CANUEL, René, B.Pd., M.A.

Personal Data

Bloc Québécois
Matapédia--Matane (Quebec)
Birth Date
October 21, 1936
professor, teacher

Parliamentary Career

October 25, 1993 - April 27, 1997
  Matapédia--Matane (Quebec)
June 2, 1997 - October 22, 2000
  Matapédia--Matane (Quebec)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 62 of 62)

January 28, 1994

Mr. René Canuel (Matapédia-Matane)

Madam Speaker, since this will be my maiden speech in the House, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all members on their election. It would have been nice to see more members opposite, because it may be the only time I have cause to congratulate them. The Bible says that on the seventh day, God rested, but I see my colleagues opposite start resting on the fifth.

If all members of this Parliament are imbued, as I am, with a desire to serve our constituents, during this session we should be able to put in place all that is necessary for genuine economic recovery. Economic recovery is essential for this country and even more so for my riding.

Voters in the riding of Matapédia-Matane expect a lot from their federal member. At the beginning of this mandate, my constituents are delighted they finally have a member who will be able to speak his mind, and speak it more often, in this House and in the riding.

I also want to take this opportunity to offer my constituents my full co-operation and thank them for their support. I will do everything in my power to give them what they are entitled to expect of a federal member, especially a sovereigntist member in Ottawa.

In fact, voters in Matapédia-Matane made a very clear choice on October 25. My opponent, whose party is on the government side today, received the full support of the party machine, but voters made a clear decision. Once again, I want to take this opportunity to thank them.

For me, to participate actively in politics is part and parcel of my longstanding commitment to my community. I believe in this wonderful region, in the energy and determination of the people who live there, and that is the main reason for my commitment.

My presence in the House today as a member of the Bloc Quebecois also arises from an act of faith in the sovereignty of Quebec. To be sovereign means to be free to do things one's own way and it also means to be in charge of one's own economic and social development.

People in the riding of Matapédia-Matane have the energy and determination to take charge of their own lives. People consult each other and share the tools they need to develop the impressive potential of their region, whether we are talking about forestry, tourism, mining or other sectors of the economy. The men and women of this riding have set up consultation tables where they share their experience.

In my riding, we have industry and business people who believe in that region and who do their share for the development of that new social contract. It is with those people that I want to work. It is for those men and women that I came to this House.

So, my goal is twofold: the development of my riding and the sovereignty of Quebec.

Let me introduce you in a few words to the riding of Matapédia-Matane. I live in a community of about 5 000 people that have provided the Church with three bishops who are still alive.

They are His Grace the Archbishop Louis Lévesque, who was born in Amqui, His Lordship Belzile, who is now in Africa, and His Lordship Dumais, who has just been appointed to the Gaspé diocese. He is a friend and I am very proud of that. Perhaps a new Guinness record has just been established in my riding.

The main resource in my riding is forestry and, because people believed in them, we managed to keep several villages from closing in the early 1970s. Forest business owners got together to establish a management company and used known forestry methods to develop their forests. They were so successful that twenty years later, in 1993, the Canadian Forestry Association bestowed upon the 17 MRC municipalities of the Matapédia Valley the title of forest capital of Canada. I take this opportunity to congratulate its president, Mr. Daniel Lamarre, and all his team.

The commitment towards forest management as an economic development tool for ensuring the survival of the small communities of my riding is well underway. We owe it to those workers and owners who once believed that it was possible for them to continue living in their communities.

On the north shore of the Gaspe Peninsula, there is also a fishery industry. It is going through an unprecedented crisis, and it needs help. Everyone here has heard about the delicious Matane shrimp and has feasted on them.

In that part of the riding there is also aquaculture, a fast-growing industry which shows considerable promise, because of the constant crises in the fisheries.

There is also the Maurice Lamontagne Institute, in Sainte-Flavie, where they carry out interesting and much needed research on sea products. By the way, the institute is still waiting for funds to finish the breakwater in order to dock its research boat. Unfortunately, funds for this project were reallocated by the former government. It is costing the institute extra money each year to dock the boat elsewhere.

In Mont-Joli, the regional airport has been waiting almost ten years for millions of dollars. Let me says that I will keep asking for those funds.

In my riding there is a shipyard managed by a very dynamic team of women employing a highly skilled labour force. That industry is also going through a crisis. It too needs help.

The tourist industry is big in the riding of Matapédia-Matane. We have ski resorts with a skiing season longer than anywhere else east of the Rockies, and using only natural snow. Come and see us some time, come and ski with us, hon. members.

I could not fully describe the riding of Matapédia-Matane without mentioning its wildlife. Hunters and fishermen come from all over Canada, and from abroad to practice their favourite sport. Our salmon rivers, like the Matapédia and the Matane rivers, are renowned worldwide. All these sectors must be recognized as part of our regional economy.

Matapédia-Matane used to be an agricultural riding, but unfortunately agriculture is waning. There are fewer opportunities for the young generation since farms have become small and medium-sized businesses or large corporations. Fine, you say! Perhaps. However, it is far from easy to find people willing to assume such a heavy financial burden. The way things stand now, young people simply cannot respond to the challenge.

In the past, even though they worked hard, our ancestors knew very early that there would be someone to carry on. Nowadays, there is no one willing to carry on because the burden is much too heavy. So people auction off their farms. What a pity! Lands with high quality topsoil lay fallow and are invaded by weeds or spruce. Even well-established and hard-working farmers have enormous problems.

Both the GATT and NAFTA have given rise to many concerns! The removal of export quotas creates others, for those who unfortunately have to work endless hours over the years. While farmers in the past were a great source of pride to rural communities, they are now disappearing before ours very eyes.

Instead of giving out millions of dollars worth of unemployment benefits in my riding and others within Quebec or Canada, is a responsible government not supposed to fight for and get globally a fair price, an equivalent value for our farm products? For years the Liberals and the Conservatives have had no consideration for the rights of small communities. Is this government going to keep neglecting those farmers? They start by overtaxing them, then they shut down their post offices and they deprive them of their means of communications by closing down television stations, and so on. I will ask for a new review of the case of Radio-Matane.

In my riding, there are some cattle farms. Yet, no slaughterhouse is to be found within 250 kilometers. Is this not unbelievable? So much for the village, so much for the city. Is the minister of Agriculture well acquainted with rural areas? Is he really concerned with the real problems? Villages such as Les Méchins, Saint-Charles-Garnier, Petite-Matane, Val-Brillant, Saint-Damase, Saint-Noël, Sainte-Jeanne and Sainte-Irène are charming areas that have a right to survive and where people have the right to work. It is a matter of dignity. Yet, for more than 20 years, these small villages have had problems.

The question I am asking myself and my colleagues in this House is whether people in these small villages still have the right to live at home. As long as these rural people pay taxes to the federal government, I will fight for them. That is why they elected me. They are not getting their due. These men and women have spent their lives in forestry, fishing or farming; they spent all their energy to raise a family and now, at 55, tired, exhausted and even sick sometimes, they have no pension fund. Should they be considered as pariahs of our society? No, Madam Speaker!

I will plead for those men and women who have preserved true family values, values so important that 1994 will be the International Year of the Family. I will also fight for the young people, a human resource of great richness, for those young people who have to leave their region after high school or, in some cases, after college. Unfortunately, most of them never come back.

I ask all the members of the House to be more receptive, more understanding of the rural way of life. The same thing could happen to forestry in the near future. The former government had announced it was withdrawing from the subsidiary agreement with Quebec on forestry and from the forest development program in eastern Quebec.

The non-renewal of these two programs will affect more than 18,000 foresters in eastern Quebec. In the lower St. Lawrence region, more than 50 per cent of private woodlot owners take part in development whereas that figure is about 12 per cent for the province as a whole.

During the campaign, the Liberal Party acknowledged the positive impact of these programs and promised it would examine its financial contribution and bring it back to previous levels. I will personally see to it that they fulfill that commitment. The Minister of Natural Resources can count on my co-operation. These programs must be re-evaluated and she must consult all stakeholders. It is those involved in the area who can best advise her.

At a time when, on a global scale, there is so much talk of sustainable development and the protection of ecosystems I can assure this House that, in my riding, forestry workers are ready and eager to meet the challenge.

More that 20 years ago, pool management came to my riding. Two thousand producers are still on the waiting list to take part in this collective effort.

The area set up the necessary structures to carry on. We have a forestry school and a research centre in Causapscal. Our workforce is better qualified and increasingly competent.

When the previous government decided to make cuts in those two programs, it did not understand that putting money into private woodlots yields returns far in excess of the initial investment.

Investing in forestry is investing in the industry's future. Investing in private woodlots is bringing raw material closer to the processing industry. Investing in private woodlots is ensuring the survival of dynamic small businesses, but also the creation of thousands of jobs in rural communities. Investing in forestry is investing for the long term in an industry which has always brought pride to this country and the 370 Quebec communities it supports.

Can the government ignore the efforts made by the forestry producers in my riding, who have done so much to promote forest development? Now is not the time to let them down. On the contrary, now is the time to streamline those programs to increase their efficiency. We must support the full development of the forestry industry, in Quebec and Canada. To stop investing in private woodlots would mean the certain death of all small remote communities.

We must increase research into new technologies, and speed up their transfer to those who really need them to make our industry more competitive on the world markets.

We must develop new products which will bring to the regions new small businesses which create so many well-paying jobs.

Resources must be processed locally. We no longer want to be drawers of water and hewers of wood. People in my riding deserve much more than that.

We must develop new markets for these products. And last but not least, we must aim at quality. People in my riding know what quality is.

Those are the very realistic mandates that we, in this House, can give ourselves. It is what my constituents are asking.

Men and women in the riding of Matapédia-Matane want to be actively involved in meeting the challenges of the 21st century.

Experts agree that if a major effort is not made in the next five years to rescue the forestry industry in Canada, it will be too late. This means that what was once a flagship Canadian industry will drag down in its fall hundreds of thousands of jobs, and hence hundreds of small communities depending on forestry.

I was deeply disappointed that the speech from the throne did not even mention the natural resources sector.

Let's not forget that we do not inherit the land of our fathers, we borrow the land of our children. I believe that the people of my riding, those of Quebec, British Columbia and the Maritimes need help to make our natural resources more and more productive and more and more profitable.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Speech From The Throne
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January 27, 1994

Mr. René Canuel (Matapédia-Matane)

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my hon. colleague for speaking about rural Canada. She seems to be very fond of small communities. She also spoke about post offices and it is true that the post office in a small community is a vitally important institution.

In my riding we have the Ralliement populaire . Before that we had Opération dignité the goal of which was to save small communities, because if small communities are allowed to die out, surely the same fate will befall small towns.

Therefore I share my hon. colleague's sentiments and she can rest assured that she has an ally in me.

Now, regarding the question of post offices, one of my constituents called to tell me that new postal outlets were still opening up. And while there have been no further post office closures per se since a moratorium has or will be imposed, I would like the hon. member to tell me if in fact it is true that new postal outlets are opening up?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Speech From The Throne
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January 19, 1994

Mr. René Canuel (Matapédia-Matane)

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the member's remarks and I was rather moved. He spoke from the heart and I liked it; however, a country is not built only with a heart but also with reason. He talked about building bridges. He talked about a railroad from coast to coast. True enough, but the problem is that in my riding of Matapédia-Matane, railway travel is a problem. Last year, we had to apply tremendous pressure to try to improve the situation.

There was Meech Lake, and some people of good will who tried to build bridges. Five small conditions, five requests which Mr. Bourassa called a minimum, and rightly so. Indeed, this country is vast, huge, but we are two founding nations which do not feel at home from coast to coast.

You also talked about employment. My riding of Matapédia-Matane is among the poorest in Canada. Unemployment rates are astounding. I am going to ask you a question. You occasionally mentioned forestry and agriculture, but I did not see one line referring to natural resources, that is to say mines, energy, water and forestry. Could you explain why? If you want to build something and, above all, create jobs-

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Speech From The Throne
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