- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 9 Feb 1967, p. 211-220
- Robichaud, The Hon. Louis J., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- An appeal for a Canadianism that is confident and unashamed. A description of Canada and Canadians and the nature of Canadianism. New Brunswick as a founding partner in Confederation, and New Brunswick today. What New Brunswick must do within the Canadian Confederation today. A determination in new Brunswick today to achieve a rapid development of the economy and a necessary reform of the structures and services of government. Facing urgent issues. Government that must serve a human purpose. The kind of society New Brunswick wants to build. The problem of educational disparities. Major programmes of educational upgrading and vocational training for youth and adults. A radical re-working of welfare programmes. In depressed areas: renewing communities; training the work force; developing new industries; consolidating farm lands into more economic units; building new roads, new housing, new schools. Acting in the field of social policy; new jobs and improvement in weekly wages; a rise in farm cash income; an increase in construction work; gaining economic strength. The results of various forms of federal-provincial partnership. Giving substance to an historical motto: "Hope is Restored."
- Date of Original
- 9 Feb 1967
- Language of Item
- Copyright Statement
- The speeches are free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.
- Empire Club of CanadaEmail
Agency street/mail address
Fairmont Royal York Hotel
100 Front Street West, Floor H
Toronto, ON, M5J 1E3
- Full Text
- FEBRUARY 9, 1967
New Brunswick: Fashioning A New Hope
AN ADDRESS BY The Hon. Louis J. Robichaud, PREMIER OF NEW BRUNSWICK
CHAIRMAN, The President, R. Bredin Stapells, Q.C.
The Empire Club of Canada has been honoured to hear stories of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia from the first citizen of each of those Provinces. Today we welcome the Premier of New Brunswick.
In the year 1671, The Chevelier Grand-fontaine had a census taken to discover that in all Acadia there were some 441 souls. Among these was one Etienne Robichaud, the esteemed ancestor of our guest. While Mr. Robichaud can claim antiquity in his connection with his Province, he came to the New Brunswick Bar and Legislature with youth at the age of 27. Eight years later, on July 12, 1960, at the age of 35, he became the first Acadian to be elected Premier of New Brunswick as well as its youngest.
W. O. Raymond commenting on the state of mind of New Brunswickers just prior to Confederation wrote:
"In New Brunswick the people were not of one mind as to the desirability of Confederation. In every community there are persons who see in any new movement a host of difficulties. It is their nature to cling to old systems and to look for precedents for any step of a political character, forgetting that precedents must be created sometime or another and that the century in which they live has as good a right to create a precedent as any of its predecessors."
One hundred years later, our guest of honour today knows full well that people do not change easily. He is committed to a revolutionary programme which is designed to ensure that the poorest communities in New Brunswick will have basic minimum civic and educational services without undue local tax burden. Because New Brunswick Acadians have had the misfortune to be concentrated in the less affluent parts of the Province, the Robichaud reforms have been labelled by his opponents as robbing Peter to pay Pierre.
When you have heard the radical nature of this programme, I think you will appreciate the remarkable political courage of our guest and why his slogan "programme for Equal Opportunity" can well be described as "Fashioning a New Hope" in New Brunswick.
When you addressed this Club during our Diamond Jubilee in 1963, you said that there was a new determination and a new spirit in the Atlantic Provinces more about which we would be hearing soon. And you, Sir, have played no small part in making that prophecy come true. ' It is my honour to introduce The Honourable Louis J. Robichaud, Q.C., LL.D., Premier of the Province of New Brunswick.
I thank you for the opportunity to be with you today, and for the warmth of your welcome.
Mr. President, I appeal here today for a Canadianism that is confident and unashamed! We have a right ... indeed, there is a necessity at this time ... to talk about our country in such terms. If Canada should perish, it will not be for lack of sinew and substance. It will be for lack of faith. It will mark the first time in history that a nation died from an over-dose of diagnosis! For if many commentators are to be believed, the spirit of Canada is neuroticism tied to a death-wish!
In my view, we have had quite enough of such gloomy Canadianism.
In Canada today we should spend less time taking our pulse, and more time taking hold of our opportunities.
We should concentrate less on our difficulties and more on our accomplishments.
We should spend less time forecasting Canada's disintegration, and more time fashioning sound goals and purposes for the years ahead.
We must not lapse into a nervous nationalism. Rather, ours should be a confident, outward-looking nationhood ... giving free play to all the varied elements in our Canadian community, and committed to a responsible role in the world community.
Mr. President, the creation of Canada was an act of daring, and a mighty act of faith. It knocked out the old colonial walls, to give us room ... half a continent of room! ... to grow in. When your delegates from the United Province of Canada invited themselves to our Charlottetown meeting on Maritime Union, things got out of control! We never did get around to doing anything about Maritime Union. In fact, we're still waiting to get that project underway. (I've thought of declaring it our Centennial project and applying for a grant from Ottawa ... a sort of compensation award for what happened at Charlottetown!) But it was decided at Charlottetown that we could surmount the besetting problems of all the colonies through the creation of a single nation. The fashioning of a new nation would, at the same time, fashion a new hope for all its people.
Canada was possible because, at a critical moment, men were able to get past the old hostilities, the old rivalries and suspicions, the old forms and structures. I am convinced that Canada will endure ... and mature ... as long as each generation of Canadians tackles the critical issues of the day in that same spirit.
I know that you will be dismayed to learn that there have been times when Maritimers have regarded Upper Canadians with something less than affection. Honesty compels me to admit to you that, on occasion, we have had our suspicions of the entrepreneurs of Toronto and vicinity! In fact, P. B. Waite has worked through the speeches and newspapers of the Confederation years and come up with this summary of Maritime opinion:
". . . the Maritimers had developed a considerable suspicion of the Canadians. Canada had a lurid history; rebellions in 1837,- the Governor General pelted with rotten eggs in 1849, the Grand Trunk scandals punctuating the 1850's, and the crowning touch-the Canadian treachery after the Intercolonial Railway negotiations of 1862. The history of the past thirty years had shown how untrustworthy, how irresponsible, how impossible, Canadians were. Incapable of running their own Union, bogged down in a welter of debt and bad finance, they were, all too often in the Maritime eye, bent on relieving themselves of their embarrassment at the expense of others."
Plus iga change, plus c'est la m6me chose! ... adjust a few details and that sounds like a summary of last month's news stories and editorial comment. But that's how one region viewed another in the pre-Confederation days. That is the mood of suspicion that existed.
Yet the vision of "Canada", the possibility of the greatest union, drew men past their suspicions; even drew them past the bitter experiences of the past, toward a new and hopeful destiny.
So it was that the great Cartier would say: "Shall we be content to remain separate-shall we be content with a mere provincial existence-when, by combining, we could become a great nation? We will form a new nationality, a political nation, with which neither the national origin nor the religion of any individual can interfere. We are placed beside each other like great families. We are of different races, not for the purpose of frustrating or warring against each other, but so that each by his efforts may compete and strive to excel the other and thus increase the prosperity and glory of all . . ."
That spirit-that generosity of attitude-made this country possible. We have gone through depressions, disasters, wars, domestic tensions and crises of all kinds. We have emerged strong from such experiences, because in every generation Canadians have never lost touch with that spirit. It has been truly said that "more than most countries, Canada is a creation of human will ... this country has existed a long time, because its people have never stopped willing that there be a Canada. Each age is fascinated by the difficulties it must face; hence most generations go through periods of doubt. Present day Canada is no exception. But Canada will continue to exist, will grow and progress, will surmount the present crisis, if Canadians have the will -a will like that of the men who built the country. . . . The will we speak of cannot be stiff and arbitrary; it must take account of new circumstances. Like anything that is living it must constantly adapt to changing conditions. Above all, it must be based on awareness and understanding."
With that spirit at work, we can make sound adjustments in the constitution of our Confederation. With that spirit at. work, we will better understand the important and proper concerns of Canadians of French culture. Yes, and with that spirit at work, separatism will fast become a spent force. Within our one nation, we must encourage and nourish regional and cultural variety. And within our diverse regions, we must achieve national social goals and standards for all our people.
New Brunswick was a founding-partner in Confederation. It was a sound decision. Those who led us into the new nation were convinced that ours would forever be a "stunted strength" if we stood apart from the union. As Professor MacNutt has said, the grandeur of New Brunswick is not in the land, with all its variety and beauty. The grandeur of New Brunswick is in our people, the tens of thousands of men and women who have subdued the land; built homes and communities, often in the face of great adversity. Our people, drawn from the two great cultures of Canada, and destined to share a common region. For our people there can be no future worth the name apart from the one nation. Our Fathers of Confederation were wise indeed to see this, and to act on it.
Today in New Brunswick we believe that it is our task to win for our people truly Canadian levels of living and services. We believe that we must achieve provincially that new hope for people ... that new opportunity for people ... that brought about the formation of the nation.
Fifteen years ago Adlai Stevenson uttered words that are a perfect statement of what New Brunswick must do within the Canadian Confederation today:
Governor Stevenson said: -
"Government--any government--is not an end in itself. It exists to serve certain human purposes. . . . What ought to be done by the government for the public welfare should be done. There should be no wistful dragging of the feet, or turning back to a dead irrelevant past."
Those four sentences are a charter and challenge to me. Government must serve human purposes. We are determined to do what must be done to serve the public welfare; to fashion for our people, and for their children -a new hope ... a new opportunity for human development and economic security.
Despite occasional discouragements, despite temporary disappointments, I can assure you that there will be no wistful dragging of the feet!
There will be no turning back to a dead irrelevant past! In New Brunswick today we are determined to achieve a rapid development of our economy, and a necessary reform of our structures and services of government.
A magazine editor interviewed me not too long ago. He said that there were those who accused me of trying to do too much, too fast. In my reply to him, I pointed out that there are at least four ways of getting from Fredericton to Saint John. If you have urgent business-you can fly, and be there in a few minutes. If you have routine business to attend to-you can drive down in a couple of hours. If you have nothing pressing to do--you can take the bus. If you have all the time in the world-you can walk!
Now the fact is that in New Brunswick today we face urgent issues. We have to move now, and move fast! We can't sit around waiting for a God-given miracle to end the inequalities which are contributing to the waste of our most treasured possession-our people. It is sheer hypocrisy to speak of "democracy" and "freedom" in our society if, through lack of education, or through lack of job opportunity, a man is excluded from any real share in society. What kind of democracy is it, that permits thousands to become society's "drop-outs"? What kind of freedom is it, that traps hundreds of fellow-citizens in dead-end alleys of unemployment and failure?
Government must serve a human purpose. We must build in New Brunswick a society in which children will have an equal opportunity to achieve the goals they set for life. We must build a society in which individual success is possible, but not at the expense of another man's property. Listen to these strong words! "It is unpardonable that any child should grow up in our country without the benefit of at least a common school education. It is the right of the child. It is the duty not only of the parent but of the people. The property of the country should educate the country. I want the children of the poor in the remote (communities) to receive the advantages now almost confined to the more fortunate (children) of the towns".
Those are not my words-though I agree with them wholeheartedly. They are in fact the words of Lieutenant Governor Wilmot, spoken in 1852 in New Brunswick ... 115 years ago. And yet the issue is still with us; the problem has persisted. Terrible educational disparities have made many of our people second-class citizens.
Mr. President, after 115 years, I think we have waited long enough!
The times demand, and human concerns demand, that we act now for the public welfare. This year our 422 school districts will be organized into 33 school divisions, guided by elected school boards. The 488 old one-room schools will begin to go ... and most of them were second-rate buildings offering third-rate educational service. We will begin to build schools and school programmes that are adequate and relevant to tomorrow. We will embark on major programmes of educational upgrading and vocational training for youth and adults. For human and for economic reasons, we cannot afford to do otherwise.
At the same time, we have begun a radical re-working of our welfare programmes so that the emphasis will no longer be on the "dole", the "relief" handout. The concern will be to maintain families and individuals so as to preserve their dignity as persons, while at the same time assisting them to help themselves out of dependency.
In the years ahead we will move into all depressed areas of our Province, as we are now at work in the Mactaquac and Northeast areas of New Brunswick. We will renew communities; train the work force; develop new industries; consolidate farm lands into more economic units; build new roads, new housing, new schools. We must move-we must act-in the field of social policy if we are to fashion a new hope for our people; if they are ever to participate fully in the gains of Canadian society.
In like fashion, we are on the move economically and industrially. Our economic growth will provide the resources for continued social advance.
In six years we have achieved 20,000 new jobs in New Brunswick -a 9% gain in employment. Weekly wages have improved 17% in that period; wages and salaries have grown 35% in value. Despite a tough crop year in 1965, in six years farm cash income has risen by 52% ... and the production of our largest crop has risen 30%.
In six years construction work has increased 68% in value; our gross mining production is up 342%! Our forest products production increased 34% in value; our fisheries production is up 100% in volume and 37% in value. Total capital investment has risen by 98% in six years; total public and private investment is up 73%; and our Gross Provincial Product has risen by 391/2 %.
Within the one nation, our Province is gaining in economic strength. And I am glad to state that much of what we have been able to achieve is the result of various forms of federal-provincial partnership. That is how our federal system works to bring truly Canadian standards of life and opportunity to the several regions of Canada.
We are working to fashion a new hope. There will be no dragging of the feet. There can be no turning back.
To be sure, half-measures would ruffle fewer people. But in the mathematics of social progress, half-measures plus half-measure equals zero! This is a time when we must reject the merely palatable, for the sake of the action that. is right.
Back in the 18th century, when New Brunswick was separated from Nova Scotia to become a distinct colony, a Great Seal was devised-suggestive of the forests, the ships and the sea coasts of our Province. A motto was chosen for the Seal ... two strong latin words: SPEM REDUXIT. HOPE IS RESTORED.
For many years that motto fell into disuse. But now again, I am proud to say, we have those good words-those confident words-set below the Crest of New Brunswick.
By the hard work of our people; by the policies and programmes of government; through the strong partnership of our Canadian Confederation, we will give substance to those words: "HOPE IS RESTORED".
Mr. President, I am a confident Canadian and a proud Canadian.
I believe in the experiment that is Canada. I believe that we have come a very long way in replacing hostility with partnership; in using the stuff of difficulties to build our progress.
I believe that in the years ahead, New Brunswick's best hopes and aspirations will be achieved within the community of our one nation.
Thanks of this meeting were expressed by Mr. Sydney Hermant.