Mr. J. W. Dufresne (Quebec Wesi):
Mr. Speaker, this is the first time I have had the opportunity to address this house since I was elected to represent the constituency of Quebec West.
Since confederation, this house has been admired by legislatures the world over for its principle of allowing members to speak in either of those two great official languages of Canada, English and French.
Consecrated here by tradition and by law, such respect for one another's language has gone far to building understanding between both these great groups and to extending the "entente cordiale"-a French expression- which is understandable to every Englishspeaking person-which is so evident here.
Today, because the majority of my constituents have French as their native language and because I know I will receive a friendly hearing in whatever language I speak, I will continue my remarks in French.
Mr. Speaker, before I embark upon my main subject, I trust you will permit me to offer you my respects, congratulations and best wishes on your nomination as Speaker of this honourable house.
Although it is but two weeks ago that I had the honour of taking my seat in this parliament of Canada, I have already had the occasion of noticing how brilliantly you discharge your important duties. Your deep sense of justice and the impartiality you have gained from undoubted experience, as well as your great dignity, are among many necessary qualities for the office you are called upon to hold, and you doubtlessly are endowed with them. Together with all hon. members of this house, I rejoice at your nomination; it is an honour which is reflected on the whole Canadian community. It is also more particularly a source of very natural pride for all French-speaking Canadians.
I have no doubt that you will fulfil your high office in a manner that will always honour us and that you will go down in history as a worthy successor of your illustrious predecessors. Today, Mr. Speaker, our gracious sovereign, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, is beginning the long trip that will take her to various commonwealth countries. I believe that I can speak on behalf of all the people I have the honour of representing, as well as in my own name, in bidding Her Majesty and her illustrious husband our most sincere wishes for a good trip and a happy return among their subjects and their children.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I would like to pause with respect and devotion at the freshly closed grave of a man who, during eighteen consecutive years, devoted the greater part of his life to the Canadian nation. Mr. Gordon Graydon is gone, but he has left in this house and in the heart of all Canadians a deep and undying memory. Mr. Gordon Graydon was the very impersonation of the perfect gentleman. His great culture and vast intellectual knowledge, together with an unfailing devotion, had made him a true parliamentarian, respectable and respected. He expressed, with characteristic sincerity, opinions he deemed just and beneficial for his country, but he always did so with courtesy and the dignity that everyone was pleased to find in him.
I personally knew him for several years and had been able to appreciate the true measure of his enlightened judgment, his undeniable talent and his ardent desire to serve well. His passing saddens me because I know that his advice and assistance would have been precious to me indeed.
I therefore offer Mrs. Graydon and her children the expression of my deepest sympathy in their tragic bereavement; I hope that the electors of Peel will make it possible for the worthy spouse of this great man to come to this parliament to finish the work he had so splendidly undertaken.
Mr. Speaker, I am not going to launch, before the hon. members of this house, into a dry survey of the geographic layout of the constituency I have the honour to represent here. May I be permitted to say, however, that it is in my estimation the most beautiful county to be found, on account both of the intellectual qualities and of the high standard of the citizens who live there.
It lies between two counties, one of which is represented in this house by the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) and the other by the ex-minister for air and dean of the House of Commons (Mr. Power). You will agree that I judiciously selected my neighbours and that if I had the opportunity to take a picture of the representatives of these three respective counties, you would' soon come to the conclusion that the humble member for Quebec West is somewhat like a blooming flower between two ever-threatening thorns.
I would loathe myself for not mentioning in this house that my constituency is peopled almost entirely with working people; it is teeming with an army of honest and conscientious workers whose sole desire is to live up to this divine precept, to which they adhere with a deep religious feeling: "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread".
Most of them have large families. They are seeking through their own labour to discharge their responsibilities and, while bringing a little physical comfort to their homes, give their children, sometimes at the price of great sacrifices, the necessary education and schooling which will enable them to make little by little their own way in the world and become Canadians worthy of the name.
The spiritual values of our folk are remarkable and edifying and may serve as an example to the rest of the world. On every occasion, thanks to the truly priestly devotion of the clergy, they know how to implore God Almighty's help when affliction strikes as well as how to thank Him for the spiritual or material favours He extends.
There is no place in our midst, Mr. Speaker, for subversive ideas. There is too much love of church, parish, family or work, too much devotion to social, parochial or charitable activities, too much respect for democratically constituted authority.
