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Van Horne's Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

on Wednesday, 01 February 1956. Posted in Social Credit


The recent by-election in Restigouche-Madawaska gave that vast riding of the northern part of New-Brunswick a Conservative member in the House of Commons, Mr. J. C. Van Horne. In his first speech there, January 16, Mr. Van Horne lashed the federal Government's indifference to the fate of the poor and hard-working people of his province. He vindicated vigorously the rights of the Maritimes to a better share of the wealth of Canada. He blamed the Government for his refusal to increase the family allowances in accordance with the increased cost of living. He also demanded an enlargement of the pension to disabled persons; and for our aged people, he asked that the pension be raised to $60 a month and be granted at the age of 65 without the means test. We quote here parts of that speech, which the bulk of sleepy members of the Liberal party found most untasty.


"... I also express my thanks to the numerous supporters of the Social Credit movement and of the C.C.F. party who actively supported the official opposition in the by-election), thereby informing the Government in no uncertain way that we are dissatisfied and discouraged with the indifference and lethargy with which this country has so long been governed... All of us, in Restigouche-Madawaska, have endured our full share of indifference on the part of the federal Government. We are fed up with the Liberal government...

"The riding of Restigouche-Madawaska is a vital part of the long forgotten and neglected maritime province. Alas, our economic history since Confederation has not been a happy one.

"From the bleak stretches along the shores of New-Brunswick over to the closed mines at Inverness and the far reaches of Madawaska county, there are deserted farms, deserted homes, deserted mining villages, closed factories and shops, marking the long procession of our young people who have left the Maritimes because they were forced to go elsewhere to make a living. They were driven from our land by the same economic conditions which yesteryear drove our forefathers from the shores of Europe. Why must we become immigrants again from the maritime provinces, driven like nomads on the desert from place to place, to find work and a chance to make a living? The burden of education becomes greater and heavier as we raise our sons and daughters in the certainty; soon they will be forced to leave our beautiful part of the country to go elsewhere to find jobs. How can traditions be established and maintained in our families, if they are going to be continuously uprooted?... Give us a new deal or quit.

"New-Brunswick is no longer content to remain one of the weakest links in the Canadian Confederation...

"'There are those sitting across the floor of the House (the Liberals) who may say: Would you have us do more for the Maritimes than we do for central Canada? — I answer by saying: Would you have this country continue with one part prosperous and the Maritimes in a continuous depression? That is what is happening today...


Family Allowances:

"The basis used in setting the amounts of family allowances was the cost of living in 1944 or 1945. As the cost of living in the meantime has almost doubled, will anyone suggest that, if this Government were honest towards the Canadian nation, it would not consider it as a duty to raise or even double the family allowances?

"I keep getting hundreds of letters urging me to express to the Government the dissatisfaction of the Canadian people for this lack of honesty, which prevents the Governement from recognizing its duty towards the mothers and children of this country by refusing to raise the family allowances.

Pension to disabled people:

"The same is true of disability pensions, as entitlement is realized only to the totally and permanently disabled. In other words, you have to be unsconscious to get it, unconscious to keep it, and unless you walk about totting a coffin under your arm, you cannot draw that pension.

"If that pension plan is supposed to help the disabled, should not the Government recognize that the pension should be paid to anyone unable through illness to earn a living at his ordinary trade or occupation?

Old age pensions:

"I cannot understand the thinking of the Liberal party leaders as regards the means test (from 65 to 70). Under our laws, one has to be poor to be entitled to the pension, one must be very careful to stay poor to keep it, up to the age of 70. Not only one must be poor to obtain the pension, one must also stay poor to keep it...

"I am convinced that my electors want the old age pension to be granted to anyone, without the means test, at the age of 65, and the amount to be raised to $60 a month.

Wants Results:

"In closing, I want to say that I come up here to try to do a job. What we are after are results. You fellows can have all the credit as long as you give us results. Just come across with something for us. Build the Cross Point bridge, build the station at Edmundston; do these things, and we will tell you that you are a good bunch of fellows."

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