But even in the district of which my hon. friend made an exception, recommending a reduction of only 25 per cent, he agreed with all the other commissioners that the reduction should take effect this year for the season of 1923. So that a commission composed of members of this House representing all sides, four of whom represented British Columbia, considered the question, knowing everything that had passed, and recommended and insisted very urgently that this reduction should be made at once.
I do not know whether they saw the telegram which my hon. friend construes as a pledge. I must draw his attention to the fact that their recommendation was based on an interim report, while the present decision of the department is based on the final report unanimously recommending and insisting that the department make its decision effective this year. And that is why I have issued instructions accordingly. Now, Mr. Speaker, I hesitate to think that anyone will suffer by reason of that decision. Is it to be said that the white fishermen of British Columbia cannot do their work?
I have had representations not only from the canners but from members of the House of Commons and, as well, from members of that commission. And my hon. friend himself speaks violently in this House against the danger of employing Japanese fishermen. My hon. friend and Ins associates last year said that British Columbia was confronted with the danger of all its fisheries going to the Japanese. Yet directly the very first step is taken by this department to avert the danger by reducing the licenses to Japanese fishermen, I am accused by those hon. gentlemen of having broken faith with the salmon canners of British Columbia.
I hesitate to rise a second time, but the hon. minister has touched upon an important point. May I ask him if anything which either the hon. member for Bur-rard (Mr. Clark) or I stated can give him the slightest excuse-
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker I may say that the licenses will not be issued until next month. And here is a letter of which my hon. friend for Vancouver South (Mr. Ladner) received a copy. In answer to my hon. friend for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Stevens) I wrote him on March 14th, 1923, as follows:
My dear Mr. Stevens,-I have your note of the 12th inst., with which was enclosed a telegram addressed to you by the B. C. Salmon Packers Association protesting against the proposal of the department to reduce the number of licenses to Japanese fishermen and asking for sympathetic consideration of the same by me.
You will recall that the special fisheries commission appointed to inquire into fishery matters in British Columbia during the past season, submitted an interim report in the month of September last, recommending inter alia the reduction of licenses to fishermen other than whites and Indians by 40 per cent. In view of the intimation by the commission that a fuller and final report would follow at a later period, the officials of the department after having given the matter careful consideration concluded not to make effective the recommendations contained in the interim report for the season 1923. The commission has in the meantime completed its investigations and submitted it* final report a few days ago. The commissioners, with Mr. Dickie dissenting, adhere to the recommendations submitted in the interim report to the effect that these licenses should be reduced by 40 per cent. Mr. Dickie,
British Columbia Fisheries
in a minority report recommends that the reduction should not be more than 25 per cent. The commissioners, however, are unanimous in strongly urging that these reductions should be made effective during the present season.
Having regard to the fact that four members representing constituencies in British Columbia sat on this commission, I have felt that I would not be warranted in ignoring their views and declining to make this recommendation effective. It was accordingly decided that the reductions recommended by the majority report should be put into effect this present season and the necessary instructions to that end have already issued. If, however, it appears to you that the general interests of the fisheries are in any way prejudiced by the decision of the department in this regard, the matter might well receive further consideration by the House of Commons Committee on Marine and Fisheries.
Why do not those gentlemen take advantage of the committee that has [DOT] been reappointed for this session, and is actually sitting, to discuss this matter? Then should the committee find otherwise than the commission has found, the question will be still open for further consideration.
Right Hon. ARTHUR MEIGHEN (Leader of the Opposition):
Mr. Speaker, if the issue raised by the hon. member for Burrard (Mr. Clark) is not by this time thoroughly obscured, it will not be for lack of will or of skill on the part of the hon. member for Lunenburg (Mr Duff) and of the hon. minister (Mr. Lapointe).
What has the House discussed? One would think from the speeches heard from the other side that an appeal had been made by hon. gentlemen behind me against the treatment of Japanese in the province of British Columbia, and urging that more Japanese fishermen be employed, even against the report of the Fisheries Commission that has sat on the subject and made recommendations. No hon. gentleman is so dull as to honestly imagine that that is the issue or that it is relevant to the issue in the remotest way.
The report of the Fisheries Commission everyone understands. We have not all read it. There was an interim report last December ; a final report on the 28th February. The final report, in so far as respects the question of license reduction, was the same as the interim report, which recommended that there be a reduction of Japanese licenses by 40 per cent, effective this year. As to that there is no dispute in the world, and no one in the House has raised the question that that report is good or is bad; no one on this side is objecting to its terms. Then why do hon. members rise and read extracts from speeches delivered last session urging that the Japanese
be excluded? No one recedes from his position in that regard at all.
Now, what is the issue that we are discussing? It is that this government, in response to an inquiry from the British Columbia Salmon Fisheries' Association last December,-an inquiry made by them in order that they might know how to go about their business, making their purchases, making their advances and making their contracts; an inquiry that had to be answered that they might make these preliminary arrangements- gave a definite and unequivocal answer applicable to all this year's business. On the faith of that the British Columbia Salmon Fisheries' Association went to work and made their investments, they hired their men, they made advances to those men, and they made their purchases. After they have thus prepared themselves for their season's work the government comes along in March of this year and says: We will break every pledge we have made to you and will put you back in the position you would have occupied if we had made no pledge to you at all.
If the right hon. gentleman will allow me to correct him? He says that the British Columbia Salmon Canners' Association have hired their men for this season. They could not hire their men until the licenses are issued for this season, and the minister has told us that these licenses will not be issued until next month.