Mr. P. F. OASGRALN (Charlevoix-Sague-nay):
I shall try to be brief in my remarks, Mr. Speaker. The discussion on the resolution has been going on for some time; I never thought it would be so lengthy. The consensus of opinion among the members of the house seems to be in favour of the adoption of this resolution and I am pleased that both members from the maritime provinces and members from the province of Quebec on the government side are willing to support my motion.
There is one thing I should like to point out, however. Although the hon. member for
Maritime Fisheries, Quebec
Dorchester (Mr. Gagnon) has discussed this question in the way he has, and launched upon an attack against what he 'Called the bad administration of the fisheries in the province of Quebec due to the fisheries having come under the control of the provincial government in recent years, he seems to be not quite in accord with the Minister of Finance (Mr. Rhodes), who this afternoon stated that nothing had been taken away from the fishermen of the province of Quebec, because they had still the right to avail themselves of the various provisions that are on our statute books, such as the federal grant of seventy-five per cent for refrigerators for bait, and the regular grant of thirty per cent for other refrigerators which are necessary for fishermen. The difficulty is-and it is the reason for this motion-that the fishermen in the province of Quebec, and more especially on the north shore of the river St. Lawrence, are in a very unfortunate situation at the present time, having had a poor catch of fish for the last few years; therefore they are not in a position to avail themselves of any such grants or to contribute in the proportion which the law requires before they can obtain these refrigeration facilities. The consequence is that last year and the year before the provincial government has had to do practically everything on its own account in the way of establishing these refrigerator plants on the north shore of the river St. Lawrence in my county. As far as other laws on the statute book of which fishermen might take advantage are concerned, they are not in a position to do so, and since the administration of the fisheries was entrusted to the provincial government in 1922, it has had to do everything on its own account. The revenues derived from the fisheries by the provincial government, I am informed, although I have not exact figures, amount to hardly one per cent of the amount which the provincial government is spending nearly every year on the fisheries of the province, which is $300,000. When the provincial government was entrusted with the administration of the fisheries in 1922, it was due to the fact that it was desired to avoid the difficulties that had prevailed before with respect to licences in interior waters and also in deep and salt water down the lower part of the gulf. That is one of the reasons why the provincial government took over the administration of the fisheries as they stood within the limits of the province of Quebec. Now if the administration of the fisheries by the government of the province of Quebec has been bad, although my hon. friend from Dorchester claims that the
blame should be laid at the door of the provincial government, surely the same blame should be laid at the door of this federal administration when we find conditions obtaining in the maritime provinces as they have been represented by the hon. member for Gloucester (Mr. Yeniot). 'Conditions there do not seem to be much better than in the province of Quebec. If the federal administration did not do well in turning over to the provincial government the administration of the law, not the rights of the fishermen, as was suggested by the hon. member for Dorchester, I say, Mr. Speaker, that this government is here to settle all ills. They were elected to give better and more efficient administration, to settle all existing difficulties, to bring back prosperity, happiness and plenty to all. As I have said, I am merely asking that they give the necessary help to the province of Quebec, and I have given my reasons.
I wish to touch upon another point-and for this reason I hope hon. members will hear me a few moments more. The hon. member for Dorchester says we have been absolutely silent for the past eight years, that nothing has been done since the administration of the fisheries was turned over to the government of the province of Quebec. I was not a member sitting for the county of Saguenay on the north shore of the river St. Lawrence when the administration of the fisheries was transferred to the provincial government of Quebec. I was then sitting for the county of Charlevoix-Montmorency. In that district there were not very many fishermen, and the conditions affecting the deep sea fisheries did not obtain there as they do now on the north shore of 'the St. Lawrence. Since the year 1926 I have represented in this House of Commons the county of Saguenay on the north shore of the river St. Lawrence, and have been deeply interested in the fisheries. I have been working much more than my hon. friend from Dorchester would lead the house to believe. If he were to refer to the royal commission which investigated the fisheries of the maritime provinces and the Magdalen Islands he would find that on March 20 in the year 1928 the hon. member for Charlevoix-Saguenay appeared before the commission and presented a brief in the interests of the fishermen along the north shore of the St. Lawrence. At pages 85 and 86 of the report of that commission, issued in the year 1928, my hon. friend will see that the commissioners took cognizance of certain remarks that I made at that time in the interests of the fishermen in my constituency. I shall not take the time to read all the comments contained in this report,
Maritime Fisheries, Quebec
because theTe are many paragraphs which might not be of interest to all hon. members. There are certain points however to which I think I should direct the attention of the house. At page 86 of the report I find the following:
In marketing the fish products of the Gaspe peninsula and the north shore of the gulf of St. Lawrence, most of which is without railway-communication, and is completely isolated during many months of the year, shippers have to rely upon subsidized steamship services performed under contract by the Clarke Steamship Company.
Then, further on in the report I find the following:
Accordingly, there is a demand for improvement in the service performed by the Clarke Steamship Company. We recommend a consideration of the existing contract with the view of affording to this section of the country more adequate transportation facilities.
