Mr. Theogene Ricard (SI. Hyacinfhe-Bagol):
Mr. Speaker, like any new member, it is with deep emotion that I rise to speak in this house. At the outset of my remarks, I should like to pay tribute to my constituents of St. Hyacinthe-Bagot and to thank them for the mark of confidence they gave me by electing me their member on June 10 last. I should like to assure them that I will always do my best to deserve this confidence and that it will always be a pleasure and a duty for me to speak and act on their behalf.
Mr. Ricard I should like to thank the Prime Minister (Mr. Diefenbaker) for honouring the people of my constituency by appointing me acting delegate to the 12th session of the United Nations, now taking place in New York city. May I repeat what is being said by some of my constituents: "Never was so great an honour shown the St. Hyacinthe-Bagot constituency under a Liberal government."
I would also like to offer my sincere congratulations to Mr. Speaker and Mr. Deputy Speaker on their elevation to their present important posts. I also wish to pay tribute to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. St. Laurent). I wish him good health so that he can long enjoy a retirement which he has so richly deserved.
May I also say how ably the mover and the seconder of the address in reply (Mr. Smith and Mr. Arsenault) acquitted themselves of their respective tasks.
Mr. Speaker, rising as I do for the first time in the house, I cannot help saying how proud I am, and for several reasons. Let me name the major ones:
In the first place, I represent a constituency which is mostly made up of the two main classes in this country of ours, workers and farmers.
In the last elections, those two most representative classes of society joined in entrusting their affairs to the Conservative party. Another reason why I am proud to have been returned here is that this constituency had always been reputed to be a Liberal stronghold. You will no doubt be interested to learn, Mr. Speaker, that I am the second Conservative member to be returned since Confederation in the fine constituency of St. Hyacinthe-Bagot. The first Conservative member was elected 78 years ago with a majority of only six votes. My Liberal opponent having obtained a majority of close to 13,000 votes at the previous election, and having been elected by acclamation twice before that, it will be admitted that the 2,094 majority which I obtained from the electors of my constituency is such as to fill me with legitimate satisfaction and pride.
Mr. Speaker, as I said a moment ago, the largest groups of electors in St. Hyacinthe-Bagot riding are made up of workmen and farmers. At the mere mention of those two classes of people, you realize that in my riding, perhaps more and certainly as much as any other constituency there is need for sound social legislation.
The Address-Mr. Ricard
The textile industry is the chief source of employment in my riding. You know, however, that for a decade that industry has experienced slackenings which have been most unfavourable to workers. One plant which could employ 800 workers has only about a hundred people on its payroll at the present time. The lucky ones who can rely on our other textile plants to earn a living for their family are never sure to work a full week. Often, they have to remain idle a few days each week, with consequent serious reduction in their income. Very many families therefore lack the basic necessities for the proper care of children who will make up our nation of tomorrow.
I therefore urge the Conservative government to enact sound and rational legislation to stabilize that industry and raise the employment potential, so that the greatest possible number of Canadian citizens will benefit from our country's prosperity.
Allow me, Mr. Speaker, to draw your attention to the situation of many farmers in my riding. Under the former government, the agricultural market on the federal level was unstable. The price of raw materials and the cost of production have increased each year at a frightful rate while, on the other hand, consumer prices were held at such a level that the farmers have often suffered losses and deficits which threatened their livelihood. Fortunately provincial laws have made it possible for many of them to carry on in their wonderful field of endeavour.
If farmers have put their confidence in me, it is because the Conservative party willingly gave serious consideration to this vital aspect of their economic life. I am confident that this government will find it possible to give these men who constitute the foundation of the economy, all the safeguards they have a right to demand.
I should like at this point to direct the attention of the government to the importance of the services rendered to the farmers by experimental farms. The constituency of St. Hyacinthe-Bagot is situated in the heart of one of the richest farming areas of our province. General farming is practised and breeders of pure-bred stock are among the prizewinners at local, provincial and national fairs. I urge the government to consider seriously the possibilities of improving this technical agricultural service in my constituency. I also urge it to assure sugar-beet producers all the protection they deserve.
Mr. Speaker, the speech delivered by our most gracious and beloved sovereign raised high hopes at every level of our society. Among the measures that will provide welcome relief to my people, I would mention the increase of old age pension, veterans' pensions, holidays with pay for employees of industries under federal jurisdiction, etc. I would like here to draw the attention of the Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Monteith) to the necessity of increasing family allowances as soon as this government finds it feasible.
Mr. Speaker, in the matter of agriculture, I must say that the farmers were very pleased to learn that the government had decided to ask the members of the house to approve price stabilizing legislation for their products.
The announcement that amendments to certain tax laws would be submitted to the house for approval was welcomed with great enthusiasm by the workers, and particularly by textile workers who were glad to learn that the government had decided to enquire into this field of industry, in order to protect them.
The many letters of appreciation I have received from my constituents prove beyond any doubt that the citizens of my constituency, like those in the rest of Canada, highly appreciate the legislation which our government will seek to introduce.
Here, Mr. Speaker, I should like to speak on behalf of the National and Catholic Syndicate of Building Trades of St. Hyacinthe, which has asked me to urge upon the federal government to undertake or have projects carried out in my district, so that unemployment may be reduced as much as possible during the coming winter months. I realize that even if this government cannot be held responsible for the present situation, it will do all it can to improve the difficult conditions which it had to face in this field, and which are clearly detrimental to the labouring class particularly.
As a practical suggestion, the construction of a retaining wall along the Yamaska river, at St. Joseph, between Barsalou and Bouchard bridges, would provide jobs for many breadwinners. Another project which would provide jobs for workers would be the construction of tunnels under the C.N.R. railway tracks, in the eastern and western parts of St. Hyacinthe. For the last ten years, this
part of the city which is called Bourg-Joli, has developed so fast that the building of two tunnels to relieve congestion in the underground passage of St. Anne street-the only one leading to the northern part of the town-has become a necessity. Workers of the St. Hyacinthe-Annexe, in particular, are often delayed by trains passing at the level crossing in Cascades East street, when travelling to and from work. The costs of those underground passages could be assumed by the city of St. Hyacinthe, the federal government and the Canadian National Railways.
During the last two weeks, hon. members in the opposition have mentioned the national flag and the representative our country should have at the Vatican. I trust that the hon. Prime Minister will, in due course, give the representatives of the people the opportunity to submit the views of their ridings on those two matters that have been left pending by the Mackenzie King and St. Laurent governments.
Mr. Speaker, I should like now to congratulate very sincerely the hon. member for Parkdale (Mr. Maloney) on the splendid speech he made in this house the other day. I am sure all hon. members will agree that it is one of the best we have heard since the beginning of the present session. The French part of this speech was a very fine gesture to the French-speaking members of this house as well as to those in the whole of the country. He reviewed the situation which faces us in such a manner and with such vision that we are permitted to believe that he has a very enviable future in our party and, thus, in government. I do not hesitate to state that a frame of mind such as the hon. member for Parkdale entertained does more for national unity than another sort of speech which was made in this house at the beginning of the present session.
English-speaking people and French-speaking people have a much better chance to understand each other and to live harmoniously side by side if they adopt the kind of thinking of the hon. member for Parkdale (Mr. Maloney), the hon. member for York Centre (Mr. Stinson), the hon. member for Greenwood (Mr. Macdonnell) and the hon. member for Trinity (Mr. Haidasz), and all those who think, act and talk as they do. This great nation of ours needs a complete understanding amongst those composing it. Members of this house can set a very effective example to their fellow citizens by taking
The Address-Mr. Ricard advantage of any opportunity to show that they understand the views of other ethnical groups.
It might be interesting for many hon. members to learn that my riding elected me as a Conservative in spite of tremendous efforts on the part of the Liberal candidate, his aides and the hon. member for Laurier (Mr. Chevrier) who waged a campaign of racial, sectional and religious prejudices. In what was intended to be the great rally for the Liberals, the former member for Stormont developed the following theme, according to the report in the Liberal weekly:
The chief of the Conservative party has made a deal with the premier of Ontario against the best interests of the province of Quebec.
When the former member of an Ontario constituency was saying:
The Liberal party is the only one that has a unified thinking all through Canada.
I wonder whether he knew that in the same issue of the paper the Liberal organization would make a strong appeal to racial prejudices by publishing, next to the photograph of the then prime minister:
We do not want Diefenbaker and his anti-French Canadian policy.
The members of the Liberal party who like to speak so much of Canadian unity would be keenly interested to learn that on the eve of the election the Liberal organization caused to be distributed after Sunday masses a circular appealing this time to the religious feelings of our population in such a way that the president of the Liberal organization for my riding has been arrested for having published and distributed a libelous circular without any signature or any name of a printer.
I am glad to proclaim that the people of St. Hyacinthe-Bagot, who are 99.9 per cent Canadians of French origin and who profess the Catholic religion, have ignored the sectionalism, the religious and the racial prejudice pact campaign of a former liberal member of this house. Let it be known to this house and to the country that my people do not ask for any favours; all they want is justice. Since we did not obtain it from the Liberal party we turned to our great Conservative party and I am confident that we shall obtain justice from our able leader.
In coming to this house, sir, I have accepted the obligation of acting as a representative of all the people of my constituency. Mr. Speaker, it will be a pleasure for me to devote my energy and full capacity in the best interests of our country, under the banner of the Conservative party and under the able leadership of our Prime Minister.
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The Address-Mr. R. Gauthier (Translation):
Topic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY