MERCIER, Paul, K.C., B.A., LL.M.

Personal Data

St. Henry (Quebec)
Birth Date
February 14, 1888
Deceased Date
August 10, 1943

Parliamentary Career

December 6, 1921 - September 5, 1925
  Westmount--St. Henri (Quebec)
October 29, 1925 - July 2, 1926
  St. Henri (Quebec)
September 14, 1926 - May 30, 1930
  St. Henri (Quebec)
July 28, 1930 - August 14, 1935
  St. Henri (Quebec)
October 14, 1935 - January 25, 1940
  St. Henry (Quebec)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 93 of 94)

March 13, 1923

Mr. MERCIER (Translation):

Mr. Chairman, Canada is, to-day, pre-eminently a land of peace and mutual respect; it is the beacon-light towards which the European nations anxious to emigrate, now turn their troubled souls to begin life anew, an ideal life which would be as the image of their former happiness. Our country enjoys complete unity, with its two dominating races whose national aspirations are similar; it is the land of religious and constitutional freedom. Although it has nine provinces, Canada has but one flag: the Union Jack. The maple leaf and the beaver are the only emblems of our country. Its soil is fertile, its forests extensive, numerous are its natural resources, its industries most promising notwithstanding these difficult after war times. However, we fully realize that an agricultural, commercial and industrial crisis is still being felt here as in other foreign countries. Trade has not yet fully recovered: it lacks stability; workmen are even forced to remain idle two or three days per week. The farmer calls loudly for markets. In short all seem to bear witness to the fact that, at

Supply-I mmigra tion

the present time, throughout Canada, our population is able to cope with the requirements of trade and industry and so contribute to their success.

The government, in which I have absolute faith and particularly the Minister of the Interior, who is competent in such matters, seem to have drawn up a wise policy on immigration though couched in rather cautious language. Let us hope that the carrying out of these ideas will have all the good effects intended, for the welfare of our people and the success of the work which they desire to place to their credit. Let us be prudent. Let us choose our immigrants with a view not only to securing the best, but also to securing the kind most needed. If we wish for the future and forever to maintain our country great and prosperous, we should strive to preserve it such as it is to-day, respectful of its forefathers' traditions and watchful of our customs and manners. With that aim in view, Mr. Chairman, we need at least immigrants who understand our economic situation and our ways, they must have sufficient intelligence and judgment to adopt, conform and especially assimilate themselves to these conditions. I do not hesitate for a moment to state on the floor of the House that Canada is in no need, at present, of labour immigration. Our national-I want to say, so as to be better understood our Canadian artisans- have a first claim to any manual and industrial employment available. We must not, by all means, bring them in contact on our own soil with the competition of foreign labour. It would be unjust at the present moment, especially in these after war hard times, when they have to toil and make the most of every opportunity so as to enable them to procure the bare necessities for themselves and their families. If agriculture needs help let us find it only in a sound and fit immigration. Let it be strictly limited to agriculture. This step would be of a practical nature, benefiting all the people in the Dominion.

The figures cited by the hon. Minister of the Interior bearing witness to the emigration of our people towards the United States, is food for thought; it is the present generation, the hope, the living and tangible future of our country which is flowing out. A repatriation policy is necessary. We must reach them either through lectures or agents, in fact by all possible -means; we must convince them that it is necessary they return to the land of their forefathers, the soil they deserted on the spur of the moment, enthused at the prospect of joining the American Republic and obtaining higher wages. If they left, naturally

[Mr. MercierJ

it is through the soliciting of others who had preceded them to that foreign land. The example was fatal. Branches were detached from the great Canadian tree; impoverished in sap the small branch found its way to the neighbouring republic, only to linger and die within a few years.

Let the Dominion government closely associate itself to the various provincial associations and adopt a common policy so that this repatriation work may bear fruit. May it bring back to our country excellent families of farmers and labourers who should never have emigrated in a passing moment of disillusion.

All the provinces suffer from the emigration of our people to the United States. The present situation resembles somewhat that of 1896. Most of the hon. members of this House will remember: uneasiness was general, trade was languishing, the smoke-stacks of mills were towering but lifeless, agriculture practically without markets and prices unstable like passing clouds. In the West, settlers shifted to the United States, even a western newspaper of the time said: "That the roads leading from Manitoba to the United States were worn and broken up by the wheels of trucks of settlers deserting the West."

