As I understand it, the l&w that we have had on the statute-books since 1886 has been construed, down to the present time, as authorizing the Minister of Marine and Fisheries to issue licenses for trap-nets.
We have here a peculiar state of affairs. What was the object of the minister putting this section in the Bill? The hon. member for New Westminster (Mr. Morrison) condemned the clause the minister proposed and the hon. member for Vancouver (Mr. Ralph Smith) supported the minister. I understand that the other members from British Columbia strongly supported the minister in the legislation he offered to the House. Now, what has brought about these changes ? Has the minister changed his views ?
I never back down. This clause was introduced in the Bill under the impression that it was necessary, and to regularize the position. On more fully considering the case it was found that the clause was unnecessary and I decided to drop it.
Then, the minister in effect says that the advice given by his chief officials is wrong, and the hon. member for New Westminster is right. So, the minister is obliged to withdraw the legislation his officials have advised him to adopt.
As I understand the minister, some time ago when speaking to me on the subject, it was open, to any one who would comply with the regulations to obtain a license for trap fishing. I would like to hear from the hon. member for Vancouver (Mr. Ralph Smith) and the hon. junior member for Victoria (Mr. Riley) who were on the commission that investigated this question, and, as I understood, recommended that authority should be given for trap fishing such as was intended by this Order in Council. Now, it comes down to this, that we are in the position that we have been in for the last few years. I would like to understand from the members of the committee who are here what their views are with regard to the recommendation they made.
No one shall use a hag-net, trap-net or fish pound, except under special license, granted for the capture of deep-sea fish other than salmon.
That was- sought to be repealed by the section that is now dropped. It appears that the minister can grant licenses to use trap-nets other than for salmon fishing. But, I understand that the proposition was for salmon.
I take it that the minister is in favour of the Americans catching the larger portion of the salmon that comes up the Fraser river, seeing that he is not willing to let Canadians fish with the appliances that the Americans use.
I would like to know in what position those parties are who have gone to the expense of erecting traps. They tell me that they have spent something over $20,000 and their license enables them to fish for one year only. So. they will be at the will of the minister, whether they shall be able to use trap-nets in future or not. If that is the case, it is a serious matter1.