Fernand VIAU

VIAU, Fernand

Personal Data

St. Boniface (Manitoba)
Birth Date
May 24, 1909
Deceased Date
June 3, 2000

Parliamentary Career

June 11, 1945 - April 30, 1949
  St. Boniface (Manitoba)
June 27, 1949 - June 13, 1953
  St. Boniface (Manitoba)
August 10, 1953 - April 12, 1957
  St. Boniface (Manitoba)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 15 of 15)

March 15, 1946

Mr. FERNAND VIAU (St. Boniface) (Translation):

Mr. Speaker, it is a great

honour for me to have been chosen to

The Address-Mr. Viau

move the adoption of the address in reply to the speech from the throne; I am a young Canadian making my first steps in this House of Commons, this honourable house where many eminent and enlightened men have, since confederation, discussed and debated economical, social and political questions which have helped to mould out of Canada a nation true to the longings of our fathers of confederation. Numerous valorous and unforgettable Canadians, of British and French extraction, have come into this house to find means of ensuring a lasting welfare for their generation and our own.

The honour which is bestowed upon me is rather an homage to the veterans whom I represent in this house. Although the war is over many veterans are still returning from overseas and I avail myself of this opportunity for thanking the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) and the government for honouring the veterans in this house by asking me to speak on their behalf.

Moreover, Mr. Speaker, the fact that I have been chosen is also a mark of respect and gratitude to the population of St. Boniface county which I represent here. St. Boniface is not a historical county, from the political viewpoint, but it is representative of the growth of the Canadian west. It was at St. Boniface, at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine rivers, that the first explorers of the Canadian west arrived over a century ago. The first settlers and first missionaries landed on the shores of the Red river, at the very place where St. Boniface is now situated, to establish the first post which was instrumental in the growth of the Canadian west.

Today, St. Boniface is the largest industrial city in Manitoba. It is a cosmopolitan city, where the great races of this country live in harmony and I may add that the city itself is setting an example of good understanding for Canada as. a whole.

The population is not very large as yet. However, I would like to say a few words in regard to my city and my constituency. Here, in St. Boniface we have the two largest slaughterhouses and the two largest flour mills in the British empire in addition to a large number of other industries. Not only do those industries serve the rural sections of Manitoba but they serve the whole of western Canada. My constituency comprises two important sections, one rural and the other urban. In several French-Canad'ian villages our farmers have for a great many years grown wheat to meet Canada's needs as well as those of the whole world.

The Address-Mr. Viau

enable the British nation to reestablish itself economically and to regain the credit which it enjoyed so freely before the war. It is our nation's duty and such, I am sure, is the unanimous desire of all our soldiers, sailors and airmen, both French and English speaking, who have gone overseas and fought so courageously and so valiantly and who are now returning to Canada, happy in the thought of the great victory which they have achieved. They have been a credit not only to their nation but to their racial group, whether of British or French descent.

Secondly, I should like to emphasize that, apart from being a brotherly gesture toward Great Britain, that loan primarily confirms the determination of our nation to fulfil its pledges in regard to financial and other assistance, and to abide by the resolutions agreed to at the San Francisco conference.

The financial assistance granted to allied nations will enable them to recover their moral, economic and social balance in the post-war period. However, from an economic standpoint, and in conformity with the agreement made between our government and that of Great Britain, the credit extended to the latter nation will be used for the purchase of Canadian goods. It goes without saying that such a sum of money spent in Canada for the purchase of our products will also enable us to restore our industrial economy and provide Canadians with work that is so essential to the welfare and prosperity of this country; it will ensure Western Canada and all our farmers the markets that are so necessary for their products such as wheat, cheese, milk, butter, cream, meat and other foodstuffs. When the prosperity of industry and agriculture is assured, every Canadian, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, benefits thereby.