Their discouragement was therefore evident; they took to the road leading to their native parish or directed their steps towards the mills over the border. The Laurier government applied a remedy to the situation and, through its efficient policy, brought back prosperity to the country. Again, in 1923, we must courageously get to work. Let us develop our natural resources and induce our workmen to further promote that object. Thus we shall again see days of abundance appear in Canada. We shall then perceive that it is not a great flood of immigration which will have rebuilt us, but our own efforts alone.

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March 13, 1923


Can the minister give the figures by provinces?

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May 3, 1922


I do not wish to deny Ontario seaports, but the ports which it has now are developing well and in the near future it may have the advantage of all the other ports that may exist in Canada. But if the people of that province want for themselves a channel that will bring to them the fullest measure of prosperity at the expense of the maritime provinces and the western provinces, I think they want a little too much under the circumstances, especially when such a project would mean burdening the whole people of Canada with an expenditure of nearly $300,000,000. This project cannot be seriously considered under present conditions because our finances are not in such a state as to warrant the investment of such a large amount of money in bringing such an enormous scheme to a successful conclusion. On account of the need for economy in public expenditure, many public works throughout the country have been stopped. Many provinces require some money for drydocks and public services. The Esqui-malt drydock is still unfinished and a large amount of money is needed to complete it. In different parts of Canada, there are wharves that are in need of repair, and there are channels to be dug so that they may be deep enough for the steamers that have to pass through them.

If we want to develop our country by providing further water transportation facilities, there is the Georgian Bay canal, which has been mooted for many years back. It would be a useful development for Canada, and it would shorten the route by 300 miles, if it is given preference to the St. Lawrence waterway. By the construction of the Georgian Bay canal, the people not only of Ontario, but of the whole of Canada, will benefit; and in northern Ontario better progress will be made, because the settlers of to-day and of tomorrow will have better transportation facilities in that district than, exist at present.

On looking at the report, which has been laid on the Table of this House, and copies of which have been sent to every member by direction of the Prime Minister, I see that many questions were asked, but the answers that have been given to those questions should have been given more plainly, because, upon those answers, depends the question whether the project of the St. Lawrence waterway is a good thing or not as regards Canada. The question is not so much whether it is right to spend a great deal of money on a project, as whether, when you invest money, under our present financial conditions, good results will he obtained. At pages 183 and 184 of the report, it may be seen that the answers, which were given to the questions put before the commission so as to inform the two governments of the United States and Canada, are not very clear. Question 6, which, to my mind, is a vital question as regards Canada's interests, reads:

What method of control is recommended for the operation of the improved waterway to secure its most beneficial use?

The answer read's:

The commission recommends (a) that such navigation works as do not lie wholly within one country or are not capable of economic and efficient operation withni one country as complete and independent units, be operated under the direction of the International Board as set forth in recommendation No. 7: (b) that all navigation works other than those particularly mentioned in (a) be operated by the country in which they are located with the right of inspection by the International Board as set forth in recommendation No. 8; (c) that power works' be operated by the country in which they are located as set forth in recommendation No. 9.

The "power works" are indeed, Mr. Speaker, the corner stone of the whole St. Lawrence waterways Scheme. No specific method of control is mentioned. That answer is an example of the answers given in the report. We have rio definite answers to any of the most important questions concerning this project. There are no facts available, and what little information we have been given is as vague as the passing clouds. Let me read question No. *9 and the an'swer thereto:

WThat traffic, both incoming and outgoing, in kind and quantity, is likely to be carried upon the proposed route both at its inception and in the future, consideration to be given not only to present conditions, but to probable changes therein resulting from the development of industrial activities due to availability of large quantities of hydraulic power?

Answer. To this question also it is impossible to give a specific answer, in the absence of definite information as to all the factors that will enter into the problem.

St. Lawrence Waterway

I agree with that statement, because the commissioners [DOT] cannot possibly foretell what is likely to happen in the future. The answer continued:

The commission has brought together authoritative information as to the existing traffic between the tributary area and overseas points as well as between the same area and coastwise points on this continent, and has reached the general conclusion that sufficient traffic will seek the new water route, etc.

