Joseph Octave Lavallée
Mr. J. O. LAVALLEE (Bellechasse) (Translation):
Mr. Speaker, considering
my lack of experience I should undoubtedly have shun the honour of seconding the mover of the Address in answer to the Speech from the Throne, had I not realized at the same time that the invitation was intended as a compliment to that community of farmers and settlers in whose midst I consider myself happy to dwell.
Moreover the compliment thus paid is presently being turned into a priceless favour, since I am permitted to express myself in that language which my fellow-countrymen appreciate so highly and which the right hon. leader of this Government, as well as the majority of his colleagues, is proud to be able to understand and to speak.
Whenever my hon. friends on the other side have an opportunity of meeting the French-Oanadian electors of the province of Quebec or elsewhere, they should to my mind thank Providence for having entrusted with the management of public affairs in this country, a prime minister who understands and enjoys speaking it, though sprung from a different stock.
And in making public acknowledgment of this fact, they may be making amends for having allowed a despicable prejudice to gain currency in their interest, viz. that an English-speaking prime minister could not possibly be as well disposed towards,
or as devoted to, the French-Canadian people.
On behalf of my constitutents and on my own behalf, on behalf of those pioneers of colonization who are carrying on the work started three centuries ago for a greater and more united Canada, I beg to tender to the right hon. Prime Minister the assurance of my most hearty gratitude for this kindly courtesy.
It has been stated that the twentieth century will be the century of Canada. I may add that it will be such only insomuch as agriculture and the agricultural class will have been granted their due share of influence in public affairs. It will be the century of Canada only in so much as this quarter of a century will have been the golden age of agriculture.
It was incumbent on this Government to accomplish for Canada what a Sully, under Henry the Fourth, accomplished for France in the sixteenth century. We read in history that, with a view to allaying the hard times which France had been suffering for a number of years, and with a view at the same time to improving the financial status of his government, that great statesman endeavoured to foster agriculture by having more land cleared, by building and repairing bridges, improving means of transportation, in short by doing for the farmer s benefit all that was of a nature to help him on and to improve his opportunities. 'Ploughing and pasturage, those, he was wont to say, are the real gold mines of Peru.'
Those means which ensured to France in the early seventeenth century a period of real and solid wealth and prosperity, should benefit- our country to a large extent. Similar means are bound to bring about similar results.
Such is my sincere belief, Mr. Speaker, and I am satisfied that this same policy would successfully, and once for all, solve the problem of the high cost of living which has been growing on us for the last decade, and which has its starting point in the fact that agricultural production has not kept pace with the increase of population in business and industrial centres.
I say that within the last ten years the progress of agriculture, as well as of the live stock industry, has not been on a par with the growth of population. The last census contains interesting statistics in this connection. They go to show that the population of several countries in the older
provinces, instead of growing has diminished, and that business and manufacturing towns and cities have grown in proportion. Rule of thumb and slipshod methods have had the upper hand over the suggestions of a reasoned and progressive husbandry, such as would have resulted from a practical and painstaking teaching of agriculture. Accordingly we have witnessed the exodus of farmers' sons towards the cities, and the consequent scarcity of that labour with which farming cannot dispense.
So it was that on reaching power this Government had to find some immediate means of preventing an imminent crisis, by means of legislation for the encouragement of agriculture and an appropriation of ten millions towards that end.
It goes without saying, Mr. Speaker, that we have not yet in such short time felt the beneficial effects of such a policy. In the province of Quebec peradventure, we may have to wait longer than elsewhere for such beneficial effects; despite the safeguards taken and the agreements entered into, the Quebec local authorities do not deem it advisable to conform to the spirit of the law and the views of the Dominion Minister of Agriculture. There, more so than elsewhere, people allow themselves to be too closely inspired and guided by considerations foreign to the progress of agriculture.
I hope to be granted an opportunity later on to recur this matter and to show in what wray Dominion subsidies are expended in some counties for the mere purpose of making electors believe that things in Ottawa are actually managed by the Liberal party.
Referring once more to the Address, I may say that the people of ihis country rejoice with His Highness the Governor General on account of the bountiful crops which Providence has bestowed on this country in the course of the year just expired.
Whoever has had an opportunity of visiting the various provinces of the Dominion in the harvesting season of last year, must have realized, indeed, the unspeakable prosperity of this great Dominion. The yield has been immense and the quality good, as a rule.
Providence has been lavish, and hon. gentlemen may possibly condescend to thank her for showing such generosity in favour of an administration whose views and principles they do not always approve. Considering how superabundant the products, some apprehension was entertained
as to the possibility of carrying to their destination that wealth of the farms. Fortunately, thanks to the foresight of the Railway Department, thanks to the prompt action taken by the hon. Minister of Railways and Canals, that much feared congestion of traffic and grain transportation was avoided. Early in the. season, and without any undue stoppage, the grain from the West was moved to the elevators and other terminals along the railway lines and canals, and in greater proportion than heretofore through our Canadian ports and state-aided railway lines.
That shows plainly, Mr. Speaker, that by continuing to develop and improve our means of transportation, by ensuring the completion of our great railway lines now in course of construction, such as the National Transcontinental, the Hudson Bay railway, and I might add, by bringing about the building of the Georgian Bay canal, as soon as the Government are in a position to start that great work, they will be not only setting the framework of Confederation on a solid basis, through a closer union of the provinces, but besides they will be giving greater stability to market conditions and prices, and fostering commercial intercourse between the East and the West for the greater advantage of the country as a whole.
The continuous carrying out of a well matured plan for the improvement of our transportation facilities will accomplish more towards allaying that crisis and that craving for new treaties with the United States to the detriment of Canada, than would reciprocity, which some people look upon as a sort of cure-all the ills with which our country may be afflicted.
We still hear at this moment the voice of two provinces, Alberta and Saskatchewan, praying for reciprocity, on account of the surplus value their products would acquire on the United States markets, and which tariff barriers prevent them from securing. But, to my mind, Mr Speaker, that appeal will become less insistent, as our transportation facilities between the eastern and western seaboards grow and reach their full development, for then these people will find it just as advantageous to sell their products here or in Europe, as to ship them to the United States, especially now that our railways are provided with proper cold storage facilities at their terminals.
It iqay not be irrelevant and without interest, Mr. Speaker, to recall just now an event, an epoch-making event in the an-
nals of the old city of Champlain, which has left a profound impression on the minds of its inhabitants. I refer to the visit paid during recess to Quebec and Levis by the right hon. leader of this Government in company with the hon. Minister of Public Works, the hon. Postmaster General and the hon. Minister of Marine.
They did not, as so many had done before them in later years, come in quest of laurels or encomiums; they came as promoters and builders of works, large, durable and great, in accord with their dreams of the great future they foresee for that region, heretofore practically ignored . and neglected.
The days of trifling and dilly-dallying are over. Confidence is gaining ground on every hand, whether in agriculture, in finance, in business or industry. This Government, faithful to its traditions and to its national policy, guides Canada in its ascent towards its true destiny. The empire, . I might say the whole of Europe, have their eyes on us, and we are in a way to secure for ourselves an enviable place among the nations of the world, under the protection of the British flag.
Is it any wonder that an ever increasing stream of imigration should be turning towards Canada? The Dominion has become as it were the centre of attraction for Latin Europe, the promised land of the empire. It is no longer that snow-bound and ice-bound country, it is the wheat granary of the world and the finest gem in the British Crown.
Accordingly the Department of the Interior has been called upon to exert itself to the utmost, in order to be able to properly look after these new arrivals and locate them on homesteads at its disposal, with a view to facilitating their first efforts as settlers on the land.
If, on the other hand, and with the object of securing work in the cities a certain proportion of those immigrants, through motives which the department is not in a position to control or cast aside, have temporarily been drawn away from the farm, the greater part have settled thereon. This is no longer the time when roving Doukhobors, satisfied that they had some divine mission to fulfil, roamed through the western country singing the praises of the powders that be.
As soon as this Government reached power, the problem of immigration and of the bringing home of our people was taken up. Commissioners were appointed to
* Mr, liavalleeli.
look into the conditions under which that branch of the service had been managed.
While I do not wish to anticipate, I think I am safe in stating that there was brought to light a state of things such that this Government will find itself under the necessity of bringing about important changes in the system advocated and applied by our predecessors in this connection. Some ten, fifteen or twenty years ago, large numbers of Canadians had under our eyes been induced to cross the border; and those people were unable to come back home on account of the apathy of the then Government.
Nevertheless all of them remember their native land; their manners are after our own, and they have preserved the best traditions which make hardy and energetic peoples. At heart and in mind they have remained Canadians, they are attached to our institutions and are still loyal to the British Crown, though living under the Stars and Stripes. As I have said, the overhauling of that branch of the department of immigration on a more practical, fairer and more thoroughly national basis, will, if I am not mistaken, be taken up by this Government, and our Canadians settled over there will thus be enabled once more to enjoy the bracing conditions of our Canadian clime.
True, owing to the enterprise of our pioneer parish priests, with no other resources than their self-sacrifice and fervour, which recall those of the early makers of Canada, that return home is taking in larger numbers from year to year; new churches are being built in parts heretofore unexplored. In northern Ontario as well as in the farthest west, at the foot of the Rockies, French-speaking emigrants brought back from the United States are settling down and enlarging the realm of civilization and of the Canadian fatherland. I entertain the hope that in years to come, further impetus will be given to the work of bringing back home our people, through the painstaking action taken by the Conservative government in the matter.
The hon, gentleman who has just taken his seat, aptly characterized and described the present administration from the business point of view; he gave us a thorough insight into the country's financial conditions. The conclusion is forced upon us that, notwithstanding the large amounts appropriated for public works, notwithstanding the heavy expendi-
ture incurred towards the utilization of our industrial and trade opportunities and the development of our transportation facilities on land and on water, notwithstanding the great works being carried on at Halifax, Quebec, St. John and elsewhere, the hon. Minister of Finance has still in hand funds available for the cutting down of the public debt and the registering of surpluses.
That is the best of evidence that a wise government is not impoverished through the proper expenditure of public funds. What characterizes bad governments is the improper spending of the revenues left at their disposal. Such unprecedented success in the financial history of the Canadian Government is the result of the strictest economy, of an umimpeachable honesty, combined with industry and genius in the supervision of all and every department. We hear it stated in all quarters, and rightly so, that it was a business government the people put into power in 1911. That reputation has been well sustained, since after holding power for a period of only two years, without boasting or trumpery, this Government has made for itself a record which recommends it irresistibly to the confidence and respect of the Canadian people.
And should I recall the fact, Mr. Speaker, that the people of the province of Quebec, one of whose sons was honoured with the premiership of the Dominion, seemed for a while as if in a state of lethargy; but now they are awakening and taking their place along with the other provinces under the colours of the great Liberal-Conservative Party. That means the vendieation of the Conservative party, the conversion of the people to the men who advocated the National Policy and laid the foundation of the Canadian nationality in America. Quebec acknowledges as her benefactors and leaders those who carried on the life work of Macdonald and Cartier.
Their names stand for honesty, perseverance, industry and patriotism. Such are the facts which entitle the representative of the province of Quebec in the Cabinet to hold in the public opinion, in the hearts and minds of the French-Canadians, the place which was held by Cartier some fifty years ago.
It may not be amiss to state right here that the Post Office department has in the person of the present Postmaster General not only a man of push and progress, but also a benefactor of the people. Not content with adjusting and increasing the salaries of hosts of underpaid civil servants,
he resolved that the whole country would have the benefit of that important service, and acordingly provided for the establishment of numerous post offices, extended the rural delivery system and, particularly caused Parliament to pass that parcels post legislation from which great results are expected by the country folk.
Differently from some ol his predecessors, unmindful of what it might bring to himself, he has accomplished results out of his own mind, which are of great benefit to the people. In less than two years, the Post Office Department, as well as the Public Works Department, has given results which overshadow all that had been done during the fifteen previous years. I am merely speaking aloud what the people feel and think, despite the back-sliding and slanders of a blinded press, organized and paid for the purpose.
As soon as a fairer redistribution of the constituencies will have been effected, so as to enable the electors to make known their will, this Government (there is no undue optimism in thinking so), will be sustained by a majority of them. Have we not had, during recess at different times and in various parts, expressions of the popular will?
Considering those indications of the trend of public opinion, considering the facts which proclaim the good management of this Administration, considering the advance made in so short a period, this is the time to state and repeat that, since Providence and the people are with us, you should join us also. Why should gentlemen on the other side wage war on us, now that industry, commerce and agriculture have shaken off the fetters of the past, and entered an area of progress and prosperity? Why should they wage war on us when we have the support of the people?
As I said a moment ago, dickering, dillydallying, encomiums are no longer in season. Canada, our common country, is in need of the co-operation of all men of good will. As representatives of the people, we are entrusted with the glorious task, I should say the privilege, of applying our energy to the building up of this country, not only into the finest colony, but into the nation to-morrow.
In concluding, Mr. Speaker, I may be allowed to thank my hon. colleagues in this House for having kept in mind that youth is generous, confident and enthusiastic, and for having shown indulgence on this occasion.
I wholly approve of the remarks mads
by the eloquent mover of the Address in answer to the Speech from, the Throne, and it is with infinite pleasure that I second the motion.
Subtopic: ADDRESS IN REPLY.