Mr. Georges Villeneuve (Roberval):
Mr. Speaker, it so happens that life has sometimes pleasant surprises in store for us. On August 10 last, the electors of the constituency of Roberval chose me as their representative in this parliament and already, on this 13th of November, I am called upon to deliver my first speech, in seconding the address in reply to the speech from the throne, which was moved by my hon. friend, the new member for York Centre (Mr. Hollingworth), whom I wish to congratulate most particularly on the brilliancy of his task.
My gratitude goes first of all and most particularly to the right hon. Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) and his colleagues of the cabinet for the honour they have bestowed upon me and, indirectly, to all my electors of the constituency of Roberval. They thought perhaps that the youthfulness of a member, added to that of the constituency which he represents, would fit in harmoniously with the new legislation announced in the speech from the throne.
On August 10 last, the electors of this country endorsed by their votes the government which has presided over their destinies for 18 years already.
I thought I should draw attention to such a record. If the right hon. Prime Minister permits me, I would add that the Canadian people have been touched by his clear, accurate and sincere demonstrations as regards the administration of the country, while continuing to promote the movement of national unity which he has traced since he acceded to the high position of trust which he holds. As Canadians of various origins try to know each other better, they get along together better and Canada grows in the same measure. Unity in diversity, a seed of social peace in Canada, is admired the world over and constitutes one of the main reasons of the influence of our beautiful and great country in the international sphere. The right hon. Prime Minister, who has been the promoter of that
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The Address-Mr. Villeneuve thought, has kept the confidence of the Canadian people. We have there a proof that all Canadians have faith in their country, a faith which, I sincerely hope, will some day officially take a concrete form in a distinctive and unifying emblem as well as in a single truly Canadian anthem.
The year 1953 was marked by magnificent festivities on the occasion of the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, our queen, to whom we wish a peaceful and fruitful reign, like that enjoyed by her illustrious ancestor Queen Victoria. In my opinion, it is a great honour for all women of the commonwealth to have a woman on the throne; the very fact that a woman can accede to the throne shows the importance we give to women in our system of constitutional and democratic monarchy.
I also wish to offer my congratulations to the new Speaker and to the new Deputy Speaker of this house. Being men recognized for their tact, I am sure that, with the help of their parliamentary experience, they will preserve in this house the tradition of gentlemanliness that has never faltered since the early days of confederation.
Among the hon. members of the cabinet we are proud to note the presence of two new faces: the Secretary of State (Mr. Pickersgill) and the Minister of Resources and Development (Mr. Lesage). The former sits in this house for the first time, as a representative of our new sister province, Newfoundland, and as a cabinet member. A figure both so new and so well known has seldom been seen in active politics. His extensive knowledge of administrative and constitutional matters has commanded from the very first the attention of the members of the cabinet and of the country as a whole. The latter has already spent two terms in this house as member for Montmagny-L'Islet. Hard-working, clearminded, matchless as a mixer; these are some of the qualities which, together with competence and a gift for adapting himself to circumstances, have won him the honour of being the youngest member of the cabinet. No doubt that with so many personal gifts, he will be able to discharge very well his office of Minister of Resources and Development in a country which is making great strides.
On September 9 and October 15 of this year there was no lack of good news. It was on those dates that we learned also of the appointment of parliamentary assistants to various cabinet members. It is fitting that we should congratulate these newly appointed gentlemen on having drawn upon themselves the attention of these ministers who have thus given recognition to their services and to their skill in the handling of public affairs. A good
administrator is said to show sound judgment in choosing his assistants and I am convinced that in thus designating their parliamentary assistants, both new and old, the hon. members of the cabinet have, indeed, chosen those who were best fitted to help them.
Every hon. member will be sorry that the ex-minister of public works is no longer with us since his appointment as a justice of the Exchequer Court. The Hon. Alphonse Fournier, both as a minister and as leader of the house, had gained the esteem of each and every one of us.
With the death of Mr. Gordon Graydon, Progressive Conservative member for Peel since 1935, the parliament of Canada has suffered a grievous loss. Always successful in being elected in his own riding, he served as his party's house leader, and for a few years during the last war as leader of the opposition. As we were reminded yesterday, Mr. Graydon took a particular interest in foreign affairs and was a member of the Canadian delegation at the San Francisco conference where the charter of the United Nations was drafted.
