I gladly bow to your ruling, Mr. Chairman, and if the hon. member for North Timiskaming says that he never reads his speeches I am obliged to tell my eyes that they have not seen what they have seen and I must accept his denial. I was simply quoting some notes from a memorandum which has been given to me by one of our fishery experts in the province of Quebec.
controversy, Mr. Chairman, I shall try to raise my eyes a little higher so as not to offend my hon. friend from North Timiskaming, who does not like to see a sheet of paper in the hands of an lion, member.
The agreement which was entered into in 1922 between the federal government and the provincial government whereby the federal government transferred to the provincial authority the administration of the maritime fisheries of the province of Quebec has been most detrimental to the interests of fishermen and to the fisheries in general, as was admitted in this house three weeks ago by the hon. member for Charlevoix-Saguenay. He then stated that it was a mistake on the part of the federal government to transfer these fisheries to the province of Quebec. The hon. member for Antigonish-Guysborough, who is also an expert in fisheries, admitted the same thing, and said that it would be more in the interests of the fisheries if that agreement should be cancelled. As I stated in the house during the debate on the motion of my hon. friend from Charlevoix-Saguenay, this agreement, which was not approved by parliament and was effectuated only by a mere order in council, is absolutely illegal and ultra vires because by the British North America Act the maritime fisheries are vested solely within the jurisdiction of the federal government.
In 1921, a few weeks before that agreement was made and after the judgment of the privy council was rendered giving complete jurisdiction to the federal government over all maritime fisheries in the province of Quebec, the federal government inaugurated a long series of reforms and especially it proposed the
establishment of a fisheries bureau in the province of Quebec. The establishment of such a bureau, Mr. Chairman, would certainly have been a great help to the fisheries of Quebec just as it has proved beneficial to the fisheries of British Columbia and of the maritime provinces. Last j'ear at the beginning of April I wrote to the present Minister of Finance, who at that time was Minister of Fisheries, the following letter, and as it is a letter 1 hope that my hon. friend from North Timiskaming will not be offended if I am obliged to look at it in order to read it.
serve as a disinterested intermediary between the producers and consumers; a centre of general information, etc., etc.; in short, to fulfill all the functions mentioned in the annual report of your department, to wit:
(a) To enforce the laws, regulations, and the articles of the various treaties with regard to the construction of fish slides in dams, the cleaning of rivers, etc.;
(b) To enforce the law regarding the inspection of fish. For the future, it is necessary that the province of Quebec be as well organized in this respect as any other and have the service of real technicians at its disposal;
(c) To enforce the law respecting the manufacture of preserved fish. This branch could be considerably developed with the help of a competent personnel;
(d) To participate in the organization of a biological marine service. We have not as yet profited by the biological marine service as constituted in 1912 by act of the federal parliament. Its intervention would be necessary for us in order to harmonize the conduct of fishing operations with our particular conditions, to instruct the fishermen and the leaders of the industry, and to create a staff to serve the industry;
(e) To centralize the knowledge relating to fishing, in its triple branches, scientific, commercial and industrial;
(f) To direct a centralizing service for
catches, as exists, for example, in the maritime provinces; _
(g) To see to the distribution of fishing premiums and to the compilation of statistics;
(h) To carry on a publicity movement for sea products and to augment the consumption of fish;
(i) Etc., etc.
The above mentioned activities are organized elsewhere as federal services, are equally necessary in my province, which desires to have them, but our provincial government does not appear to have jurisdiction.
I know as a fact that in the constituency I represent, the people would condemn this administration. However, this is not the time to discuss
I would request the hon. member for Dorchester, who read to us a long list of requests he addressed to the former Minister of Fisheries, to strongly insist with the present minister that he must grant his requests. If the hon. member can be of service to the fishermen of his native province, they will feel very grateful to him and I trust that before long we shall see him at the head of the Department of Fisheries in which he seems greatly interested. He delivered just now a very interesting speech on the situation existing in Europe and elsewhere. All this is very well, but what we need at present, are markets. The sadest part of it all is that, meanwhile, the people have no markets and we must find them some as soon as possible. Instead of devoting any more time to the question of fisheries-let him blame one government or the other, for they are often both at fault- I think that he should set aside this question of jurisdiction and endeavour to use the influence which he certainly has to convince the hon. Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Stevens) that he must, necessarily, find markets for the products of the farmers and fishermen of Quebec and the other sections of the country.
We have very often heard speeches advocating bonuses to coal, wheat and their transportation. The new trade treaty with New Zealand is almost exclusively to the advantage of British Columbia. The government has made concessions of every description. There are bonuses on Nova Scotia steel, on coal, on the carrying of Western wheat. In a word, all groups who support the present government seem able to exert on the administration an influence which, I am sorry to note by the results secured to date, is not exerted by the Conservative deputation from the province of Quebec.
Mr. Chairman, the hon. member for Dorchester is a talented young man who will probably be called upon to play a commanding part. If he wishes to render a real service to his province, he should assume the leadership of a movement to secure for the mother province of the dominion the help farmers require, for they are the backbone of this country. To repeat the words spoken by one of his predecessors as representative of the Quebec district, I believe: The last citizen to stand under the British flag in Canada will be a French-Canadian. I believe those words are true. The inhabitants of Quebec were the first Canadians, they have remained Canadians and they will so remain for ever. We have a right to expect from the federal government the treatment we are entitled to receive. I trust the Conservative representation from Quebec will bring its influence to bear while it is in a position to do so and holds the balance of power. The present administration would not exist without the Quebec representation. Without the 25 ridings which the Liberals lost in Quebec, the Government would not have attained power. I understand the minister is only directing the Fisheries department provisionally. The member for Dorchester will probably be entrusted with the administration of that department at no distant date. I would ask the members supporting the government to improve their tenure of office by coming to the assistance of the people of Quebec who are greatly in need of it from every standpoint. I will not insist further.
Mr. Chairman, I thank you for the opportunity you have given me to make these observations. I would ask mjr colleagues who sit to the right to put politics aside, to devote their attention to the real interests of the fishermen, the farmers of the province of Quebec, also to the poor workingmen of the city of Montreal who to-day are out of work and in a most distressing situation, and their number runs into thousands. The administration has a splendid opportunity to come to their help. Let us forget the past, let us face the present and the future.
I should like to say just a word in reply to the remarks of my hon. friend from Cumberland. I think he will search in vain to find anything I said derogatory to Malagash salt. What I did say was that I had done my very best to assist Mr. Chambers and those connected with him m finding a market for that product among the fishermen of Nova Scotia and that at lpast some of the men found difficulty in using it.
The objection which I was taking to the sales tax on salt was the objection he has taken, namely that a blow should not be struck at a Canadian industry. The industry to which I am referring is the fishing industry of Nova Scotia, which is to use his own words, 100 per cent Canadian, and which is being struck a blow by this six per cent sales tax on a raw material used in connection with that industry, plus three per cent excise tax. I say the fishermen of Nova Scotia do not deserve that, and in that sense I object to the taxation which is being imposed by this government.
There is one other matter. The minister suggests that the reason the excise tax is not being made applicable to Newfoundland is because of the fear of reprisals. I thought that was the one thing about which this government cared nothing at all. They were going to make a Canadian tariff and enact Canadian laws without regard to what anyone else did. Now it seems they are changing their attitude. I only want to say that I do not v'ant to see the fishing industry of Nova Scotia sacrificed in order to avoid reprisals. I suggested to my hon. friend that the three per cent tax was imposed as an excise tax and not a duty, and V'as made applicable to Great Britain and the dominions overseas, so it seems to me that it could hardly be regarded as a hostile act if it were made applicable to the dominion of Newfoundland as well.
My hon. friend from Digby-Annapolis paid a high tribute to the record of this government in connection with fisheries. I would not expect my hon. friend to do anything else; he is a loyal supporter of this government through evil times and good, and even though the government did not accept his recommendation and mine with regard to-the lobster season-
Even though they did not accept his recommendation and mine with regard not to the extension but the restoration of the lobster season, I would not expect my hon. friend to complain. I want to tell him that when the time comes I am quite prepared to discuss with him or with anyone else the record of this government, as compared with that of the previous government, with regard to fisheries. I think he will find that the only two things that have been done by this government-he may know of something more, though I doubt it-in connection with fisheries were the appointment of the Cockfield Brown commission, which made the report to which I
referred this morning, and the adoption of a regulation which provided that trawlers shouid be marked with a number on the bow of the boat and that the numbers shall be at least eighteen inches in height.
I thank the hon. member for Bonaventure for the kind words he has said about me. The time, of course, is too limited to engage in an exchange of compliments, although I appreciate the one he has paid me. I understood from his words that he wished me to continue reading the letter I sent last year to the Minister of Fisheries. The rest of that letter reads:
With reference to the protection of our waters, I wish to draw your attention in particular to the fact that there exists at present in the gulf and in the northern part of the gulf, a nuisance which causes incalculable damage to our fishers and which will become a menace in the future: porpoises. It has been calculated that their number' reaches approximately 100,000 and that they consume 1,000,000 tons of small fish every year. These statistics are astounding. It permits us to doubt the utility and usefulness of fishing regulations as long as the porpoises continue to thrive in our waters in such considerable numbers. They take away more merchantable fish in a week tnan could be taken away by any illegal fishing in many seasons.
In the past the poirpoise schools limited their activities to the entrance of the Saguenay or thereabouts. We are therefore convinced that this section was the home of a very intense maritime life for it was sufficient during many centuries to furnish them the quantity of food necessary for life. No biological research has as yet been conducted in this section, but simple observation permits us to state that it is the point on which converged during centuries many species of fish coming from the Atlantic and from the sources of the St, Lawrence. When this fact is more clearly demonstrated, we must assuredly be convinced that the destruction of porpoises interests the maritime provinces and the province of Ontario as well as Quebec, and that therefore the problem is a national one, and consequently a federal one.
From the fact that the porpoises for the last ten years stay less in the district of the Saguenay than for centuries previous, we must conclude that they no longer find sufficient nourishment, and that the river St. Lawrence is so impoverished by their depredations that they are forced to emigrate towards the gulf.
Their destructive work is continually increasing and prevents all profitable fishing operations. It is now common knowledge that many species of fish, which it is claimed go up the river to spawn, have considerably diminished in the last 25 or 50 years.
The government of Quebec undertook to solve this problem but did not succeed; it has, however, become too serious to be abandoned. We can but conclude that the federal parliament alone must see to the removal of a danger which threatens the whole of Canada. When it was a question of lessening the harmful effect of dogfish and seals, etc., affecting the fishing industry of certain provinces, the federal government deemed it proper to intervene; it cannot ignore the problem caused by the presence of porpoises in our waters. Since it concerns the future of the St. Lawrence, the problem is serious enough to warrant the attention of the federal government, on whose part action or cooperation is essential.
In concluding I submit that the federal government, even though the agreement of 1922 be not revised and remain as it is at present, must, in Quebec as well as elsewhere, join in finding a solution for all our fishing problems, and that we also have all possible reasons to claim the organization by it of a modern, competent fishing service, well furnished, and which the provincial government cannot render complete for different reasons.
There exist, I am perfectly convinced, many gaps in our fishing administration, a field of great enterprise where the influence of your department could be beneficently employed and which demands its intervention. To arrive at a practical result I can suggest nothing better, in the first place, than the establishment of a local fisheries bureau in order to establish a contact with our population. This bureau would be the starting point for many other useful enterprises which would develop in due course.
I attach a great importance to the question which I have tried to lay before you, and dare to hope that you will give this problem your prompt and serious attention. I do not doubt that all the members of the province of Quebec will give it their enthusiastic approval.
Hoping to have the occasion of discussing this matter with the expert of your department,
I beg you to accept, dear Mr. Rhodes, my kindest regards,
This letter was sent in April, 1931, and I was pleased later on to see that my recommendations were included in part, although in different terms, in the memorandum submitted to the provincial government in March, 1932, by the fishermen of Bonaven-ture, Gaspe and Saguenay. I can only repeat now to the minister, who loves his province so well and who knows the condition of the fisheries there, the demand I made to his predecessor, and ask him to try his best to remedy the detrimental situation which was brought about by the transfer of maritime fisheries to the government of Quebec in 1922.
As the hon. member for Bonaventure said a moment ago, in the province of Quebec there is an abnormal situation. The federal government has transferred the whole of the maritime fisheries of the St. Lawrence river to the provincial government; nevertheless, it kept under its supervision and control that part of the maritime fisheries pertaining to the Magdalen islands, which, as you know, belong to the province of Quebec. We find, therefore, on the one hand, that the maritime fisheries of the province of Quebec in the St. Lawrence river have been transferred to the government of that province, while on the other hand, the maritime fisheries in the gulf of St. Lawrence have been transferred to Halifax, because the fisheries of the Magdalen islands in the gulf of St. Lawrence are under the control of Nova Scotia.
It appears, therefore, that this agreement, which was entered into, is not only illegal and ultra vires but is absolutely ridiculous, and it is detrimental to the interests of the fishermen. I appreciate the fact that the minister cannot immediately put an end to that agreement, because it is bilateral: both the federal and the provincial governments are committed to it, so that without first having received a request from the provincial government for its abrogation, the minister cannot put an end to it. I have in my hand documents showing that the provincial government does not at present wish to have the agreement abrogated, but if that is not possible just now, owing to the fact that the government of the province of Quebec does not wish it, nevertheless I think we ought to do something for the fisheries of that province. And one thing which in my opinion is absolutely necessary is the establishment of a fisheries office in Quebec, which would begin to supervise conditions in the province, make a thorough investigation and suggest to the government the proper steps to be taken to meet the situation that exists there.
A moment ago my hon. friend from Comox-Alberni showed some surprise at the figures I gave. I have here the figures showing the revenue of the fishermen of Canada for the year 1930, and I find that the per capita revenue in British Columbia was $1,194.