Paul-Edmond GAGNON

GAGNON, Paul-Edmond

Personal Data

Chicoutimi (Quebec)
Birth Date
January 20, 1909
Deceased Date
October 23, 1981

Parliamentary Career

June 11, 1945 - April 30, 1949
  Chicoutimi (Quebec)
June 27, 1949 - June 13, 1953
  Chicoutimi (Quebec)
August 10, 1953 - April 12, 1957
  Chicoutimi (Quebec)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 4 of 80)

June 26, 1956

Mr. Gagnon:

He knows Acadian history better.

Full View Permalink

June 5, 1956

Mr. Paul E. Gagnon (Chicoutimi):

Mr. Speaker, the bill now before the house unequivocally shows the importance which the hon. member for Beauce (Mr. Poulin) gives to the matter of bilingualism.

I heartily congratulate my colleague on this happy initiative and consider it an honour to have the privilege of supporting his efforts.

Outside of election time, when it is permissible to question the sincerity of those in office, our federal statesmen seldom have the opportunity to extend to minorities the benefits of their broad-mindedness, their understanding, and their generous impulses.

Now this pleasing opportunity is being offered to them by this bill. In fact it affords the government a wonderful chance to show French Canadians how much consideration it is prepared to give to their requests and how far they are willing to go in giving them a square deal.

The adoption or defeat of the bill will, to a large extent, reflect the pro-French or antiFrench sentiments of the leaders and supporters of the Liberal party.

There are things that should not have to be requested, and which, by their logic or nature, are self-evident necessities. Respect for and recognition of the two official languages of Canada are among them.

It might be assumed in certain quarters that in requesting bilingual cheques we are seeking a favour. The fact of the matter is that we are merely seeking confirmation, under a new form, of a sacred and inalienable right of the first settlers of this country.

The Acts of the Parliament of Canada and of the Legislature of Quebec shall be printed and published in both those languages.

So reads the final paragraph of section 133 of the British North America Act. It is the only constitutional document relating to bilingualism. Brief and concise, those few words, by their very ambiguity, have led to a restrictive interpretation of the principle stated, and this has been the basis of the unfortunate doctrine of the "Quebec Reserve . Faced with the French achievement, carried

Financial Administration Act out by a third of Canada's population, the Anglo-Saxon majority limited its concessions to the strict minimum in the federal field, leaving it to the province of Quebec to observe the letter and the spirit of the pact of 1867. However, the statement that no legal document protects the French language outside of Quebec is untrue. I am now quoting from chapter 3 of the Statutes of Canada 1870, 33 Victoria, section 23, admitting the province of Manitoba into confederation:

Either the English or the French language may be used by any person in the debates of the houses of the legislature, and both those languages shall be used in the respective records and journals of those houses; and either of those languages may be used by any person, or in any pleading or process, in or issuing from any court of Canada established under the British North America Act, 1867 or in or from all or any of the courts of the province. The acts of the legislature shall be printed and published in both those languages.

That section of the Manitoba Act implies that not only in the province of Quebec is the French language official. Therefore, the imperial act of 1848, which restored the official character of the French language in Upper and Lower Canada, also applied to the province of Ontario. The French-speaking delegates at the Quebec conference surrendered none of our rights.

Moreover, none were revoked by the imperial parliament.

In 1871, that parliament sanctioned legislation of vital importance. It was entitled "The British North America Act, 1871". It is chapter 28 of the Statutes of Victoria 34-35, assented to on June 29, 1871.

According to section 2 of that act, the federal parliament is empowered to form from time to time new provinces out of Rupert's Land and the Northwest Territories just acquired under confederation. I quote:

. . . and may at the time of such establishment make provision for the constitution and administration of any such province . . .

Now section 4:

The Parliament of Canada may from time to time make provision for the administration, peace, order, and good government of any territory not for the time being included in any province.

Section 5 confirms the two acts already voted by the federal parliament: the NorthWest Territories Act of 1869 and the Manitoba Act of 1870.

Section 6 provides that once the parliament of Canada has formed new provinces, it shall no longer have the right to alter the provisions of any law pertaining to them, save by prior agreement of the legislature concerned.


Financial Administration Act During the session of 1877, the North-West Territories Act was amended. By section 11, chapter 7, 40 Victoria, the federal government provided that the use of the French language would be optional at the legislative assembly and in any court within the territories:

Section 11-Either the English or the French languege may be used by any person in the debates ol the Council or Legislative Assembly of the Territories and in the proceedings before the courts; and both those languages shall be used m the records and journals of the said Council or Assembly; and all ordinances of the said Council shall be printed in both those languages.

In the Revised Statutes of Canada of 1886, the school section of 1875 became section 14 and the clause voted in 1877 to preserve the rights of the French language, became section 10 of chapter 50.

Without the slightest doubt, the source of most of the difficulties encountered by French Canadians in connection with the two official languages derives from the lack of clear and accurate definitions not only in the constitution itself but in the legislation enacted subsequently.

On the other hand, English-speaking Canadians did not concern themselves too much with our interests and claims and cared still less about anticipating and giving satisfaction to our legitimate wishes. One must recognize that, with a few exceptions, they have rather hindered than helped us in the struggles we have had to wager, since the conquest, against assimilation by the English and the use of one language only.

. The privileges we enjoy today in the exercise of some of our prerogatives have been more often conquered by us than generously granted by them.

