Mr. Georges Villeneuve (Roberval):
Mr. Speaker, I will have to ask the indulgence of the hon. member for Vancouver East (Mr. Winch) because I am going to speak in French.
Mr. Speaker, I want to add my voice to the hon. members who have spoken before me to congratulate the mover (Mr. Leduc) and the seconder (Mr. Carrick) of the address in reply for their brilliant speeches.
I wish also to welcome my new colleagues and especially the hon. member for St. Antoine-Westmount (Mr. Marler), the new Minister of Transport, to whom I think I should extend a special welcome as I anticipate that the constituency I represent will certainly owe a lot to him before long.
I hope that the tax issue will soon come to a final settlement. I am one of those who consider the Canadian constitution, called the British North America Act, as something more than a sort of ark of the covenant of the Old Testament which would have been half patched, although Canada is entirely different from what it was in 1867.
I was rather taken aback by the statement made in this house about a week ago by the hon. member for Burnaby-Coquitlam (Mr. Regier). I venture to think that my hon. colleague was sincere and that he did not want to hurt the justifiable pride of the French Canadians of the province of Quebec. Since I believe him to be sincere, I suggest that he return to the province of Quebec during the next recess and that he spend a little more time there during his visits. He might even try to learn a little French in order to better understand our people. I am sure that after a few visits he will come back delighted with the spirit shown by the Quebec people and that from there on he will become the upholder of such a noble and attractive cause as that of national unity, which should be well understood by the different racial groups in our country. I invite the hon. member particularly to come to the constituency of Roberval, one of the preeminently French constituencies in Canada. I will be happy to have him meet our people and he will come back delighted, I think, with his stay in our province.
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The Address-Mr. Villeneuve
For my part, I hope that the members from British Columbia will invite us again to take that trip over the Rockies in order that we may better understand the mentality of the people in that part of the country, for when we know and understand each other better national unity will be practically a fact in Canada.
Mr. Speaker, I find that in my constituency unemployment does not cause as much concern now as it did last year. However we have seasonal unemployment and it is a problem which requires our attention as well as all our ingenuity if we want to solve it.
The government brought in amendments to the Unemployment Insurance Act which will bring some relief to those people out of work, especially this winter. May I however be allowed to draw attention to some connection between unemployment and public works. The unemployment insurance benefits paid to those who are entitled to them must not constitute an encouragement to idleness. It is said that the devil finds work for idle hands to do and that is why I think that we should implement some public works project which would bear some relation to the payment of benefits. We might see to it that these people are paid the benefits to which they are entitled and ask the Department of Public Works to make up the rest of their salary. Our people like to work. In all our constituencies there are lots of things to be done and it is a pity that those people who would like to work should be unemployed.
Another point worth mentioning, I think, is that of assistance to small industries. We could certainly improve their position by amending the Industrial Development Bank Act. This legislation is somewhat too rigid for my liking. It should not only help in the expansion of industries operating at present, but it should more particularly assist in the establishment of small new industries with a view to diversifying the Canadian economy. In fact, if, in every community of any size at all, there were one or two small plants I feel sure that that would improve the labour and agricultural situation with consequent benefits to our working classes as a whole.
The 1954 housing act has had excellent results so far. I must point out though that these advantages have not been visible in my own constituency since the banks have not seen fit to give it all the desired attention. I would, however, like to say a word about one class of people who are in an unfortunate position as far as housing is concerned. I am thinking of our large families. I think it may safely be said that no group of people in this country is as badly housed as our large families. Yet, as has often been pointed out,
are they not the best human asset a country can have? In what way, then, could we bring special attention to their plight in the matter of housing? I know, of course, that it is much easier to advocate ideas than to solve problems. But I think that it would be a good thing, especially in semi-urban constituencies to come back to the general idea of the joint loan, with one-half being advanced by Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the other by a recognized lending institution.
Central Mortgage and Housing would lend at an interest rate equal to that of government bonds, whereas the approved lending institution could lend at prevailing rates. Thus, in due course, the interest rate would probably fall to 4J or 4} per cent. Then, by continuing the mortgage insurance and promoting low cost housing, we could probably house a high proportion of the large families of this country who are particularly in need of shelter. This could be done only if benefits of the act were made available to all, everywhere in Canada.
Mr. Speaker, ten years ago, a Liberal government-and I think it can be said Liberal governments were always those to alleviate suffering in this country through social security measures-instituted family allowances. Since then, this same government, having remained in power, have improved matters by enacting other measures equally appreciated by the people of this country.
I can say that in my particular constituency families are generally large and greatly appreciate family allowances. In view of the high cost of living, they are under the obligation of asking that these allowances be increased, without further affecting the pocket book of the Canadian taxpayer. As large families are an asset to the country, I ask the government to be more generous to the heads of these families in granting them increased allowances and to give them very special consideration.
I wish the hon. Minister of Finance (Mr. Harris) were in his seat at this time. However, I know that he will take notice of the particular request I want to make on behalf of my constituents.
In fact, for some years, numerous Canadians have been asking, in the name of national unity and to further adorn the crown of national unity through understanding and justice, that cheques issued throughout the country be bilingual. We acknowledge that much has been done up till now, because all cheques issued in the province of Quebec are bilingual. That is, so to speak, only a beginning. I should now like to see the government continue its work and the Minister
of Finance give favourable consideration to this request, which I believe to be quite fair and reasonable, namely, bilingual cheques throughout the country.
