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 3 of 10)

November 4, 1957

Mr. Georges Villeneuve (Roberval):

Mr. Speaker, I wish to direct a question to the Minister of Transport. Is the minister aware of the reports that are current in my riding in regard to the Laurentides division that 35 to 40 men are to be laid oil from the Canadian National Railways on next January 1 in order to change its sections from seven miles for three employees as at present to 12 miles for four employees in the future, in spite of the numerous curves and other troubles of this railway crossing a hilly country?

Subtopic:   REPORTED
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October 29, 1957

Mr. Georges Villeneuve (Roberval):

Mr. Speaker, as a member representing a farm riding and not having had the opportunity to express my views on this legislation at the resolution stage, I would like to say today what the farm people in my riding are thinking of this bill No. 14 providing for advance payments up to a total of 150 million dollars with regard to the delivery of grain from the prairies.

I admit that these advance payments will probably allow western farmers to survive while waiting for wheat deliveries, but I think this is an expedient designed to conceal the government's inability to dispose of our wheat on the international market.

I would favour this bill if it were such as to lower the price of grain, and wheat in particular, to eastern farmers, for whom this government is apparently showing little concern.

I remember that the former government had passed legislation which was much more


helpful to all farmers throughout Canada, byawarding subsidies on the transport of grain. This had helped eastern farmers to consume more of that commodity while giving western farmers a chance to sell their grain on the national market.

I voted against the resolution preceding the bill and I will vote against the bill itself, because I believe the farm industry of this country is not going to be saved by electioneering stop-gaps like this legislation. Our farming industry is not going to get better by the application of such poultices, but by some bill which will consider farm conditions throughout Canada, not forgetting those existing in the east, and more particularly in the province of Quebec.


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January 31, 1957

Mr. Georges Villeneuve (Roberval):

Mr. Speaker, as the representative of a constituency whose population is 98 per cent French speaking but 100 per cent respectful of the rights and prerogatives of the English speaking minority, I believe it is not only my right but also my duty to intervene in this debate on Bill No. 6 moved by my friend the hon. member for Beauce (Mr. Poulin).

That bill tends to amend the financial administration act (chapter 116 of the Revised Statutes of Canada 1952) by the insertion of section 33A which would make it mandatory to issue all bills of exchange and particularly all cheques of the various federal departments and boards in the two official languages of this country, English and French.

I feel that this bill is an important step towards national unity which is increasingly dearer to Canadians from the Atlantic to the Pacific and which we all agree to consider as the cornerstone of the future of our dear country. National unity cannot exist without mutual understanding and I believe that such understanding cannot find better expression than the very means of expressing our respective thoughts, our two languages, which the British North America Act made official in Canada.

I have received representations about that bill from many citizens in my constituency and I therefore faithfully express the wish of men and women of Roberval county when I support it, as I have always considered it my duty to speak on behalf of their rights in this house every time I had the opportunity to do so. Thus I always have the feeling not only of working in the interest of my fellow-citizens, but also in the interest of our country as a whole which has, as one of its main characteristics, the distinction of being bilingual and biethnical, a partner in the enrichment we have gained by the contact of the two great civilizations which have made their mark in the past and will continue to find Canada a ground favourable to their fulfilment if we give them a chance to progress freely; I mean the French and Anglo-Saxon civilizations. This favourable ground, I see it not only in a platonic mutual respect, but more particularly in the official expression of bilingualism in Canadian life.

The Liberal party to which I am proud to belong has not failed in its chosen mission which is to guide the development of this country towards a healthy canadianism. I have always felt at home in this party since I have been able to observe a very great breadth of mind among my Liberal colleagues, of whatever racial origin. This broadmindedness today finds an opportunity for very prac-

Financial Administration Act

tical expression. That is my reason for supporting the measure introduced by my hon. friend the member for Beauce. I would be ill-advised, in any event, to refuse this support since I remember having already requested, in this house, the printing in both official languages of negotiable instruments, notably of cheques issued by the government.

The hon. Minister of Finance (Mr. Harris) who, we know, is making praiseworthy efforts to learn and to speak French is in my view, the very man to support the cause promoted by this bill. Bilingual bank notes and bilingual postage stamps adopted more than twenty years ago have been, in this country, vehicles for efficient Canadianism. They have most certainly contributed to the promotion of that national unity so dear to the heart of every Canadian worthy of the name. Negotiable instruments and notably bilingual cheques, issued throughout this country, would be ambassadors of good understanding and true Canadianism. This example would be all the more efficient in that it would originate in more exalted quarters, that is to say since it would come from parliament, from the very centre of Canadian thought which owes it to itself to appear in its true colours as is required by our motto "A mari usque ad mare".

