Hon. H. R. PREFONTAINE (Minister of Marine and Fisheries).
I thank the bon. gentleman (Mr. A. K. Maclean) for having brought this matter to the attention of the department. I may say that, with the few cruisers under the control of the Department of Marine and Fisheries, it is impossible to cover this large territory and make the protection as effective as we would like. The work is very extensive, and from the reports that I have received in the department it has been done pretty effectively. Up to the 1st of June I think that over 600 nets have been confiscated from Americans fishing and poaching in Canadian waters. The work is done as effectively as it can be done under the circumstances, but if there is some neglect I will certainly look into it and see that a remedy is provided. As regards the Americans getting their supplies from the Magdalen Islands, this is a new question that I am not ready to answer at the present moment, but I will look into it and try to satisfy the hon. gentleman on that point.
Yes. There were strong representations to the government, and we were taken to task for not having the courage, as it was alleged at the time, to take the whole pilotage under the control of the department. I explained then to the House that there were two sides_ to the question, that I knew that the shipping interests were unanimously in favour of that being done, or that there would be somebody responsible for fiie conduct and qualification of these men. I said that we would try with the pilots of Montreal, who were ready to work band in hand with the department and to submit themselves to the regulations that might be made by tlie department. Since this clause has been in force, now nearly two seasons, not only the shipping federation, which represents the ship-owners, but the pilots themselves, are perfectly satisfied. But there has been some agitation as regards other places. Last year a very serious accident happened on the Saguenay river through the incompetence of one of the pilots, resulting in the
Yes. The pilots ave their own corporation and regulations, >ut the pilotage authority will rest with the dinister of Marine and Fisheries instead of vith tlie harbour commissioners. The har-iour commissions are composed of a large lumber of men-in Montreal 11 and in Quebec 9 or 10. The shipping people believe ;heir interests will be bettev served in this wav. The masters, mates, engineers and -aptains are all under the control of the Department of Marine and Fisheries, and are obliged to pass their examinations and get their certificates from the department; and the shipping people ask, why should not the pilots be in the same position . They say that the pilots should be put under such control that the shipping people would know where to place the blame if a pilot committed an offence or an error or proved incompetent. He could be dealt with by somebody who would be responsible to the House.
My hon. friend (Mr. Foster) was not in the House two sessions ago when this matter was discussed. For years past the shipping federation lias unanimously agitated for a revision of the laws governing the pilots. In the year 1887 a strike took place amongst the Montreal district pilots who were then under the control of the harbour commissioners, and a commission was appointed to inquire into the whole question. For twenty years past the shipping interests have agitated in favour of putting the pilots under the administration of the Marine Department, and it is only the year before last that the objections of the pilots themselves and of the Montreal Harbour Board were removed, and that a Bill was passed putting the licensed pilots between Quebec and Montreal under the control of the department.
loss of a vessel and its cargo to the value of $250,000. Then the shipping people asked us to take away the Saguenay river at least from the pilotage authorities of Quebec and put it under the control of tlie Department of Marine and Fisheries, and last year I introduced a Bill- for that purpose. The department succeeded in getting tlie corporation of the pilots of Quebec to select four or five of tbeir number wbo knew the Saguenay river very well, and place them under the control of the department. The result was that last year there was scarcely any accident, and matters went on better than they had done before. This year the corporation of the pilots of Quebec, in view of the way matters had gone on between Montreal and Quebec, came to the Minister of Marine and Fisheries, and asked that they should be put under the control of bis department. They felt that that would be more satisfactory to them and that the regulations would be better attended to ; and therefore, with the consent of the Harbour Commissioners of Quebec, I bring forward this Bill with the view of having the whole of the St. Lawrence pilotage under tlie control-of the Department of Marine and Fisheries. The pilots' organization will of course keep its entity as it is, while the Department of Marine and Fisheries will be the pilotage authority as regards examinations and regulations for the admission of pilots, and all that is necessary to guarantee to the shipping interest the elimination as much as possible of all dangers from incompetency.
It has been represented by the shipping interests and the board of trade of Vancouver and Victoria, that under the present law seamen cannot be engaged in British Columbia ports because the shipping masters will not accept the legal fee of 50 cents per head. Ships are now obliged to go to United States ports and pay very large sums to secure crews. It is asked that under certain conditions the shipping master shall have authority' to appoint any one to act in his stead and receive whatever remuneration may be fixed by the Governor General in Council. There may be objections elsewhere. but under existing conditions in British Columbia there would appear to be
no objection to the boarding-house keeper acting as an agent to hire sailors. I understand why the law was made so strict a few years ago when it applied to the province of Quebec, but the conditions are not the same in British Columbia as they were then in Quebec, and in my opinion this Bill is in the public interest.