Mr. David Gourd (Chapleau):
Mr. Speaker, may I congratulate you for the faultless manner in which you have discharged your important duties during the four years of our twentieth parliament.
I am glad of this opportunity to renew my congratulations to the Right Hon. Louis S. St. Laurent who, after assuming the leadership of the great Liberal party, undertook to everyone's satisfaction the heavy responsibilities of governing the country as prime minister. All who are anxious to ensure the prosperity and future of this country rejoiced on seeing such great responsibilities entrusted to a man so able to assume them. Fortunately, the great majority of the people appreciate the importance of responsible leaders who wish to preserve the people's freedom while guaranteeing its economic security and stability. I join my distinguished colleagues in congratulating the mover and seconder of the address in reply to the speech from the throne, the hon. members for Essex West (Mr. Brown) and for Laval-Two Mountains (Mr. Demers).
At this session, the house will discuss several important matters and take decisions of far-reaching consequences.
As far as the speech from the throne is concerned, I wish to draw to the attention of the government a few points which I believe to be of the utmost importance for the constituency I represent, as well as for the country at large.
First, I was greatly pleased, Mr. Speaker, to learn of the government's intention of supplementing the present Family Allowances Act, which we owe to the cabinet of our illustrious former prime minister. The hon. member for Glengarry (Mr. Mackenzie King) showed once again, in putting forth that legislation, that he has a profound understanding of social justice. Since this legislation has proved effective, it should now be stripped of as many restrictions as possible. I congratulate the government on its proposal in this respect.
The Address-Mr. D. Gourd
Obviously, estimated budget expenditures are thus increased, but can a state spend more wisely than by providing for its human heritage?
In troubled times such as ours when so many false, destructive and subversive ideas are spread throughout the world, steps should be taken to ensure that future generations will be physically, intellectually and morally sound. The best Canadians we can hope for are still those who are taught, on their mother's lap, to love Canada. For them, moral values are part and parcel of their family heritage. In planning first of all for them, we plan for the future.
It is in the newer regions especially, such as Chapleau county which I am privileged to represent, that the benefits of this Family Allowances Act are more easily observed. The families of settlers and pioneers of that district, who pride themselves on having lived in this country for three centuries, whose forebears cleared uninhabited tracts of land and who, in their turn, are now building an entirely new country, are quite deserving of some encouragement by the government in carrying out the superhuman task of pushing the frontiers of civilization beyond their present limits and of making new wealth accessible to all.
I pay tribute to those builders, to those fathers and mothers who are rearing strong and healthy children to help us face an uncertain future.
May I be permitted, Mr. Speaker, to again submit to this house how important it is, in my estimation, in order to co-ordinate good will and to maintain peace, that a country such as Canada be represented at the Vatican, stronghold of Christianity and a moral force so necessary at all times.
I also submit that the official recognition of a distinctive national flag would answer the wish of a great majority of Canadians. I am happy to congratulate also the hon. member for Portneuf (Mr. Gauthier) for his excellent remarks. I join him in thanking the hon. Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Martin) for the adoption of legislation so useful to humanity.
In a constituency as new as the one I have the honour of representing, we already have a sanatorium, and a new hospital now nearing completion. Similar facilities exist in Val d'Or, in the constituency next to mine.
To show the usefulness of this act to our people, let me give an example. A few days ago I received a letter of thanks from the
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The Address-Mr. D. Gourd chairman of the board of the Macamic sanatorium, Mr. Jacques Bouchard, acknowledging the receipt of a $256,680 grant to his institution.
Since the second hospital to which I referred has not yet been completed, I do not know what portion of the grant it will receive, but I am nevertheless convinced that it will be a fair share.
Mr. Speaker, before dealing more particularly with my constituency, I wish to suggest that measures should be taken for the relief of low-income taxpayers. I am convinced that if all incomes lower than $2,500 were exempt from taxation, the economic prosperity of this country would become more and more stabilized.
Ever since the victory of our armies, allied to those of other nations, that is to say for more than four years, we have experienced wonderful prosperity, as a result of the wise administration of our government. Once more, our national balance-sheet shows a considerable surplus. Through the competence and ability of our minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott) Canada has secured a financial position which is one of the soundest in the world. I therefore suggest that the tax burden which Canadian citizens have to bear should now be lightened.
I wish to congratulate the Minister of Transport (Mr. Chevrier) for his vision and ability in building a branch line from Barraute towards Kiask falls. I must again mention the important reports prepared by Mr. Keith Ralston, C.N.R. engineer, on the natural resources of that district. I must recall too the many resolutions passed by the boards of trade and other organizations in my constituency asking that this railway line be extended over a further eleven miles, so that it may reach Cedar rapids at Kiask falls. Navigation would then be possible over a stretch of about sixty miles north of these rapids.
At the time I discussed this matter at length, on March 6, 1947, this line was only in the blueprint stage. Today it is being completed and results already apparent, particularly at Bachelor lake, are an incentive for the building of this line on the 11 mile stretch I have mentioned and, before long, for its extension to Chibougamau.
Mr. Speaker, I should like to draw the attention of the house to a rather extraordinary fact in northern Quebec and Ontario. Our provincial highways reach the boundaries, or [Mr. Gourd (Chapleau).l
nearly, whilst the Ontario roads are 50 miles remote from our boundaries, a stretch that has never been built. There has been so much talk about unity that it seems unbelievable that such conditions exist and that our communication system should not be more efficient.
I know, Mr. Speaker, that it is not always easy for the dominion government to obtain the co-operation of the provincial governments. However, I urge the federal authorities to do everything in their power to open up the 50 miles of road which I have mentioned and to build a highway connecting my district with northern Ontario. Those two areas have several things in common and the relations of their citizens will consolidate their common interests, wipe out their disagreements and strengthen unity between the two provinces.
I would also suggest that the necessary steps be taken so that the trans-Canada highway may have approximately the following layout; going east from Cochrane, running somewhat parallel to the C.N.R. tracks, passing through La Reine and crossing my constituency to Mont Laurier. Such a layout would greatly reduce the distance between Montreal and Cochrane.
In plotting the highway in that manner, the present roads could be used for the greater part of the way, which would save time in building the highway. The layout would be advantageous to tourists who could take one road going north and another one coming south, thus making a loop.
I should like to stress the fact that the present highway, leaving the Manitoba boundary at 35 miles from Kenora and passing through Fort William, Kapuskasing, Cochrane and Ottawa, is 1,390 miles long. I would also point out that the highway from Point Fortune in the province of Quebec to the New Brunswick boundary, near Edmund-ston, covers a distance of 388 miles. That means a total of 1,778 miles from the Manitoba to the New Brunswick boundary. The present highway is located in Ontario to the extent of 75 per cent. If my proposal were carried out, the road starting at Kenora would still pass through Fort William, Hearst, Kapuskasing and Cochrane. It would cover a distance of 894 miles in Ontario. From Cochrane, it would head for La Reine in the province of Quebec and thence through La Sarre, Louvicourt, Mont Laurier, Montreal and so on until it reached the New Brunswick boundary. The highway would then cover a distance
of 828 miles in the province of Quebec. The present road stretches over 1,778 miles while the alternative I suggest would be only 1,722 miles long. Not only would the latter be 56 miles shorter, but it would be more evenly distributed between Ontario and Quebec.
Since the dominion government will pay half the cost incurred in building the trans-Canada highway, I suggest that a joint committee, consisting of dominion government representatives and of delegates from the provinces concerned, be authorized to act on this matter.
Before I resume my seat, I would like to draw the attention of the house to a problem of great importance to the farmers of my constituency. I would like to voice, for the benefit of all members, the protests of my constituents against any measure designed to promote the free sale of margarine.
There are not a few people in this country who claim that the farmers have been reaping profits during the last few years. If such arguments are to be used to justify the free marketing of margarine, I wish to state in reply that the present situation of the farmers, in general, is not very profitable and that it would be economically unsound to increase their difficulties by forcing a drop in the price of butter and by making it harder for them to sell their product. At the very least, legislation is necessary to preclude margarine from being sold with the same colouring as that of butter.
I wish to draw the attention of the house to the fact that in my constituency of Chap-leau there are a great many Indians. It would be advisable to build a special school in order that they may be trained and educated, so that they may t?.ke an active part in our public affairs and contribute to the development of our vast region.
I also suggest the establishment by the federal government of an experimental farm in northwestern Quebec. The great expanse of fine, cultivated land of which we are the proud owners and the constant advances made in the clearing of land mean that this farm would be of great service to our farmers and settlers.
Mr. Speaker, I believe it to be my duty, in order that justice and truth may prevail, to correct the statements made in this house by the hon. member for Pontiac (Mr. Caouette) on February the 1st last.
I must say that I do not intend to match insult with insult. I have far too much respect for the house to stoop to that. The respect I have for myself, for my electors and for the
The Address-Mr. D. Gourd mandate which they have given me, prevents me from doing so. I will therefore restrict myself to stating the actual truth.
I have always thought that we are elected to serve the best interests of all but especially those of our constituents. I was therefore quite surprised when the member for Pontiac took me to task for having secured a post office for his constituents of Val d'Or. I shall not deny the part I played in this matter. I have also helped to secure grants for the mines located in the constituency of Pontiac and elsewhere. I am sure that the farmers of his constituency or of my own do not bear me ill will for having thus helped the development of the district, because this makes it easier for them to market their products. I may add that, for my part, I shall always be happy to see colleagues of mine in this house do a service to my constituents.
The member for Pontiac saw fit to add that nothing was being done in the Chapleau constituency. I must say in this connection that I am prepared to let my electors, who have witnessed my efforts during the last four years, be the judges in this matter.
The member for Pontiac also referred to a meeting which was held at Senneterre on January 14. As he was not present, and since he has to rely on inaccurate secondhand information, I may say that at that meeting three matters were discussed. The first related to the refund of tax overpayments on electricity. I have requested my constituents to send me all documents and details pertaining to that matter, and the hon. member for Pontiac may be assured that as soon as I receive them I will give the matter the attention I always devote to matters which concern my constituency. The second point had to do with the opening of a school for Indians. I have dealt with that question in my present speech and I am requesting the establishment of such a school. At the said meeting I informed the people of Senneterre that I was in favour of that project, but that in my opinion before deciding on a site for that school the department should have a survey made so that the most suitable site might be chosen. In so doing, I was following a policy which is that of the Liberal party as well as my own, and which consists in avoiding wholesale promises not meant to be kept. Whenever I have made a promise to my constituents, I have kept it.
The third matter discussed was the building of a post office. The postal revenue at Senneterre is $7,800. The department cannot build a post office when revenue from such a
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The Address-Mr. Brooks source is less than $10,000. The member lor Pontiac should know it. This I have explained to my electors of Senneterre. I also told them that Val d'Or had secured its post office because the revenue there was $45,000. On the other hand, La Sarre, whose post office yields over $16,000, can expect to obtain one also.
The member lor Pontiac is blaming me because I said that a member must use tact. I submit that tact and politeness are qualities all ol us should strive to acquire.
That hon. member has said that I had boasted that I did not have to be a member ol parliament to make a living. Mr. Speaker, what I said is that I am not in politics to make money but only to help all I can towards the development ol northwestern Quebec. I have been in that part ol the country lor 37 years; I saw the first tree that was lelled there, the first ploughing, the first crop, the first train, and I am indeed happy to have witnessed the extraordinary development that has taken place in Abitibi. When I think that there were only about ten people when I first got there and that Chapleau now has a population ol 75,000, I am as proud as if it were a personal achievement. There is no doubt that a member ol parliament would make more money by staying home to look alter his business, but I am amply rewarded by the knowledge that I contribute to the development ol my constituency ol Chapleau, ol my province and ol my country.