- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 19 Apr 1956, p. 341-359
- Lacoste, His Excellency Francis, Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- One of the marks of a high civilization: the possibility of a people to claim two spiritual origins. Canada's privilege in this regard since our population is composed chiefly of two elements representative of the two strongest cultures of Europe. Canada's consciousness of this double origin, and how it impresses newcomers. A glimpse of what France is thinking and doing today in the domain of science and its applications which are preparing and will transform the life of this planet tomorrow. The economic power of France. The "evolutionary" and "anticipatory" factor in the economy of nations, of this "future power" potential in the power of today. Some history and background going back to before the First World War. The passing of the era of solitary research and of "one-man discoveries." Remarks on the nature of research and present progress. Questions posed about the creative effort of the research in France, with responses as to the results and achievements of such efforts. Time to recuperate. How the French political, social and economic set-up reacted in 1945 and since. The French National Centre of Scientific Research created just before the war and reorgnized in 1945 with the general task of "developing, directing and co-ordinating scientific research of every kind." Details of particular responsibilities. An examination of some of the principal fields of endeavour: coal, steel, electricity, gas pipelines, railroads, use of electricity to run trains, the utilization of pro-stressed concrete, the cinemascope, the "GAMMA" calculator, the aeronautical industry, atomic energy. The growing demand for French industrial techniques and technicians, especially in the fields of civil engineering and public works, with examples in several countries. French endeavours conscious of being at work for the community of free nations to which she belongs. International co-operation as one result of the terrible experience of the last war.
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- 19 Apr 1956
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- "THE PRESENT DAY SPIRIT IN FRANCE"
An Address by HIS EXCELLENGY FRANCIS LACOSTE Ambassador for France in Canada
Thursday, April 19th, 1956
CHAIRMAN: The Third Vice President, Mr. Bruce Legge.
MR. BRUCE LEGGE: My Lord Bishop, My Lord, distinguished guests, members of The Empire Club of Canada and members of the radio audience. Our speaker, His Excellency, The Honourable Francis Lacoste, the Ambassador of France to Canada comes to us from a distinguished background of service to his country in the diplomatic corps and in the Army.
By serving in France in two world wars, Canadians have learned to admire French courage, and all of us know something of France's famous military tradition. We have been stirred by stories of historic French bravery in IndoChina, and we have marvelled at Napoleon's campaigns which stretched from the scorching deserts of Egypt to the frozen and terrifying prairies of Russia.
But aside from warfare, we also know that in those periods of political activity which precede and follow wars, France has excelled in the refined art of diplomacy. Indeed, it is a maxim that French is the language of diplomacy-to which might be added that the French are the masters of diplomacy. As an example, every schoolboy knows that Talleyrand dominated the Congress in Vienna after the Napoleonic wars.
His Excellency was born in 1905 and his notable career contains a vast experience of war and diplomacy.
He is a graduate of the School of Political Science, and before the Second World War served as Secretary to the French Embassies in Belgrade and then in Peking.
In 1939 he joined the colours as an infantry officer and during the German occupation of France, he was a member of the underground French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During the campaign for the liberation of France in 1944 he served with the French Resistance and with the First French Army. He is an officer of the Legion of Honour and for his distinguished services in War, he was awarded the Croix de Guerre.
After the war, His Excellency returned to the diplomatic service and held many important posts as Counsellor of the French Embassy in Washington, as the presiding member of the Delegation to the Far Eastern Commission and as the French Delegate to the Geneva Conference on Far-Eastern affairs. He has also been the Deputy French Representative to the Security Council and the head of the French Delegation to the United Nations.
Perhaps his most difficult appointment was that of the Resident-General of France in turbulent Morocco and he bore that stern responsibility for the critical period from May, 1954 until June, 1955.
Only last November, His Excellency was made the Ambassador of France to Canada and we welcome him to The Empire Club of Canada early in his Canadian career. He has chosen neither a military nor political subject but will speak to us on "The Creative Spirit in PresentDay France; an analysis and a review of some of its chief accomplishments since the Second World War."
HIS EXCELLENCY FRANCIS LACOSTE: Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen. Before embarking on the speech which I am to deliver here today on the subject of "The Present-day Spirit in France", I would like to say a few words in French. I am sure that almost everybody here, if not all of you, will understand what I have to say in my native tongue, which also is the native tongue of such a very large number of Canadians. In this great city of Toronto, the elite of whose citizens were able to give such a demonstration of their respect and of their love for French culture on the occasion of the recent visit of the "Comedie Francaise", the fact that I may speak a few words in French before The Empire Club of Canada, will be, I hope, and I trust, a symbol of, and a tribute to the culture of the people of Ontario.
Monsieur le President, Mesdames, Messieurs,
C'est une marque d'une grande culture, et plus encore, d'une haute civilisation, que l'aptitude d'un people a se reclamer concurremment de deux sources spirituelles. A cet egard, le Canada se trouve dans une situation privilegiee, puisque sa population se compose de deux elements essentiels, qui representent en son sein deux des plus fortes cultures eutopeennes.
Mais ce qui caracterise la Canada d'aujourd'hui, c'est qu'il ne se content pas de se "trouver" dans cette situation. Il a, de sa double origine, profondement et vivement conscience. Il en est legitimement fier, et il a la volonte de tirer de cette ascendance, pour l'avenir, et des maintenant, toute la richesse spirituelle et toute la force nationale qu'elle pent lui donner, a condition qu'il en prenne les moyens. L'un de ces moyens,--le principal, sans aucun doute,--c'est la connaissance des deux langues, aussi largement repandue que possible dans tout le pays et dans toutes les classes de la population. Cette connaissance est desirable; elle est meme, pour certaines personnes appelees par leurs activites ou leurs fonctions a un role eminent dans la vie politique, economique et sociale du Pays, strictement necessaire. Elle est desirable et necessaire a des fins de culture intellectuelle et spirituelle, car on ne pent vraiment gouter l'histoire, la litterature, la civilisation d'un Pays, et s'en penetrer, que si l'on pent puiser directement a leurs sources. Elle est non moins desirable et non mains necessaire pour faire face aux exigences du present, pour les besoins de cette vie de tons les fours qui est, au siecle actuel peut-etre plus que jamais dans le passe, chargee de presages pour l'avenir proche et lointain.
Or, lorsqu'une nation a, comme la votre, la chance insigne d'avoir vu se pencher sur son berceau deux marraines aussi prestigieuses, elle se doit de les reconnaitre, et de less connaitre toutes les deux. Ces deux marraines, en effet, ont joue dans la vie du Monde entier, depuis cinq siecles, un role si capital; elles y jouent encore, et sont appelees a y jouer dorenavant, un role, litteralement parlant, si crucial, en cette epoque ou les poles de force s'appellent Est et Ouest, que le Canada, seul Pays au Monde a participer a la fois a la civilisation de ces deux grandes dames parfois querelleuses, mais desormais unies par l'Entente Cordiale, a le devoir de mettre son double privilege on pleine valeur.
Je decouvre chaque jour a quel point il 1'a compris. Je l'en felicite de tout coeur. Et, representant de Tune des deux Nations dont il est issu, je trouve un vif plaisir a venir exposer aux Canadiens de l'Ontario ce que la France pense, et ce que la France fait, aujourd'hui, dans le domaine de la science pure et de ses applications pratiques, qui preparent et prefigurent la vie du Monde de demain.
One of the marks of a high civilization is the possibility of a people to claim two spiritual origins-in this regard Canada is privileged since her population is composed chiefly of two elements representative of the two strongest cultures of Europe.
What is impressive to the newcomer today is to see that Canada is profoundly conscious of this double origin; that it is legitimately proud of it and determined to draw upon this double heritage for the development of the spiritual riches and national strength which it affords today and for the future. When a country, like yours, has had the privilege of two such distinguished godmothers bending over its cradle, it should know them both intimately; two godmothers, indeed, who for more than five centuries have played a capital role in the whole world and who still have a crucial part to perform in this era when the poles of force are called East and West. Canada is the only country in the world to share jointly the civilizations of these two great ladies who, though sometimes quarrelsome, are nevertheless closely united in the Entente Cordiale. I believe that this may be considered as a great asset.
Today it gives me very great pleasure, as the representative of one of these nations, to meet some of the Canadians of Ontario and to give them a glimpse of what France is thinking and doing today in the domain of science and its applications which are preparing and will transform the life of this planet tomorrow.
It has been said, Ladies and Gentlemen, that the special talent of diplomats is, precisely, that they haven't one. And unkind spirits even suggest that, being Jacks of all trades, they are good-for-nothings. It is certainly true that in our day they are asked to take a hand in a great variety of tasks some of which are anything but diplomatic. Indeed, I've had the experience myself, and not so long ago. In this flexibility of my career I shall have to find my excuse for discussing with you a subject which you already know well - the economic power of France - in a non-classical manner: I mean that I propose to study it less in terms of quantity and comparisons than in quality ideas and positive appraisals; not so much in figures of production, sales and returns, but rather in discoveries, inventions and new potentialities.
In the word "power", which is currently used to describethe riches of a country, there is a double meaning: first an immediate sense that is static and statistical, a concrete sense in both its French and English significance. It means a fact, and a fact today. But this word possesses another sense - a future sense - a sense of promise - a sense which surpasses the other both in time and in the imagination. It is no longer a question of what a country does or of what it does today; it is a question of what it can do, of what it will do tomorrow.
Now in the age in which we live, not only speed, but the acceleration of speed, and its geometrical progression, compel all responsible men - you do it every day in the management of your business affairs - to think and plan for the future at least as much as for the present. The direction of long term action has become as important as action, itself. This truth, which has always been, but which in the past few years has come to occupy such an important place in our lives, is exemplified in most modern countries, by flourishing institutions of all kinds whose activity is partly or wholly devoted to forecasting, to foretelling, to "prognostication" in an infinite variety of fields. Mark Twain, not so very long ago, complained that nobody was doing anything about the weather. But today specialized sky-gazers disperse their sounding-balloons to the four winds, over all continents, to try and discover, among other things, what the meteorology will be two days, a week or even a month later, and perhaps, in a not so distant future, their probing will reach even much further. Other forecasters strive to know what people will do tomorrow by trying to discover what they are thinking today. The institute founded by Mr. Gallup has its emulators everywhere. The demographers of the 20th century seek to determine twenty-even fifty years in advance, not only what the total population will be, but its average age in any given country. It is only fair to note, in this respect, the immense service rendered to the United States and to Canada by their economists who, ever since the crash of 1929, have been unceasingly conducting inquiries to reveal - even from month to month - the tendencies and trends which might lead to another crisis. It was they who, following the Second World War - or better, during the war itself, prepared the vital steps of the "reconversion".
There can therefore be no doubt of the essential importance of this "evolutionary" and "anticipatory" factor in the economy of nations, of this "future power" potential in the power of today.
It is that present and future power which I propose to explore with you in the economy of my own countryan examination which will be, of necessity, both incomplete and superficial - but which I hope you will find worth performing.
Before the First World War there was a traditional maxim that "France was creditor everywhere, debtor nowhere". That was true, not only of her balance of accounts abroad; it applied, as well, in most of the important fields of, thought and scientific research and in a majority of important scientific discoveries and inventions. Everywhere, or almost everywhere, France was then in the vanguard. I shall not inflict upon you a long list of famous names - names which have brought world renown to France in all branches of science, both at the end of the last century and at the beginning of this. Their names are in all minds, they are on every tongue as I recall them collectively. And if I were to quote them I would run the risk of giving you the false and painful impression that this Pantheon were a temple dedicated to a dead religion-to a cult of heroes without posterity.
This would be an entirely wrong picture. Truth, in fact, is just the opposite. Manifestations of the creative genius of France have been her glory in past centuries in the arts and letters as well as in the speculative sciences, in the exact sciences and in the sciences of observation. This genius has not ceased throwing off sparks, throwing them just as thick as in the past. But certain changes have taken place recently, particularly in the field of applied science, which makes these beams of light-in other countries as well as in our own-less visible. They have, moreover, given them a less personal, less individual character than in the past - may I say one that lacks the trademark of authentic individuality.
Today the era of solitary research and of "one-man discoveries" is almost over. Rare indeed are they who may still conjugate, in the first person, the famous Greek verb and exclaim with explosive joy the "eureka" of Archimedes, floating and speculating in his bath.
And even more rare in the future will be the man who, watching a swinging lamp, as did Galileo in the Cathedral of Venice, or seeing an apple fall at his feet as did Newton, will deduce first, and alone, a fundamental principle or law of the universe. Researchers today, even those whose names are publicly attached to discoveries, are more conscious than those of the past that they owe a great part of their success to an immense collective effort, not only long anterior to their own, but concurrent with it. Often, also, the credit for a discovery belongs to a team, a study centre, a research laboratory, whose members have been so closely associated in their work that none, not even the chief, would take it upon himself to monopolize the honour of a result which is essentially the product of a common effort.
Often, too, in the limitless field of new utilizations of a principle acquired in the past, anonymity becomes the rule: the discoveries multiply to the point of depreciation; they multiply in series; individual credit is dissipated; "creation" or "invention", authentic though it may be, is no longer attached to the name of one man, or even of a group of men. It becomes a "production secret", "a trick of the trade", a formula of an industrial firm. Capital has been the true animator at its origin. Soon, a discovery becomes commonplace, falls into the public domain before being identified. And yet creation continues, springing up in super-abundance in all fields. Only, its real nature has changed.
Because research, of which invention is the happy consequence, rests, henceforth, on experimental resources no longer at the disposal of a single or even of a small group of men. Because present progress makes necessary, for the realization of future progress, the employment of enormous and infinitely costly sources of energy, and the systematic exploration of innumerable blind alleys before, by a process of elimination, discovery opens the road to a new horizon. Because of this incessant repetition, in some respects quasi-mechanical but also often infinitely detailed, armies of researchers must be organized, fitted into a scientific hierarchy and directed. And this mobilization presupposes considerable sums of money.
It goes without saying that there are and that there always will be men of vision, intuition, or inspiration - men with some touch of genius, genuine discovery and finders. But more and more such discoveries will be the success of a method, of collective results, and the achievements of "schools" in the broadest and highest sense of the word. There will be schools of thought where those who inspire will not necessarily be those who discover; where those who discover could not find anything without the inspirers. And both will depend upon the assistance of an army of anonymous workers whose laborious and conscientious skill will be a condition and a necessity to the work of discovery.
Thus placed in its true perspective in the general framework of the modern world, the part of France may be more fairly and easily analyzed. If it is true that scientific research-in pure science almost as much as in applied science - tends to become, of necessity, an enterprise more and more collective in character, it is equally true that the quality of the collective results (not only mathematically, but also intellectually and spiritually) arises from, and is in proportion to, the quality of its component elements.
In this respect, what is the value of the contemporary French element? And what is the value of the force in which thousands of this basic element have been incorporated? What is the value of the general organization which moves and directs this force in action and in specific tasks? Finally, what are the actual results of the creative effort of this body? What achievements has it accomplished? What has it got to show for itself? What may one predict for tomorrow, considering the power it is putting forth today? These, I think, are the points which I must touch upon briefly to complete my expose.