Mr. Speaker, I am convinced that, when, very shortly, this bill is introduced in the House of Commons, it will meet with the unanimous approval of every member from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Before concluding, I wish to say a few words to my fellow-citizens of the province of Quebec, this wealthy and gallant province who has ever played an admirable part in the development of our great nation. Recently, I have attended the sessions of the second annual meeting of Radio-Ouest francaise and have had the opportunity of witnessing the efforts and devotion to duty of my fellow-citizens from the west to promote' this gigantic enterprise which will put them in a position to tune in on concerts, speeches and plays in their mother tongue. Needless to say that such a worthy undertaking could not be real-

ized without financial assistance. The members from the noble province of Quebec, who have the privilege of sitting in this house, have no doubt noticed that, last fall, a subscription campaign was organized through the various parishes, under the auspices of both religous and civil authorities to help the western Canadians of French origin. You have been very generous, the total subscriptions being in excess of $200,000, and I take this opportunity, as a member of the constituency where the first French radio station will shortly be inaugurated, of thanking you from the bottom of my heart.

(Text): Mr. Speaker, in being accorded the privilege of moving the address in reply to the speech from the throne, I do not view it as a personal tribute, being one who has just taken his first steps in Canadian politics and who has yet to give proof of his wisdom in such an important duty, but rather is a tribute to the fighting forces of our dominion, an honour bestowed upon them, and I take the liberty to extend sincere thanks to the Prime Minister of this government for the honour so bestowed upon a veteran. I am sure that every man and woman who wore His Majesty's uniform during the long years of war would wish me to convey their thanks in these simple terms.

Yesterday the members of this House of Commons proceeded to the Senate chamber to hear the reading of the speech from the throne, wdiich was the last official duty of His Excellency the Governor General, the Earl of Athlone. His Excellency has been with us and laboured with us for the well-being of our people and those of the commonwealth and empire through what history will probably record as the most crucial years that humankind has ever known. His Excellency the Governor General and his gracious consort, Princess Alice, will soon depart from our midst to return to the land of their birth where they may enjoy a well-earned rest. It is with deepest regret that we of this Canadian parliament see them leave. It is with deepest regret that thousands of Canadians who have come to know them as friends will look upon their departure. The counsels of His Excellency in all those things which contributed to the good of our people, to the well-being of men, women and children, have only served to emphasize his concern for the welfare of this our land and for the well-being of the people of Canada.

The kindness which Her Royal Highness Princess Alice has brought to the many arduous tasks and duties which she has so graciously undertaken has only served to endear her to the hearts of Canadians everywhere.

The Address-Mr. Viau

In the departure of Their Excellencies we shall pause for a moment of thankfulness for their having come into our midst, and to wish them godspeed, a happy journey and joy upon their return to their home in those isles which have throughout the ages stood for the glory and dignity of man and the freedom, of the human soul. We pray that God will be with them and bless them in all the days to come, and I am quite sure that all Canadians will unite with me in repeating those words so graciously used by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth on her departure from Canada on her royal visit in 1939: "Farewell; au revoir".

But as they leave, Canadian people welcome to this dominion one of the greatest soldiers of our tin..,, one of the greatest military leaders of the second world war, Viscount Alexander. The Canadian active army in the field had the honour of fighting under his command, and I know that our people will join with our Canadian soldiers in extending to Viscount Alexander, his lady and family, a heartfelt welcome with the hope that they may be long with us and that their life in our midst may be a happy one. Above all our thanks will-go to His Majesty the King who has so graciously seen fit to appoint to this high office this great man -of our time.

Mr. Speaker, as this second session of the twentieth parliament convenes, we still find a world of unrest not only in the economic, financial and social fields but also in the minds of the people and of the legislators of the world at large. As a young Canadian who has endeavoured to make a very careful and close study of all problems affecting not only my nation but also other nations of the world, I consider responsible legislators to be men and women of good will, although most of us differ as to the methods and means of translating that spirit of good will into concrete action.

