The Need For Unity In Canada
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 20 Jan 1966, p. 139-154
Sauvé, Maurice, Speaker
Media Type
Item Type
The purpose of the address to expose the audience to what some have called the "other Canada," and the programmes that have been devised in order to bridge the gulf between these two Canadas. A brief description of the two Canadas; one affluent, one inhabited by people trapped in poverty, many living in rural areas. The speaker's responsibilities as Minister responsible for Forestry and Rural Development. The ARDA Act, passed in 1961, a joint Federal and Provincial programme providing a broad mandate to attack the rural problem. A description of ARDA and its activities. A number of studies commissioned by ARDA to define the problem and to suggest possible solutions. Some examples of these studies. The need for a better understanding of what is involved in living in poverty. Illustrating the findings of a report commissioned by ARDA to the Canadian Welfare Council through seven case histories in various provinces. The new Rural Development Agreement which will provide a number of programme approaches to offer new opportunities and new freedom of choice for many of these people. Some specific examples, with descriptions, include: Comprehensive Regional Programmes; Land Use Adjustment and Farm Consolidation; Rural Manpower Programme; Resources Development in Low Income Areas. Reasons for this poverty. Giving people the opportunity to move out of poverty. Turning the two Canadas into one.
Date of Original
20 Jan 1966
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Full Text
JANUARY 20, 1966
The Need For Unity In Canada
CHAIRMAN The President, Lt. Col. E. A. Royce, E.D.


Mr. Minister, Reverend Sir, distinguished guests, gentlemen:

About 1800 a man named Hegel said, "What experience in history teaches us is this:--That people and governments never have learned anything from history or acted on principles deduced from it." Bernard Shaw quotes this also in his "Revolutionist's Handbook" and we see every day evidence that we do indeed learn very little from history. The tremendous outcry and concern over the relations that exist between the Canadians of French origin and what, for want of a better term, I shall call the rest of Canada, would lead an outside observer to believe that until the collapse of the Duplessis regime in Quebec, our national marriage had been an ecstatically happy one, with the happy couple marching into the future hand in hand while cherubs scattered rose petals and made other arrangements of an attractive nature. This is, of course, nonsense. We have had violent disagreements for years and ever since Confederation there have been a number of occasions in which only the good sense of Canadians, both French and British, prevented explosions of the most damaging nature.

Even since Confederation-made possible only by the unswerving determination of those giants of their time, Cartier and Macdonald-we have encountered issues which threatened to tear our country apart. In 1889 we had the Jesuit Estates controversy which had to do with Church property situated in Quebec--it is, of course, a commentary on our nation that the issue was raised by an Irishman named Dalton McCarthy! On that occasion Sir John A. Macdonald's views were made quite clear when he told one Protestant clergyman, "There is no need for the Dominion of Canada to take action in the national interest against a statute which does not affect in any way any other of the Provinces." After tremendous amount of sound and fury, reflecting no credit on either side, the Bill became law but this had no sooner occurred when the question of the French language and separate schools in Manitoba and the Northwest Territories popped up and the two founding races were engaged in another donnybrook. It was at this time that Macdonald speaking toward the end of a bitter debate said, "I have no hesitation in affirming that the cultural duality of Canada must be accepted as the prime condition of its continued existence. There is no paramount race in this country, there is no conquered race in this country, we are all British subjects and those who are not English are nonetheless British subjects on that account. The susceptibility of French Canadians must be considered but we must take great care, Mr. Speaker, that while we are calming the agitation and soothing the agitated feelings of the people of Quebec, we are not arousing the feelings of people elsewhere in Canada"; and then speaking again, he added, "Let us go on as we have been going on since 1867 as one people with one object and looking to one future and expecting to lay the foundation of one great country."

The Liberal point of view on this matter was expressed by Sir Wilfrid Laurier in 1911 in the disastrous campaign of that year. He said, "I am branded in Quebec as a traitor to the French and in Ontario as a traitor to the English. In Quebec I am branded as a jingo and in Ontario as a separatist. In Quebec I am attacked as an imperialist and in Ontario as an anti-imperialist. I am neither. I am a Canadian. Canada has been the inspiration of my life. I have had before me as a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day a policy of true Canadianism, of moderation, or conciliation."

I have mentioned only a few of the many issues over which we have quarrelled with one another in the past century. Indeed it would seem that history does not record any starry-eyed interlude that could be described as a honeymoon. History may teach us nothing but certainly a study of our history leads one to the conclusion that we are kept together only by the certain knowledge of the wretched position we should each occupy if we should part--and after all, since the marriage originally was one of convenience rather than a lovematch, perhaps we, of the second founding race, have been expecting a bit too much from our often-charming, frequently unpredictable but always realistic partner.

Our speaker today was born in Montreal in 1923. Considering his academic accomplishments, I was tempted to call him a man of letters-however, the recent activities of certain provincial ministers have made this a doubtful compliment, for the moment at least! He received his B.A. degree in 1944 from St. Mary's College and studied law at the University of Montreal; he later attended the London School of Economics and the Faculty of Law at the University of Paris where he received his Ph.D. in Economics in 1952.

Mr. Sauve was technical adviser to the Canadian and Catholic Confederation of Labour from 1952-1955. He held the position of Assistant Secretary of the Royal Commission on Canada's Economic Prospects from 1955-1958. From 1958-1962, he was Director of Public Relations for the Quebec Liberal Party. He entered federal politics in the general election of June 1962 when he was elected Member of Parliament for Magdalen Islands, P.Q.; he was re-elected in April, 1963, and again in 1965.

Our speaker was elected Chairman of the House of Commons Special Committee on Defense in June, 1963. He was appointed Privy Councillor and Minister of Forestry on February 3rd, 1964.

He is married and has one son.

Gentlemen, over the past ninety-nine years our country has been well served by its sons from French Canada--Cartier, Langevin, the great Laurier, St. Laurent and Lesage to mention only a few who have been great Canadians in the fullest sense. Our speaker today has the training, the background and the attributes that make for success in the unpredictable world of politics. At the age of forty-two years, he is already a veteran in the arena-a practical politician, if he has a fault it is one of candour and a determination to meet issue head on-particularly when the matter of principle is involved. Such qualities are rare indeed in politics today where vacillation and indecision seem the order of the day.

Monsieur Sauve, nous sommes tres contents de vous avoir avec nous aujourd'hui, comme representant illustre de la Belle Province du Quebec.

Gentlemen--the Honourable Maurice Sauve, P.C., M.P., Minister of Forestry for Canada.


Are there really two Canadas? My purpose in addressing you today is to expose you to what some have called the other Canada. Most of you are not familiar with it. Most of you do not know the programmes that have been devised in order to bridge the gulf between these two Canadas.

On the one hand is the Canada with which most of you are familiar. This is affluent, productive Canada, the Canada where the majority enjoy a generally adequate standard of living, where cultural and educational facilities are accessible. This is the Canada where people are reaping the greatest benefits-from the 9% rate of growth of our gross national product in 1965; from the declining rate of unemployment in spite of a growing labour force; from vast increases in investment and in capital expenditure. This Canada is exemplified by new sky-scrapers, new apartment complexes, new sub-divisions, expanding and growing Universities, a rising standard of living and new opportunities. In effect, this is the Canada where people are in the mainstream of our economic way of life. This is the Canada that residents of the main urban centres (like yourselves) recognize.

On the other hand there is a Canada with which very few of you are familiar. This is the Canada where most of the inhabitants are trapped in poverty. As such they are generally unproductive and their standard of living reflects the realities of this fact. Indeed, many would say this is the Canada of the "have nots" as contrasted with the Canada of the "haves".

Many of the inhabitants of this Canada are found in rural areas. Rural Canada, particularly since the war, has been affected by deep-rooted economic and technical change. These changes have resulted in tremendous increases in productivity-in fact, it is a paradox that while these changes are fundamental to our economic prosperity, yet they have adversely affected large numbers of people who have been in occupations or in areas which have not been able to adapt.

As Minister responsible for Forestry and Rural Development, I am charged with part of the Government's programme to attack this problem. Our main weapon is ARDA, which is a joint Federal and Provincial programme. The ARDA Act was passed in 1961 and provides a broad mandate to attack the rural problem.

In the period 1962-65 it operated under interim pilot agreements with the provinces. Immediately after I was placed in charge of the programme in February, 1964, we began discussions with the provinces, which led to a new longer-term Rural Development Agreement. This has been signed with all the provinces for the period 1965-70.

In its formative stages ARDA commissioned a considerable number of studies to define the problem more clearly and to suggest possible solutions. An example is the Eastern Canada Farm Survey, which indicated that a large proportion of farms in certain areas of eastern Canada are non-viable and cannot provide a satisfactory income for their operators. Worse yet, it showed their situation as deteriorating.

Intensive studies were started in problem rural areas in Northern New Brunswick, the Lower St. Lawrence-Gaspe area, and in the Interlake in Manitoba. The results showed shocking conditions of low income and poverty--or, in the economists' terms, low productivity and underemployment.

Other studies established that almost 500,000 rural families lived with an income under three thousand dollars per year-almost 42% of the total rural population. As a matter of interest, 19 % of the total urban population falls in this category. Furthermore, over 65 per cent of rural males had only elementary school education or less.

Another nation-wide analysis, "Economic and Social Disadvantage in Rural Canada", proved that these rural low income people were concentrated in certain areas of the country. Other results showed that a large proportion of rural housing was substandard, and only half of the rural dwellings had hot and cold running water or a flush toilet.

However, these are dry statistics that present a picture of average conditions, and provide only a broad base on which to devise a programme. We determined that there was a need for a detailed insight into the realities of poverty, i.e., the real and actual conditions, needs and problems, of specific rural families.

In effect, we needed a better understanding of what is involved in living in poverty. Because of their interest and the fact that they had competent people available, ARDA commissioned the Canadian Welfare Council to conduct studies in four rural areas-Cape Breton in Nova Scotia; Eastern Ontario; Western Quebec; and the Interlake in Manitoba.

To illustrate the findings of this report, I can do no better than to quote briefly from their description of a few families drawn from the scores which they provided.

The Kenney Family--Ontario

The Kenney family are Indians living on the reservation. They have three small children and expect another baby in the summer. Their home is a one and one-half room insul-board shack. It was new five years ago, but has no foundation, very little insulation and is hard to keep warm during the winter. Mr. Kenney had moved the house from a low-lying area across the road to its present site because of flooding every spring and the electricity has not yet been reconnected. Despite the housing, the children were clean, and well-cared for, and the house was neat.

Mr. Kenney showed a genuine concern for the dilemma he was facing in providing for a growing family. He is interested in farming and said the only reason the family would consider moving away would be to farm under better circumstances. He has 13 head of beef cattle, bought with a five-year loan. He has had difficulty paying back his loan. He had tried to improve the family's financial situation by doing part-time labour off the reservation, but has difficulty locating jobs. He recognizes the need for a larger herd, but has not been able to get a loan of sufficient size to make this possible. Mr. Kenney pointed out that they received no assistance or advice from agricultural representatives.

He was able to obtain some work in addition to his farm operation. The chief and some of the men on the reservation opened a private beach and resort last year. Mr. Kenney was responsible for the gate and the concession stand. There was no profit last summer, but they are hoping to show some profit during the next. The Kenney family receives a net income of about $30 per month from their farm. This is supplemented by welfare payments distributed by the agent which varies from month to month.

The Hensons--Nova Scotia

This case is an illustration of the problems arising in connection with a low educational level. Mr. and Mrs. Henson have nine young children and have always lived in this area. Mr. Henson never went to school and his wife has only Grade 8 education. Since the age of fifteen, Mr. Henson has worked in the woods. He has a part-time job, loading boats, at a nearby paper mill that pays about $1,200 a year. When he is not working at the plant, he is in the woods cutting pulp, and he clears about another $1,200 from that. The average income per month per person in this family is $25.

Mr. Henson recognized that this income was low, but he felt that there was nothing he could do to improve matters except to keep on working. He liked to work and would take any job that was steady and in the district.

Mr. Henson has put a lot of hard work into their new home, which he built last fall, a small house with two bedrooms and a kitchen. Two stoves supply the heat. The inside of the house is not finished and they have no inside plumbing, although there is electricity. The family finds it hard to get about as they have no car. They do not plan to move elsewhere. Mr. Henson said his family was too large for that, and he has no education.

This is a family that does reasonably well in their present surroundings in that they subsist without resort to public welfare. They are not inclined to risk moving to an urban area, recognizing that their chances there are poor. However, they are oriented to change within their present environment.

The Adams Family--Ontario

The Adams family live on a farm in Lanark County, Ontario. They are not yet middle aged and have two young children. Their home is an eight-room log house about one hundred years old and in poor condition. It is heated by a box stove and wood-burning kitchen stove. Water is obtained from an outdoor hand pump, and there are no inside toilet facilities. There is electricity and telephone and the family have a car. They live some distance from town-the high school is twenty miles away, as are the doctor and the hospital.

The income of the family is $35 per person per month. Mrs. Adams has a Grade 12 education and a commercial course, and works for the local township authorities. Her present work involves keeping municipal books and is done in her own home. Mr. Adams has a Grade 6 education and worked as a labourer for about three months last winter in addition to his farm operation. In fact, his earnings from this have helped to support the farm, which showed a loss in 1964. The farm is about one hundred acres, of which only 35 acres are under cultivation and Mr. Adams has to rent pasture. He has fourteen cows and he markets calves and milk. The Adams also raise pigs for their own use. They still have two old horses which are used for cutting hay.

The Adams are not satisfied with their life, owing to the level of income. However, they are doubtful that if the family moved to another area, that Mr. Adams could manage a larger farm operation or support his family adequately in some other employment. It would be difficult to sell his present farm and there is no good land available nearby to add to it. The price he would receive if he could sell it, would be inadequate as a basis for a new start elsewhere.

The Fortier Family--Quebec

This family of ten live in a six room house in fair condition. The school is about a mile away. The oldest of 8 children is only 14.

In this region, woods work and trucking is predominant. The father is a truck driver earning about $55 a week. But, such work is seasonal, and there are numerous periods of unemployment. He is employed about 71/2 months a year. The monthly per capita income from all sources is $27.50.

He is not satisfied with his employment situation. Mr. Fortier had a truck of his own but lost it because he was not able to meet the installment payments. He would like to be a farmer or perhaps a carpenter. There are not many opportunities locally for a carpenter and he does not have the money for the required tools. His dream has been to be a farmer, but this appears even less possible.

On his present earnings, Mr. Fortier has great difficulty in providing his family with basic necessities. Lack of money prevents their taking part in local organizations, recreational activities or groups. Opportunities for employment are limited in the region, salaries are very low and the cost of food and clothing is high.

Mr. Fortier will not be able to improve his position unless he has the opportunity to learn a trade. He might profit from vocational training as he is only 38 and has ambition.

The Boucher Family--Quebec

Mr. and Mrs. Boucher and their seven children moved to Western Quebec from the Gaspe several years ago. They live in a house built by Mr. Boucher himself. The workmanship is good but it is sparsely furnished. Mr. Boucher works in a saw mill and the per capita monthly income is $25.00. During the off'-season, the family live on unemployment insurance. Mr. Boucher likes his job but would prefer to work as a carpenter. This would mean higher wages and more stable employment. Both parents have a 5th grade education.

The family moved to Western Quebec in hopes of improving their income and level of living. Mr. Boucher had worked in the Gaspe in a sawmill and as a wood cutter in the slack season. The wages there were insufficient to maintain the family. Relatives of the family were already in this part of Quebec and the Bouchers decided to come and settle.

They find that there is little difference in their situation now with respect to income. Furthermore, they find themselves out of place in a milieu which, although not hostile to them, is quite different. They are having difficulty in adapting to their new environment and a way of living which they characterize as "English".

The Carson Family-Ontario

The Carson family consists of Mr. and Mrs. Carson and their three sons. Three older children live away from home. The family lives in an isolated part of the county-thirty-five miles from the nearest doctor and hospital. Mr. Carson is disabled and no longer able to work. He had been a cook, but was laid off five years ago. He received unemployment insurance for one month. Since then, he has had a series of strokes which have left him partially paralyzed.

They live in an old five-room insulbrick house in poor condition. Heat is supplied by a space heater and the woodburning kitchen stove. Water is carried into the house from an outside pump and there is no inside bath or toilet. Although they have electricity and a couple of old appliances, they have no television, radio or telephone. They receive no papers, nor magazines, nor books. As they lack transportation and the nearest bus is thirty-five miles away, they take no part in any social organizations-even church attendance is impossible as there is no regular local church service.

The Carson's income is made up of the disabled persons allowance, family allowance, mothers allowance, and comes to about $31 per person monthly. Two older sons who live away from home work irregularly as labourers or in cutting wood, and rarely are able to contribute to the family needs. Mrs. Carson tries to supplement their living by raising a pig or two and by canning food. The mothers allowance is reduced in the summer by $25 and she tries to make up for this fact.

Mrs. Carson is not too well. She had a medical examination following a dizzy spell last summer, but has been unable to refill the prescription which the doctor gave her. Neither Mr. nor Mrs. Carson have any teeth. They were told it was too late to get dentures even if they could pay for them. No member of the family has ever had an eye examination. None of the children were delivered by a doctor, and, with the exception of attendance by a neighbour for the actual birth of the last two children, there was no care during confinement.

Mr. Carson has a Grade 4 education and Mrs. Carson completed Grade 8. The two youngest boys attend the one-room school four miles away. Both parents want these boys to continue in school although their older brothers did not. However, the thirteen-year-old, now in Grade 7, intends to quit school in June.

The Carsons have no intention of moving elsewhere. They want no part of city life, since they feel at home here and the house with its one acre of land is their own. The opportunities for work for the family are limited, but Mr. Carson is sure that it is the same all over.

The Emond Family--Western Quebec

Mr. and Mrs. Emond were very interested in cooperating with the interviewer. Mr. Emond pointed out that "I am not able to explain about these things myself. I don't know how to read and write for I never went to school. I never had the chance as I was raised in a lumber camp. My wife can't read or write either. She also grew up in a lumber camp."

This family and their eight children live in a house which Mr. Emond built in 1964. He explained that he had made it out of old planks and lumber which he found on the dump. All the family sleep in one room. There is no electricity, no telephone, no television--only a radio which doesn't work. There are four battered chairs for the 10 people. There are cracks in the walls through which the cold wind blows in winter and in summer the weeds grow up through the cracks in the flooring.

The Emonds live on welfare and receive a maximum of $152 per month. This assistance barely covers essentials. Mr. Emond used to work as a labourer in a pulp mill but since he got blood poisoning in his leg in the spring of 1963, he has been unemployed most of the time. Even when he did work, he never earned more than $30 or $40 a month. More and more unemployment is occurring in the woods industry. In many places, new machines have replaced many men and also it is difficult to obtain work as one grows older. Mr. Emond is 53.

The two oldest Emond boys are out of school, one 16 and one 17, but they are both unemployed. The Emonds recognize their poverty but feel there is nothing they can do. Their lack of education and the general unemployment make it impossible to change much. Although they see themselves as one of the poorest families in the area, they pointed out that there are many other families just about as poor.

Mr. and Mrs. Emond have little social life and recreation. They do visit with their immediate relatives occasionally. They take no part in local organizations or school affairs and seem to feel a sense of inferiority because of their lack of education. Furthermore, because of their poverty, they don't have presentable clothes in which to be seen in public. "We are even too poor to go to mass on Sundayonly the children go."

"There comes a time," Mr. Emond points out, "when one gets discouraged and just doesn't know what to do. When you have no education, no money, you don't think about going to a city--there may be jobs there, but we wouldn't have a chance." The Emonds feel that the government should do something about making work available for people.

These are summaries of real cases and they describe the face of rural poverty as it exists.

This report of the Canadian Welfare Council makes some general points; the families interviewed do not appear to be alienated from the rest of society. Nor may it be said that any "culture of poverty" was uncovered.

These families have a sense of self-worth and have retained their self-respect. The poor families themselves recognize that they are disadvantaged and they indicated a willingness to consider changes if there appeared to be any realistic hope of achieving betterment.

These families seemed aware of their lack of ability to assemble sufficient capital, and of their precarious economic position. Lacking training and other skills, they hesitated to make any change that might turn out for the worse. They usually recognized their lack of opportunity.

Many people are tempted to attribute poverty largely to individual causes such as laziness, mismanagement, or lack of ambition. The study showed this not to be generally true. It is not lack of ambition when a person recognizes the inevitability of accepting a low-paying job when he has no training. It is not laziness which keeps members of poor families working long hours at hard manual labour. And if income is less than needed to live, is it mismanagement to get behind?

This is a picture of people fundamentally like ourselves. They are of many national origins--young and old, healthy and ill. At present, in spite of their situation, most of them still don't despair, but they fear for the future of their children.

In an economy that breeds new opportunities, they fear for their future. What can we do about this? More specifically, what can public policy and programmes do about it? These people are in need. It is essential in a modern, democratic, affluent country like Canada that poverty of this kind, whether urban or rural, be erased.

The new Rural Development Agreement provides a number of programme approaches which can offer new opportunities and new freedom of choice for many of these people. Let me give you some specific examples.


One of the aspects of the ARDA Programme--to my mind the most important one and also the most ambitious one is known as area development. This is a process which is applied in problem areas which have potential for development; it provides for the drawing of comprehensive plans for the development of the region, with the active involvement of local people. The Programmes may cover a range of projects, from educational improvement to resource adjustment, from housing to training and mobility. This concept allows the departments of both levels of Government to focus on these areas. The ultimate aim is to raise living standards and increase income and employment opportunities for the people of the area. This type of global approach is now underway in Saskatchewan, in the Interlake in Manitoba, in the Lower St-Lawrence-Gaspe in Quebec, in NorthEastern New Brunswick and in Northern Nova Scotia and Cape Breton.


Under this programme, the land of some farmers may be purchased by public agencies, consolidated and developed into economic farm units-thus replacing numbers of marginal farms. This programme could provide new opportunities to some farmers, either by allowing them to escape from the binds of an uneconomic farm or by enabling them to cultivate a viable unit.


Allied with this is a rural manpower programme which provides help to those whose land is purchased, as well as to low-income rural families. This provides for training, allowances while training, and moving and re-establishment costs.


This programme provides assistance to resource development in areas where there are concentrations of unemployed and underemployed people. These resource adjustments are made on the basis that they are economic investments--as, in fact, are all programmes under the Rural Development Agreement.

We do not employ a "welfare" approach. Such developments include community pastures, recreational development, and so on. Other aspects of this programme allow for the placing in the field of specially trained staff who will work with rural families in rural areas to improve their situation. Special rural housing programmes are being developed in co-operation with Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

These are some of the weapons we have at our disposal to combat rural poverty. However, we are certain that no one of these programmes, not even a combination of all of these programmes, will help to completely eradicate poverty. These programmes have to be used with great skill to apply the particular approach that meets the particular needs.

The price of erasing poverty may appear high in dollars but the effective cost is far less than our present system of transfer payments. These programmes offer a positive approach that enables people to regain their productivity, to once again be part of the mainstream of our way of life. Further, helping people to become productive will strengthen our economy as well as allowing individuals to re-establish their dignity.

Are there two Canadas? If by this is meant that the poor in this country dwell in a separate culture of poverty, the answer is no. If it means that they are poor because they are innately incompetent and incapable, the answer is no. Thus, not only do our studies and insight show that there are not two Canadas, but that there need not be two Canadas. Most of these people are poor because opportunity has passed them by. Many were trapped by forces of change over which they had no control. These people want to contribute to Canada, they want to become productive members of society, they want the benefits of modern living. We must give them this opportunity.

Thanks of this meeting were expressed by Mr. Allan F. Lawrence, Q.C., M.P.P.

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The Need For Unity In Canada

The purpose of the address to expose the audience to what some have called the "other Canada," and the programmes that have been devised in order to bridge the gulf between these two Canadas. A brief description of the two Canadas; one affluent, one inhabited by people trapped in poverty, many living in rural areas. The speaker's responsibilities as Minister responsible for Forestry and Rural Development. The ARDA Act, passed in 1961, a joint Federal and Provincial programme providing a broad mandate to attack the rural problem. A description of ARDA and its activities. A number of studies commissioned by ARDA to define the problem and to suggest possible solutions. Some examples of these studies. The need for a better understanding of what is involved in living in poverty. Illustrating the findings of a report commissioned by ARDA to the Canadian Welfare Council through seven case histories in various provinces. The new Rural Development Agreement which will provide a number of programme approaches to offer new opportunities and new freedom of choice for many of these people. Some specific examples, with descriptions, include: Comprehensive Regional Programmes; Land Use Adjustment and Farm Consolidation; Rural Manpower Programme; Resources Development in Low Income Areas. Reasons for this poverty. Giving people the opportunity to move out of poverty. Turning the two Canadas into one.