I had recently occasion to recall, before another gathering in the Federal capital, the terrible losses in human lives which France suffered during the First World War - a million and a half of the best men of the generation which was between 18 and 40 years of age in 1914. And I should add - something which one too often forgets - that during these terrible years France lost not only the elite of her youth but all of the offspring of that generation. This is perhaps the gravest damage which may happen to a nation; one which really jeopardizes its very' existence when it reaches a certain critical point. In the case of France, in 1914, there is no doubt that this critical point was dangerously approached, during that period in which she was engaged in a desperate struggle for the preservation of values which were not only hers, but which belonged to the whole civilized world. No one, when attempting to judge contemporary France in whatever field, has the right to neglect the extraordinary sacrifice which she then made, and which she renewed twenty years later with such infinitely tragic and sorrowful consequences to her.
There seems to be no doubt that one must attribute to the cruelty of this ordeal the partial and momentary lessening of her inventive fertility which has been observed. And one should note, also, that this lessening was concurrent with the main phase of the evolutionary phenomenon in the conditions of scientific creation which I described earlier. However, one must consider that a national body is like a human body, endowed with vitality, with a will to survive, with faculties of recuperation, with a power to rebuild its blood and its energy. These forces of recovery have shown themselves in France with a strength all the more striking as the hemorrhage which she suffered was so abundant.
Time is necessary for a nation to recuperate, just as it is necessary for a person. Only that time is usually longer. I think that you will agree that the recovery which began at the end of the First World War continued to produce its effects even after the Second. In a sense, the country started, in spite of the new trial it had just surmounted, from a point which was not quite so low as that which it had reached in the years 1920 to 1925. Otherwise it would be difficult to explain the rapidity with which France rebuilt materially after the monstrous destruction which took place on her soil and in the farthest branches of her economy. In this fact resides the most convincing proof of the physical, technical, intellectual and spiritual value of this basic element of which I spoke a moment ago, the health of which, in its diverse aspects, must be the first factor of confidence in the future.
We have analyzed together, a moment ago, the modern world, and the time has come for us to ask ourselves and try to answer the obvious question: How did the French political, social and economic set-up react in 1945 and since?
Following the end of hostilities I spent three years in the United States, and I remember observing that many of my compatriots who came over to renew contacts after having been cut off from the outside world for five years seemed to be experiencing at the same time two feelings, the combination of which formed the perfect "complex", fathered, in its modern implications, by the Freudian philosophy. Now, it takes at least two feelings to make up a complex. In so-called "minority" complexes there exists, at the side of the major feeling of inferiority, a feeling of superiority which makes the first sensitive, that is, painful. And, vice-versa, a minor feeling of inferiority usually goes with a dominant feeling of superiority which it serves to make aggressive. A number of the French who visited America during those years showed these two feelings, which may be summed up in two statements, equally false and equally shocking-at least in my estimation. Speaking of our friends and allies, the Americans, some said, in substance: "With the lead they have we will never be able to catch up with them". The others retorted, "If we had one-tenth of the means at their disposal, what couldn't we do!" Now I believe that both were in error: the first through pessimism and discouragement, the others by their refusal to recognize certain eminent qualities which - entirely apart from the extraordinary material facilities enjoyed by the Americans - give them much of their creative spirit and its originality.
With remarkable rapidity and sureness France seized what was necessary for her to catch up her many lags. Among these perhaps the worst had been inflicted by the protracted German military occupation of her territory and by the captivity of millions of her sons, as well as by the general disruption of her forces. It should be noted that, meanwhile, the inventive and constructive genius of her allies had remained free and had even been stimulated by the vital competition of the war.
On November 2nd, 1945, an official decree reorganized the French National Centre of Scientific Research which had been created just before the war. The new Centre was given the general task of "developing, directing and co-ordinating scientific research of every kind". Particular responsibilities were:
1. To carry out, or have carried out, either by its own initiative or upon the request of public services or private enterprises, studios and research for the advancement of science or of the national economy in fields of recognized interest;
2. To encourage and facilitate research undertaken by public services, industry or private persons or groups; 3. To assure the co-ordination of research projects pursued by public services, industry or private individuals. Animated by men who were not always research men, but all of whom were excellent co-ordinators, administrators and inspirers, scientific research in France made extraordinary progress from that moment, in spite of the initial scarcities of all sorts which fettered it. If we remember the length and gravity of the interruption and the appallingly low starting point, the results achieved in ten years are highly satisfactory and encouraging. With a view to giving you a chance of judging for yourselves that favourable estimation, we will take a look together at some of the principal fields.
First of all, in that classic domain-a domain which even today remains at the base of the industrial power of every modern nation, and from which the initial industrial fortunes of Great Britain, France, Germany and the United States were made-that of coal and steel.
Last year the coal mines of France produced an all-time record of 57 million tons. But this was not because they employed a greater number of men than before the war; on the contrary, they had never employed so few. This enormous progress was due to a radical renovation of techniques which raised the production to approximately 3500 pounds daily per man in the pits. This means one-third more than before the war and is a European record, or, better still, a world record. That is, if you consider it in terms of comparable conditions of extraction and, especially if you take into account the average diameter of the veins in Europe, where it is small, and in America, where it happens to be big-as everything else. This result, of which we feel justified to be proud, was obtained at the price of a huge effort in technical advancement. This was mainly due to the employment of cutting machines, automatic loaders, conveyor belts, all of which may seem very common practice to you, but which had to be adapted to the most difficult and exacting requirements of local conditions, and was created almost ab nihilo of a very few years.
And we are not satisfied with that; new programmes of modernization have been perfected which will further increase the return of the French coal mine. Thus, the Lorraine basin, which up to now has produced only burning coals unsuitable for turning into coke, is being transformed; the defects inherent in Lorraine coals are being corrected through new chemical processes and, thus, the problem presented by the economy of this region, where the metallurgical industry and the mining industry had never in the past been complementary, is now solved. The basin which furnished six million tons of coal before the war today produces 12 millions. Even that figure is to be raised, by 1958, to 18 million.
Let us turn to steel. France produced, without counting the share of the Saar, 12 1/2 million tons in 1955. Here also progress is due to a strenuous effort in technical modernization. That progress appears in many different ways. The case of the rolling mills may serve as an example. One of the characteristic features of the steel market today is the great demand for sheet metal, strip metal, wire and other iron wares. A vast programme had to be put into operation to develop the production of these. Some world records have been broken in the process, for continuous long-belt rolling mills and for cold rolling mills, recently completed in the Moselle. Due to this, France now has her place in a field which was not one of her strong points before the war-but which has become vital in Europe and even on the world market.
Let us see now where France is in the development of that not so new force - electricity - which she gave the poetic name of "houille blanche"-the "white coal". In the construction of dams, where French ideas and techniques have shone with brilliance from the beginning, impressive achievements have brought, quite recently, worldwide fame to such French engineers as Mms Caquot, Freyssinet, Lossier and Coyne. M. Coyne came to Canada last year to explain his new technique of sounding tests for the permanent probing of the solidity of dam structure. The names of certain of those recent French achievements are well known in Europe. On the Rhone, Genissiat has 450,000 horsepower; Donzere-Mondragon, even more powerful, was opened two years ago; tomorrow it will be Montelimar. When the programme now under way is finished, the turbulent Rhone will have become a great s aircase of harnessed water distributing some 13 billion kilowatt-hours a year, irrigating more than 700,000 acres of land and linking Geneva and Marseille by a continuous waterway.
With the opening of the Grand Canal of Alsace, the same thing is happening to the part of the Rhine between Bale and Strasbourg; to the Kembs dam of 1932 has been added that of Ottmarsheim, finished in 1952, and Fessenheim, now under construction. Everywhere, enormous projects are under way-a sign of intensive vitality, but proof also of an engineering genius very much alive and active. The launching of these projects could be undertaken only because of the progress in some particular techniques which have become French specialties -that of turbines and giant alternating-current generators are examples. For high falls, the Electrical Station of Pagnieres Cap de Long, in the Pyrenees, is equipped with the two Pelton horizontal turbines producing 109,000 horsepower under a fall of 3,600 feet, which constitutes a world record of power for turbines of this category. For average falls, the celebrated Leon Perrier station, at Genissiat, has vertical Francis turbines which are the most powerful installation of that kind in Western Europe. Finally, for low falls, the Andre Bloudel station of Donzere-Mondragon, with its six groups of 50,000 kilowatts drawn by Kaplans of 70,000 horsepower, working under 66 feet, holds the power record for this type of turbine. And you certainly knew that French technicians in the employ of the Neyrpic Society of Grenoble, are busy right now developing the power potential of some of the rivers of the Province of Quebec.
I could also mention the building of 250 miles of pipeline which recently linked the production centres for gas of the Lorraine basin with the distribution centres in Paris and its suburbs; the ultramodern petrol refineries in the Lower Seine, in the Gironde region and on the Mediterranean.
But let us say a word about the Railroads. You know, of course, that the French National Railways broke all world records for speed last year. They ran an experimental passenger train on the road between Bayonne and Bordeaux in the southwest of France at a speed of slightly more than one hundred and fifty miles an hour. As far as I know, this is about fifty miles per hour more than anything that has ever been accomplished on this continent. But other achievements, less spectacular, deserve perhaps even more praise. Is it not nice to know that French trains travelling at an average speed of more than 60 miles an hour, link the principal cities of France every day, and that all of them have an enviable record of being exactly on time?
Another remarkable achievement is our use of electricity in France to run our trains. Now the Research Centre of the French National Railways has perfected a formula for feeding the electrical lines directly with ordinary industrial high tension current (20 to 25 thousand volts). The cost of equipping an electrified line is thus reduced by 40%; the numerous sub-stations have been replaced by simple alternating-current posts every 30 to 45 miles. Thus the lines carrying the current to the machines have their charges reduced and lightened to the maximum and, thanks to this progress, it has been possible to perfect locomotives which easily outclass the best continuous direct current machines.
Finally, the modern French railbed is constructed of welded rails, each 2,400 feet long and laid on hard rubber shock absorbers. Some of our "Michelines" - railcars, short, adaptable and very speedy - roll on rubber tires, and we expect the Paris underground - our famous "Metro" - to be equipped that way in the very near future.
I might mention also that the initial inspiration for and utilization of pro-stressed concrete was a French invention. As you know, this method, which has spread all over the world, is used extensively in Canada.
It is not generally realized that France is in the front line for the development of all electronic devices. It was France that perfected the "GAMMA" calculator, the most rapid in the world. We sell it in very large quantities in the United States today. And the range of French perfected radars surpasses that of their nearest competitors by 30%. The cinemascope, perfected by Professor Chretion, covers the screens of this continent. I should speak too-merely touching the surface-of the new scientific work and original achievements made in France in the utilization of solar energy in the Pyrenees at Pic du Midi; and in harnessing the tides. We have a huge centre under construction for the latter purpose in the estuary of a little river called the Rance. If we are successful in this-and we expect to be successful-we could help you try your hand at this new game for which Canada seems to be particularly suited. Just think about what could be accomplished with tides like that of the Bay of Fundy!
The renaissance of the French aeronautical industry has had international significance. The latest productions are the Caravelle, the Leduc and the Djinn helicopter which have aroused much interest and curiosity abroad - and I must not forget the famous Mystere Mark IV which is being produced in France for the NATO forces.
Lastly, in the atomic field, where exploration demands such fabulous expenditures, France has succeeded, in spite of the interruption caused by the war, in recovering her place in the group of research scientists who make up the vanguard. Remembering that France was the great initiator in radio-active matters with the work of Henri Becquerel and the Curies at the turn of the century, it is not surprising that French atomic scientists are forging ahead. France is, as you know, the biggest producer of uranium among the West European nations, although, to you, Canadians, our production may look a very paltry affair. Still, last year, France had more than 3,000 research scientists and a budget of $50,000,000 devoted to discovery in the field of the peaceful uses of atomic energy.