One thing has impressed me most vividly and it is this. Speaking for my nation alone, I think every man and woman in the House of Commons to-day is intensely aware of the critical times in which we live, of the great issues that prevail, of the necessity of action and of the urgent need to put into practice the principles of the four freedoms as expounded by the ex-Prime Minister of Great Britain and the late President of the United States some five years ago during their meeting in mid-Atlantic. Those four freedoms were not an idle dream but a living reality which, in my opinion, is attainable for all of us. It is for us, the living, to translate those ideals into concrete attainment. I wish to say emphatically: It can be done. We differ as to the ways and means of doing it. Therein

lies statesmanship, or lack of it. We cannot hope to build a fruitful, free world on mere tenets of sectionalism. We cannot hope to create a united Canada by pinning up banners of race, creed or narrow provincialism and sectionalism, and then shouting from the housetops. Our outlook will have to be broader, kindlier, and exemplified in the spirit of good will to all men. Statesmanship that is not exercised in this spirit is of no lasting importance; it does not stand the test of time or the indulgence of thinking men.

Canada, among other nations, has now emerged from a second world war, the most widespread and fierce that has ever been known in the history of mankind. Canada has emerged from this war with honour, dignity and the thanks of the civilized world. She has done her part nobly; Canadians now enjoy the honour and respect of thinking people in every part of the globe. Canada has stood four-square within the British commonwealth of nations for right and justice. History will prove that her contribution has not been merely that of lip-service. Her contribution has been in human lives, in material and in a spirit of fellowship with all men and all nations who had the courage to stand up against tyranny and oppression when these threatened to engulf the whole earth. Canadians are coming home from the war in this knowledge. They are resuming their peace-time vocations with a view to a future of good will that is not merely on paper but is rather a living thing for the Canadian people and all people elsewhere.

The members, new and old, of this House of Commons have assembled also in the same spirit; and here I may state that in this twentieth parliament the Canadian people witness the appearance of a very great number of fine young Canadians eager to ensure that the new ideals will be translated into active legislation, and all have come to this capital city with the firm purpose of building a still better Canada, a land of decency, of freedom from want, fear and futility. It is up to us all to make it so. We cannot deny that we have in Canada everything that living man could desire. We enjoy the fruits of the earth in its fulness, for all that is within our borders. In this period of recovery from war we must share those fruits with the less fortunate in those lands who by our side fought the nazis, the fascists and the Japs, and we shall see that this is done.

The British isles have sent to our shores many great people who have inculcated in the thought and culture of this land the great and broad principles of character which belong to the British people. Their ideals of freedom

The Address-Mr. Viau

have become our ideals of freedom, their love of liberty has become our love of liberty, their sense of tolerance our sense of tolerance, and by the very token of this which will one day become a universal brotherhood, their cause has been our cause through the years, in peace and war, to stand as a beacon of hope and a symbol of survival in the world's darkest hours. No living man or woman will ever forget the time when the commonwealth stood alone, when its armies stood off the hordes that had enveloped a whole continent in slavery and torture. No person will ever forget the courage of our people, who by nature are kindness personified but who, when the flame of war swept across Europe, stood their ground with fortitude never before matched in the history of the world.

"VVe, and all the world, owe such people a debt, one that can perhaps never be paid. But our sense of admiration and gratitude persuades us to do such things as are within our power to sustain them in their hour of recovery from the awful conflict. Thus it is fitting that Canada, as a partner in the commonwealth and an ally in the war, should see fit, through a unanimous vote in this House of Commons, to approve and sanction the loan recently arranged to assist the United Kingdom in her post-war rehabilitation. I know that I voice the sentiment of all Canadians, whatever their race or creed, when I say that this token of admiration and gratitude is given by unanimous consent.

The main factors to be remembered in granting this loan are simple, even if they are difficult of solution. The first factor to be considered is that the reestablishment of Britain as a solvent trading unit in a postwar world cannot be done too hastily. Every Canadian who has followed her history during the years of war will remember that Britain placed her whole industry on a war footing from the start of the war, and it will take many more months before this industry can return to a position to swing freely into peace-time production and thus increase her exports, which would allow her to pay the great debt she has contracted during the long struggle.

Canadians from coast to coast, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, no matter of what race or creed, must realize that we do owe a debt to Britain and that during this war, on account of her valiant stand, she lost a large part of her foreign investments, which were liquidated to pay for war supplies which she urgently needed. Canadians must remember that foreign currency used to be available to Britain in many countries, on account of her [Mr. Viau.)

credit established over many centuries by investments of her surplus exported abroad. At present that great nation is not able to purchase goods abroad as simply as it used to do, which is why Canada extends a hand to her, a credit of 551,250,000,000.

Mr. Speaker, I am quite sure that all members of this House of Commons, Canadians not only of British descent, not only of French descent, but also Canadians of foreign extraction who have been chosen by the people of Canada as their representatives in this House of Commons, will by unanimous consent approve the attitude of the government in granting the loan to this former creditor nation, a loan which will also benefit Canada during the years to come in an increase of export trade and markets, and also will ensure to the world that Canada stands behind those four freedoms, as expressed in the early part of my speech, thus guaranteeing one of the most vital keynotes of the world's happiness and prosperity-freer trade among nations of men of good will. We shall watch with hope and increasing faith as the British people attack the problems of recovery as they did the problems of war. May good fortune attend their labours.

While we view with joy t'heir return to the normal ways of peace and freedom, we turn to those problems which face this country and for which we are now assembled to find the solution. One of the most important events in the months to come will be the third session of the dominion-provincial conference, which convenes next month. When the problems that come before that conference have been dealt with and the functions of the dominion and the provinces defined for the purpose of the orderly and effective application of measures to carry this country through the reconstruction period, W'e may feel confident that we shall ourselves be on the way to recovery from the ravages of war which for more than five years disturbed the economy and life of our people. I suggest that we and the -people of this country should face our problems with the calm and calculated firmness with which we attacked the problems of war, and that we should so cautiously build the framework for the future that it may be sound when the time comes for its application to the governing of our affairs. Things lasting and things worth while are not accomplished in a day, but rather by careful planning and repeated consultation. Thus it is that we should view with patient understanding the deliberations that are taking place and will take place in the months

The Address-Mr. Winters

to come in bringing mutual understanding and respect among the governments of the provinces and the dominion.

Thus will the welfare of our people be enhanced, a return to normal national life accomplished, and the future of Canada made the more secure because care and caution ruled the day when plans were being laid. Let Canadians beware of haste, but pursue with determination and courage the problems which, are before the country and for which within months we shall have a solution that will stand the test of time and circumstance.

Canadians must be aware, that is all those who have given time and study to our own national problems, that the purpose of the present Canadian government in convening the heads of the nine provinces forming our confederation, is not to centralize all economic powers, but to establish an economic programme by which the nine provinces of Canada will share all benefits equally and give to the people of Canada, from coast to coast, on an equal basis, the economic, social and financial securities which have been long desired and which were the aims and aspiration of the fathers of confederation when in 1,867 the great British North America Act was drawn.

The world situation is still disturbed and will remain so for many months. People everywhere are restive, alarmed, living in fear of this ism and that, in fear of the future. But wars have all through history brought such periods, and the leaders who have piloted their peoples through those years have become the great men of history. We and our allies held firm through the years of war, and -although disagreement and misunderstanding have arisen in these months of post-war recovery, we may look with faith to the future, and with our allies of the war period hold firm the torch of liberty and freedom for all people.

We should carry on the fight for freedom from all the doubts and travails of life for all people everywhere, and in God's good time the nations of the world will embrace those principles so nobly stated in the Atlantic charter and blueprinted at the San Francisco conference. [DOT]

In this dominion of ours we have had sound administration of the country's affairs through all the war years, and that soundness of administration is carrying us into the years of peace. This has been- due in great measure to the leadership of one who will go down in history as one of the statesmen of the world one who more than any other man or group of men is responsible for the fact that under God, Canada's status to-day among the free

nations of the world is greatly enhanced. This love and devotion, not only for -his country, but also for the world at large, stem from a sincere love of freedom, a hatred of foreign undemocratic control which animated also the soul of his revered grandfather, that leadership which has led our country during the years of war and peace, a mam who has a tenacious, strong and virile belief in freedom not only for the two great peoples which form this dominion of ours, but also the same philosophy for all mankind irrespective of creed or colour. This leadership is in our midst, this leadership rests with one mam who parallels this high quality of heart and mind with devout faith in the cohesion of the .British people united in their own commonwealth of nations, a pattern for all nations. Mr. Speaker, this leadership rests but in one person, the leader of the present government, the Right Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King.

I move, seconded by the hon. member for Queens-Lunenburg (Mr. Winters):

That .the following .address be presented to His Excellency the Governor General of Canada: May it please Your Excellency:

We His Majesty's meet dutiful .and loyal subjects, the House of Commons of Canada., i.n parliament asembled, beg leave to offer our humble .thanks to Your Excellency for the gracious speech which Your Excellency has addressed to both houses of parliament.

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October 16, 1945


What about the Manitoba

Commonwealth 1

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October 1, 1945

Mr. FERNAND VIAU (St. Boniface):

Mr. Speaker, I rise to take part in the discussion on the resolution now before the house as a soldier and not as a veteran, although the title of veteran has been attributed to me by the press ever since I have become a member of the House of Commons. I feel, however, that a veteran is one who has returned from

a theatre of war or has experienced action on the battlefield. Although I enlisted as a volunteer, I have never had the privilege, through no fault of my own, to go across the sea and fight with my comrades against the enemy which was trying to deny not only to Canada but to the entire world that peace and freedom which have always been dear to those who live under democratic government. Neverthelss, as a soldier, I feel that I should express my opinion on the resolution now before us.

The resolution asks the government to wipe out a legal debt owing to this country, and as such, it presents a very serious problem which should be given careful consideration, by all hon. members, no matter on which side of the house they sit.

I wish to congratulate the hon. member for Battle River (Mr. Fair) upon his sincerity and tenacity in bringing this resolution before the house. I was surprised to hear the hon. member for Melfort (Mr. Wright) ask that immediate consideration be given to the request as submitted by the hon. member for Battle River. As he did establish himself under the Soldier Settlement Act which was passed by the government in power after the great war of 1914-18, and being thrifty, hardworking and an honest and conscientious farmer was able to pay back his debt to the government, that does not mean necessarily that all the debts still owed to the government for the same privileges that he himself enjoyed after the war of 1914-18 should be wiped off.

I also wish to congratulate the hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr,. Diefenbaker), whose political career in the House of Commons I have followed closely when an outsider, and for whom I have always had a great admiration for the attitude he has taken in this house in discussing this problem which concern the welfare of Canada's veterans.

It must be remembered that when the government in power after the last war introduced the Soldier Settlement Act, they did so without any experience whatsoever in that field. That was really the first time that Canada, had sent troops overseas to join with our allies in defeating the Germans. The government when they passed that act yvere very sincere and thought they had passed an act from which every veteran of the war of 1914-18 who came under it would benefit, and that no request would be made to have the act amended as has been frequently done from 1922 up until this day.

Soldier Settlement

It must also be remembered that during the period 1918-19 the wheat acreage in this country-I am speaking of western Canada- expanded, but in the southern area of the western provinces there was a large drought area where the board did not allow settlement by veterans who applied to get the full privileges granted by the Soldier Settlement Act. After the war of 1914-18 we had inflation for about a year and a half in Canada, and then the drought areas in western Canada came back. After the great war we still had a very large wheat surplus, but on account of the war ending so abruptly in 1918 there existed no purchasing power in Europe and we were unable to dispose of our agricultural products. That condition was accentuated by the fact that practically all existing governments, thinking they were placing their own economy on a sound basis, increased tariffs as high as Canada did under the regime of the Bennett government from 1930 to 1935. Therefore we were not able to sell our products to the other countries of the world.

