March 27, 1923

LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

What the hon. gentleman says may be quite correct, but if I correctly understood the argument of his colleague and himself they claimed that the government at a certain time decided to make a reduction of 10 per cent, and later reversed that decision and made a reduction of 40 per cent, and their complaint is that the government should have stuck to the 10 per cent reduction because their later action is seriously affecting the canneries of British Columbia.

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CON
LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

That is just exactly what my hon. friends said and nothing else. The whole thing boils itself down to this, if I understood both hon. gentlemen correctly, that due to the fact that the government, or some official in the Department of Marine and Fisheries, sent word to the fishery interests in British Columbia that a reduction of 10 per cent was to be made, and that afterwards another decision was arrived at and a reduction of 40 per cent effected, those interests are going to be seriously handicapped and affected in 1923, with the result that the men who operate the canneries are going to lose a large amount of money during that year. I am not trying to say that these two hon. gentlemen are in favour of a lower reduction in Japanese licenses; I am not arguing that at all. If that is their fear I will put their minds at rest right now. All I want to argue is this: Whether the department did or did not change their policy with regard to the percentage of licenses that should go into effect in 1923, nevertheless the canneries of British Columbia are not going to be seriously handicapped or affected by that policy. Now, what are the circumstances? It is a fact that salmon fishing in British Columbia does not start until some time in June-the 15th, of June if I remember correctly. Consequently even at this late day, although the 40 per cent policy has been adopted now for over a month, the fact remains that the canners have about five months in which to make their arrangements. Now, what arrangements have they to make? One hon. gentleman said they are going to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars.

British Columbia Fisheries

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CON

John Arthur Clark

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARK:

May I ask Ihc hon. gentleman what he means by saying that the Banners have five months in which to make their arrangements?

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LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

If the hon. gentleman will take into consideration the time from the date when it was decided by the department to put the 40 per cent reduction into effect it will not be very much less than five months.

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CON

John Arthur Clark

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARK:

But the department decided to put the reduction into effect before they received the report. The report was filed on the 28th February.

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LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

There was an interim report which asked the government to decrease the renewal licenses to Japanese by 40 per cent.

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CON

John Arthur Clark

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARK:

That was on the 23rd December and the department gave its pledge that they were not going to consider it.

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LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

Quite possibly. I am not arguing that the department did not change their policy, but evidently the members of the British Columbia Fisheries Commission were able ' to convince them that it was the right and proper thing to do, not only in the interests of the fisheries of British Columbia but in the interests of the people of the province as a whole; and as one of the commissioners I certainly think the department did the right and proper th.rng when they decided to accept the report ol the commission in that regard and reducing Japanese licenses 40 per cent. Now, Sir, the hon. member for Burrard said that the British Columbia canners had signed contracts for labour and material. Well, even if they have done so-

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CON
LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

And made advances. To

whom? To Japanese. I hope my hon. friends will not press that part of the question. It is quite possible, as he said, that advances are made to fishermen; but the only advances which the canners make at this early date, or at the time my hon friend said they were made in December, is when they go to the Japanese bosses and engage a certain number of Japanese for the next season. Now there is nothing to prevent the canners from getting other fishermen; they have five months in which they can do it. There is absolutely no .reason why, if (.he canners want to employ white fishermen they cannot go and get them. I say it is about time-in British Columbia or anywhere else-that white people should be employed in the fishing business, and the canners ought to go out and get help of that kind.

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CON

Leon Johnson Ladner

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LADNER:

Does the hon. gentleman seriously contend that it makes one bit of difference, so far as the honour of the government is concerned, whether the moneys were advaned to Japanese, Chinese, Hottentots or anybody else? If relying on the pledge of the government the canners set out on a certain business course and now the government takes the ground from under them and subjects them to a loss of several thousand dollars, what difference does it make to whom the advances are made?

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LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