Gentlemen, the achievements which I have strung along so rapidly before you have received the most eloquent testimonial possible, in that there is a huge and still growing demand throughout the world for French industrial techniques and technicians. This is particularly true in the fields of civil engineering and public works.
In Latin America, where so many foreign competitors seek to help the young Republics in the development of their enormous economic, potential, French companies and engineers have been sought out. They have built the important smelting group of Paz del Rio in Colombia, which was inaugurated only recently.
In Peru, a group of French firms, in co-operation with the Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas, tendered for and were awarded the contract for building the steel works and hydro-electrical centre of Sauta.
In Venezuela, the new turnpike - the La GuairaCaracas - has viaducts which are among the largest arches in the world using prestressed concrete in the superstructure. It is of French construction.
In Brazil, French enterprises are building the important chemical products plant in Cabo-Frio, near Rio-deJaneiro, and the company called "Les Grands Travaux de Marseille" is constructing the great dam and the hydroelectrical station of Cacheeira Dourada on the Paraniba river. Three years ago, when I had the privilege of visiting the gigantic electrical centre of Paolo Afonso (then under construction) on the Rio San Francisco, the Brazilian engineer directing the project told me that he had taken all his scientific training and studies in France; and that is still another way of exporting, in more subtle form, the techniques of France.
In Asia and Africa, French technicians are being equally successful: dams and irrigation works in Iraq; electrical works in India; enlargement of the port of Colombo; construction of aerodromes in Turkey; an underground railway in Istambul: a great electrical station on the Tumut river in Australia; expansion of the airport of Hong Kong; construction of a pipeline in Kenya; dams in the Belgian Congo. I shall stop this enumeration here. Only one remark to conclude it: In the field of public works alone. France at the moment holds 47 world records.
Gentlemen, at the end of this survey of French economic powewr, in which I purposely abstained, for reason of brevity, from dealing with the immense field of agriculture, I have taken you with me not by helicopter, but rather by supersonic jet-and I am afraid that I may still have seemed long to you. I shall make only one more comment.
Although I know that none of you would doubt the accuracy of all the facts and notions which I have laid before you, some of you may think that, true as they were, those statements sounded very boastful, and that I might have been better inspired in taking a lesson from the famous English virtue of under-statement. Now, however much I may admire that virtue, and strive - perhaps not always as successfully as I should - to practice it for my own personal benefit, I feel that when it comes to my country, the issue is different. Because it is a fact that, whereas France is strongly criticized - when she is not just plainly slandered-on a great many scores, little is known and said about what she accomplishes in fields which are not belles - lettres, art, wines, perfumes, dressmaking and gastronomy. All those are highly respectable and likeable activities in which we are pleased and proud to excel. But we feel that this is not the whole story, and that we stand to lose much by being noted only for our achievements in those elegant and pleasurable domains.
I felt, therefore, that it was my duty to take advantage of the occasion given me by the Empire Club of Canada to present to you a more complete and adequate picture of present-day France, which would bring you up on certain little-known aspects, while it would do credit to the hard-working men and women of my country. I hope I may have succeeded in my attempt. That attempt would still be imperfect if I did not leave with you this thought: that in all her undertakings, in all her endeavours, France is not seeking only her own good or her own selfish ends. True to the tradition of all her history she is constantly conscious of being at work for that great community of free nations to which she belongs. I am sure you will find there are many elements of resemblance between you and us, for Canada is giving a great example of dedication to ideals which far surpass a narrow conception of her national interest. So does France, so has she done for centuries, so is she preparing to do as much as she finds it possible in the future.
May I say that the terrible experience of the last war has sharpened her eagerness to forge ahead in that great task of international co-operation not only in Europe but everywhere on the world scene.