During the fall of 1955 I had the honour to accompany the Minister of Transport (Mr. Marler) in a tour of my constituency. Last year I had the honour to accompany the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (Mr. Pickersgill). Do I have to tell the house how happy were my constituents to hear these high officials, following His Excellency the Governor General who had come to my constituency in 1954, address them in this beautiful French language which only those devoid of culture are unable to appreciate? I noticed that after they had gone, my constituents had felt within themselves a new pride in being Canadians and in representing one of the elements which go to make the greatness of our country as well as its originality from a world viewpoint.

I would feel sorry if the tradition of bilingual cheques were continued only in the province of Quebec. The development of a well thought out Canadianism is inconsistent with this furtherance of the detestable idea of a "Quebec reserve". This is all the more true since there are more than one million Canadians of French origin, speaking French, in the nine other provinces of this country. The proposed measure, because of its official character, would help each Cana-82715-55

dian, wherever he may be in this country of ours, to feel perfectly at home.

Language being the most perfect expression of culture, it is also in the name of the Canadian culture that I support this bill. In that connection, I may be allowed, I am sure, to quote a few words from the Most Reverend Father Georges Henri Lesvesque, O.P., a son of Roberval who is known everywhere in Canada and of whom we are proud and rightly so. He said, in a speech delivered in Toronto in February 1955: "It is in the mind and the heart of Canadians that a spirit of brotherhood is born. It is their cultures which bring Canadians together, which will teach them to know each other and thus to better understand and help each other." And he went on: "A society like ours which extends its protection to the full growth of so different racial elements and whose members believe that mutual respect for their distinctive features is the first requisite for their common welfare, is an excellent example of civilization." Any real patriot cannot but wish that these two magnificent cultures will truly turn, to an ever increasing degree, to the glory and the enrichment of the whole of Canada."

It is to that magnificent endeavour that I wish to contribute by supporting the bill now before the house.


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January 25, 1957

Mr. Villeneuve:

Mr. Chairman, I wish to say a few words about item No. 538, whereby we are asked to vote an extra $2 million for assistance to western feed grain transport. My purpose will be to point out the benefits derived from the act authorizing that assistance, particularly as it concerns Quebec farmers and feeders.

As is known, that assistance dates from October, 1941, and involves the payment by the federal government of a substantial part of the freight costs of grain shipped from the Fort William elevators eastward, notably to Montreal and Saint John, N.B., with additional compensations for other intermediate marketing centres.

Quebec farmers count on western grain. In fact 75 per cent of the feed grain consumed in that province comes from the prairies. That means that more than a million tons of grain are brought each year from the west to Quebec. I hope that hon. members from


the prairies are grateful for this Quebec patronage of grain producers in western Canada.

The high cost of these grains at the shipping point and the equally high cost of transportation have become a problem for Quebec farmers and cattle producers because of the rise in the operating costs of their farms and of the low selling price of their products.

Since October, 1941, the federal government has paid the not inconsiderable amount of $102 million in subsidies for the transportation of this grain from Fort William to the various selling points in the province of Quebec, the amount shipped as of December 1, 1956 being 15,633,000 tons. The average subsidy per ton has been $6.52 between 1941 and 1953 and since 1953, $7.98 per ton.

Quebec farmers and cattle breeders have therefore benefited from an average annual subsidy of $7,259,100, according to the terms of this useful piece of legislation.

It is estimated that it takes 1,000 pounds, that is half a ton of feed, to get an average hog ready for slaughtering. It therefore means that our farmers have received an average of about $4 per hog under the freight subsidy on feed grain. Without that subsidy which brings more than seven million dollars to Quebec, and without the premiums on quality, which bring an average of $1,226,100 a year to the farmers and breeders of Quebec, this kind of breeding would have come to an end long ago, in my opinion. So the Quebec farmers are in a position to appreciate the generosity of the federal government.

I am therefore pleased, as the representative of the farmers of Roberval constituency, to congratulate the federal government on its policy with regard to grain transport and I ask them to maintain and, if possible, to increase that subsidy to the greatest benefit of our farmers who are now going through difficult times.

The farmers of my constituency, as a result of the poor crop in 1956, will have to apply outside for seed grain, and I know that this legislation providing assistance to the transportation of grain will help them indirectly to face that new ordeal.


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January 21, 1957

Mr. Georges Villeneuve (Roberval):

Mr. Speaker, in the first place I wish to congratulate the mover and the seconder of the address in reply to the speech from the throne, the hon. member for Edmonton-Strathcona (Mr. Hanna) and the hon. member for Gloucester (Mr. Robichaud). Not only did they deal in a masterly way with the problems of our times, and present a realistic picture of their respective constituencies, one in Alberta and the other in New Brunswick, but they did not fail to speak in support of national unity, in accordance with Liberal party policy, and as had been done by great leaders such as Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the Right Hon. Mackenzie King and the Right Hon. Louis St. Laurent. I was proud to hear my good friend, the hon. member from Edmonton-Strathcona, speak French because, as he sits beside me in this house, I have often had the opportunity to help him practise that language which he now speaks with an ease worthy of the efforts he made. I have no doubt that the electors of Edmonton-Strathcona are proud to be so well represented by their member.

The Prime Minister was particularly fortunate in his choice of a true Acadian as seconder of the address in reply. Here we have a member of that race which "knows not how to die" because it remains conscious of its role in a greater and more varied Canada, moulded in mutual respect based on mutual understanding, a perfect factor of national unity.

Mr. Speaker, as did many other hon. members, I would now like to speak of social security and more particularly of family allowances. These are so welcome to the large families of my constituency that I have been asked to make representations to have the basic rate increased. I would like however, before I do so, to go back

The Address-Mr. Villeneuve for a moment on the history of the legislation enacted in this regard, originating from the statutes of 1944-1945, chapter 40, entitled "an act to provide for family allowances", providing for the paying of allowances for each child residing in Canada as follows: from birth to 6 years of age: $5.00 a month; from 6 to 10 years: $6.00 a month; from 10 to 13 years: $7.00 a month; from 13 to 16 years: $8.00 a month.

The above-mentioned act, which was passed during the 1944-45 session contained, however, under clause 3, a reservation to the effect that the allowance rate be reduced by $1 for the fifth child; by $2 for the sixth and seventh, and by $3 for the eighth and every following child. This proviso which was prejudicial to large families was probably the result of the insidious and unfair campaign launched by a group of people who, over the years, have dwindled to nothing and who, at that time, referred to family allowances as the "Quebec baby bonus". Future events were to show those people that they were behind the times in their social thinking for, in 1957, we find that Ontario is the province with the greatest number of children eligible for family allowances and that, due allowance being made for the population of the different provinces, Newfoundland is the province with the highest amount in family allowances.

In its 1949 legislation, chapter 17 of the statutes for that year, this government amended the act in repealing the proviso I mentioned, which had the effect of putting on an equal footing all Canadian children, whether they were from families of five children or of fifteen children. The large family had won its case. If the Liberal government of 1944-45, under the leadership of the Right Hon. Mackenzie King, can take credit for initiating family allowances, that great social legislation, in the highest sense of the word, the Liberal government of 1949, under the leadership of the present Prime Minister, deserves the congratulations of the Canadian people for dealing fairly with the large family. With regard to this point, I do not think that quantity is prejudicial to quality, otherwise the member now speaking could not be proud to be the tenth of a family of twelve, several of whom are now efficiently pursuing the object pursued by their old mother now 72 years old, who is still living in the contentment of duty done with regard to her country, the greatest asset of which always remains its human capital.

The budget for the fiscal year 1945 appropriated for family allowances the large amount of $190 million. It was the first time

The Address

Mr. Villeneuve in the history of this country that the Canadian mother was getting these allowances. In the fiscal year 1949, which saw the repeal of that proviso and of the decreasing rate, the amount of $284 million was set aside in the budget for family allowances. In the budget of the current 1956 fiscal year the amount of $399,240,000 is set aside for that purpose. Those who claim that family allowances have remained what they were in 1945 do not take into account the adjustment made in 1949 with the repeal of the proviso which was in the 1944-45 act nor the above figures which show the increase in the amount paid under family allowances, with due allowance for the increase in the Canadian population.

In the light of actual facts, I think the subamendment introduced on January 17 by the hon. member for Red Deer (Mr. Shaw) moving a vote of non-confidence with regard to the Government, mainly in respect of social security legislation, is hardly logical, especially so when I think that during the 1944-45 session at the opening of which the Liberal government of the day had announced the institution of family allowances in the speech from the throne, his political group voted against this very government. In fact, the speech from the throne read by His Excellency the Earl of Athlone, then governor general of Canada, on January 29, 1944, contained as can be seen on page 2 of Hansard the following passage:

The family and the home are the foundation of national life. To aid in ensuring a minimum of well-being to the children of the nation and to help gain for them a closer approach to equality of opportunity in the battle of life, you will be asked to approve the establishment of a measure introducing family allowances.

On January 28, 1944, the then hon. member for Dorchester, Mr. Leonard Tremblay, moved the adoption of the address which contained the aforementioned paragraph about family allowances. On February 10, 1954, Mr. Tremblay's motion on the address was put to a vote and, among the 21 members who then voted against that motion, I find, at page 380 of Hansard, the name of the hon. member for Red Deer (Mr. Shaw) alongside the names of the other members of his political party who joined hands, for the occasion, with the members of the C.C.F. party, these same good Samaritans who would like today to wrest from the Liberal party the credit for being the first to advocate family allowances.

