After the congress at Hull, April 4-5, came the Roberval-Dolbeau (Lake St. John) assembly, May 2-3. It was a resounding success. The newspaper L'Action Catholique, began its report of the event thus:
"Thousands of Crediters belonging to the Union of Electors, assembled at Roberval and Dolbeau at the end of the week to hold the second in a series of 12 congresses which they will hold this year all across Canada.
"More than 400 automobiles, flying the red, white and gold flags of the movement, coming from Ontario, New Brunswick and all parts of Quebec, wound through Laurentide Park on their way to Roberval.
"St. Georges hall at Roberval and St. Tharcisius' hall at Dolbeau were hung with the flags of the Union of Electors and everywhere were placards carrying the Crediters' slogans — "Double family allowances", "Against taxes and for the dividend", "Finance without interest by the Bank of Canada."
What brought these men and women together, from so far and at considerable expense to themselves — for none of them can by any stretch of imagination be called rich? It was a tremendous faith in the principles and ideals of Social Credit and the joy they experience in meeting other people who share to the same extent that belief in the possibility of realizing a wonderful ideal.
Many of these folks had to leave their homes Friday morning, sleeping on the way, Friday night, in order to be at the opening session Saturday afternoon. With 900 miles to come and 900 miles to return, these hardy voyagers still find that the trip to the congress was still worth the trouble. A group from Ottawa-Hull drove all night Friday and all Saturday morning to get to the opening session. They made it: worn and tired, but happy to be there.
The spiritual side
The Crediters of the Union of Electors, like Social Crediters all over the world who have a true understanding of the doctrine of Social Credit and all its implications, believe that a Social Credit civilization cannot be built unless the builders are activated by a strong spiritual force. A propos of this idea, Mr. Louis Even, director general of the movement, has quoted the great modern philospher, Jacques Maritain, who wrote in his work, "Humanisme Intégral":
"The social revolution will be a moral revolution, likewise, or it will never come to pass — This declaration of Charles Péguy does not mean that before there can be a transformation of the social regime, all men will have to be turned towards a life of virtue. Such an interpretation would only be a pharisaique excuse for avoiding all attempt at a social transformation. Revolutions are the work of a group of men relatively few in numbers, who consecrate all their energies to this task. It is to such men that the statement of Péguy applies. It means this: you cannot transform the social structure of the modern world without first and foremost provoking in yourselves a renewal of the spiritual and moral life, without cultivating deeply the spiritual and moral life, without reviving, and causing to flourish again, the moral ideas which govern the life of the social grouping of men." (Humanisme Intégral - page 132).
Consequently, as at all the Crediters' congresses, the members of the assembly did not neglect divine service on Sunday. All members attended Mass at the Capuchin Fathers' shrine at Lake Bouchette.
Unity and solidarity
The Crediters of the Union of Electors, assembled together in congress at Lake St. John, manifested once again their perfect accord with the formula laid down for the movement by the Institute of Political Action, and expressed in the pages of The Union of Electors and Vers Demain. The attempt by those who turned their energies to forming a political party, to use the strength of the Union of Electors for an electoral triumph, failed miserably. The effect, however on the movement was beneficial; it helped to clear from our ranks all those who had hoped to further personal, political ambition through the Union of Electors. It has also helped to solidify in the minds of the members that principle which the Institute has been preaching through its two publications: that the way to a Social Credit civilization does not lie through political parties. Political parties divide. This is the common experience of all. The establishment of Social Credit can only come through the united action of the people. Hence there can be no room in the movement for 'politicians'. So the members of the movement will carry on the work of establishing a Social Credit culture which must first come if the principles of Social Credit are ever to be realized in our political and economic life.
The members of the congress also agreed that the most efficacious means of implanting this culture is the dissemination far and wide of Social Credit literature; primarily, Vers Demain (for the French) and the Union of Electors (for the English). These two papers, issue after issue, explain the Social Credit doctrine, teach their readers how to judge the events of the day in the light of this doctrine, guide the political action of Crediters, stimulate the life of the movement, act as the bond between all those interested in the work, and by their circulation give power to the voice of the movement.
As a result, the slogan of the congress at Roberval, as at Hull, was — Everyone taking subscriptions for a more powerful people.
The co-operation of the authorities
The Saguenay region (Lake St. John and Chicoutimi) has distinguished itself by the large number of municipal councils and school commissions which have adopted the resolution asking for finance without interest by the Bank of Canada. The authorities of this district, have also shown us a heartwarming welcome on the occasion of our congress there.
For the opening session at Roberval, the mayor, detained elsewhere, sent as his representative, the pro-mayor, Mr. David Lajoie. Extending us an official welcome, Mr. Lajoie said: " I present you with the keys of the town. Among us you are at home, just as l feel at home when I am among you.". The pro-mayor, besides being very sympathetic to Social Credit, is an assiduous reader of Vers Demain.
At Dolbeau, it was the mayor himself who, although convalescing from a recent illness, came to extend personally his greetings to the congressists on Sunday afternoon. The mayor is Mr. Armand Vezina. His words were warmly applauded by the members of the congress.
"The gates of the city are open to your movement. It is a pleasure for me to hand the keys of the city to your director general, Mr. Louis Even whom I know to be a man of great dignity, and highly respected.
"I have made it my duty to come here to greet you. I hold your movement in great esteem and I admire your work. Here at Dolbeau you have a leader in the person of Mr. Xavier Dallaire. He is a man who brings much honor to the movement. You have always conducted yourselves like gentlemen and you merit congratulations. You will finish by getting what you are asking, what we are asking. Your requests are just and reasonable.
"We don't always wear the white beret nor walk around all the time with the Social Credit flag in our hand, but we do read Vers Demain. We follow your activities and we support the requests which you present to the authorities. I have very pleasant memories of your visit here 5 years ago. I hope you will return. I wish you all sorts of success."
Thanking His Honor for his wishes and for his kind words, Mrs. Côté-Mercier remarked that she wished they could have the mayor of Dolbeau as Mayor of Montreal.
Also present on the platform at Dolbeau were the mayor of Kenogami, Mr. J. O. Bradette, the mayor of North Chicoutimi Mr. Léonce Villeneuve, Dolbeau councillor, Antonio Pronovost; Dolbeau school commission president, François Tremblay; Kenogami school commission president, Lucien Delisle, and Mr. J. A. Ouellet, councillor of St. Leandre, a Crediter wearing his white beret.
The mayor of Kenogami said to the assembly:
"The public men on the platform here are not numerous but what we lack in numbers we make up in quality. I have come to your congress for several reasons. First, to answer your very kind invitation. Secondly, because your congress, though not held in my town, is at least held in my district. To show our great pleasure at having you amongst us, the Social Credit banner is flying from the city hall of Kenogami yesterday and today.
"I recognize the fact that you have marvellous ideas and Mr. Even who took the aqueduct of Rimouski as an illustration in his talk could very well have chosen the aqueduct of Kenogami. We too would like to see the interest rates go down. (The mayor of Kenogami was referring to a conference just given by Mr. Even on finance by the Bank of Canada without interest. The taxpayers at Kenogami are paying for their aqueduc three and a half times over.)
"I was present at one of the first conferences of Mr. Even in 1936. What he was preaching then he is still preaching today. I ask God to bless your efforts. Whatsoever you shall ask of us in the name of the common welfare, that we shall do."
The Social Credit flag flew from the town halls of Dolbeau, Mistassini, Alma, Chicoutimi, Kenogami and doubtless from other town halls in the district, throughout the days of the congress.
The collaboration of the police
The organizers of the congress wish to extend their warmest thanks and congratulations to the municipal and provincial police.
The municipal police of Quebec escorted the congress members on leaving Quebec, accompanying them from their rallying point at Park Victoria right to the city limits. On Sunday, four members of the provincial police conducted the autocade to Lake Bouchette, escorting it the entire 70 miles distance between the Hermitage of the Capuchin fathers and Dolbeau.
At Dolbeau, the town police directed traffic, the parking of autos and the big parade down the boulevard. They also stationed themselves at the rear of the big congress hall throughout the two long sessions in the afternoon and evening.
The radio and newspapers
The Saturday before the opening of the congress, radio station CHRL of Dolbeau, graciously offered a quarter of an hour to the two directors in order that they might invite the population to come to the congress, to ask them to receive the congress members who might ask hospitality of them, and to give them some idea of the program and the purpose of the congress.
Two newspapers, Le Progrès du Saguenay and Le Soleil both had representatives present at the congress.
The large panoramic photo of the Crediters taken af Lake Bouchette, was reproduced in L'Action Catholique, along with a favorable report.
Le Progrès du Saguenay also presented it its readers with an excellent report of the congress. This daily, describes the entry into Dolbeau of the long motorcade which had left Lake Bouchette at 11:30 in the morning.
"It was about 1:15 in the afternoon yesterday that the first automobiles, with the flags and pennants of the Crediters flying in the breeze, made their first appearance in the streets of the north of the town; after them came the seemingly interminable flow of cars, hundreds of automobiles all making their way towards St. Tharcisius school.
"As soon as all the machines were parked, the parade, with the Dolbeau band at its head, got under way, taking its route along Walberg boulevard in two directions. The great crowd which watched the parade witnessed the great river of white berets which passed before their eyes, and saw the color guard of almost 150 banners bringing up the rear of the parade."
This description of the parade was accompanied by a photograph which shows a large section of the color bearers mentioned in the last part of the report.
Boulevard Walberg is the main street of Dolbeau, is very wide, and has the well-tended break running up the middle of it. The mayor followed the procession in his Cadillac.
The co-operation of the people
It would be very difficult to praise and thank warmly enough the co-operation of the people. The population of Lake St. Jean and Chicoutimi, not only gave us a warm greeting but aided and co-operated in the preparation of the congress and in the conduct of the assemblies.
But then this district always has been one of the strongholds of the Social Credit movement of the Union of Elector's. It was at Chicoutimi and in the neighboring towns of Jonquiere, Kenogami, Arvida, Bagotville and Port-Alfred that Mr. Louis Even first presented his "Social Credit Notes". back in 1936. He was offered at that time a free half-hour of broadcast time on the radio station of Chicoutimi, which was the only station in that district at that time and was generally listened to. Several months later, Mr. Even was invited back to Alma by Dr. Bergeron, of the local branch of the St. Jean Baptist Society. In 1938 he made a great tour throughout this region making numberless contacts which have endured down to this day.
The organizers of the congress at Roberval Dolbeau had no difficulty finding accommodations for those coming from outside.
A very deep and heartfelt thank-you must also go to all those kind folks and to the many merchants who made it possible to serve lunches and meals in the congress hall. It is one of the happy features of our congresses that the members can have their meals "family style", together in the hall.
These material details are very important for they go to strengthen the great bond of charity which is one of the chief ties of union in our movement.
As at Hull, so too at Dolbeau, the Crediters assembled in congress, expressed their determination to consecrate to the work of the movement, as laid down in the instruction of the Institute, the spare time they had after having accomplished what they had to in order to earn their living.
These expressions of determination are not just empty promises of the day, born of enthusiasm aroused during the congress — not if you can judge by the aftermath of the Hull congress.
In the three weeks following the Hull congress, some 3,097 subscriptions were taken. The ace subscription taker of this particular drive was Donat Boutin of Quebec city, a school teacher, who took 115 subscriptions. Readers of the Union of Electors will remember that in our issue of March we had a paragraph on Mr. Boutin, mentioning that in November he had taken 117 subscriptions. He's a man who is really convinced of Social Credit.
The next congress to be held in the province of Quebec will take place at St. Pascal de Kamouraska on August 1st and 2nd. We have no doubt that this congress will be every bit as successful, if not more so, than the preceding assemblies.