To my knowledge, bilingual stamps and currency have caused no social or racial disturbances likely to injure national unity. I should rather say that these measures have contributed to the consolidation of national unity. I am convinced that the hon. Minister of Finance will give serious consideration to our request and make a favourable decision. Besides, I have read a letter he wrote to an organization fighting for this cause and it is my belief that we shall soon hear good news about bilingual cheques.
I have a further request to make, regarding the simultaneous translation of the debates of this house. I think it would be an improvement. I can hardly lay claim to perfect bilingualism. On the contrary, I have much to do before I reach that point. However, I am trying real hard to get there and I am glad to realize that many English-speaking members are doing the same. They deserve congratulations and encouragement, for the sake of national unity.
The more bilingual Canadians there are in this country, the easier it will be for the two racial groups to understand each other better and to be in greater sympathy. They will be glad to live together in the same country, enjoying the same freedom and mutual understanding.
I understand that in such countries as Belgium and Switzerland, where they have two or three official languages, there is simultaneous translation of debates, as at United Nations headquarters. To my mind, this system would help give justice to all.
Yesterday, I heard the hon. member for Iles-de-la-Madeleine (Mr. Cannon) refer to a statement reported to have been made in Vancouver by the hon. member for Vancouver East (Mr. Winch). I am of the opinion that if a system of simultaneous interpretation were established in this house, the hon. member for Vancouver East would not have complained of the fact that we speak French here and that he has to wait 24 hours to get the translation of a speech made in French. With simultaneous translation, we could all convey our ideas to one another, our speeches would be understood immediately. Moreover, we could all give our full measure here since, if I am not mistaken, out of 265 members of the house only about 15 are perfectly bilingual. Simultaneous interpretations would certainly increase, not reduce, our incentive to learn both languages. Such a system would
The Address-Mr. Villeneuve help us also to grasp the meaning of everything which takes place here, since it is especially hard in this corner to catch certain statements and certain speeches, a condition which bars us from maximum efficiency.
We must also consider the visitors who understand only one language. They would be able to listen to the translation of the speech being made. They would get more satisfaction and be more interested in the proceedings, as would too the members themselves.
May I be permitted now, Mr. Speaker, to come to the main topic of my speech, agriculture.
In the constituency of Roberval, which it is my privilege to represent in this house, 60 to 65 per cent of the population devote their time to agriculture. This agricultural activity, I believe, constitutes the very backbone of the riding from the economic point of view.
Numerous individuals and organizations from my constituency have asked me to request that the right hon. Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) and the government maintain at 58 cents a pound for two more years the support price for butter.
That request is exceedingly important for all the farmers in my constituency as well as for all the farmers of Quebec. In this regard I would like to quote from a speech made by the dairy industry commissioner for the province of Quebec:
Too little thought, perhaps, is given to the importance of the dairy industry of the province of Quebec with its capitalization reaching one and a quarter billion dollars, including $225 million for herds, aggregating about a million head of cattle, which produced, last year, five and a half billion pounds of milk, the gross worth of which on the farm was $168,569,000, or $11 million more than in 1952 and $18 million more than three years ago.
In 1952, 33 per cent of the total agricultural income of the province of Quebec came from the dairy industry. In 1953, that proportion had reached nearly 40 per cent. It should be noted that Quebec is the province most dependent on its dairy industry for its general agricultural prosperity. Indeed, except for Nova Scotia and British Columbia, the percentage of farm income derived from the production of milk in all other provinces including Ontario, is under 20 per cent.
One cannot stress too strongly the fact that half a million people derive their living directly from the dairy industry; to that number must be added those who depend on it indirectly, such as people employed in the processing, transportation and distribution of dairy products, the manufacture of machinery and accessories and those who provide essential services to the dairy industry. It all adds up to the fact that one-third of the people of Quebec depend on the prosperity of the dairy industry. It is therefore the source of an enormous purchasing power for one and a quarter million consumers of the province and it has a major influence on our economy as a whole.
The market value of dairy products, once they have been processed and have reached the market.
The Address-Mr. Villeneuve jumped from $193 million in 1951 to $207 million in 1952 and $222 million last year, an increase of more than $25 million in three years. It should be pointed out that as far as the gross value of production is concerned, the dairy industry ranks second in the province of Quebec, after the pulp and paper industry. It contributes nearly 40 per cent of the total dairy production of Canada. It produces:
34% of the butter manufactured in Canada,
21% of the Cheddar cheese made in Canada,
27% of the other kinds of cheese,
33% of the concentrated products made in Canada,
20% of the ice cream made in Canada,
32% of the whole milk sold in Canada.
I have here other statistics which are no less staggering on the importance of the problem for Quebec farmers. In 1953, 302,606,000 pounds of creamery butter were produced in Canada, of which 112,179,000 pounds came from Quebec.
Now, as for the effect of the support price of butter on the Quebec farmer's income, I must say that the farmer received 75 per cent of the retail price of butter. The farmer very seldom gets such a large share of the retail price of a consumer product. That is why the support price on butter has been more or less a lifesaver for the farmers. And it is to enable our farmers to maintain a decent standard of living and improve their position, especially as far as Quebec farmers are concerned, that I am asking the right hon. Minister of Agriculture and the government to maintain the support price on butter at 58 cents a pound for two more years.
Besides, from the Canadian standpoint, it is said that one out of six Canadians, or 17 per cent of our people, depends directly or indirectly on the dairy industry for his living. I believe that figure clearly shows the importance of the dairy industry for us.
Mr. Speaker, as I have only one more subject to discuss, may I ask this house, if it is possible, to allow me an extra five minutes after the ten o'clock bell.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY