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 6 of 10)

July 16, 1956

Mr. Villeneuve:

None was given.

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April 19, 1956

Mr. Villeneuve:

Mr. Chairman, I would not like section 2 of this bill to carry without making a few remarks.

May I first congratulate the hon. Minister of Public Works (Mr. Winters) and his parliamentary assistant (Mr. Bourget) for the way they have handled the debate on this resolution which nearly received the approval of all members of the house.

I find that, through this bill, the federal government wishes to improve the conditions which govern its contributions to the provinces towards the construction of the trans-Canada highway.

During the Godbout regime, the government of the province of Quebec, prior to 1954, had started to build part of the trans-Canada highway, called highway No. 9, more particularly between Quebec and Montreal. However, I have noticed that since that time, the government of the province of Quebec, on grounds of autonomy that I cannot understand, rejects all grants, although the people of the province of Quebec have to pay 2 cents 67509-197

Trans-Canada Highway Act more than their neighbours of Ontafio for each gallon of gasoline they use.

Recently I travelled over that highway from Levis to Montreal, and found it in poor condition. In fact, on at least half the distance it is a gravel road or a partly paved road. I noticed, particularly in Lotbiniere county, stacks of heavy wire which was meant to be used as concrete reinforcement on that highway which was never completed. And I could not help thinking that these were the skeletons of the lack of co-operation between the present government of the province of Quebec and the federal government.

I wish that instead of telling Mr. Duplessis unkind things about his lack of co-operation, Quebec members of the opposition had at least pointed out to him the urgency of putting an end to his obstruction so that, at last, our province might have that highway for the building of which we are paying taxes while millions of dollars offered for that purpose by the federal government are being stubbornly refused.

I noted however that the hon. members for Chicoutimi (Mr. Gagnon) and for Beauce (Mr. Poulin) have been consistent enough to vote for the resolution. I take it that their vote may be construed as favouring the principle of federal provincial co-operation about the trans-Canada highway. Theirs is a far more consistent attitude than that of their provincial leader, and I feel that in deciding to refrain from seeking provincial co-operation, they probably feel, as we do ourselves, that the present government of the province of Quebec will administer that province for only a few months more.

I understand also that this lack of cooperation comes from the fact that, in some provinces and particularly in ours, the governments do not like to award contracts to the lowest bidder. In fact, I remember thci one day, the right hon. Prime Minister of Canada (Mr. St. Laurent) said, at the Reform Club in Quebec, that if the federal government had not adopted the policy of awarding contracts to the lowest bidders, the Duplessis government would long ago have accepted money from the federal government to carry out that project.

In concluding these few remarks, I congratulate the government on further cooperating in the completion of the trans-Canada highway which will help Canadians to know themselves better and will improve their means of communication and at the same time their relations.


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January 17, 1956

Mr. Georges Villeneuve (Roberval):

Mr. Speaker, on going through the newly revised edition of our Standing Orders for 1955, I have once again been able to realize how uncommonly much we owe to your ability and devotion to duty. During the two years you have held office you have managed to popularize these standing orders which had been all but incomprehensible to mere laymen. You will permit me to say that, along *with some of your predecessors, you will go down in the parliamentary history of this country. Your tact and fairness, together with your perfect knowledge of the two official languages of this country, justify this unanimous tribute from the members of the house, whatever their political persuasion.

The present session began auspiciously with the speech of the mover of the address in reply, the hon. member for Timiskaming (Mrs. Shipley), the first woman on whom such an honour has been bestowed since confederation, and also with the remarks of the hori. member for Bellechasse (Mr. Laflamme) whom I could well call the representative of youth. To both of them I offer my most sincere congratulations and I hope that in the future they will continue to make worthy contributions to the debates of the house.

I hope that the six newly elected members who have taken their seat among us for the first time will prove an asset to the house and to their respective constituencies. Since I have had the honour of taking part in the electoral campaign of my hon. friend the new member for Temiscouata (Mr. St. Laurent), I would like to congratulate him for the honest and sincere manner in which he obtained his mandate; I had reason to

IMr. Nicholson.]

repeat to his electors the following saying: "Blood will tell".