If we have remained French Canadians, it is certainly not their fault. The scorn, the insults, the persecutions, the contempt, the unfair school laws that my fellow-citizens had and still have to put up with in some provinces are proof enough of the narrowmindedness of some of our rulers.

In this connection here is a news item published in the Gazette of May 5, 1954:


English-speaking Canadians have not followed the British example of "being scrupulous to respect the rights and even the sensitivities of the French Canadians", Murray G.. Ballantyne said here yesterday.

Mr. Ballantyne, a journalist and former professor of history at Loyola College, was addressing the Montreal Lions Club on "French Canada and Confederation".

Mr. Ballantyne said "We must accept the fact that Canada is called by history to be basically bilingual and bicultural. Our national destiny is difficult, but enriching.

"Canada is the French Canadians' home, and they ought to be able to feel at home in it from fMr. Gagnon.]

the Atlantic to the Pacific. Together, we French and English-speaking Canadians can build a great nation . . .

"Apart, neither can succeed."

Mr. Ballantyne looked back into the historical record to support his claim:

"The only reason we have a confederation instead of a unitary state is because of the French. We wanted to bring them into partnership with the English-speaking Canadians, yet at the same time we wanted to preserve their rights to their own way of life.

"We divided authority between Ottawa and the provinces primarily so that the French would not be swamped by the majority."

The English in Quebec are perfectly free to teach in their own tongue. The French in Ontario are not," Mr. Ballantyne said.

Mr. Ballantyne went on to point out that in Manitoba the French tongue has been deprived of all recognition and Catholics who want their own schools have to pay taxes to the public schools as well.

"Thus the French Canadians are once again made familiar with the penalty of double taxation," he said.

In Quebec, where nine out of ten people are Roman Catholic and eight out of ten speak French, there is full autonomy and full equality. Dr. James Paton, secretary of the provincial association of Protestant teachers, says:

We're well treated here. We get our full share of tax money. The Catholics go out of their way to be fair and even generous to us. We're only embarrassed because the Roman Catholic schools in other provinces don't get the same break.

Among English speaking provinces only Alberta and Saskatchewan come anywhere near giving Roman Catholic schools the treatment that Protestant schools get in Quebec.


Speaking in particular about the way French Canadians are treated outside of Quebec, Mr. B. K. Sandwell, former editor of Saturday Night, in a book published in Montreal under the patronage of UNESCO and entitled The Canadian Nation, notes that:

The English Canadian can go out of his province' everywhere he will have the benefit of English schools and all the cultural advantages that this entails Once out of Quebec, the French Canadian meets but difficulties if he wants to give his family a French education. In such conditions, we need not be surprised if the patriotism of the French Canadians of Quebec is local rather than national.

It is only in that officially bilingual province that they feel at home; they cannot have such a feeling m other provinces where their language and culture do not enjoy any special right.

And Mr. Sandwell adds the following reproach to which our English-speaking fellow citizens should give their thought:

This conflict opposing the advocates of one language in all the provinces except Quebec to those who want both languages to be recognized is the most serious obstacle to an amendment of the constitution; what is still more serious, it prevents the creation of a truly national spirit.

Mr. Speaker, this charge made by an English-speaking Canadian against a restrict-

ive interpretation of the official rights of the French minority in Canada deserves our attention. The refusal of true bilingualism by the provinces and even by the federal government is the main obstacle to a communion of ideals between Canadians of both cultures.

It does not seem therefore that the French Canadians are at the root of those difficulties; they are rather the victims of a cultural ostracism which hinders the development of a national ideal. As soon as the French Canadians will be treated everywhere as equals, national unity will come as by magic. You cannot build a nation by being unfair and by violating the natural and constitutional rights of one section of the population.

This was written by Mr. Clement Brown in he Droit of April 14, 1954.

According to what is said and done at the House of Commons however, this situation is improving gradually.

There is no doubt that, as far as goodwill is concerned, considerable progress has been made during the last few years.

I am personally very glad to have among my friends the hon. member for Moose Jaw-Lake Centre (Mr. Thatcher) who, following the example of some of his co-religionists, has learned French, speaks it quite well and never misses an opportunity to study our problems and to try, to the extent that his socialist background will allow him to do so and as long as the interests of Saskatchewan are preserved, to understand them in the light of reason and common sense in a truly Canadian spirit.

I take this opportunity to congratulate him and to tell him that his contribution to the cause of national unity as well as his support are greatly appreciated.

The sympathy and friendship of our other English-speaking colleagues is to us a source of joy and hope.

When this bill has been adopted, a new step will have been made towards harmony and goodwill between the two great races of this country and towards the achievement of our common destiny.

Full View Permalink

March 14, 1956

Mr. Paul E. Gagnon (Chicoutimi):

Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question to the Prime Minister. Is it true that the government does not dare impose peacetime conscription for fear of an unfavourable reaction on the part of the people of the province of Quebec?

Full View Permalink

February 29, 1956

1. Do any members of parliament receive pensions, either military or civil, from the government? If so, how many?

2. Who are they and what amount of pension [DOT]does each receive per year?

Full View Permalink

February 1, 1956

On January 1, 1956, (a) who were the deputy ministers and other persons having the rank of deputy minister, and with what departments were they respectively connected; (b) what remuneration is paid to each one?

Full View Permalink