I am glad my hon. friend has set the loss at several thousand dollars. The hon. member for Burrard said the loss would amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. I am very doubtful whether the canners have advanced any money to the fishermen in British Columbia up to the present date-very doubtful indeed. It is true, of course, that the canners have to make certain arrangements such as buying cans, tin plate, boxes and other supplies for the fisheries; but what difference is it going to make to the canners of British Columbia whether the reduction in Japanese licenses is 10 per cent or 40 per cent as regards the quantity of supplies which they have to buy for the 1923 fisheries? If my hon. friend will read the statistics of the British Columbia fisheries he will see that in certain years when there has been a smaller number employed than in previous years, there has been a larger catch. Therefore, the man engaged in fishing in British Columbia cannot know the quantity of boxes or other supplies he will require from time to time. He has to prepare himself to handle a large quantity of fish, and, consequently, it is impossible for him to argue that because a certain per cent reduction in the number of licenses issued to orientals is taking place the canners are going to be seriously affected in that regard. I do not wish to argue that the department is infallible. It is as liable to make mistakes as other people, and I might say that perhaps the Department of Marine and Fisheries makes more mistakes than some other departments, but that is no reason why it should be condemned in this matter, and I do not think it is a matter of grave public importance to be discussed this afternoon or that the House should be prevented from going into Committee of Supply. This matter might have been discussed when the fishery estimates were before the House. There would have been ample time to discuss it then, and the only reason I can see why it is brought up now is to make political capital against the department and the government. I contend the British Columbia fisheries are

1544 COMMONS

British Columbia Fisheries

not going to be affected in the least by the fact that the hon. member for Vancouver South (Mr. Ladner) has said that one of the officials of the department sent a telegram in December last to British Columbia saying that the 10 per cent reduction was going into effect. I think I can say truthfully that, perhaps, I have received more correspondence regarding this matter and other matters connected with the British Columbia fisheries before and since our interim and final reports were filed, than any other man in this House. I have received telegrams and letters upholding the views of the commission, thanking the commission for recommending the 40 per cent reduction, not only from the fishermen of British Columbia, not only from citizens of British Columbia, not themselves interested in the fisheries, but also from gentlemen interested in the fisheries. I do not think there is any very great concern in British Columbia about the 40 per cent reduction, or the loss it will entail upon the canners when it goes into effect. In fact I have a telegram from a prominent canner; I just happened to find it a moment ago. The telegram is

4 p.m. addressed to me and quotes a telegram sent to the minister part of which is as follows:

We urge your department to put in force the recommendation of the Duff report and immediate application of exclusion of Japanese from seine operations or working on same. Any variation from this, such as 40 per cent reduction, will cause endless worry to those who use whites and Indians and will only lead to endless trouble in the future; there is plenty of good white men and Indians for this work and our company have not for years used any Japs on either herring or salmon seines.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Who is that from?

Mr. DUFF 1 I will give the name if the hon. member wants it, but perhaps the gentleman who wrote it would not want his name mentioned. I will show it to the hon. member, if he wishes to see it. It is from a prominent canner and is addressed to me. He quotes a telegram which he sent to the minister.

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CON

Richard Burpee Hanson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HANSON:

I thought it was from the

new Minister of Fisheries.

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LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

I did not catch that remark. Now, Sir, the hon. member for Vancouver South referred to the fact that the Canadian canners on the Fraser river had to compete with the American fishermen and canners, and for that reason, I understood him to say, he did not think it was right for the department to change their decision. Everybody knows that the Americans do not employ Japanese in their operations on the

Fraser river, and consequently his argument falls to the ground.

I do not think it is necessary for me to discuss this matter any further. All I wish to say is that I think the Department of Marine and Fisheries were fully justified in accepting the report of the British Columbia Fisheries Commission. Nobody is going to be hurt in any possible way, so far as we can see. We went into the matter just as fully as it was possible in the four weeks prior to the date upon which we signed our report. Every member of that commission, practically for every day, was discussing what was best to put in our report, and we gave a great deal of time and thought to this matter, and, with the exception of one of the members of the commission who did not quite concur with us in regard to the 40 per cent reduction, we were practically unanimous on all the other phases of the questions discussed. But I say, from my knowledge of the matter, that the cannere of British Columbia are not going to be affected. I do not need to discuss the report, but I wish to say that in that report a great many concessions are made to the canners-more than any other commission ever gave them. I do not think the canners will say that I am not favourable to them and that I do not want to see them get a square deal. I think it is practically second nature to me to be interested in the fisheries of this country. From the time, almost, that, I drew breath I have been interested, and my people before me, in the fishing business, and from the standpoint of the fish merchant; so that any particular sympathy which I would have would naturally be with the men who have to invest large sums of money in this industry and who sometimes do not get very large returns. Consequently, I say that the commission did not arrive at its decision with a view of doing anything which would be in any way detrimental to the interests of the canners. We had all these representations made to us by the canners. We were told that the department had first thought of making a 10 per cent reduction. They told us their business would be affected by it. We made every possible investigation we could into the matter before we arrived at our decision, and I think hon. members will agree with me that, with the composition of the commission, the decision we arrived at is in the interests of British Columbia, and in the interests not only of the fishermen but of the men who have their money invested in that industry.