' I would also like to draw attention to the special contribution, during the recess, of three members of the cabinet in making Canada better known abroad, namely the hon. Minister of Fisheries (Mr. Sinclair) during his trip to Russia, the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Pearson) during his trip to Russia and in the East and the Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Martin) who, as leader of the Canadian delegation to the United Nations, achieved an almost impossible feat when he succeeded in obtaining the "package deal" admission of 16 nations to that organization. Canada, which does not rank among the major nations of the world, must act as a peacemaker in the world if we want our nation to become worthy, in the international field, of the message given to the shepherds of Bethlehem: "Peace on

earth to men of good will".

I appreciated the appointment of the Minister of Veterans Affairs (Mr. Lapointe) as a successor to the late postmaster general, the Hon. Alcide Cote. The latter had greatly helped me in the task which had been entrusted to me by my electors, who were requesting improved postal service. I have no doubt that the new minister will be just as sympathetic. I dare hope that the appointment of the new minister will coincide with a greater generosity on the part of his department, especially for the rural mail carriers and postmasters.

The constituency of Roberval which I represent in this house has received some outstanding visitors in the year 1955, that is the hon. Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources (Mr. Lesage), the parliamentary assistant (Mr. Kirk) to the Postmaster General, the parliamentary assistant (Mr. Bourget) to the Minister of Public Works on the occasion of the official opening of the federal public building in Roberval, in March, as well as the hon. Minister of Transport (Mr. Marler) at the official opening of the Roberval airport in November. To these hon. colleagues, I express my appreciation and that of my electors for their kindness in honouring us with their presence in our district which, I believe, is most attractive and hospitable. I do hope they will come back and that the pleasant memory they have of their sojourn among us will entice other members of parliament, parliamentary assistants and ministers to visit the riding of Roberval and its friendly people.

The unprecedented economic expansion of 1955 in Canada could not but have its effects on the constituency of Roberval.

I am therefore glad to see that in 1955 the federal government has really contributed to the progress of my constituency. I will restrict myself to the following works made possible by generous grants from the Department of Agriculture: the agriculture building in Roberval, the central cheese and butter factory of La Dore, the central cheese and butter factory of St. Methode, the Bherer cheese and butter factory of St. Felicien; and, thanks to the Department of Public Works: the completion of the federal public building in Roberval, further work on the breakwater at Roberval, the completion of a dock at St. Prime and the awarding of a construction contract for the federal public building in Dolbeau. But the most important contribution to our local economy is definitely the beginning of the construction work of a 139-mile railroad connecting Chibougamau and St. Felicien, at an estimated cost of $17 million. In addition to bringing employment to our workers and putting an unprecedented amount of money in circulation, this work will endow my constituency not only with a long railroad in a northerly direction but, what is more important, with a brilliant future. When the hon. Minister of Transport came to Roberval, he certainly did not miss the opportunity to point out that my electors were very appreciative of the government's wise decision to connect Abitibi and Lake St. John, through Chibougamau, the great economic attraction at this time, in our province. I trust their testimony, together with that of their representative, will constitute the best expression of their gratitude to those who took this progressive decision. That is why my electors, more than ever, are glad to have put their confidence in this government. If my representations in the future are given as much sympathetic consideration as in the past, this confidence will inevitably become unshakable.

A young and lively constituency like the one I represent in this house can hardly leave any respite to its representative and, therefore, this representative still has many requests to submit to the government. As a good parish priest of my district said- "One must thank and one must ask relentlessly; it is the best way to have one's prayers answered."

On December 10 last, the people of Roberval constituency learned the sad news of the death of its representative in the

The Address-Mr. Villeneuve Quebec legislative assembly, Mr. Antoine Marcotte. To his widow, to the members of his family and to all his friends I extend my sympathy in my capacity as member of the same riding in the House of Commons of Canada.

