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 9 of 10)

January 27, 1955

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.


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.


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May 25, 1954

Mr. Villeneuve:

Mr. Chairman, I would like to mention that I feel the same way as my hon. friend from Lake St. John with regard to the government, and that I shall also vote for the amendment. I want to tell the hon. member for Quebec West (Mr. Dufresne) that neither he, nor our friends opposite are going to build this railway; it is going to be built by the government through the Canadian National.

I am convinced that will be done soon and that is why I have shown much optimism and have thanked once more the minister for the consideration he has shown and still shows for the population of my riding of Roberval.


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May 25, 1954

Mr. Villeneuve:

Mr. Chairman, on my return from a journey last week to the riding I have the honour to represent in this house, I was told of the discussions that took place here on second reading of the bill authorizing the construction of a railway line to the mining district of Chibougamau, and I would not like to let this opportunity slip by without voicing my humble contribution, as this question is of great importance to my constituents.

I read the remarks made by the hon. Minister of Transport (Mr. Chevrier) during that debate, and I am very much surprised at the unfair accusations of partiality which were levelled against him later. Since my election as member for Roberval, I have asked the help of the hon. Minister of Transport in many circumstances, in the interests of my county. I even had occasion to introduce two delegations to him, and he welcomed them with true understanding; I am certain that my constituents are in a position to appreciate his frankness, his courtesy and his kindness to them, and I say

[Mr. Gagnon. J

that, just as I have every confidence in the minister, their trust in him remains unchanged, for they know the facts, and are able to view the situation objectively.

The future of the county of Roberval, for instance, is dependent upon the decisions which the Department of Transport will take with regard to this Chibougamau railway. My colleague from Lake St. John (Mr. Gauthier) and myself have put this view on record in this house, and mentioned it a sufficient number of times to the appropriate department for this principle to have been embodied in a bill, such as is now the case. That is one of the reasons why the electors of the constituency of Roberval preferred putting their trust in a government supporter, knowing full well that his actions on their behalf would be more effective. Events have proven them right, and will certainly continue to do so. That is, after all, the important thing. I am not here to attack the government which my electors have given me a clear mandate to support. I am here to protect my constituents' interests and even those of the people of Chicoutimi, although, in order to do so, I will have to repudiate certain statements made by the member for that constituency (Mr. Gagnon). The member for Chicoutimi is an independent, and doubtless acts independently of the progress of his constituency if we are to go by certain of his diplomatic absences on the attendance of certain important delegations which have come here to make representations in connection with the Chibougamau-Lake St. John railway, more particularly that of March 1953, or again if we go by the fact that he had remained absolutely silent on this matter until such time as, desiring to show himself under his true colours, he rushed headlong into indiscriminate criticism. He has attempted to make a bugbear of the neighbouring province in order to make us forget his past inertia and biased arguments, now that he has made up his mind to wake up and concern himself with this all-important matter. Such attempts to take credit for something done by others is what we can really expect of these so-called independents.

My colleague from Lake St. John and myself have never stopped concerning ourselves with this vital matter of a railway connecting the mining district of Chibougamau to that of lake St. John. We have obtained from the government as well as from the Canadian National Railways sufficient guarantees to cause us to remain optimistic with regard to the ultimate implementation of this

project which is very close to our hearts and to those of our constituents, for a number of reasons.

Even though the amendment proposed to Bill 442, in the railway committee, by my colleague from Lake St. John and myself was defeated, we remain confident that the Chibougamau-St. Felicien stretch of railway will be built within a reasonable length of time and we would ask the Minister of Transport to continue his sympathetic support, even though some eleventh hour converts should continue their pessimistic pronouncements, thus showing how certain all-important considerations escape them in this connection.

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May 11, 1954

Mr. Villeneuve:

Mr. Chairman, when I requested from the electors of Roberval constituency the mandate which I am now carrying out, I promised them that I would fight for their rights and their interests, as well as for the projects dearest to their hearts.

Consequently, on November 13, 1953, when I seconded the address in reply to the speech from the throne, I spoke in favour of the building of a railway to the Chibougamau mining district, in the Lake St. John district.

Canadian National Railways

On April 29, last, the government deemed it advisable to grant the wishes not only of the people of Lake St. John district but also of the citizens of Abitibi.

Thus both parties are satisfied and get a railway that will link Abitibi and Lake St. John, a link which they have had to do without so far and which will make for a greater development of those regions around a new centre of gravity, the Chibougamau mining district.

I now have a very pleasant task to perform, that of thanking the government, and especially the hon. Minister of Transport (Mr. Chevrier) for such a wise move, the economic outcome of which will be so important for the whole of the Lake St. John district and particularly for Roberval constituency which I represent in this house, since a branch line of that railway will extend to St. Felicien.


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March 30, 1954

Mr. Georges Villeneuve (Roberval):

Mr. Speaker, I would feel remiss in my duty were I to let the current debate on external affairs come to an end without making my humble contribution and dealing particularly with two questions I deem especially important,

the American nations organization, more often called the Pan-American Union, and our representation abroad.