I see in the subamendment a sign of that habit of plagiarism prevalent among many members of the opposition who, frustrated by their failure to understand the needs of the

population as early as the many Liberal governments which have been in power since confederation and especially since the advent of social security for Canadians of all ages and all classes, indulge in barren criticisms and take no account of the various aspects of that question. For a long time Canadians from all parts of this country have shown that they reject the tenets of an abject socialism or those of a retrograde and backward conservatism. They look upon the Liberal party as a middle-of-the-road party, having regard to the anticipated results of those various tendencies and that is why they have given that party their confidence, and rightly so, and will do so again, I hope, at the next opportunity.

I have always said and, I go on saying to my electors, especially to those who have a tendency to minimize the achievements of the Liberal administration in the field of social security that it was the Liberal party which enacted our social security legislation in Canada, which later improved that legislation and will continue to do so when the time comes and the opportunity arises.

Mr. Speaker, I believe, as do my electors of Roberval constituency, that the time has come, in 1957, to appropriate more money for social security benefits, particularly in the matter of family allowances. Twelve years have gone by since the enactment of that legislation and eight years since the last adjustment in 1949. Since then the cost of living has constantly increased so that family allowance benefits have correspondingly suffered a loss in buying power. I would therefore humbly ask the government to give the matter particular attention. I will be so bold as to express the hope that it will see to it that family allowance benefits be revised upward to as high a figure as possible. I am expecting a pleasant surprise in this regard when the hon. Minister of Finance (Mr. Harris) brings down his budget following a special recommendation from the Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Martin).

Mr. Speaker, before going on to another matter, I would like to ask the government to set at $400, instead of $150 as is the case at present, the income tax exemption provided for in the case of each child receiving family allowances. In so doing the government would put everybody in the same position, from the point of view of income tax and once again would prove the very great importance it attaches to human capital, the most valuable form of our wealth, the greatest of all,

that which, providing it is accompanied by a modicum of material goods, has made Canada a country where life is particularly pleasant because of the security it provides.

I would not like to conclude, Mr. Speaker, without putting to the government a suggestion which it might find far-fetched but which, in my humble opinion, would be of very great assistance to the future development of this country. This suggestion relates to the personal income tax.

Income tax has meant tapping hitherto unused savings. The economy of this country has benefited from this use of hitherto unproductive money, money which is now at the service of progress, thanks to the distribution which is carried out by the government throughout Canada, to mention only that aspect of the matter.

Canadians who, formerly approved the selfish principle of holding back while hoping to receive, have now learned to give something in order to get something. The transition between those two states of mind was achieved in the course of fifteen years, so that now Canadians agree at least to consider the income tax as a necessary evil. Since 1940, the year when this federal tax was restored, many citizens did not file any income tax reports and many now have to perpetuate the errors, originally made in their favor, which now prevents them from expanding their undertakings as they should. That has given rise to secret hoarding of money which does not contribute to the economy of the country and which prevents the establishment of many undertakings. This initial tax evasion, besides causing worries and giving rise to other frauds in order to justify the first one, affects a great number of Canadians who would like to make a better contribution to the development of their country. Add to that the fear of income tax investigators, unnecessary borrowings at the bank for the sole purpose of better concealing the facts-which has the effect of paralysing the credit of many Canadians who would greatly need it to maintain their business, or to expand it, or to set up new business undertakings, and you have an idea of the problem caused by the haunting obsession of the original false return. Thus, the economy of the country is partly paralysed, because I do not think I am wrong in stating that the gross figure of the national business would be increased by 2 billion a year if the government declared a general amnesty for all Canadians who have filed income tax reports prior to 1957. In this way, everyone would begin from scratch without worrying about the past, but they would feel the need of

The Address-Mr. Harkness making their reports in the future knowing what the consequences could be. I think that in so doing the government would lose on current claims but would gain very much in the future in revenue accruing from personal income tax.

There is a "maquis", a secret resistance movement against income tax. This movement undermines our national economy and is a major obstacle in the way of capital formation for small industries which would be likely to develop our smaller communities, and even our rural communities. Highly satisfactory manpower can be found there, but at the present time there are few openings save for common labourers who live from day to day since in their community there are no small industries capable of absorbing them.

A general amnesty of this type, by freeing so much hidden or unproductive capital, might prove the starting point of wide development of small industries in our smaller communities and, especially in semirural districts, would ensure progress and prosperity. This thawing out of capital in these areas will bring about a development which will make for decentralization of industry and population in this country. I am convinced, being in the confidence of a large number of business men, that such an amnesty would touch off a general economic expansion in every part of this country.


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