Mr. Speaker, this is a matter entirely within the jurisdiction of this parliament and the Department of Trade and Commerce. Following the report to w'hich I have referred endeavours were made successfully to secure an enlargement of the subsidies so that adequate facilities, such as refrigeration services in the boats of the Clarke Steamship Company, might be had on the north shore of the St. Lawrence. I am told that such service was extended to the boats of the same company plying between Quebec and the Gaspe peninsula.
I find in the report the further paragraph:
Railway freight and express rates are also complained of in that portion of the Gaspe peninsula which has railway connection.
Railway facilities are under the control of this parliament, and are matters of which this government should take cognizance. In the report a further request was made for harbour improvements or shelters for shore boats on the Gaspe peninsula. At the same time I appeared before the commission, I mentioned that such facilities should be afforded to people along the north shore of the river St. Lawrence.
If hon. members in this house or people outside the house would look at some of the estimates tabled in the years 1928, 1929 and 1930, they would surely find out that your humble servant has not been remiss in the discharge of his duties, because on many occasions I was rebuked by hon. members who then constituted the opposition, and was taken to task even by some members in my own party, because I was asking for too many improvements, such as wharf accommodation, dredging, and harbours, to benefit the fishermen on the north shore. The government implemented part of this report of the commission by paying attention to some of the requests made and by improving facilities at many points along the north shore. That is true more especially at a place called Tunday river, where a wharf was needed, and at Bredor Bay, near Labrador, where similar work was necessary. Many little harbours and breakwaters have been built to help the fishermen, and to implement the report made by this commission.
There is another paragraph in the report dealing with matters which might well be developed by the Department of Fisheries in the province of Quebec. I refer to the grading and inspection of fish, the establishment of a technological and biological laboratory for experiments, the institution of a bureau of information, a scientific study of the oceanography of the river and gulf of St. Lawrence, the migration of the different species of fish, the making of fishing charts, the adoption of a policy of subsidies for cold storage plants, fish canning factories, drying establishments and reduction plants. I think the provincial government in Quebec, which now looks after the administration of law's concerning the fisheries, has begun to deal with the matters here mentioned in the report. As I stated previously the amount required from year to year is far greater than the province of Quebec can afford to spend. The need is always increasing, and there is the added reason that in the years 1930 and 1931, the catch has been small along the north shore of the St. Lawrence. A large amount of the money which might have been divided to help the services mentioned in this report was given by way of subsidy or relief to the people along the north shore of the river. That was the condition obtaining before the relief measures were passed two years ago in this House of Commons.
So, Mr. Speaker, although hon. members opposite may want the country to believe that the hon. member representing Charlevoix-Saguenay has not discharged his duty, it is quite clear they are not stating the facts. Since I have represented that constituency I have given my best attention to the needs of the fishermen. If in the years 1929 and 1930, the government was not approached to secure the relief now described in the resolution, it was because conditions at that time were not so bad. Our markets had not been closed, and the fishermen were in a position to dispose of their product at reasonable prices. To-day they are in a much different position, and it is for that reason this resolution has been introduced before the house.
Maritime Fisheries, Quebec
This afternoon I was pleased to hear the hon. member for Queens-Lunenburg say he was going to take this matter up with the government with a view to helping the fishermen. Apparently three remedies were suggested. The first was a bonus to be given to the fishermen; the second, trade treaties, and the third, the stabilization of currency. If some of those remedies could be applied, fishermen not only in the province of Quebec but also along Atlantic and Pacific sea coasts would receive some benefit.
If we are soliciting federal assistance, it is so that there may be established on the coast of Gaspe, and possibly on the north shore of the St. Lawrence, biological and experimental stations from which the fishermen would be able to obtain information required, such as meteorological reports. Such reports should be printed in the French language. May I call the attention of the house to the fact that two-thirds of the fishermen in the province of Quebec are French, and they cannot take full advantage of all the valuable work that has been done at the biological stations if the results of that work are not translated into French. These stations are far away, and the fishermen cannot go to St. Andrews and Halifax from their own towns or villages on the north shore of the St. Lawrence in order to obtain information. I have in my hand a letter which I addressed last year to the Department of Fisheries, asking for a number of publications which I thought might be of interest to the fishermen in my district. I found that the French edition of a pamphlet entitled "Dried Cod Fisheries" was almost exhausted. Who is to blame for that?
These things should not be allowed to go on if we really want to help the fishermen in Quebec. Measures should be taken also to develop our fish trade more than it has been developed in the past. This might be done by .[DOT]educing the cost of transportation and creating local markets for our fresh fish. If this were done it would be of great help to the fishermen in my constituency.
I did not introduce this resolution because I wanted to play politics at all, as the hon. member for Dorchester suggested; I did not bring up this matter at the request of any person in the provincial government. As I said in my opening remarks, a similar resolution was adopted by the provincial house, after being introduced by the local member for my county, and I thought it behooved me to lay the case before this house with regard to the fisheries of Quebec. I think a bonne entente might be arrived at, and by coopera-
tion and conference between the two governments the little troubles that have existed in the past may be ironed ,out and we might start anew in order to help the fishing industry in Quebec as it should be helped.