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 1 of 80)

April 3, 1957

1. What are the names of the lawyers of the city of Quebec who have acted as agents for the different departments or boards of the federal government, during the year 1956?

2. What amount of fees has been paid to each of them, and in what case?

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March 28, 1957

Mr. Paul E. Gagnon (Chicoutimi):

Mr. Speaker, I have a question to put to the Prime Minister. Could he tell us if he has taken steps so that the new hotel which is being built by the Canadian National in Montreal will be called Chateau Maisonneuve instead of Queen Elizabeth?

Right Hon. L. S. St. Laurent (Prime

Minister): No, Mr. Speaker, he has taken no recent steps in this regard.


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March 21, 1957

Mr. Paul E. Gagnon (Chicoutimi):

Mr. Speaker, the eloquence of the Minister of Finance (Mr. Harris) and the learned report he submitted to the attention of the hon. members last Thursday have not met with as enthusiastic a reception among the Canadian people as he might rightfully have wished on the eve of an election. I would like to spend a few moments to give the house my impression of certain figures quoted by my hon. friend.

For instance, early in the new fiscal year the government will pay over to the Canada Council $100,000,000 to be used in further widening the existing breach in our national constitution. This amount of $100,000,000 is meant to further enthrall and enslave the provinces. It will be handed over to a chosen few who will be able to rule the roost in the field of Culture (with a capital C) and whose dictates will set the standards of thought and of science in this country.

To be up to date in matters artistic we will henceforth have to bow to the rulings of these gentlemen designated by the gov-

The Budget-Mr. Gagnon ernment as beacons on the course of higher learning. They will point the way and steer us clear of the rocks. This is what caused the newspaper Le Soleil, a Liberal party organ, to write as follows on November the 22nd 1956:

It is therefore proposed to set up a new commission, with a chairman, a vice-chairman, a secretary and a host of civil servants, yet another administrative bureau which, each year, will eat up a goodly portion of the budget placed at its disposal. It will be readily understood how things cannot be otherwise since we must needs have somebody who will control the administration of the funds set aside for the enrichment of our cultural life. Inevitably-

Mind you I am quoting from Le Soleil- -a few friends of those in power, a few obscure persons will thus be provided with the fairest of havens. This is the inevitable consequence of each new step taken by our governments, with this result that even the most praiseworthy of these cannot always be unreservedly accepted by public opinion.

And so it is that each year sees the growth of its privileged castes, its jobholders-or plain civil servants.

Today, alongside the legislative executive and judicial powers, the civil service constitutes the administrative power, often more important than the others. Civil servants represent the element of stability in government. Ministers come and go but civil servants remain. They exert a daily influence on the destinies of the nation and the mentality of our people. They are all the stronger for their being constantly behind the scenes, reaping no glory for the good that they do, nor shame for the wrongs laid at their door. Their work, always done on behalf of someone else, is seldom known to the public. If they are stupid their errors vanish under mountains of papers and, if they are brilliant, the details of an anonymous, complicated and elusive administration allow them to achieve only partial usefulness.

Fifty million dollars will go into the superannuation fund of these gentlemen, and a like amount into the reserve. And so a hundred million dollars are being camouflaged so as not to display an exorbitant surplus of nearly 400 million dollars. The tax is off on bubble gum but not on children's shoes. Crumbs are handed out to the small fry, in a would-be Santa Claus gesture, while on the q.t., a slice is taken off the parents' pay cheque.

The government, while appearing to fight inflation is actually favouring it by its mania of accumulating surpluses, of forcing the Canadian citizen to tighten his belt and of extracting from the worker taxes which allow the government to indulge in expenditures and gifts which are often extravagant.

Whether it is the people who have too much money or the federal treasury which

The Budget-Mr. Gagnon collects so much that it does not know what use to make of it, the result is the same. There is danger of inflation one way or the other.

But in the mind of our administrators as in the opinion of our centralizing experts, money must be drained away from the taxpayer so that he will be left without anything, if possible. Especially must the income tax never, on any account, be reduced. Everything must be retained, everything must be set aside so that our leaders may be considered cautious and able, be looked upon as philantropists, munificent dispensers of grants and subsidies.

The state has confidence in no one but itself to "develop" the national economy and to direct it along proper channels. We are all aware of the success it has obtained in the field of international trade. We know what markets it has lost and how our export trade deficit is growing constantly.

In spite of promises of financial assistance extended to the Maritime provinces, promises which are meant to correct the unfortunate impression left by the Gordon commission report, in spite of subsidies to fishermen and farmers, and expressions of friendship for everybody, the budget introduced on the 14th of this month is not even a good election budget.