Now, Mr. Speaker, a " general conclusion " is hardly a substantial enough basis to act upon in an undertaking of such tremendous importance as this, and I am not surprised that the commission cannot say definitely what amount' of traffic there would be. Before embarking upon an enterprise involving, as this work certainly would, an enormous expenditure of money and is, in my humble opinion, a national risk, there should be submitted to the governments, both of the United States and of Canada, something more definite and concrete than the generalities that have been put forward. There should be absolutely reliable information on Which dependable calculations can be made. Indisputable authority based on the carefully considered findings of civil engineering experts should be available. In 1918 the St. Lawrence Power Company, an American corporation, constructed a dam at Massena in the state of New York and the undertaking was opposed by the government of our country. The work was carried out, nevertheless, because the International Joint Commission considered that it was necessary as a war measure; and this House may rest assured that the St. Lawrence will stand to lose a considerable degree of power by the construction of that dam, to the advantage of our neighbours.

As I said the other night, let us be content to develop what resources Providence has given to each province, and let us work together for the welfare of the country as a whole, each province being satisfied with its own and not interfering with others. We have the resources in Canada and it only remains for us to develop them for us to become a prosperous nation. But, I repeat, do not let us try to grab from one another what is not ours. In 1911 Sir Wilfrid Laurier was questioned regarding the construction of the Georgian Bay canal. He said that the work was one of national character and would be carried through for the benefit and welfare of the whole Dominion. He said, " If I could do it to-morrow, I would carry

out that work." And Mr. Pugsley, who was then Minister of Public Works, brought down an estimate of $3,000,000 to start survey work in connection with the Georgian Bay canal. This project was generally supported at that time, and members representing Ontario and the city of Toronto urged the government to carry it through. To-day, however, they have evidently abandoned that scheme and want another one which would involve the country in untold debt, without any definite assurance of success. I think that the Government would do well to consider this matter very seriously indeed before taking any action at all.

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May 3, 1922

Mr. PAUL MERCIER (Westmount-St. Henri):

When the debate on this matter

was adjourned a few days ago, I was thinking that we would have to be careful in dealing with this project in Canada. When the people on the other side of the line come forward with a project of this nature they generally have a motive of interest. In fact everybody in this life acts from a motive of interest, and when I see the people living in the districts of the Great Lakes advocating this enterprise and many members endorsing it I am but little surprised.

Within the last few weeks we have seen in the newspapers that representatives of the United States' Senate favour this measure. Senator King, from Utah, and Mr. Ten Eyck, Member of Congress, for Buffalo have said: We may have a piece

of land down the St. Lawrence valley, and we may buy another piece of land along the Great Lakes, to carry on our international project in Canada, but when the scheme is supported by these people who are interested so much it seems to me perhaps it is not a beneficial thing for our country.

The United States is surely the country which will derive the most benefit from this enterprise. Of course on our side certain districts of this country will benefit if the project is carried on, from the construction, but they will especially benefit from the development of that waterway. It will certainly he a great benefit to all the harbours and wharves situated along the Great Lakes, and will be a benefit to the ports of Detroit, Port Huron and Chicago, and even of Fort William. Steamers will carry in their holds gold and merchandise.

The people on the other side of the line who propose this project are entitled to do so. They have a right to advocate the policy best calculated to satisfy their ambitions, but I am convinced that the measure will be against the interests of Canada as a whole. For the past two months an educational campaign has been carried on in favour of the project. The United States, in order to obtain an advantage in the matter of transportation, have had the International Joint Commission report printed and distributed. The United States Senate passed a measure adopting that report and they sent it to Canada to try to obtain the approval of the representatives of this country in the House of Commons.

Is it advisable for a country like ours, which can develop itself within its own boundaries, to endeavour to associate with the people of the United States, to give them the advantage of knowing everything about our system of navigation, of importation, about all the secrets of the St. Lawrence river, its weak points, if there are any, and many other matters which affect the safety of our country and which should be kept secret. If we open our country to their steamships, within twenty-five years Canada will be their own because if a joint board is appointed that will have control of this new channel, we may be quite sure that influences of all kinds will be brought to bear upon that board to our disadvantage.

In my opinion-and my hon. friends opposite are not obliged to make the confession-this project will be very advantageous to them and perhaps to them only in the present situation and for perhaps

St. Lawrence Waterway

twenty-five years to come. But when they consider their prosperity, they should not be too ambitious. The province of Ontario at the present time is a rich province; it is getting along well and making all the progress it may desire. It is one of the oldest provinces of Confederation and it has surely attained the aims which it has had since Confederation.

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May 1, 1922

Mr. PAUL MERCIER (Westmount-St. Henri) :

Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member for South York (Mr. Maclean) is considering the proposition from one particular point of view. He is endeavouring to convince only one side of the House, and he turns always towards our good friends the Progressives. I had hoped, before he finished his argument, he would turn and appeal again to the whole House of Commons.

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