That is one of the matters that parliament has to decide after these other matters are settled. We have not taken action to make up the loss of revenue. If the hon. gentleman had understood me he would have understood that we have receipts as formerly, except from Ontario and Quebec. Last year these receipts were about .$45,000.
Although under the decision, territorial rights or powers are held by the provinces it does not in any way relieve the Dominion from the obligation it is under to protect the fisheries. The Dominion has all the powers to regulate and even to restrain the fishery rights and carrying with it those powers certainly it carries with it the onus of protection. Now, in the province of New Brunswick they have enacted legislation giving power to the government to enter into negotiations and to lease the territorial rights to the Dominion. It would seem to me to be in the best interests of the provinces generally and indeed of the Dominion that the Dominion should control and should have all the fishery rights, even to the territorial rights. From the standpoint of the Dominion and from the standpoint of our trade and navigation all interests combine and unite in pointing to the Dominion as the proper authority. Under these circumstances it would seem to me that it would be wise on the part of the Department of Marine and Fisheries to conclude negotiations at as early a date as convenient and where possible with the several provinces with a view of acquiring the rights of the provinces.
I want to say in connection with this matter that I understand that we have the right to regulate and protect the fisheries ; that is to say the size of the mesh of the net, to regulate the close season and to prescribe the kind of fish traps to be used. But, the question is : If we get no revenue from it, is it worth our while to protect the fisheries all over the country ? If we have the right over and above the provinces to raise a revenue upon the sale of fishing licenses or from some other source had we not better avail ourselves of it, because otherwise the Dominion will be paying out money for doing the work of the provinces ? As this decision has been given some time ago, it would seem to be desirable for the government to endeavour at the earliest possible moment to reach some conclusion with the provinces in regard to the rights we have, the duties we must perform and where the revenue will come from to pay the expenses incurred in protecting the fisheries.
I would like to draw the hon. gentleman's attention to the fact that the Dominion has been collecting a revenue from these fisheries for years by selling licenses to parties to fish with seines and fish traps. All along the coast of Nova Scotia these licenses have been sold by the Dominion authorities and the revenue derived from them has come to the Dominion.
Mr. SPROL'LE. The question is whether the Dominion shall be permitted to retain that revenue.
The hon. member for East Grey (Mr. Sproule) must understand the dif-
Acuity in the distribution of powers. It is not an easy matter with a question over which the local legislature may have a partial authority and in which the Dominion may have rights to decide it as quickly as the hon. gentleman thinks. But, what I rose to say was that I dissent entirely from the proposition he makes : It is no difference if the Dominion has only such power to look after our fisheries, it must not do it unless it gets a revenue out of it. That is a proposition, I think, which must not be entertained for a moment. If the Dominion alone can do certain things it makes no difference whether we get a revenue or not. The Dominion must do it in the interests of the fisheries and the people of Canada. You cannot decide a question by saying that it simply costs so much and we must get so much for performing this duty or we will not do anything at all.
I did not pretend to advocate any such doctrine. What I suggested was that if the provinces get all the revenue and all the advantages from the fisheries, would it not be desirable to have a conference with the provinces and to decide who shall assume the full responsibility of protecting the fisheries.
The government can only do what they have power to do. The argument, if I understand it, meant, that while the power might be inherent in one parliament to do a certain thing, unless it paid, parliament should not do it.
The hon. gentleman must not forget that the decision explicitly said that we had joint powers with the provinces.
Very able lawyers differ about what it means.
They always do.
There is this anomaly, that while the territorial right is in the provinces, the Dominion may adopt regulations making entirely valueless these territorial rights; in other words, the Dominion, under its powers, can, by regulation, absolutely prohibit and restrain the use of a river in respect to its fisheries, and yet the territorial right is in the provinces.
A stronger reason for coming- to an amicable understanding.
I quite agree with what the hon. gentleman says with respect to the desirability of coming to an arrangement, but pending such the Dominion must expend the money in order to protect the fisheries and carry out the regulations, it alone having the power. The provinces have no power in that direction at all.
Would the hon. member for Westmoreland (Mr. Emmerson) kindly tell us at what time that legislation was Mr. FRASER.
passed in New Brunswick to which he referred ?
I am really pleased to hear the hon. gentleman saying this. That is not the tune we got in Charlotte when he was running his last election. The tune there which was sung to the poor fishermen was this : These are the fellows that will have you by the throat if you do not vote for the local government. To-day he has changed his tune, and it is a very different story to that which we heard in the election.
In connection with this question, I desire to offer an observation or two. We had a very interesting decision by the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island in regard to this question a few days ago. The farmers of Prince Edward Island have for the last twenty or thirty years been digging mussel mud in the beds of the rivers for the purpose of fertilizing their farms. A regulation was passed by the department that no farmer should use his mud machine within 200 yards of a live oyster bed. They submitted to that, but now we find the department has placed an arbitrary line across certain rivers restricting the farmers from using this mussel mud for the purpose of fertilizing their farms. While the oyster fishery in Prince Edward Island is a very important fishery, the farming industry is also equally important, and if you restrict the farmer from taking his mussel mud within 200 yards of the live oyster bed, you will give full protection to the oyster fishery. The decision in the Supreme Court was this : Up the North river, I remember very well, au oyster fishery, or a bed for the protection of the oyster, was set aside by the government of Canada some years ago. A farmer in the prosecution of his industry came along and placed his mud digger within the limits as laid down by the government of Canada. Now, we wish to protect this oyster fishery, but you will see that you have an oyster bed of so many hundred yards square. You have a live oyster bed that must be protected by the government, but can you prevent the farmer from coming along and prosecuting his industry in the vicinity of that oyster bed ? It is true the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island decided that the government of Canada had the right to pass these rules and regulations, but if they were to be enforced, every farmer would be debarred from getting this valuable fertilizer in the vicinity of these oyster beds. I asked the hon. Minister of Marine and Fisheries a question a few days ago in connection with the lines drawn across the rivers in Prince Edward Island. Is it the intention on the Trout river and the Biddeford river in Prince county that no farmer shall be allowed to take mussel mud except within the lines he has defined ?
In reply to the hon. gentleman, 1 would say that when he brought the matter to my attention the other day and when another application was made to the department, I looked into it and came to the conclusion that a good deal of discretion might be used in enforcing these regulations. I gave instructions to the principal officer of the department in charge on the island that he was not to enforce the regulations strictly unless it was really necessary to protect the oyster beds. I think we will all agree that it is necessary to protect the oyster beds, but otherwise I think a great deal of discretion can be left to the officers as to whether this practice will really destroy valuable beds or not. I have issued instructions to that effect.
There is very little connection between the subject now under discussion in this committee and the elections which were held in New Brunswick in 1899.
Not just now, but there was then.