So young a district cannot but naturally look forward to adolescence. It is thus that in 1954 we celebrated our first centenary, that of Roberval. Hardly two years have passed and, in this summer of 1956, we shall celebrate another centenary, that of the establishment of the Montagnais Indian reserve of Poinite Bleue. As its- name indicates, this reserve is located on a wide point of land heading towards lake St. John between St. Prime and Roberval. A law enacted under the union and assented to on August 30, 1851, Statutes 14-15 Victoria, chapter 106, authorized the government to survey the lands which were to be allocated to Indians. Thus in 1853 the government granted the Montagnais of my district a reserve of 16,000 acres on the shores of the Peribonka river, and another one of 4,000 acres on the shores of the Metabetchouan river, where a fur trading post and a mission had been established more than two centuries before. During the summer of 1856, the Montagnais Indian tribe of the Saguenay made a petition to the executive council of Upper and Lower Canada, submitted by Mr. David E. Price, M.P., requesting an exchange of the lands granted on the Peribonka and Metabetchouan rivers for another piece covering an area of six square miles on the shores of lake St. John at the place now known as Pointe Bleue. The exchange, approved by the crown lands department on July 25, 1856, was agreed upon by an order in council dated September 4 of the same year and ratified by the governor general on September 6, 1856. On that historical date, the present Pointe Bleue reserve was born. I must give credit to the historian of our district, Canon Victor Tremblay, for these brief notes on the history of Pointe Bleue.

Therefore, that reserve was formed at a time when colonization began in the lake St. John district. The Montagnais Indians and the French people of that district had been friends for a long time, since on May 27, 1603, the chief of the tribe, Anadabijou, had signed with Samuel de Champlain at Pointe-aux-Alouettes, opposite Tadoussac, the first official act granting to European people the right to settle on the lands of this country. In that treaty, the first occupants of the soil invited the newcomers to "settle the land and fight their enemies." In the years that followed the French remained friendly

The Address-Mr. Villeneuve with the Montagnais tribe and saved them from extermination when they were attacked by Iroquois hordes which were driven away with the help of a French contingent rushed by Governor Denonville, towards the end of the seventeenth century. The battle is said to have been waged on the shores of a river still called today "Riviere-aux-Iroquois" which crosses the municipality of St. Prime where, I am happy to say, I was born.

The population of the Montagnais Indian reservation at Pointe Bleue is now some 1,125 people, representing 200 families of which 110 are sedentary and 90 are nomadic. The hunting grounds are getting poorer each year and the slump in furs has made it necessary for most of these Indians to try and make a living at manual labour as craftsmen, labourers and even farmers, which is for them a sort of unnatural adaptation and adjustment, but in which they excel.

The Pointe Bleue Indians value the land which makes up their reservation and which was parceled out in the past but which I undertake to safeguard for them as long as I shall be their member, even though at the present time they do not have the right to vote, a right they do not seem anxious to get.

Since becoming member for Roberval, I have been requesting certain improvements for the Pointe Bleue reservation, particularly the construction of a residential or boarding school for the children of nomadic Indians. During the school year 1954-55, of the school age children at Pointe Bleue 74 out of 272 received no schooling whatever because of the fact that as their parents were roaming the woods these children could attend no classes, there being no boarding school on the spot. In order to adapt themselves to their new living conditions and to carry out their struggle for existence with adequate hopes of success, these young Indians need education. I would even say that it is a vital necessity as far as they are concerned if they are to play their proper part and develop as they should, and not be forever in a position of inferiority.

While I am on that subject I would call the attention of the officials of the Department of Indian Affairs to the sad state of disrepair of the road through this reservation, both in the direction of Roberval and in that of St. Prime. This road is little better than a path. It must quite closely approximate its appearance of fifty years ago with its right angled curves, its level crossings, its near proverbial narrowness and clouds of dust.

Not only do I find the state of this road intolerable with regard to modern needs, but I also take it to be a disgrace as far as the federal government is concerned. In the whole of my county and even throughout the four counties of the district concerned, its only jurisdiction in the matter of roads is in relation to this road through the reservation. An ever-increasing number of these Indians have taken up haulage by truck. One of them even runs a bus service between Pointe Bleue and Roberval. A large number of tourists like to come to this reservation in the search for novel attractions. Besides, normal traffic on the road is sufficiently heavy for the department concerned to realize the urgent necessity of proceeding without delay to the rebuilding of this road which is a disgrace to the federal government.