It is the budget of an administration forever surprised by events, whether in the national field or in the international field, as is evidenced by inflation and the Middle East crisis at this time.

Having lacked foresight, having failed in its primary duty, having been unable to foresee the effects which its shortsighted policy was sure to bring about in due course, the government at this time seems utterly at sea.

It is largely responsible for our financial troubles, and the credit restrictions it has seen fit to impose are the result of its record in the past.

What prosperity this country has enjoyed since the war is far more attributable to the vast natural resources of our country and to the work of our people than to the party which governs our destinies. The bounties of Providence must not be ascribed to our present leaders.

The fact that the old age pension has been raised from $40 to a mere $46 shows with what parsimony public monies are being used to relieve public hardship. Millions have been spent for the Colombo plan, for the police operation in Egypt, for the purchase of paintings for the gallery, for television programs, but mere pennies are set aside for the poor, for those who are suffering.

The average increase of $1.40 per month in the family allowance is also quite inadequate. It answers neither the demands of the people nor their needs. It corresponds neither to the unceasing rise in the cost of living nor to the social ends towards which it was originally instituted.

With a surplus of $282 million and a prospective surplus of more than $300 million for the next fiscal year, the government should have been more generous to the mothers of this country, fairer in its estimation of the means and the rightful demands of the people.

The small cuts in indirect taxes announced by the Minister of Finance will be of no benefit to most of our people. These cuts will be absorbed by the wholesaler or lost en route between the manufacturer and consumer.

We are told that each year Canadians spend more than 2 billion dollars on superfluous goods or amusements such as alcoholic beverages, tobacco, horse races, etc.

It would be closer to the truth to say that Canadians are spending part of their revenue on these luxuries and are paying a tremendous amount in taxes for the privilege of doing so. Everybody knows, for instance, that the extremely high cost of any bottle of alcoholic beverage is explained by the fact that on each drink absorbed by the customer, the federal government levies a profit which puts it in a position to be the main beneficiary of this highly dangerous business. The same holds true for the cigarette smoker who pays 17.7 cents tax on each pack of 20 cigarettes, that is 54 per cent of the usual retail price, 117 percent of the retail price minus taxes, and 192 per cent of the manufacturer's price. In the United States the tax is only 8 cents per pack of 20. The smoker is better treated south of the border, and there is no cigarettesmuggling there.

On the other hand I am not convinced that, as stated by the Minister of Finance in his speech, the farmer has benefited from the general rise in national revenue. His bank account, if we are to go by the reports of agricultural groups, has not appreciably increased in 1956, at least not in eastern Canada.

The government is now proposing nothing tangible to put the eastern farmer on a par, financially, with his western counterpart.

One word in passing on a subject which is of particular interest to my constituents.

The dairy industry is the very basis of our agriculture. It represents more than one third of the revenue of the farms of the province of Quebec. It is the main occupation of more than 100,000 farmers. The government should

therefore be most mindful of the security of this industry which is vital to the future of our country.

Millions of Canadians are dependent on its prosperity for their own. Everybody uses its products in one way or another.

In order to protect it adequately and to allow farmers and breeders to make ends meet, the federal government should have appreciably increased the tariff on powdered milk and cheese from Australia and New Zealand.

A revision of the 1931 and 1932 agreement and a substantial increase of tariffs would be helpful to the agricultural class which today, because of the high cost of feed, labour and equipment, is in a deplorable position.

The average income of farmers is not on a par with that of other groups of workers. Their loss of buying power is one of the weak spots of the Canadian economy. A sustained attention and a wise and far-sighted agricultural policy should maintain the existence of our farmers on the same level as that of city workers, tradesmen and professional men.

Apart from measures taken in fields of provincial jurisdiction, the St. Lawrence seaway project and some more or less fortunate contributions in international affairs, it is regrettable that the government should have revealed itself so much of an opportunist, so unmindful of the welfare of the working classes, particularly with regard to the unemployment prevailing to an alarming degree every winter.

Jobs must be found for seasonal workers who are idle during off seasons.

Unemployment means the loss of considerable production which impoverishes the victims and upsets our economic system. I urge greater respect and more consideration for workers, farmers and taxpayers, a good will expressed not merely in words but also in concrete deeds.

When it is suggested to the Minister of Finance bilingual cheques should be mandatory, he protests and talks of the expense which such procedure would involve. Does he not think that with the surpluses he boasts about this year he could have agreed to that justified claim? Does he not think that he should have announced a reduction of the income tax, which heavily burdens so many people?

I hope that the next time the Minister of Finance will remember the needs of the people and that he will evidence more generosity towards the Canadian taxpayers.

The Budget-Miss Aitken


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March 20, 1957

1. Since April 1, 1952, what amounts have been spent each year in the county of Chicoutimi by

(a) the Department of Agriculture; (b) the Department of National Defence; (c) the Department of Defence Production; (d) the Department of National Health and Welfare; (e) the Department of Transport; (f) the Post Office Department?

2. For what purposes and what amount in each case?

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March 18, 1957

Mr. Gagnon:

Mr. Chairman, I would like to take advantage of this item in the supplementary estimates to record my disagreement and express the opinions of those Canadians living in the kingdom of the Saguenay with regard to the intrusion of the federal government into the field of education.

It is inconceivable, Mr. Chairman, that the men responsible for the pact of 1867 had intended to bring about the disappearance of provinces or to put them in such a position that they would henceforth be unable to benefit fully from the advantages of the sovereignty which they already possessed and to exercise those rights which were vested in them according to the terms of the act itself.

Those who represented Lower Canada at the time would never have approved the treaty which would have deprived my compatriots of their essential rights and of those revenues indispensable to their existence and to their survival as a distinct and autonomous national group.

In 1867 it was known that to build schools, colleges and universities government help was needed. It was known that grants were

necessary to assure their maintenance and progress. Nevertheless, it was decided to leave to the provinces absolute authority in all matters relating to education.

The province of Quebec, which is in law and in fact the legal and political environment of French Canadians, must jealously preserve those rights, granted to it by the British North America Act, to administer its property and exercise those privileges which have been guaranteed to us by our national charter.

Any infringement of the autonomy of the province of Quebec is a breach of the contract made between the two great races in this country at the time of confederation.

If in the British North America Act, section 92, subsection 13 we may read the words "property and civil rights" ... in the province, it was because the only object in view was to safeguard the institutions and the peculiar customs of Quebec which is not and cannot be a province just like the others.

On page 35 of volume I of the report of the royal commission on dominion-provincial relations, the following words may be found:

The ease of Quebec In our federation is in fact peculiar. In every province, Quebec excepted, English civil law is in effect. Every province, save Quebec and Newfoundland, has divorce courts. Every province, except Quebec and Newfoundland has a non-denominational system of public schools. Every province with the exception of Quebec has one single official language, English. Quebec alone has a legislative council. Finally, Quebec alone has a non English-speaking majority, the French-Canadian group.

On the 24th of November 1871, Sir Wilfrid Laurier stated:

It is a historical fact that the federative form of government was adopted only to conserve to Quebec the exceptional and unique position which she occupied upon the American continent.

Lord Carnarvon, who has been called the sponsor of the British North America Act, stated in the House of Lords:

Lower Canada, too, is jealous, as she is deservedly proud, of her ancestral customs and traditions; she is wedded to her peculiar institutions, and will enter this union only upon the distinct understanding that she retains them.

Another great Liberal chief, Honore Merrier, in a speech at the legislative assembly on April 7, 1884, stated:

The frequent Intrusions of the federal parliament upon provincial prerogatives constitute a permanent threat to the provinces.

Mr. Chairman, centralization, whether administrative or political, interferes with the normal development of a state, and is contrary to the very interests of that state and of the people within it. For instance, the


problem of education must be settled at the level where it occurs, and at which it can be solved in the best interests of the people.

Because our religious, cultural and national traditions differ from those of other provinces, because the Canadian constitution, which is above the central power, clearly recognizes that fact, the Ottawa government is duty bound to respect those traditions and to let the Quebec provincal government safeguard them in their integrity.

Now then, such traditions, customs and way of life are preserved to a great extent by our universities and our teaching institutions.

We must therefore see to it that the revenue required for carrying out functions so vitally important to our race be so distributed that the provinces be able to carry out their duty and that there be no substitution to them in the exercise of some of their functions.

The central government has no right to do indirectly what the constitution clearly prohibits.

There should be no disruption nor weakening of the political structure on which the French-Canadian culture is based.

If Ottawa has money to give away, if every year it accumulates enormous surpluses, it is because federal taxes are too high.

Let the provinces and municipalities resume the fields of taxation which belong to them, and the problem of assistance to universities will be solved by the authorities properly constituted for that purpose.

Ottawa has no right to collect taxes for purposes which are not a responsibility of the federal government.

When Ottawa levies taxes for the purpose of making grants to universities, it violates the constitution because it interferes in a field which is under provincal jurisdiction and therefore outside its own jurisdiction.