On the occasion of the visit paid by the President of the United States, Mr. Dwight Eisenhower, to the capital of Canada, there is unanimous rejoicing in the fact that friendly relations bind our two countries, and everyone hopes that peace, concord and understanding-which are factors of security and stability-will continue to prevail in America. We also hope that this economic co-operation, which is a factor of plenty for our two countries, will continue to prevail between Canada and the United States. To the President of the United States, we extend our most cordial welcome.
It was only logical that after having paid a visit to every part of this country, the Prime Minister should have thought it proper to make his pilgrimage around the world. The numerous invitations lately extended to the Prime Minister by foreign countries, are tangible evidence of the growing importance of the part played by Canada in world affairs.
Having studied closely the problems which beset Asiatic and European countries, the right hon. Prime Minister will have the opportunity of looking into them on the spot. We commend him for having answered the wishes of the Canadian people, by thus deciding to fly far away from our shores in order to spread abroad what good news we have to offer. Our country, on which Divine Providence has bestowed its kindness, is morally
bound to take an interest in the fate of other nations, less lucky than we are and where men are bereft of food and of the elementary necessaries of life. If, on the national plane, a just distribution of resources is the main element of social security, it may be said that in the field of international solidarity, nations should give one another the same effectual support in the economic and social fields. Some peoples suffer from starvation- and more particularly so in Asia-while Canada has large surpluses of food, because of a certain slump in the sale of our agricultural products. Communism will lose its adherents when all nations have no more food, clothing and housing problems. We hope that during his trip the Prime Minister will be able to participate in the formation of and the debates upon these programs, thanks to which Canada will be able to continue to contribute to the welfare of less fortunate and over-populated countries. In our present world, with its shrinking distances, supplying the hungry and thirsty with food and drink is much more than an individual problem, for it reaches beyond borders and oceans. It is less costly than war and military preparations, and helps to avoid international frictions and their consequences. If Asia as a whole were to become communistic, the greater part of our efforts to fight this insidious doctrine would be in vain; Asia lacks bread and necessities, and it is generally due to hunger that individuals, like peoples, are attracted by communism. We are anxious to hear the Prime Minister comment upon what he will have observed during the journey round the world he is going to undertake and we obviously cannot choose a better ambassador for such a delicate mission.
We are still hoping that the termination of hostilities in Korea will help ensure international security through a just and honourable peace, and the favourable conclusion of current negotiations.
The part played by the representatives of the various members of the United Nations Organization in promoting world peace should also be stressed. Canada's part, as always, is prominent, especially because of the attendance at Lake Success of two eminent members of the cabinet, the minister of external affairs (Mr. Pearson) and the Postmaster General (Mr. Cote). The judicious choice of the representatives our country sends to that international organization has brought upon Canada a prestige befitting a country with a much larger population. The preaching of the gospel of good will between the various racial groups in our country has taught us, naturally, to be flexible in the international field, where
The Address-Mr. Villeneuve Canada is playing a pacifying part in an increasingly efficient way.
I would like now to dwell in particular on a matter mentioned in the speech from the throne. I refer to housing. The matter has attracted a great deal of attention since it has been made known that the National Housing Act was to be amended. Everywhere, and more particularly in towns and villages, the project was enthusiastically received because it is a fact that man by nature wants to own property. In fact, that is a matter of capital importance.
By making it easy to become a property owner, we foster the stability of the Canadian family and social security in our country and we ensure economic stability. The problem has become more acute as the result of the exodus towards the cities, since Canada has become frantically engaged for the past 15 years or so in industrial development. Groups of citizens are seeking an economical and efficient way of coping with the problem of leisure hours; they believe that the problem would be partially solved at least through the multiplication of individual family homes. Property ownership, especially for the labouring class, fosters savings and enables everyone to attain an ideal so highly coveted. In our vast country, it should be quite natural and easy to own a small lot and a house.
A national housing program would also be a source of work in all seasons for the building trades; it would create economic activity and enable a fair proportion of the people to become owners of healthy and comfortable dwellings, while doing away with profiteers; it would prevent savings from being eaten up each month in rent.