The Indians of Pointe Bleue request a good asphalt road to connect their reservation with local highway 55 leading to St. Prime and Roberval. I find this request reasonable and I bring it to the attention of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (Mr. Pickersgill) whose progressive mind is well known to me. I am sure he will give this request his sympathetic attention.

As a centenary should be marked by public festivities and celebrations, a committee was created a few months ago in order to celebrate in a particularly original way the centenary of the Montagnais Indian reservation of Pointe Bleue. For this occasion, the Montagnais Indians have in store for us a special program of unprecedented originality which will be a tourist attraction in the area. As a token of consideration for these first inhabitants of the country, I renew the invitation which I was requested to make to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, who presides over Indian affairs, and to his deputy minister, (Mr. Laval Fortier), in order that their presence may enhance the grandiose celebrations of the centenary of the Indian reservation of Pointe Bleue. The first reply made by the minister did honour me and I trust that he will take advantage of his stay in Pointe Bleue to lay the cornerstone of the future boarding school, the construction of which I have so much at heart. I can assure the minister of a more than friendly reception in Pointe Bleue as well as in the other localities of the beautiful Roberval constituency.

I should now like to broach a rather delicate matter and that is the question of the name of the future hotel which the Canadian National Railways are now building in Montreal, close to the Central station. A large

number of my electors have requested that X express my opinion on this matter and I believe I can do so without hurting anyone's feelings.

I know that the permission of Her Majesty was originally obtained to name that hotel the Queen Elizabeth hotel. Later on a petition signed by 200,000 people, some of them very prominent people, was tabled in this house by the hon. member for Maisonneuve-Rosemont (Mr. Deschatelets). These petitioners asked that the hotel be called the "Chateau Maisonneuve", in memory of the founder of Montreal. In time the question was taken up by the newspapers and everybody could realize, even in the English language papers of Montreal and Toronto, that the petition was logical because it was based on historical facts. Everybody knows the loyalty of the French Canadians to Her Majesty and her predecessors, and it would be unfair to say that this is a move against the British crown, which is also the Canadian crown under our common allegiance. Besides there is in Montreal the "Windsor" hotel, another one which is called "Queens" and a theatre which is named "Her Majesty's", and I do not know of any boycotting of these establishments on account of their names. The problem is not there to be sure; it comes from the fact that the origin of Montreal is French; that the metropolis is the second-largest French-speaking city in the world after Paris, on the strength of its population; that, being the metropolis of Canada, Montreal is part of the French province of Quebec; that Paul Chomedy de Maisonneuve founded this city heroically in 1642, stating to the French governor of Quebec at the time: "Even if all the trees on Montreal island were to change into Iroquois, I would not give up my plans"; that it is fitting to maintain the French character of Montreal and that this future hotel, which because of its size will be able to accommodate visitors from all over the world, would, to my mind, serve this legitimate end if it bore the name of Maisonneuve, a truly historic name, which indeed deserves to adorn a public building of this kind.

I know that it is up to the directors of the national railways to settle this matter, and I trust that, if they put their minds to it, they will find the right way to bring even Her Majesty to decide in favour of the petition tabled in the house. I had the privilege to highly appreciate the spirit of understanding of the present chairman of the Canadian

The Address-Mr. J. B. Hamilton National Railways, Mr. Donald Gordon, last summer when I appealed to him on behalf of the people of La Dore, who wanted to have the station site moved nearer to the village-at a distance of 1J miles-whereas the proposed site was 3} miles away from it. I again want to express my appreciation to Mr. Gordon, and I trust that he will show the same spirit of co-operation, in order to satisfy the people of the province of Quebec in particular, a considerable proportion of whom have expressed their views upon the subject in the above-mentioned petition. I also venture to say that being aware of the loyalty of her Frenchspeaking subjects, Her Majesty will accept the name suggested in this petition.


In conclusion I want to congratulate the increasing number of hon. members of this house who try to speak my mother tongue, one of the two official languages of this country. I see in that fact a growing trend toward the national unity preached by Sir Wilfrid Laurier fifty years ago.

