Hon. Mr. BALLANTYNE :
1, 2, 3, 4, 5. The decision of the Judical Committee of the Privy Council of November 30 last in the Quebec Fisheries Reference decided that the administration of the fisheries in the navigable waters if the province that 'are accessible by way of navigation from the sea comes within the purview of the Federal Government. The Government of the Province of Quebec has been informed that the Department of Marine and Fisheries will undertake the administration of the fisheries In such waters from May 1 proximo. Any licenses issued by the provincial authorities will not be accepted as conferring authority to fish. No one will be permitted to fish in the said waters except under license from the Minister of Marine and Fisheries.
The House will realize the position in which the fishermen found themselves. They had paid for and been granted licenses in the usual course, as they had done for the last twenty-five years, and they were suddenly informed by the Dominion authorities that thereafter those licenses were worthless and that they would have to secure permits from the Dominion fishery officer. Of course, the fishermen had to accept the situation, and the electors in my constituency, in yours, Mr. Speaker, and throughout the province, were called upon to pay additional sums of $20, $25, $30 and $40 before they were in a position to fish. This anomalous condition of affairs then presented itself: Men who had fished for twenty-five years on a provincial license were told that they could not fish unless they secured a license from the Dominion authorities, while other men who had the Dominion license found it worthless unless they could show a provincial permit as well. The man who had the provincial license could fish along the shore belonging to the province, but he had to have a Dominion license if he fished in the waters that came within the purview of the federal government. Naturally, the fishermen asked that some remedy should be found for this state of affairs; and about a month ago we learned that negotiations had been entered into between the Department of Marine, under the control of my hon. friend (Mr. Lapointe), and the government of Quebec, as a result of which a satisfactory solution had been arrived at. The fisheries have been transferred to the province of Quebec, so far as such a transference lies within the power of the Dominion government, who retain the control that is required by the British North America Act. I have been receiving letters from my constituents, who fish the magnificent Gaspe 4 p.m. salmon, which is known the world over and is the glory and joy of men from all parts of America
who love fishing, and they ask that the license fees paid to the Dominion government last year be refunded. I have submitted the matter to the minister, who informs me that he has it under consideration, although his first answer was not favourable. As an instance of what actually happened, I should like to read to the House a brief statement given to me by a gentleman who was at Port Daniel, one of the fishing villages in my constituency, last year, at the time of the conference between the Dominion and the provincial governments. This statement is as follows: Statement of Louis Simpson re Complaints of Certain Salmon Fishermen of Port Daniel and District.
Last summer these salmon fishermen were called upon to pay for two several licenses to permit them to follow their occupation of fishing salmon. One license fee was paid to the Dominion Government, whilst another license fee had to be paid to the Government of the province of Quebec.
The official responsible to the Dominion Government collected the several fees and in return granted licenses, but after so doing did not notify the fishermen that it was the intention of the Dominion Government to alter the arrangement, which for years past had been permitted by the representatives of the Government of the province of Quebec (which Government until last year had administered the fisheries). One of these arrangements, was that, notwithstanding, the printed regulations, the fishermen fishing in the harbours open to the winds blowing from the gulf (such as Port Daniel and the other ports to the northeast) should not be required to tie up their nets on Sunday. It was recognized by the government official that nets, so tied, were liable, should a storm arise, blowing from the east to be destroyed. Moreover, at Port Daniel where the rivers emptying into the Baracbois are allowed to be poached, there was nothing to be gained by a strict adherence to these regulations.
The officials of the Dominion Government, without giving the fishermen any- notice of their intention of withdrawing such permission or of their intention to make a custom, legalized by many years permission, which certainly can be claimed to have established, until withdrawn by notice, a legal right, raided the fishermen's nets, seized and sold the salmon found therein, and summoned the licensees to the county town of New Carlisle to appear before a judge.
The fishermen, against my advice, were induced to plead guilty of a technical infraction of the regulations and were each fined by the judge, two dollars and costs.
The loss to the fishermen was as follows:-
The value of the nets taken.
One day's work at the most important time of the year.
Expenses to New Carlisle and back.
Fine and expenses.
The fines, loss of time and expense will have exceeded ten dollars per man, while some of the salmon taken was allowed to go back and the balance was eventually sold at less than the market price for fresh caught fish.
The actual sum realized by the department from the sale of the fish is not known to me,