May I be permitted first to congratulate the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) upon the manner in which he performed his task during his recent trip around the world. We can expect that from now on the voice of Canada will be particularly heeded in the international sphere; this will give more importance to our country which, moreover, seems called upon to bridge the gap between nations of greater importance which are proportionately farther apart on account of various ideological, racial, economical and historical factors. Thus is verified in the international field the truth of the popular maxim: "We often require the help of one smaller than ourselves." I see in that fact a wonderful opportunity for Canada to win the friendship of a number of nations in such a way as to get help in various fields, since isolationism is out of place in the present world.

Caracas, in Venezuela, was recently the site of an important Pan-American conference, but unfortunately Canada as usual was conspicuous by its absence. Our country has repeatedly been invited to send representatives to the Pan-American Union which includes every American country but ours. Canada sent observers to some of the conferences held by this organization, which at least augured well for the future. But, at this last conference, Canada was completely conspicuous by its absence, which is to be regretted, for, as an American country, Canada should first of all, in my opinion, study the problems facing the continent to which it belongs. Peace, good will and the struggle against communism, all matters which concern us and to which we devote our efforts and sacrifices, should in my opinion be of primary interest to us in relation to the continent where we live and of which our country is a part, whether we like it or not.

As far as I know, only one Canadian attended the Pan-American conference in an unofficial capacity; without an official mandate he could not speak for Canada, although, at Caracas, our voice would have been listened to even more than that of our immediate neighbour, for the good reason that no friction ever arose between our country and any of the Latin American countries.

On the occasion of the Caracas conference, the countries of America, anxious to share in the betterment of their own populations, decided to create an institute for interAmerican economic co-operation, and asked three universities-two of which are Cana-

External Affairs

dian, namely Laval University of Quebec, and St. Francis Xavier University of Antigonish- to send delegates among whom would be chosen the director of this institute. They have thus recognized the magnificent achievements of the co-operative movement in Canada, as well as the important place we have acquired in the eyes of our continental neighbours, and have shown by the same token the services which our country could render its neighbours by taking an active part in the Pan-American Union.

Last year, a group of Canadian businessmen, headed by the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe), visited certain South American countries on a commercial and economic mission. Our country needs new markets and it would seem that we have interest in making bids for the markets of several countries at the same time. The Canadian mission did not fail to see the numerous possibilities for trade with these various countries with which we do not have enough relations.

By becoming a member of the PanAmerican Union, I am confident that Canada, while making an act of faith in pan-Americanism, would consolidate and improve her foreign trade. I would also see in such a move a means of helping countries that seek our friendship, which would also benefit Canada herself. Moreover, all those Latin American countries have a culture similar to that of the French-speaking element of Canada. Since French culture has been and continues to be an asset to our country, I do not see why it could not be permitted to make its influence felt more fully abroad, which would tend to enhance still more the prestige of our bilingual and bi-racial nation.

If Canada deems it advisable to subscribe to the United Nations, to the Atlantic treaty and to many other international organizations whose aim is to maintain peace in the world, which is also Canada's concern; if, on the other hand, Canada thinks it advisable to have ambassadors in most American countries, then, I fail to see why our country would stand aloof any longer from the PanAmerican Union, in which we are immediately interested and in which Canada, being both an important country and an American country, could play a very important part. As far as I am concerned, I will be doubly proud the day Canada joins the PanAmerican Union, because we will then have paid more attention to problems in which we are interested from every point of view, to the problems of a continent of which our country is a part.

External Affairs

Coming now to the second part of my remarks, it seems strange to me that Canada has no diplomatic relations with the Vatican state, where all important countries feel that they need a spokesman, because the Vatican has long been a crossroads of international influences, because of the international influence of its head, whose authority is both civil and religious.

The great objection made to this representation generally originates with people who are unable to distinguish between the civil and religious aspects of a state which nevertheless has great influence and has done its share in the work for peace throughout the world.

A large number of countries, among which are some of the most influential and least Catholic of all, such as the United Kingdom, Japan and Turkey, maintain diplomatic representatives at the Vatican. I have not heard it said that this has been prejudicial to them or contrary to their interests since they have made no move to withdraw them.

For instance when a British ambassador presents his credentials to the chief of state of the Vatican, these letters are issued under the Great Seal of Her Majesty the Queen of England, head of the Established Church of England, but also sovereign of a temporal state called the United Kingdom, to His Majesty the King of the Vatican state, head of the Catholic Church as well as of a temporal state called the Vatican. I do not think that such an exchange of diplomatic representatives between two sovereigns, who are at one and the same time temporal and spiritual rulers, has led to any worsening of the relations between themselves or their respective states since, on both sides, this representation has been quite voluntarily maintained.

Therefore, I hope that the day will come when all Canadians, regardless of their religious convictions, will consider this matter objectively, so that our country may exchange diplomatic representatives with the Vatican. And I am sure that no Canadian of the Catholic faith would even be opposed to the nomination of a representative of another religious faith, since it will be a case of naming a representative to a temporal state as such and not to a religious leader.

I am one of those who believe that cultural differences have nothing to do with Canada's participation in the organization of American states, no more than religious antagonisms, in the matter of naming an ambassador to the Vatican. So I believe that Canada, by filling these two gaps, would make a great step forward in the international field.

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