The Address-Mr. Dufresne
However honest and generous they may be, our working people must not nevertheless consider themselves as forming an inferior class. It is as honourable as any other class of society. Our workingmen are legitimately proud of what they are. They rely upon their elected representatives to give voice to their legitimate representations. The workingman, Mr. Speaker, is entitled to the gratitude of the government. To his ability, competence and love of work we owe almost everything that strikes our eye. His rugged hands are evidence and confirmation of the long hours he has toiled in his shop or in the yard, under the burden of his tools. The honest and conscientious worker-and' those traits are typical of the worker living in the constituency of Quebec West-is the builder of the nation and it is our duty to recognize that fact.
We cannot let him suffer with impunity and deprive his family of its means of subsistence. It is our duty to provide him with his daily bread which he will have earned in any case by his labour.
It is all good and well to praise and appreciate the highly social legislation on family allowances, which was adopted by the parliament of Canada some years ago. It has contributed substantially in raising the standard of living of our large families, even if today, due to the constant rise in the cost of living and to overtaxation, it no longer achieves its original purpose.
But those who know the great-heartedness of our workers and the love for work which their forefathers have bequeathed to them are aware that they do not want material help from the state but gainful employment which will enable them to look after the needs of their families and to give to those who will come after them the example set by their own forefathers.
So, Mr. Speaker, I want to put before the government and more particularly before the Prime Minister and the ministers from Quebec-and I see they are conspicuous by their absence at this time-a most alarming problem and one which is spreading consternation among the working class in my county and my city.
With all due deference to those who shut their eyes and their ears that they may not see or hear what is going on, maybe it is necessary for them and for the political future of their party to make speeches on the so-called prosperity prevailing in this
The Address-Mr. Dufresne country, I want to assert that there is at home, in Quebec, an alarming employment slump.
Thousands upon thousands of workers are out of work and are suffering, with their families, from want and hardship.
Since being elected, I for one have received nearly 700 requests from honest workers who suffer deeply from the hardships they are faced with.
What does the government intend to do in order to remedy this growing crisis which is a source of grief and sorrow for our workers?
During the last campaign, I solemnly promised to the workers of my constituency to fulfil faithfully my task as a delegate and a servant of the people. I hope that my present attitude shows well enough that I have no intention of being remiss in my duties.
That is why I strongly urge the government to grant permission to start immediately in Quebec, the capital of my province and the cradle of French civilization on the North American continent, the projects which are necessary not only to the working class but also for the progress and the promotion of Quebec itself, as well as for the protection of the health of all its inhabitants.
The most urgent works, those which are imperative and which I ask for with all the energy I can muster, are the deepening of the St. Charles river and the purifying of the Lairet river.
Those pressing and essential programs cannot much longer leave the Prime Minister unconcerned. By the way, has the government not received numerous requests from various public bodies, from citizens' leagues, service clubs and so forth, all of which say how urgent it is for Quebec to get the aforesaid projects started? Not only are these two streams a disgrace for the old capital of Quebec, but they are also a great menace to public health.
Let us, for the time being, forget our differences of opinion with regard to the nation's business and join forces in the realization of this highly important project.
The first to accept wholeheartedly an immediate settlement of this intricate matter should be none other than the right hon. the Prime Minister. One of the rivers, the Lairet, flows entirely through his own county, while the other, the St. Charles river, forms the boundary line between his county and that of Quebec West, which I have the honour to represent in this house.
If the right hon. the Prime Minister and member for Quebec East does not want to break faith with the citizens of his home town and the voters of his county, he should, before retiring, which is bound to happen soon, make a generous gesture on behalf of his fellow citizens by settling, once and for all, the problem I have just had the honour of submitting to the house and to him in particular. This problem cannot be left unsolved and I am looking forward to pestering at all times the right hon. the Prime Minister and his government until they have granted that legitimate and essential request in the best interests of the people of Quebec city.
Let it not be said during the budget debate that no provision has been made in the estimates for this project because the government will then give me the opportunity to denounce it before public opinion and to charge it with unpardonable neglect.
If Canada's situation is good enough financially to allow it to assist European countries and _ to make gifts to the people of Ceylon, it is duty bound to earmark the necessary funds for the protection of what we hold dearest in Canada, our manpower.
Mr. Speaker, I had no intention to deal with any other subject than the one I just touched upon. However, I do not believe that, as a French-speaking Canadian and a citizen of the province of Quebec, I can remain silent after the speech made in this house by the hon. member for Richelieu-Vercheres (Mr. Cardin), Friday evening last- especially so since newspapers which favour the government-there are many-have given it a great deal of noisy publicity.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY