Is it the intention of the federal government to transfer to the province of British Columbia the administration of the fisheries on the Pacific coast? Has the government of that province requested such transfer, and has the federal government reached an adverse decision in the matter? If so, on what ground was that decision based?
The government of British Columbia has not requested any such transfer. Furthermore, I may tell my hon. friend that the legal and other conditions are not at all the same in British Columbia as in the province of Quebec. I do not know whether what is suggested could be done. My hon. friend the leader of the Opposition (Mr. Meighen) shakes his head, but if the government of British Columbia applies for a transfer of the administration of fisheries the application will certainly be considered. However, I do not think such a request will be made, because the administration of those fisheries costs this Government about $400,000 a year, and I think the provincial government would hesitate very much before assuming such a large expenditure as that.
I cannot give my hon. friend that information offhand, but I have been informed by the officials of the department that the administration of these fisheries involves a cost to the Dominion treasury of about $400,000 a year.
With respect to the Quebec fisheries, as I have said there has been no giving away of any right. We have kept the power of regulation, we have not given anything which we should not have given; and the whole matter resolves itself into the settlement of a cause of conflict and difficulty. In view of the Confederation pact, which was the result of any agreement between various provinces by virtue of which they relinquished some of their rights and retained others for the purposes of administration and control, it is very important that any cause of conflict should be avoided. Any encroachment on the rights of the provinces-even the mere appearance of an encroachment-is dangerous to the peace and good order of this country. I think, therefore, it is a good thing that this question, which was certainly an irritating one, should have been settled in a way that will result in economy on the part of this Government at this time. I repeat that no right has been given away by the federal government, and this settlement should enlist the support of all good-minded people in the Dominion.
I do not see how any revenue could be enjoyed in view of the fact that we expended $88,000 last year and the receipts were only $12,000. So the Quebec fisheries will be a charge on the provincial government.
be able to accomplish anything. This is merely a motion for the production of papers, and it is not wholly unobjectionable in itself, but is a motion which, in my judgment, should pass. Of course it is a motion on which hon. gentlemen have a right to speak, and the mover has taken advantage of it to congratulate the Government on its course, and the Government has also taken advantage of it to congratulate itself. I have listened with interest to what has fallen from the lips of both these hon. gentlemen, and I may say that their comment on the conduct of the Government has been helpful. The minister's remarks have been of value as interpreting the judgments delivered since 1882 by the Privy Council. I may go further and say that they are illuminating on every question except those questions which may possibly come in controversy and be of moment in connection with the conduct of administration, that is to say, on the question of the right of the Government of Canada to abdicate to any other government a function placed in it by the constitution, the right of the government of Canada by Order in Council to amend the British North America Act. At the present time I do not wish to enter into a controversy for the reason that on the motion that is before the House, for the production of papers, the judgment of the House could not possibly be obtained. I merely make this comment for the purpose of preserving the right, although I do not think it needs any preserving, of bringing the subject up on a later occasion should I be so advised.
I should like to say in connection with this discussion, that I do not blame the lawyers at all, but the question at issue to my mind is in regard to the powers under the British North America Act, and the distribution of rights as between the provinces and the federal government. I think all these troubles could be remedied by legislation rather than by appeals to the court. But we do not happen to have in this country the right to amend our own constitution. They have that right in Australia, and now that we are a nation, and so described by everybody in this country-and especially so descrihed in his reference to the free
state of Ireland the other day, by the Prime Minister of Great Britain-I think it is pretty nearly time that the Parliament of Canada had the power to straighten out this question of jurisdiction as between the provinces and the Dominion. If we had that power these questions would not be coming up. In other words these questions could be settled by conference between the provinces and the federal power, and the settlement embodied in a short act of parliament. Matters are coming up year after year, and we have conferences and litigation between the Dominion and the provinces, and it is an expensive business. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on it, when it could all be straightened out by legislation, rather than by litigation. Again I say, after hearing discussions for many years, and seeing the progress that has been made in curing these things by legislation, rather than by negotiation or by incessant appeals to the court, that a short way to cure the trouble would easily be reached, if the Parliament of Canada, perhaps in eonjuction with the provinces, had the right to amend the constitution, so that it could be adapted to the requirements of the day.
As to the question which I asked a few moments ago, I do not wish it to be understood that I was urging upon the hon. minister that he should transfer the fisheries of British Columbia to that province, but having seen in the press despatches a statement to the effect that British Columbia had asked that to be done, I wish to clear up the matter. I think, as a matter of fact, there might be more reason for turning over to the province of British Columbia the fisheries than there would be in respect to the fisheries of any other province, because we are very far away from the seat of administration, and it takes us a long time to get a decision on matters which come up from time to time. The minister may remember that it was urged upon the previous government that a commission should be appointed or that an advisory board should be appointed in British Columbia to take charge of the administration of fisheries there, or, if that were going too far, to advise the minister from time to time as to the various questions which come up in respect of the fisheries on the Pacific coast. The minister will remember that that request was made by all those interested in the British Columbia fisheries, by the canners, by the fishermen, merchants,
the boards of trade, and so on, by the returned soldiers, and by all others interested in fisheries in British Columbia. That request was refused by the previous minister, and I would like to take this opportunity of pressing that same request upon the present minister. I think something of that kind should be done, because Ottawa is too far away to look after all the matters which pertain to the fisheries away out on the Pacific coast, and we should have some board out there to assist the minister and the department.
For a cony of the correspondence with the proprietors of the Quebec Oriental and Atlantic and the Quebec and Western railways or other persons on their behalf, concerning the operation or merging of these two roads with the Canadian National system.
He said: the older members of this House will remember that this question was discussed by yourself, Mr. Speaker, and by myself as representing respectively the counties of Gaspe and Bonaventure. To enlighten the new members of the House, I would like to preface my remarks by a reference to the proceedings in Parliament of the 9th April, 1884, nearly 40 years ago. Parliament voted $300,000 to build a branch of the Intercolonial from the lower end of the Matapedia valley along down to Gaspe bay. That vote was brought about by the request of Sir Charles Tupper, then Minister of Railways, and supported by Sir Hector LangeVin, representing the province of Quebec. Unfortunately, the construction of the Intercolonial had been completed but a few years before, and, like most railways in those days, it cost much more than it should. A company organized under the name Baie des Chaleurs company induced the government in the following year to reverse its policy, and instead of building this railway as a branch of the Intercolonial to serve Bonaventure and Gaspe, handed over the subsidy and the undertaking to a private company called the Baie des Chaleurs Company. They secured the usual double subsidies from Quebec and Ottawa, and land subsidies in addition, the subsidies amounting to probably a million and a half dollars. They went through a chequered career for ten or fifteen years,
and finally the road was brought down to Paspebiac, a hundred miles from the starting point.
Things were in that stage when you, Mr. Speaker, were elected to the House, and in the same stage when I was elected to the House nearly twenty-three years ago. When we asked the then government to take over these railways as branches of the Intercolonial railway, because they were intended, at their very inception, to be branches or feeders of the Intercolonial, the government of the day told us that it would be advisable first to complete the undertaking and then the whole system would be merged into the Intercolonial railway. You, Sir, succeeded in encouraging and inducing a company of British capitalists to extend the railway from Paspebiac down to Gaspe Basin, where it has remained for almost the last ten years, and where it connects with deep waters in one of the finest inland ports in North America. This railway is owned by a British company who are holding the property merely for the purpose of getting rid of it. They are operating a train twice a day. They have very little rolling stock; they have very poor cars, and their locomotives are antiquated. The local rates paid on this railway by the people are deemed to be exorbitant and matters are at a standstill. I am treating now not of the case of the company; I know that at the present time the railway problem in Canada is the greatest of all our problems. Our railways are the backbone of the country; and remembering what was said last year by the leader of the Opposition (Mr. Meighen), and what no doubt the present Minister of Railways (Mr. Kennedy) will say. I realize that this is a very poor time to advocate the taking over of any railway. I am not here to advocate the taking over or purchasing of these railways; I am here to advocate the cause of the inhabitants of the north shore of the Baie des Chaleurs.
We have in these two counties of Bona-venture and Gaspe a miniature of Canada. We have the old Acadian settlement, the original settlers from Grand Pre, who came through the wilderness of New Brunswick and started the Acadian settlement. We have the United Empire Loyalists who, in 1812, were settled in our townships by the government of the day, and the Jersey fishers, who came over from the Island of Jersey and who exploited the fisheries of the Baie des Chaleurs, which, for 150 years, has been one of the most prolific fisheries in Canada. We have in Paspebiac the
mother-house of the establishment now converted into a maritime provincial concern, of Robins, Jones & Whitman, which has been doing a steady business in the same place for 170 years and which has twenty-two establishments scattered along the coast of the Baie des Chaleurs and the gulf of St. Lawrence. We have, in connection with this mixed population, a most admirable soil, productive to a marked degree. We have resources unknown at the present time. The Gaspe peninsula, as you yourself, Mr. Speaker, said in your speech last year and as you have said on previous occasions, measures, roughly, 11,000 square miles, the size of two ordinary kingdoms of Europe. We have there on the south shore of the gulf and along the Baie des Chaleurs, which enters into this case, a population of only about 60,000 or 70,000 people and only a strip about three or four miles wide along the shore is inhabited at the present time; the remainder is a terra incognita. We have there pulp wood to supply the continent of America for I do not know how long. The builder of this Parliament building, Mr. Lyall, organized a company in Montreal some three or four years ago, and started looking for lead and zinc in Lemieux township, partly in Gaspe and adjoining Bonaventure. He has taken out of the earth there 400,000 tons of mineral ore for the reduction of zinc and lead, and according to the reports which he has. the probabilities are that lead ore can be found there in hundreds of thousands of tons. Our fisheries as I have said have been exploited for 175 years. Our forests are magnificent; the pulp-wood is unlimited. The fisheries are splendid; the soil is fertile, and we have a hardy, law-abiding population. These two counties sent 1,000 men to the front during the Great War, and memorials to commemorate their deeds are now being erected along the coast of the two counties. The inhabitants live in happiness together. These people inhabit the oldest established part of the province of Quebec, because Jacques Cartier entered the bay of Gaspe and planted the cross there before he reached Quebec. These people, have, through their representatives, been voting steadily for the construction of railways throughout Canada so as to open up the great Canadian West and every other part of this country. You, Mr. Speaker, and I, myself, have, in their names, voted railway subsidies by the million, by the hundreds of millions. We have assisted in the establishment of new pro-
vinces, in opening up new harbours, in developing everything that Canada now possesses; but these old counties in Quebec seem to have been overlooked. The families of these people are very large, as is usual in Quebec; they have eight, ten, fifteen children. The young men have to leave the country; the young girls have to do likewise, and you will find them today, after the instruction which they have received at the different colleges in Quebec, scattered throughout the continent of America. Thus, these are all good, hardy settlers who have been lost to Canada. They are the descendants of the pioneers; as woodsmen they are unsurpassed in Canada. Put them in the hardest and roughest part of this country and they will make good. Some of them are engaged now in developing a part of the Abitibi country; they are developing that part of the country between Moncton and Levis over the great Transcontinental railway. These people made good fighters during the war, and one of the Victoria Crosses granted to the province of Quebec was granted to a boy who came from the Matapedia valley.
I am pleading in their names; I am asking this new Government; the new Minister of Railways to consider the position of these two counties and to see if he cannot bring about a state of affairs by which they will be given an opportunity of earning their living properly, of developing the country, and of bringing business to the Canadian National railways, because this is the only way in which the deficit of the country can be met. Two years ago, a million and a half dollars worth of business was handed over to the Canadian National by these two small railways, and if they had had the ordinary facilities, this could have been doubled. They have very little rolling stock; their locomotives are antiquated; their passenger service is not a credit to the country. The man in charge of the organization is putting up a big fight to carry on, but the people are not getting the service they should have. Running a railway skirting the shore of the Baie des Chaleurs is a difficult undertaking in the winter time, and in some seasons the railway service has been interrupted. This year fortunately, the winter has been exceptionally mild in Quebec, and trains have been running with the loss of scarcely a day. The Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) received a number of petitions which I handed him in your name, Sir, from the 40
county of Gaspe, and I myself handed him petitions from my people of Bonaventure county asking that something should be done. If it is impossible at the present time to take over these railways in any shape or form, I should like that they be considered as forming part of the Canadian National railway system for purposes of transportation.
Topic: QUEBEC, ORIENTAL AND ATLANTIC, AND QUEBEC AND WESTERN RAILWAYS
Perhaps some arrangement could be made by which they could be treated as forming part of the Intercolonial. At present goods are shipped by the branch lines as far as Matapedia where these railways connect with the Intercolonial. There another freight charge is made, and I am informed that shippers suffer a handicap of $4 per thousand feet on lumber shipped through these counties.
Topic: QUEBEC, ORIENTAL AND ATLANTIC, AND QUEBEC AND WESTERN RAILWAYS