One day, a farmer who was peacefully smoking his pipe on his veranda was asked the following question by his son: "What do we mean by fatherland?" The father, extending his arm towards his fields, replied: "That, my son, is the fatherland". As the pride of owning fields is essential to the farmer so the pride of owning a house is essential to the labouring and middle class alike. It is essential for our social stability that our labouring people be able to become property owners. Communism recruits its members among proletarians. In multiplying the number of property owners we will open a large gap in the ranks of communists.
It is essential for the health of our people that we move our citizens out of filthy and overpopulated districts in our large cities, that we take them away from the slums, so that they may breathe fresh air in new districts where it is possible to see the sun otherwise than through smoke.
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The Address-Mr. Villeneuve
Our small towns and villages need increased assistance as regards housing which would prevent concentrations of population and bring about a more normal demographic distribution.
There is a movement which I have particularly at heart and which I would not like to ignore because I had the opportunity to appreciate its great social achievements; I refer to the housing co-operative unions. It is pleasing to see a group of workers join bands and build homes through a system of mutual aid and assigned tasks. I have seen some at work and I would like the law to make it easier for them to fulfil their task and achieve their purpose: "To each worker his own home", with as a noble motto: "One for all and all for one."
The number of new family units each year in our country and the inflow of immigrants add to the urgency of the problem. In the constituency I represent, there are many villages and small towns which expect from such amendments to the National Housing Act efficient steps which will bring about the development they seek. I was saying that, in my opinion, the solution of the housing problem is really a matter of social security. The responsibility of the state is not to replace private enterprise, but to make it easier. The lending institutions which, in the ipast few years, have been saddled with the heavy burden of financing the building of homes must be relieved in some way. On the other hand, in the province of Quebec, we have some well established and reputable local institutions called Caisses populaires Desjardins. They are open for mortgage loans, but their inadequate means in this regard prevent them from playing the part which they would like to play in the field of home construction. On the other hand huge sums of money are kept sleeping in the banks, so to speak, whereas they would be of greater use to society as a whole as well as to the banks themselves were they to be made available for mortgage purposes.
It seems that this option will be granted to them when their charters are renewed in the course of this session. I wish to congratulate the hon. members of the cabinet for having thus implemented a resolution of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, which was adopted during a convention held in the county of Beauce last summer. Such a proposal might have appeared daring, but we are living in an age of daring and the cabinet is leading the way towards economic betterment of this country.
The new feature consisting in the establishment of an insured mortgage introduced as an amendment to the National Housing Act, for the purposes of the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation, will facilitate transfers of property which are so frequent in this age of easy removals. The possibility of increasing the ceiling of $10,000 on loans, while at the same time lowering the down payment on the purchase of low-price housing, is also being considered. I see there, as well as in the extension of the reimbursement period, an appreciable effort designed to help the small wage earners become owners themselves, a topical subject if there ever was one.
Experience has shown that the workingman's family is generally a large one; to my mind, this will then become a most efficient means to help the Canadian family achieve its normal development. With the addition of an important group of lenders and larger funds available, the small communities, which up to now have not been able, in fact, to avail themselves of the act, will be in a position to do so in the future. I bear more particularly in mind the county of Roberval which I represent in this house where one finds only small communities, in the ordinary sense of the word. When I think of the beneficial results which the amended act may bring about, I feel proud of the mandate which my electors have given me, for I deem it a great honour to be called to legislate on a matter of such importance in the social field. I would consider myself to be remiss in my duties if I did not, under such circumstances, say a word about a topic which I particularly cherish, namely the county of Roberval. With a population of about 40,000, this constituency stretches over a large section of the north-central part of Quebec, which bears the name of "Lake St. John region". The other portion is made up of the county of Lake St. John. The county which I represent links the Saguenay and Abitibi districts, the north shore of the St. Lawrence river and the so-called Mistassini district, towards James bay.
