Speech at the National Agricultural Congress
Source: Journal Le Nord, October 30, 1884.
Reader: Audrey Lemieux, 16, student of Frenette High School, Saint-Jérôme, 2016
Reading by a teenager of an extract from a speech by the parish priest Labelle.
Le Nord, October 30, 1884
Fourth session, National Agricultural Congress
Speech by Curé Labelle
I could not refuse your invitation to speak to the Congress on colonization, a topic dear to my heart. […]
I shall act with the utmost good will, but I must ask in advance for your indulgence, for I am far from an orator, and I confess that eloquence is not my strong suit! […]
The migration to the United States has always made my heart bleed. If I could seize all my fellow Canadians and plant them in the North, which can be settled for more than 100 leagues inland, I should have joy in my soul. In a country too overflowing, like the old countries of Europe, emigration is understandably necessary. But in a land like ours, with room for millions of men, it is unthinkable that not all seek to settle here! What have we against our country to abandon it? […]
It is common sense: does one try to pour water into a pail with a hole in the bottom? Permit me this expression. Our country has a hole in it: look at my compatriots leaking to the U.S. Doubtless we cannot keep a certain number from leaving native soil despite its benefits, but how many will stay with us because we have fulfilled our duty to our homeland? […]
Thirty years ago we should have organized a perpetual national fund to replace our hemlocks and spruces with brave Canadians. […]
This was my goal in heading a national lottery to complete this work, which is not mine but yours, and if our efforts are successful – as I hope, because I am still confident in your patriotism and generosity to the homeland – we shall have given as much as we can to repair a national error.
When I see by statistics that the province of Quebec spends nearly $8 million on intoxicating liquor, should I not hope that we may find $25,000 a year for colonization, which is our only salvation? True, not everyone agrees with the means, but none can deny that the aim is noble and laudable,
and that I should at least be given the benefit of the doubt.