It was chiefly on the occasion of the last war that the central government consolidated its control over sources of revenue. It did so in an unfair and dishonest way. It deliberately misled the provinces when, in 1942, it promised that tax agreements would be temporary and would be revoked as soon as the war ended. In 1947, under direct threat, provincial governments were forced by Ottawa to renew tax agreements for another five years. The same thing happened again in 1952.

The then minister of finance, in high-sounding and solemn statements, declared that the provinces were absolutely free to accept or refuse federal proposals. He was lying shamelessly.


The same blackmail continues today. The provinces have no alternative but to submit to the dictates of the Prime Minister or to be starved out. The only freedom that is left to them is the freedom to starve or to live prostrate at the feet of the federal ogre. "Being the lion entitles me to the biggest share," says the Prime Minister. Let the others share what is left.

With the exception of the maritime provinces, whose economy is on the downgrade because of the neglect and carelessness of this government, there are no more poor provinces in Canada, and it is a falsehood, a lie, to say that the purpose of tax agreements is to achieve a better distribution of the national wealth.

Are New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island better off since Ottawa took them under its wing?

What is wanted, what bureaucrats are seeking, the purpose they want to achieve, is the monolithic state; it is to make Ottawa the financial, economic, political, intellectual and cultural navel of all Canada.

The trouble with these centralizers and the obstacle which prevents them from reaching their full goal is that the province of Quebec, and their great enemy Duplessis, whom they would like to subdue and force into line with the others under a single command, are standing in their way.

Upstanding French Canadians are firm in their resolve to remain what they always have been, citizens proud of their origins and their heroic past. They are a real hindrance to those dreamers who would like to cast the whole Canadian population in the same mould.

I contend that the Union Nationale, since it has been in power, has made marvels for everyone to see and verify; I contend too that the consistent success of premier Duplessis at the polls can largely be explained by his achievements in the field of education at all levels, primary, secondary and university.

I wish to quote from page 276 of the brief submitted to the royal commission on constitutional problems by the Federation des colleges classiques:

Every system of grants contains at least the germs of a subordination of the beneficiary toward the givers; this is inconsistent with the equality of right which must exist between the federal and the provincial governments.

I take pleasure here in congratulating the distinguished dean of Laval University, Mgr Alphonse-Marie Parent who said that his university would refuse federal grants.

Commenting this statement in an editorial, Le Soleil, mouthpiece of the Liberal party, said on December 21, 1956:

Such a decision could easily be expected since it is consistent with the traditions of that institution, the first French university in Canada which, for more than a century, has been the guardian of French civilization on Canadian soil.

In spite of its limited financial resources, the university could not betray those who have waged political battles, who have won the constitutional liberties which we en.ioy today and among the greatest of which is that exclusive jurisdiction granted to the provinces in matters of education, a privilege which the present government, as did all its predecessors, is jealously defending against any attempt of encroachment.

The surpluses of the central government, at a time when municipalities are faced with deficits, and some provinces are in financial difficulties, is nothing less than scandalous and unfair.

These surpluses are made possible by the central government's fiscal centralization and by its consistent encroachments upon the sources of revenue of the provinces.

It is rich with the money of others. Its favours, its liberalities and its gifts are paid for by taxes drawn off the provinces and particularly the province of Quebec.

Here is an abstract from the Tremblay commission's report:

Our surveys lead us to the conclusion that, for refusing to compromise on the rights granted to her by the constitution, the province of Quebec, through the policy followed by the federal government particularly since 1947, has sustained losses which may be assessed at more than $300 million.

French Canadians, Mr. Chairman, are too proud to be the servants of the central government; their glass is small but it is the glass in which they wish to drink, and begging is not much to their liking. They have too much backbone. We don't want charity, we want justice. This is why I say that the central government should return to Quebec the amount of which the province was deprived because she refused to sell her sacred and inalienable rights, because she is not willing to trade for gold the history, traditions, customs and privileges which her sons conquered in America at the price of heroic fighting and sometimes with their own blood.

Politicians of all political trends have fought and battled, not once but a hundred thousand times, to preserve for their descendants the catholic and cultural inheritance handed down by their forefathers. They spared nothing to make us what we are today. We may neither betray our past nor deprive our children and grandchildren of the merits and of the victories won by our forebears.

He who . . .

said Louis Veuillot, and I want to conclude with this thought:

He who . . . allows himself to be despoiled of the rights awarded him by his country's constitution is a coward, and he who fails to live up to the responsibilities conferred to him by this constitution is a bad citizen.

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