is what I request for the farmers of my constituency.


Full View Permalink

January 22, 1958

Mr. Georges Villeneuve (Roberval):

Mr. Speaker, as the representative of the most agricultural constituency of the Saguenay-Lake St. John district, I think it is appropriate for me to make some remarks on the second reading of Bill No. 237 entitled "An Act to provide for the Stabilization of the Prices of Agricultural Commodities".

First, allow me to point out that I have found in this bill much more phraseology than anything new, and I am convinced that the farmers of my constituency who will read it will use, to qualify it, the same phrase used by an old author: "A deluge of words over a desert of ideas".

The present Conservative government, aware of the unfortunate experience undergone by the United States as a result of their policy with regard to agricultural prices and, furthermore, anxious to save its face, following the carload of fantastic and irresponsible promises made by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Diefenbaker) in the last electoral campaign preceding the June 10 election, now wishes to give Canadian farmers the impression that it wants to adopt radical steps in their favour. An examination of the bill in the light of the Agricultural Prices Support Act, which it purports to abolish, and of the general agricultural situation in eastern Canada and in the Province of Quebec in particular, is therefore imperative at this stage, and that is what I wish to do, taking also into account the agricultural situation in the constituency of Roberval which I represent.

The preamble of this bill is rather bombastic and is along the lines of the terms of the act, generally. For lack of anything better, our farmers will have to thrive on words.


Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization This is really characteristic of what they got in the past from Conservative governments, from the Bennett regime right up to the one who has now been in control of the province of Quebec, under a borrowed name, for fourteen years.

The legislation introduced by the previous Liberal government contained the expression "support prices". The one now offered by the present Conservative government contains the expression "guaranteed prices". Since support prices were the equivalent of guaranteed prices, I do not see much difference from the act which is to be repealed, except that support prices took into account production costs at the producer level, i.e. the cost to the farmer himself, whereas the guaranteed price which the present Conservative government intends to bring in will be based on a formula representing a moving average over a ten-year period. The new board will set the base price for a given agricultural commodity by calculating the average price on representative markets, for example, Montreal and Toronto, for the ten years just preceding that of the fixing of the guaranteed base price. The guaranteed price of any particular commodity for the 12 following months will be a percentage of this base price. Under this legislation, the government does not therefore intend to calculate the guaranteed price by taking into account what the farmer has to pay in 1958 to buy a product on the market, but merely to arrive at an average of the price paid for that particular product on the main markets of this country over the last ten years. In this way, it will be guaranteeing not the average price which, more often than not, hardly allows the farmer to live, but only 80 per cent of that average.

This seems to me an implicit admission on the part of the government of its inability to solve the problems of agriculture, and it is a sure sign that agricultural prices will take a further drop below a level which, in the view of the farmer, is already inadequate. Never has a government announced with such unconcern and resignation the advent of the era of lean-fleshed kine in agriculture.

Mr. Speaker, I move the adjournment of the debate.

On motion of Mr. Villeneuve (Roberval) the debate was adjourned.


Full View Permalink

December 13, 1957

Mr. Villeneuve (Roberval):

Mr. Chairman, the phraseology and the general pattern of section 1 of this bill to amend the Income Tax Act are somewhat of a surprise to me. Indeed when I read the proposed subsection 2 of section 5 of the act, describing the class of workers who are to be allowed board, lodging and transportation expenses after an absence of more than 36 hours, I cannot help pointing out to the hon. Minister of Finance (Mr. Fleming) that this is too restrictive a clause.

You see, construction workers employed at a construction site make up a limited class of workers, especially in the riding I represent; in point of fact, it is a class which includes very few individuals.

Income Tax Act

In my opinion, the case of loggers and mine workers should have been particularly provided for.

About 50 per cent of workers in my riding have to go out and work in bush camps in the winter time. They often have to work 50, 75 and even 100 miles away from home, yet they are by no means provided for in section 1 of this bill.