There are three large rivers in the county of Roberval, all three bearing rather fantastic Indian names: the Metabetchouan, the
Ashuapmuchuan and the Mistassini. These rivers, which are all large inland rivers, flow into lake St. John, which is the great outfall of this district; according to the tourists, it is the most beautiful lake in the province of Quebec, though second in size to lake Mistassini. For lovers of literature, it is the country of Maria Chapdelaine. For the
phenomena observers, it is the country of northern lights; for the epicure, it is the country where one finds the tastiest blueberries in the world; the architects know that here is found the best granite in the world, while those who take an interest in economic development consider that district to be the district of progress and of the future.
The county bears the name of the town which is its chief town, namely Roberval. The first settlements in this section of the district called the Lake St. John district were at Roberval; it is an administrative, cultural and commercial centre, which will celebrate its centenary in 1954. Among the pioneers of Roberval was, I am proud to say, my greatgrandfather who became a settler there about 1856.
I commend those valiant pioneers, who, with their axes, opened up the wealthy districts framed by the Laurentians and lake St. John, and, who made, through their courage and self-denial, this magnificent development possible.
Because of its geographical position, the county of Roberval has access to the mining area of Chibougamau by a road branching off at St. Felicien, and passing through Notre Dame de la Dore ends at the mining village of Chibougamau. This Chibougamau district has a great mining wealth, which is being developed at an increasing pace, and will soon be connected by an electrical network fed by the power plant of Chute Savane, in the county of my friend, the member for Lake St. John (Mr. Gauthier). The county of Roberval, and the district of which it is a part by reason of its agricultural and commercial development, of its hydroelectric power, of its access to the sea through the Saguenay, and of its deep water ports, seems to be best suited as a terminal for the proposed railway that is to connect Chibougamau to the important economic centres. Such a project would, according to experienced economists, mean more than a safe investment, it would be a realistic way for the province of Quebec to preserve its resources and have its population benefit therefrom.
Historically, Chibougamau has always been connected with the lake St. John district, and the first prospectors, among whom was McKenzie, in 1902, followed even then a path along the river Ashuapmuchuan to get to Chibougamau. It may be recalled that in 1927 a company had been formed under the name of "Chibougamau Railway" and had begun the construction of a railroad starting from the lake St. John district
The Address-Mr. Villeneuve and extending towards Chibougamau. The depression undermined this undertaking. In March of this year, a local organization, the Conseil d'Orientation Economique du Saguenay, submitted an eloquent and well-founded brief in favour of the construction of a railway connecting Chibougamau to lake St. John, to five members of the cabinet, including the Prime Minister. As I happened to be among the delegates, I remember the kind reception that was extended to us, and avail myself of this opportunity to thank those who were responsible for it.
Since then a group of Canadian National Railways engineers have been planning a route between St. Felicien, La Dore and Chibougamau. I trust, with all the people of the area concerned, that their studies will bring results so that in the near future we will get this railway which will supplement the economy of that district, the closest and the easiest of access for the people of Chibougamau.
The people of Roberval county depend mostly on agriculture and lumbering. There are in the district very good lands, which generally are well cultivated, industrious farmers, well equipped farms as well as model farming communities like Chambord, St. Prime, St. Felicien, La Dore, Normandin, St. Edmond Les Plaines and Albanel, to name only a few. I was born on a farm in St. Prime, where my grandfather was a pioneer. In almost every agricultural community of that county there is to be found a co-operative union of farmers which, combined with the U.C.C. and J.A.C. movements, leads the farming population towards professional organization. The main difficulty in the field of agriculture in that county springs from its remoteness from the markets and consequently lower prices for our farmers who, wishing to correct the situation, have set up an organization called "La chaine cooperative du Saguenay"-the Saguenay Co-operative Chain.
The mining region of Chibougamau would find in Roberval county, among others, a logical source of agricultural supplies if a railroad was built to link the two regions.
As is the case with any young county, that of Roberval includes a great many farms in the process of changing from the settling stage to the agricultural stage; such a period of organization always requires heavy expenditures on the part of the farmers. It would be advisable to get the Canadian farm loan board to pay more attention to that class of farmers and, in view of the needs of the county, to name a resident assessor.
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The Address-Mr. Villeneuve
The farmers of Roberval county contribute greatly to the development of the lumbering industry through the manpower they supply especially in winter.