I am told that the University of British Columbia has recently opened a school of French language for its students. I was delighted to hear my friend the hon. member for Brantford (Mr. Brown) speak in this house recently in French about national unity through a better knowledge of the two official languages of our country. I know many other members in every political group who are beginning to speak French well. I think we all can testify that the future of Canada will be a good one because Canadians in every province are thinking of themselves primarily as Canadians with loyalty to Canada as a whole.

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July 20, 1955

Mr. Villeneuve:

Mr. Chairman, while we are on the estimates of the Department of Transport, may I, on behalf of the people of Roberval county, whom I represent in this house, thank the government for its wise decision to grant a subsidy of $7,450,000 to the Canadian National Railways, for the immediate construction of the trunk line from Chibougamau to St. Felicien, at a total cost of $17 million.

That decision, as officially announced in the house by the hon. Minister of Transport (Mr. Marler) on June 3, was most welcome throughout the Saguenay-Lake St. John district, and more particularly in Roberval county.

Together with my colleague, the hon. member for Lake St. John (Mr. Gauthier), I


missed no occasion to call the government's attention to the importance of this project, which had been the local people's dream for nearly 50 years, but in doing so I always restated my confidence in the government's good will. And today, once again, in the light of the support just received, I am happy to see that this confidence of mine has not been misplaced.

At the initial stage, that of delegations and petitions, the sympathy shown for this project by the right hon. Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) helped sustain the morale of the citizens of my district.

At the second stage, that of legislation, in May 1954, everyone remembers the boldness of the then minister of transport, the Hon. Lionel Chevrier, who did not hesitate to introduce in this house a bill which, necessary though it was, could then be only partially implemented, and which brought upon the minister some rather unpleasant and undeserved charges from the opposition. During that time, we, on the government side, remained optimistic without however relaxing our efforts, knowing that a responsible government never introduces legislation for the mere sake of padding the statute books.

At the third stage, when seeking some traffic guarantees, it became obvious that the requested guarantees could not be given, particularly because of the fact that there were no smelting facilities in the area concerned.

The only possible solution was a government subsidy to the railway. A new face had just appeared in the cabinet, in the person of the present Minister of Transport (Mr. Marler), a worthy successor to his immediate predecessor. With energy, tact and conviction he set about the task, a task which had become both difficult and delicate, of bringing the negotiations to a satisfactory conclusion, and he did this in the masterly way for which he is known.

That decision of the government, I believe, has a threefold character. First, politically speaking, it means a return to the old policy of subsidizing our railways for the development of less-favoured geographical areas and for a better distribution of the country's population and resources. Second, in the economic field, it aims to establish a sound balance throughout the country, by providing each area with the means to create assets. As both the Lake St. John and the Abitibi districts are soon to be connected with Chibougamau, I trust that, before long, from the point of view of the railways and because of their complementary economies, they will show a remarkable advance. Because of the new


developments already in prospect, this line will become an unprecedented source of revenue for the Canadian National Railways, and I am sure that the government will never regret its decision in favour of my district, because this trunk line will be self-supporting. Lastly, it is an historical gesture, for a project that has been nurtured for fifty years cannot fail to make a deeper impression on the mind of a whole population when it is finally carried out.

The Chibougamau railway will remain impressed in the minds of the people of my riding as a triumphant march on the road to progress. It is almost too good to be true, and will remain all the finer for having come true. I see in this achievement the fruition of the sweated labour of our worthy pioneers. As a matter of fact, does not the attitude of our present government confirm the trust they put in this promising part of the land a hundred years ago?

Therefore, since I am the member most interested in this project and since this section of the railroad will go through my constituency up to its extreme northwest tip, I want to go on record as thanking, on this occasion, all the government members whom I had the opportunity to thank personally and if, moreover, any kudos is due to me for the outcome of this victorious fight for the Chibougamau railway, I want my hon. colleague and friend, the member for Lake St. John (Mr. Gauthier), to get at least an equal share of the credit. I owe this hon. member that testimonial of thankfulness for the support he gave me in that memorable fight.

The citizens of our district will certainly not fail to prove to the government, in due time, that they belong to a province whose motto is "Je me souviens".


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July 20, 1955

Mr. Villeneuve:

Would you name them?

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