In 1922, after many requests for amendments had been received from veterans of the war of 1914-18 who had settled under the Soldier Settlement Act, the government brought in an amendment which resulted in the interest on the debt owed by the veterans being waived for periods of from two to four years, depending upon the settler's date of establishment. Then in 1925 another amendment was made to the Soldier Settlement Act granting a reduction to the soldier settlers of forty per cent of the cost of the live stock purchased prior to October 1, 1920, and a reduction of twenty per cent of the cost of live stock purchased after October 1, 1920, and prior to October 1, 1921.

At a still later date, in 1927-in the meantime there had been a rise in the cost of living and in the cost of all commodities needed by every Canadian-a further amendment was made granting a reduction of the amount by which the price of the purchased farm exceeded 1927 values. That also was of great benefit to the soldier settlers. That was followed in 1930 by a reduction of thirty per cent of all the debts owed to the soldier settlement board.

Hon. members will notice that even though the Conservative government which was then in power was followed by the Liberals, and the Conservative government came back in 1930, an unbiased attitude was taken by all governments in power concerning the debts owed the country by the veterans who settled

under the act. From 1930 to 1935 when the Conservative party was in power a remission was granted of one year's interest on all charges and also a dollar for dollar bonus respecting payment of all obligations then owing to the board; that is, for all debts falling due before April 1, 1936, which date was later extended, on further representations, to March 31, 1941.

During the Bennett regime was introduced the Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Act which granted benefits not only to farmers but also to veterans who had settled under the Soldier Settlement Act, which legislation was brought into force by the Conservative party. I worked under the Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Act and I know of the benefits received by the farmers of western Canada under that act. While I do not want to mention any case, I know of applications filed in the office, where I was assistant official receiver under the Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Act, of the benefits gained, when the case was brought before the board of review. The grants given to the veterans were really of great advantage to them. They consolidated the debt owing at the time at which the application was discussed before the board of review, and extensions for payment were granted up to ten, fifteen and twenty years at very low interest rates. But in 1942 there were still a great number of cases that remained unpaid through no fault of the veteran. Some soldiers had already reenlisted in the armed forces of the great war of 19391945, and there were others who, owing to sickness and also by reason of wounds received in the war of 1914-1918, or family troubles, or from other social causes, still had to apply to the government to receive certain relief in respect of debts owing under the act. That is why in 1942 the government authorized the treasury board, on the recommendation of the director, to reduce the indebtedness of the settler to the present and prospective value of the land. They were given time to file application until December 31, 1943, and even then, as I have stated, a great number of these settlers had reenlisted in this conflict and as such were unable to file application. But they were still granted the same rights, and recently I was informed that the government had given power to grant an extension; where no applications had been made, owing to no fault of the men; owing to service in this war or sickness, they were given the same privilege as granted those who applied in 1942.

I feel that the amount involved is not very high, but the fact remains that it is still a debt owing just like a debt owing to-day by

Soldier Settlement

a farmer who might apply for a mortgage to any company who might advance money to farmers to purchase land, stock, machinery or cattle. I feel that the resolution as worded should never have been brought before the house but that the government must give the matter consideration; and as I have stated, certain action has already been taken in that respect in granting extension to farmers to pay their debts owing to the country in respect of the benefit they received on settling on lands in Canada for their services in the war of 1914-1918. As such the veterans coming back from this war will then feel able to file application and receive the same benefits granted under the Veterans' Land Act which was passed in 1942 as granted to the veterans settled under the Soldier Settlement Act in connection with the war of 1914-1918.

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