Quebec's Place in World Economy
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 13 Oct 1960, p. 24-32
Lesage, The Honourable Jean, Speaker
Media Type
Item Type
A Special Meeting Arranged by the National Industrial Conference Board and Sponsored Jointly by The Canadian Club of Toronto and The Empire Club of Canada.
The recent request for Canada, by the United Nations, to provide a contingent of French-speaking Canadian soldiers for purposes of communications in the crisis in the Congo: an illustration of the advantage of being recognized as a bi-cultural nation. Better communications as a way to improving life. Quebec as an active participant in Confederation, and a contributor to the economic well-being of Canada: a review. The Economic Council set up by the Government of Quebec. A re-organization of the Quebec Department of Trade and Commerce. Quebec doing its part to keep Canada Canadian.
Date of Original
13 Oct 1960
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Full Text
An Address by THE HONOURABLE JEAN LESAGE Premier of the Province of Quebec to a Special Meeting Arranged by the National Industrial Conference Board and Sponsored Jointly by the Canadian Club of Toronto and the Empire Club of Canada
Thursday, October 13, 1960
CHAIRMAN: The President, Alexander Stark, Q.C.

MR. STARK: The Empire Club of Canada is proud today to join with the Canadian Club in co-sponsoring this luncheon arranged by the National Industrial Conference Board and marking the first open meeting of its kind which it has held in Canada. We pay tribute to you, Sir, and your executive in planning this full-day conference at which problems so vital to business and industry are aired and discussed. In this respect, your aims are not dissimilar from our own Empire Club, for at our meetings, too, we listen with benefit and enjoyment to statesmen, to industrialists, and to leaders in all walks of life.

Today you have given me the high honour of introducing our distinguished guest speaker, The Honourable Jean Lesage, Premier of the Province of Quebec. In Canada, as in the United States, and indeed elsewhere, political changes can occur very rapidly. For example, by a strange coincidence, this is the second occasion during the year 1960 that

I have had the high honour of introducing to a Toronto audience the Premier of Quebec. But it is the first time that I have ever introduced Mr. Lesage. So quickly does the wheel of fortune turn.

It was only in June of this year that our distinguished guest was chosen Premier of Quebec. Just before the election someone asked him how things were going. His reply was, "We are good for a little majority." Of course, in getting that "little majority", Mr. Lesage overthrew the famous Union Nationale. A life-long Liberal, our guest has already, at the very modest age of 48, achieved a political career of outstanding distinction. A lawyer by profession, his experience in politics began when he was elected to the Federal House of Commons in the general election of 1945 and again in 1949, and again in 1953.

In 1951, he was appointed Parliamentary Assistant to the Secretary of State for External Affairs and two years later he was appointed Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance. In 1953, he was appointed Minister of Northern Affairs and Natural Resources, and there he remained in the Federal Government until the Tory whirlwind of 1957. Since that time his leaps have been meteoric. He resigned his seat in the House of Commons. He took over leadership of the Quebec Liberals. Then came the death of Premier Duplessis; shortly afterwards the death of his successor, Premier Suave; still later the defeat of Premier Barrette; and now we have Quebec's new Premier, elected on June 22, 1960.

Gentlemen, I present to you The Honourable Jean Lesage.

MR. LESAGE: When anyone mentions the "Province of Quebec", there immediately surges up before us an image of a bi-cultural Canada: a young and vigorous nation founded on two cultures, on two ethnic groups, partners in building Canada and in Canada's contribution to world advancement on so many fronts.

One cannot think of Quebec without thinking of Canada, just as the very mention of Canada brings to our mind the French-Canadian way of life which has been responsible for so much of this country's success in its struggle to maintain its identity on the North American continent and at the same time to offset the possibility of isolation from European civilization.

Grace a la culture francaise si profondement enracinee dans notre Province, nous avons pu, au cours des annees, entretenir des relations avec l'Europe qui ont constitue en quelque sorte une invitation constante aux Europeens a transiger avec nous et a participer a notre richesse et a notre developpement.

Le desir du Canada de devenir une nation aux dimensions de sa veritable valeur, a ete motive principalement par sa puissante volonte de survivre, volonte qui est caracteristique du Quebec depuis le debut; depuis le temps ou la Nouvelle France a manifesto qu'elle n'avait pas a s'excuser de revendiquer ses droits, pas plus qu'elle ne devait hesiter a repandre ses traditions culturelles et religieuses.

Toute personne qui regarde l'histoire, d'un oeil objectif, admettra quo ces memos traditions du Quebec ont servi a enrichir, le Canada tout entier, lui conferant un titre additionnel a sa reputation de pays ami, de pays hospitalier, de pays jeune dont la vitalite fait l'envie, et parfois aussi l'espoir, de tant de nations du monde actuel.

It is significant to note that during the present crisis in the Congo the United Nations Organization called upon Canada to make available in the United Nations' military forces a contingent of French-speaking Canadian soldiers. This Canadian force was allotted the task of establishing a system of communications in the Congo.

I bring this fact to your attention to illustrate the advantage of being recognized as a bi-cultural nation; and at the same time I underline the function which was allotted to our French-speaking military unit: Communications.

Through good communications much has been done to unite both your Province and mine as well as the other Provinces in the Confederation and to stimulate us in our efforts towards building an ever-greater Canada, a Canadian Canada. Good communications, too, have served the cause of our relations with our neighbours to the South, opening the way to exchanges of trade and culture which have reinforced the bonds of friendship between our two countries and have made possible the frankness and understanding with which we discuss our mutual problems. When we analyze the advance that has been made towards the betterment of life in the world generally, we will find that much more is owed to the development of communications than to the sometimes doubtful victories, the strifes or the threats of the mightier nations of the world.

Better communications have improved life everywhere they were developed, just as they have brought our two Provinces so much closer than in the days of New France and of British rule, making us active partners in the Confederation, working together in harmony and understanding and in mutual respect.

Quebec has marked, and with characteristic firmness, not only the culture and traditions of Canada, but also the economy of the nation. Our abundant natural wealth and our rich human resources have benefited the length and breadth of Canada as well as permitting Quebec to take her place among the great trading centres of the world.

Quebec has taken a leading part in agriculture, forestry, in mining and hydro-electric power development, and in a wide range of industries depending on these resources. These four fields of industrial activity principally characterize Quebec's economy.

Our agriculture, although not the principal economic factor in the Province today as it was many years ago, still remains an essential element in our growth by supplying the domestic market with farm produce and by providing raw material for our food industries which had a gross value in 1957 of $900,000,000.

98 percent of the farmers of the Province of Quebec enjoy complete ownership of their holdings while the percentage for Canada is 74, and our farm labour force is becoming increasingly productive with the introduction of mechanization and new technical know-how.

Our forest resources have made the pulp and paper industry the most important segment of our manufacturing, an enterprise which may be considered to be the cornerstone not only of the economy of the Province but of Canada's economy also.

Wood pulp produced in Quebec's 56 mills supplies the raw material for a vast range of paper products industries and particularly for our newsprint industry which was accountable in 1958 for almost 25 percent of the world's supply, valued at more than $556,000,000, and whose output has doubled since 1945 due to the increasingly greater demand both at home and abroad.

Our forest resources are vast and productive. Their so far untouched potential coupled with the promotion of replenishment techniques in the areas already exploited makes the danger of depletion of these resources remote indeed.

The expansion of mining in Quebec has been of paramount importance to our economy and has attracted much of the inflow of foreign capital which has contributed to our development.

The Province already leads Canada in the production of eighteen different minerals, the most important of which are asbestos, iron ore, lithium, and titanium. In the production of copper, gold, zinc, cement and several other products, Quebec ranks second. In 1958, our mineral production was 17.5 per cent of Canada's total valued at 2,000 million dollars. Smelting and refining of non-ferrous metals was our third largest industry in 1959, following closely our petroleum products which took second place after pulp and paper.

The mineral resources of Quebec will provide the basis for outstanding growth in the future and will become increasingly attractive as similar resources elsewhere become exhausted.

One of the greatest factors in our development to date has been our abundance of hydro-electric power resources. The already developed potential supplies power to our wide range of industries and has attracted to Quebec those types of industries which are major power utilizers.

The Province has been richly endowed with rivers and waterways relatively easy to harness. In 1958, Quebec had developed a capacity of 7,276,000 kilowatts which represented 44.7 per cent of Canada's capacity at that time. It has been estimated that Quebec's utmost capacity will not be less than 22.8 million kilowatts, over one-third of Canada's estimated total potential.

With so much power at our disposal, is it any wonder we invite industries to locate in our Province? Is it any wonder, too, that so many foreign investors look to Quebec without having to extend to them a high-pressure invitation?

In the development of any nation the major factor always has been and always will be its human resources. A sturdy and industrious population anywhere will never be at a loss to develop and strengthen the economy, even if they are lacking in natural resources such as we possess in Quebec. Our human resources have indeed been the backbone not only of our cultural and social achievement but of our entire life as a partner in the Confederation.

The population of Quebec has grown faster than that of the entire nation. We represented 27 per cent of the Canadian total thirty-five years ago while we now represent 29 per cent in spite of the acquisition by Canada in the meantime of a new Province. Our steadily growing population has provided a powerful labour force and a highly demanding domestic market.

Our labour force of approximately l,675,000 is on the increase, and with new and rapid advancements in managerial and technical know-how, this human element is becoming increasingly productive.

The days when Quebec was held up for sale to the world as a Province of cheap labour are now part of history and the Quebec labour force is as productive and as well paid, all things being equal, as any in North America.

The cheap labour is no longer the prime factor in inviting investment, but something more conducive to prosperity has taken its place. Quebec is now a Province of cheap power and will become increasingly so as we progressively develop our hydro-electric resources. Development of these resources is one of the objectives which my Government has set itself, in the interest of the people of Quebec and of the Canadian economy as a whole.

The diversification and expansion of our secondary industry is also a part of the objective I have just mentioned. Secondary industry is an essential part of the economy and my Government is fully seized of the necessity of encouraging its establishment and continued expansion. One of the most odious menaces of our time, unemployment, finds its best remedy in the diversification of our manufacturing industries, as it can be most effectively offset by the diversified transformation of our own raw materials. Here, too, we find our best answer to the danger of disastrous fluctuations in business conditions in other countries we do business with, or to the possible creation of barriers affecting our foreign trade.

Quebec has at her disposal all the requirements for such development: abundant natural resources; a strong, hardworking labour force; a large and growing domestic market; and an increasingly efficient transportation system reaching out not only to surrounding markets but to all parts of the world.

Our social and economic structure makes Quebec a good place for the investment of foreign capital, and such development as we foresee and plan will warrant a continued inflow of capital into the Province.

While working to maintain the stability that will encourage and provide security for investors, we encourage subsidiaries of foreign companies establishing in Quebec to become good corporate citizens of Canada, and we hold that while sharing in the prosperity of our country they should share also in the responsibilities that good citizenship comprises. The participation of Canadian capital, directorship and managerial skill in these subsidiaries, constitutes the best safeguard we know for foreign investment, and while being shareholders in the well-being which this nation provides, our friends abroad will be strengthened in their faith in the Canadian resources and in the Canadian way of life. Both in the field of capital and of labour we feel that it is not in our best interests that so much control be held by people residing outside Canada.

Quebec is herself a partner both in the prosperity and in the responsibility of the nation. Revenue from Quebec to the central Government has been increasing over the years, and for the fiscal year 1958-59 represented 25.l per cent of Canada's total tax revenue with a contribution of over $680,000,000.

The increasing population of Quebec absorbs a large part of Canada's own production, at the same time consuming a considerable share of our imports, thus contributing to keeping trade the two-way street that Canada must advocate in her own best interests. Quebec's social structure is an encouragement to free enterprise and a bulwark against the spread of false economic or social doctrines in Canada.

The inroads which Communism has been making in many countries in the world today have been of the greatest discouragement to these countries, both from an economical and political viewpoint. It is no secret for anyone that the economic offensive of Soviet Russia is but an instrument of her political and ideological ambitions and that the annexation through low-cost production of large segments of the world market that were once held by free enterprise countries is but another way of implanting the spread of their false ideology.

This pressure from inside the iron curtain has driven much of Europe's capital and talent to seek development elsewhere, and the Province of Quebec may be expected to absorb a large portion of this capital and talent in the best interest of the Canadian and the free world's economy.

Quebec is now entering a new phase of development, and her economic and social growth will progressively acquire new dimensions in proportion to her extensive natural and human resources and in proportion, too, to the part she must play within the Confederation and the free world generally.

The Government of Quebec has set up an Economic Council to supervise the trends of the economy and to act in an advisory capacity to both Government and business on the ways and means of maintaining stability and of pursuing an intelligent and well-ordered development of our resources. We may no longer be content to improvise our development in this modern age of jolting economic and social structures when so many of the traditional values we have held in many spheres are constantly under assessment and revision to cope with scientific and technological advances.

In conjunction with the Economic Council, the Quebec Department of Trade and Commerce is being re-organized and will be fully geared to provide a complete range of services to future investors in the Province.

We are fully aware of the needs of those who contemplate establishing in Quebec and who desire to become partners in our development. Their primary need is a complete and lasting assurance that they are welcome and that the opportunity they are seeking is available. The services of the Department of Trade and Commerce are intended to furnish guidance and counsel on the availability of resources, markets, labour and of all the other facilities required by a new industry. These departmental services will be available to all interested parties, for the asking, so that they may plan to establish in Quebec with assurance and confidence.

The people of Quebec aspire to higher standards of living and culture and to a more positive and active level of nationhood for Canada. They have shown themselves to be productive citizens and resourceful partners in the Canadian Confederation, and while demanding their rightful share of the nation's prosperity, they will continue to do their part towards keeping Canada Canadian.

A truly Canadian nation working in harmony to shape itself into a strong element of world peace and prosperity is what Quebec is striving for and this would be, indeed, a realization of no mean consequence to men everywhere.

THANKS OF THE MEETING were expressed by Mr. Harry H. Wilson.

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Quebec's Place in World Economy

A Special Meeting Arranged by the National Industrial Conference Board and Sponsored Jointly by The Canadian Club of Toronto and The Empire Club of Canada.
The recent request for Canada, by the United Nations, to provide a contingent of French-speaking Canadian soldiers for purposes of communications in the crisis in the Congo: an illustration of the advantage of being recognized as a bi-cultural nation. Better communications as a way to improving life. Quebec as an active participant in Confederation, and a contributor to the economic well-being of Canada: a review. The Economic Council set up by the Government of Quebec. A re-organization of the Quebec Department of Trade and Commerce. Quebec doing its part to keep Canada Canadian.