We have, in that county, lumbering co-operative unions, a new and laudable venture in that district characterized by its initiative.
As I stated, lumbering is the main industry of Roberval county. The major operators are the St. Lawrence company, the Price Brothers and Consolidated Paper, who draw their resources in the vicinity of the Mistassini, Ashuapmuchuan and Lievre rivers. Operations are carried on on an extensive scale. Each year, nearly half a million cords of pulp-wood are cut, and this does not take into account lumber. One of the companies, the St. Lawrence Corporation, operates a pulp mill on the shores of the Mistassini river, at Dol-beau. The International Paper Company also carries on lumbering operations in Roberval county and even has a lumbering village in Ventadour township. The St. Lawrence company employs an average of 400 men at Dolbeau.
As a result of this unique industrial activity in our county, a movement is taking shape to set up small industries and we already have a clothing manufacture at Roberval, a concrete and pulp mill at St. Felicien and a brick and related products plant at Mistassini. Needless to say the promoters of small industries in this constituency depend to a large extent on the help and understanding of the Industrial Development Bank. Through diversified industrial activity and agriculture we hope to bring about a normal and stable economy in Roberval county.
The county includes four tidy and progressive towns of no more than 5,000 people.
At the southern end of the county, on the enchanting shore of lake St. John, there is the town of Roberval, the county seat, its cultural, commercial and industrial centre, where are located two hospitals, a small harbour used both by boats and seaplanes and a radio station of 1,000 watts.
At the centre of the county, on the shore of the Ashuapmuchuan river, which is
3,000 feet wide at that point, we find in full expansion the new town of St. Felicien, a commercial and industrial centre which has given itself the title of the "golden gate of Chibougamau", boasting of mooring facilities for seaplanes.
At the northern end of the county, on the opposite shores of the Mistassini river, which is more than 2,000 feet wide at that point, there are to be found two towns, offshoots of the pulp and paper industry, Dolbeau and
Mistassini. The former marked last year its 25th anniversary and the latter, where it is my privilege to live, is five years old. Dolbeau is the very model of a modern urban centre which is developing along the lines of a plan put forward at the very moment of its birth. Its business activity is the envy of the whole county. Here we find the only Englishspeaking and Protestant community in a county which is 95 per cent French-speaking and Catholic. Nevertheless this minority lives among us in perfect freedom, its own institutions being entirely respected. In Dolbeau too we find the Canadian National Railways terminal for this district.
Dolbeau has a sister town, Mistassini, where I live, at the junction of the Mistassini and Mistassibi rivers. It is the youngest and smallest of the four towns in the county of Roberval. In the last ten years, its population has increased from 500 to 3,000. It is gaining every day in commercial importance, drawing its subsistence mainly from forestry. Emulating Dolbeau, but not as well favoured by economic circumstances, Mistassini would very much like to become the very centre for small industry. The first step has already been taken in that direction. The residents of this city also hope that in the near future, thanks to the new dams of Chute du Diable and Chute Savane, the railway network will be extended in such a way as to serve it.
A county as young as the one which I represent, with its expanding economy, has great needs and has great projects, as you may have guessed. In order to help it continue in the way of progress, it has entrusted a mandate to the humble member who now requests sympathetic attention on the part of the hon. members of the cabinet, in order that he may acquit himself of the heavy task which he intends to carry out to the end, in the interest of his electors.
In closing I should like to emphasize particularly how pleased I was to learn from the speech from the throne that this government intended to set up an assistance program for totally disabled persons who are so neglected by our society.
There is no doubt that some federal-provincial agreement will become possible, thus ensuring to the disabled people this attention from the state which they are asking for, especially since the introduction of social measures which are very much appreciated in this country, that is to say the old age pensions and the family allowances.
The Canadian people will have been right in believing that Canadian Liberalism continues to be the perfect way to the most complete social justice, through a sound and
gradual evolution towards individual and collective security, so intelligently sponsored by the present Prime Minister and his immediate predecessor.
On motion of Mr. Drew the debate was adjourned.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: ADDRESS IN REPLY, MOVED BY MR. A. H. HOLLINGWORTH AND SECONDED BY MR. GEORGES VILLENEUVE