Not far from my constituency there is at this time a very important project under way. The Aluminum Company of Canada is building a huge dam at des Passes falls employing for this purpose three to four thousand workers. About 90 per cent of these men have to live on the spot, travelling home only occasionally. I am sorry that they are not covered by this clause. I am certainly not surprised at the apparent generosity shown towards the end of that particular clause, which provides that the workers involved may be exempted for the year 1957. When I say I am not surprised, I mean that the number of workers thus exempt will be so small that the government can well afford to show itself very generous in this regard. It gives colour to the government's purpose, pretending to be granting a tax exemption whereas, in fact, all this is a mere show of words, a sham exemption wrapped up in involved phraseology.

I wish to go on record as protesting against that restrictive definition which discriminates against a large number of other categories of workers who would also have deserved to be tax exempt as regards food, board and transportation.


Full View Permalink

December 13, 1957

Mr. Villeneuve (Roberval):

Mr. Chairman, I wish to express my disappointment with clause 2 of this bill whereby the government proposes to increase the dependant's exemption by only $100 which, moreover, will apply only to the taxation year 1958.

In the light of the Conservatives' glowing campaign promises, we are inevitably led to the conclusion that their Niagara of promises is being doled out through a medicine dropper.

What the people of Canada were expecting was a complete review of exemptions, one which would have meant substantial exemptions for the ordinary wage earner, for instance a basic exemption of $1,250 for single people and $2,500 or $3,000 for married people, over and above the normal exemptions for dependants, whether or not family allowances are received.

The best way to help large families share in the wealth of this country is to raise the rate of family allowances, as was done by the Liberal government but which the present Conservative administration, so far, has failed to do in its unawareness that human values are still our greatest asset.

A student of dentistry, whose parents live in my constituency, was telling me recently how hard it is for him to get by financially because of the income tax. It's all he can do to earn a wage which does not even cover his tuition fees, food and board, and though he passes up well-deserved holidays so as to keep his job, he has to pay out $200.00 a year in income tax. His parents, in poor circumstances, are unable to help put him through dental school. It seems to me it is high time that generous exemptions be allowed to students who find it so hard to pay for their tuition and where parents pay for a son or daughter's college education, special exemptions like these should be allowed so that children of parents of modest means will not be debarred from higher learning because of financial difficulties.

I know of this through personal experience of financial instability during my own university years, and you may rest assured, Mr. Chairman, that this group of students in modest circumstances, caught between a legitimate ideal and the dictates of primo viver, have my fullest sympathy.

I am making this suggestion while the bill is being introduced, hoping that the legislators may soon give consideration to students who are bleeding themselves white to pursue an ideal which will soon benefit society as a whole. It is therefore a duty for society to make it as easy as possible for these young people to reach their goal. There is no better way of brightening the future than by lessening today's burden.


Full View Permalink

December 5, 1957

Mr. Georges Villeneuve (Roberval):

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege to protest against the T.V. program "Pays et Merveilles" carried last night over the C.B.C. network and which had as its guest the president of the Saguenay historical society.

In the course of that program, a certain controversial theory was brought up with regard to a so-called kingdom of the Saguenay. The guest in question held the view that this area and the Saguenay district are one and the same. I wish to go on record as protesting against this statement since it tends to describe as a single area several different areas including the Lake St. John district, where I live, which has never gone under any other name but that of Lake St. John.

On behalf of my fellow citizens in the area, which comprises the present constituencies of Lake St. John and Roberval, I wish to protest to the C.B.C. authorities against this sabotaging of a name for which I have the greatest regard, a feeling which I share with my electors and with all those who live in this fine Lake St. John area. We wish to defend the true meaning of a designation which has been consecrated by over one hundred years of history and which is widely known even beyond the borders of Canada. We refuse to let the area be called otherwise than by the name which it has always had ever since there have been people living there, that is the Lake St. John area.


Full View Permalink