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Hon. ERNEST LAPOINTE (Minister of Marine and Fisheries):

It is indeed of some

British Columbia Fisheries

interest that we should be attacked for having been too harsh towards a certain class of orientals in British Columbia. There is something queer about this question. There are members who want to exclude the orientals, except those whom they employ themselves, or who are employed by their friends. It reminds me of an incident in my early parliamentary career in this House. The House had been seized with the very question of oriental immigration to British Columbia, and gentlemen had been vehement in their denunciations of the government for allowing these people to come into Canada. After four or five speeches along that line I remember one of their cleverest members of the House at that time, the late Mr. Ralph Smith, in a speech he delivered said: "Now, I want to know who among the gentlemen who have just spoken does not employ orientals in his own personal business?" And he added, "Don't all talk at once." Nobody answered. Well, last year we had a very interesting discussion in this House when a similar motion was considered, and a dark picture indeed was painted of the dangers that were menacing British Columbia. My hon. friend who is moving the adjournment this afternoon made a speech himself, and I may be allowed to cite just a few words from it. He said:

I submit we must take our stand on this question and take it at once. We must be firm; we must be clear and definite in our policy. If we do that we shall be respected; if we do not, we shall be treated contemptuously.

And the hon. member concluded by saying:

It is a matter for the white race, particularly the Canadian white race, to consider and deal with now before the menace becomes such that our whole country is more seriously threatened than it is to-day. I am in entire agreement with my fellow members from British Columbia, and I sincerely hope that the House will take the matter firmly in hand without delay.

Well, I thought that perhaps I had taken the matter somewhat firmly in hand recently, and I am now faced with the criticism of my hon. friend who says I have violated solemn pledges and should issue more licenses to Japanese in British Columbia. Now, Mr. Speaker, what are the facts of the case? A committee was appointed to study the question of the fisheries in British Columbia. And with the consent of the House, indeed at the unanimous demand of the House, a commission was appointed composed of members of that committee to go and hear witnesses and investigate all matters concerning the British Columbia fisheries and make a report. Members were selected from every side of the House and I may give the list of them. This commission was composed of the member for Lunenburg (Mr. Duff), who was chairman, the

member for Nanaimo (Mr. Dickie), the member for Hants (Mr. Martell), the member for New Westminster (Mr. McQuarrie), the member for Comox-Alberni (Mr. Neill), and the member for Skeena (Mr. Stork). Four of the members of that commission are representing British Columbia in this House. The commission investigated every matter concerning the fisheries of that province; they heard witnesses in various parts of British Columbia; and while their labours were still uncompleted they sent in an interim report to the department recommending that the number of licenses of all kinds issued to other than white British subjects and Indians in 1923 be 40 per cent less than the number issued in 1922. They stated that they were still considering the subject and that the final report would be filed later on. At that time, in December last, I was away, but I do not want to evade any responsibility; I accept the full responsibility for everything that was done in the department. The officers of the department, however, said that taking into account the fact that the report was only of an interim character and that there was no finality in the finding of the commission at that time, this provision should not apply to the next season. I admit that this was done.

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CON
LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

Yes; nobody said it was not the deputy. The commission continued its work until the 28th of February, and it filed another report in which I find the following on page 8:

The commissioners were absolutely unanimous on all points dealt with in their interim recommendations, with the exception of the one dealing with the closing of Fraser river to sockeye fishing for five years. Two of the commissioners differed from the majority, as will appear later, on the question as to how overfishing was to be prevented after the closed period.

The representations that have been made by the various interests concerned in the British Columbia fisheries, as well as the objections raised by certain officials of the department since the publication of the commission's interim report have been carefully considered by the commissioners before the writing of their final report. Our conclusions and recommendations hereinafter set forth have therefore been reached and agreed upon in the full light of the said further recommendations.

On page 13 the recommendation of the committee appears as follows:

We therefore again recommend and most strongly urge-

And mark, they cay previously that it is in the light of the knowledge they had of what had passed between the department and the interests concerned that they make their recommendation.

British Columbia Fisheries

-that the number of licenses of all kinds, except trolling licenses, issued to other than white British Columbia subjects and Indians in 1923 be 40 per cent less than the number issued in 1922.

Now, one of the members of the commission, my hon. friend from Nanaimo (Mr. Dickie), did not agree with the recommendation in so far as it reduced by 40 per cent the number of licenses to be issued. He wanted the reduction to be only 25 per cent.

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CON

Charles Herbert Dickie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DICKIE:

That referred only to the waters of the Skeena and the Naas, for reasons which I gave to the House; it had no reference to the waters below, where the majority of the fishermen are employed.

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March 27, 1923