June 4, 1942 (19th Parliament, 3rd Session)

LIB

Joseph Enoil Michaud (Minister of Public Works; Minister of Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. MICHAUD:

Lest a wrong impression should go abroad with regard to the transaction referred to by the hon. member for Davenport, and mentioned in the auditor general's report, with respect to the steps taken to aid the lobster fishermen of the Atlantic coast, I think it well that I should bring to the attention of the committee what I believe was placed on record last year also.
The venture of 1940 into tlie lobster purchase and disposal operations was not intended to be an ordinary business transaction with a view to making a profit, or with a view even to breaking even. The committee will recall that shortly after the declaration of war the British government prohibited the importation of canned or tinned lobster into Great Britain, by making the declaration that canned lobster was classed among luxuries the importation of which was forbidden.
Up to the autumn of 1940 Great Britain took about 85 per cent of our annual packs of canned lobster. Over night this market, which had been built up over a hundred years, and which had well taken care of the output of the Canadian canned lobster industry, was wiped out. A large portion of our population had depended on that industry for its livelihood, and as a result of that stoppage there was a real panic among lobster fishermen. They appealed to the government, pointing out that 85 per cent of their market had disappeared, and emphasizing the fact that there was no possibility or reasonable expectation that the Canadian market could absorb the high percentage which had heretofore gone to the British market.
The department availed itself of the best brains possible. We consulted those who were interested in the business and it was decided that rather than abandon the industry the government would encourage lobster fishermen and packers by assuring them that the government would make it its duty to find a market for the spring pack of 1941.

Topic:   FINANCE
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