May 21, 1932

LIB
IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

I do not blame them; I

would do the same. But when they can do it so cheaply, there is no reason why it should not be done in British Columbia. I would wipe the whole thing out. Pay the inspectors better money and they will rise to their 41761-2025

responsibilities. Give them more work and pay them-that is a good business principle- and save from thirty to thirty-five thousand dollars.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES
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LIB

Peter John Veniot

Liberal

Mr. VENIOT:

When we were dealing with oyster culture I brought up a question which I think I am in order in bringing up again under item 171.

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CON

Armand Renaud La Vergne (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

The CHAIRMAN:

Item 176 covers oyster culture.

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LIB

Peter John Veniot

Liberal

Mr. VENIOT:

I know, but 171 also covers it to some extent because it has to do with the salaries of guardians who are employed in this line of industry. On that occasion I brought up the question of containers or barrels for oysters. Under its new regulations the department has specified that oysters shall be packed in a certain way. Designs for the container or barrel have been submitted to the department. Under the ways and means bill before the house the sales tax has been increased from four to six cents, and if the department is going to insist upon a costly container being adopted it will be an injustice to the fishermen. Has the department made up its mind with respect to what design of container it will impose upon the oyster fishermen?

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CON

Alfred Duranleau (Minister of Fisheries; Minister of Marine)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DURANLEAU:

A regulation was

adopted in 1931 as to the dimensions of oyster containers. This was done, I am told, after consultation between the officials of the department and the fishermen and others engaged in the industry in the east. But since then representations have been made against the cost of those containers, and my deputy tells me that at the present time he is communicating with the interested parties in order to come to some agreement on the matter.

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LIB

Peter John Veniot

Liberal

Mr. VENIOT:

I thank the minister for

the information. Let me now draw this to his attention. When deciding on the design of the container, in the name of conscience do not leave it to those interested in the manufacture of containers to say what shall be adopted; and be careful that the price does not exceed, to any great extent at least, the price at which our oystermen have been buying their containers in the past. Why should there be a special design of container for the shipment of oysters any more than for the shipment of anything else? Why should regulations be adopted which impose that extra duty upon the oyster fishermen as well as upon the oyster exporters? An oyster

Supply-Fisheries

is just as sweet in its flavour when packed in an apple barrel as it is in a barrel that costs $1.50. I would prefer to have oysters shipped in boxes rather than in barrels, and I think if the fishermen were consulted and a reasonably sized box could be decided upon, it would be more satisfactory than the barrel. For the past few years our oyster fishery has been going down somewhat, and if you impose extra burdens upon the fishermen you are certainly not going to do them any good. I fear that these extra burdens may drive some of our fishermen, not all, into violations of the law by fishing out of season in order to make up the extra cost brought about by the imposition of the department's regulations during the open season. I wish the department would go very fully into this matter before adopting a design on which the fishermen will have to pay a sales tax and which will impose on them extra burdens.

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CON

Alfred Duranleau (Minister of Fisheries; Minister of Marine)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DURANLEAU:

My hon. friend will admit that we must have a minimum size container in order to protect the trade. People want to know what they are getting.

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LIB

Peter John Veniot

Liberal

Mr. VENIOT:

They will not know any better if the oysters are packed in a $1.50 barrel than if in a 75-cent barrel.

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CON

Alfred Duranleau (Minister of Fisheries; Minister of Marine)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DURANLEAU:

No doubt; but we

must have a standard size of container for the protection of trade. We are as much concerned as my hon. friend to minimize as much as possible the expenses to be incurred by the fishermen in packing their oysters. To-day we are studying the suggestion made-now repeated by my hon. friend-to put oysters in boxes as well as barrels. I can assure him that the interests of the manufacturer of boxes or barrels will not prevail; we are looking after the interests of the fishermen themselves and the protection of the industry.

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LIB

James Layton Ralston

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

Under this item there are two or three matters which I wish to bring to the minister's attention. I submit to him that it does seem as if we have not yet realized the importance of the fishing industry in the province from which I come and the necessity for more careful consideration being given to the interests of those engaged in it. Let me point out what was done soon after this government came into power. A firm of engineers was employed to make a report in connection with the marketing of Canadian fish and fish products, based on a general survey of the industry. That had already been done two years before by a commission which investigated the maritime fisheries-a commission which I think all members regard as

being thoroughly competent to deal with the question. Nevertheless my hon. friend felt that he wanted a fresh view on the matter and he employed this firm to make a report. The newspaper notices intimated very clearly that something would come from this which would be of great advantage to the fishing communities, but when the report did come down, with all due respect to the gentlemen who made it I think the minister and the department generally felt that in so far as it proposed practical means of assisting the fishermen it turned out to be practically a dud. The report dealt with information which was already in the hands of the department; I am sure the competent departmental officers had collated it long before, and I am sure the department already had full access to practically all the information which was gathered by that firm at some considerable cost to the country. I do not say a word against the firm; I understand they are a reputable firm of engineers, though I do not know them at all. I feel, however, that this effort on the part of the present Minister of Finance to get a new viewpoint in connection with the fisheries, did not result in any real accomplishment.

Let me give my hon. friend an example. The report has been laid on the table of the house, though I have never had an opportunity of reading it. The report is very long and no copies were printed, but the minister prepared a summary, and just to give an idea of how practical it is in connection with the marketing of fish, let me read the headline recommendation at page 80 of the summary:

That the Minister of Fisheries consider the announcement of a fiscal policy with respect to fisheries, and all industries and trades dependent thereon, based upon the following principles:

(a) That the government refrain from levying any taxation-other than that which applies to all industries and groups-particularly directed to those engaged in the production, processing and marketing of fish, until such time as the industry has attained a reasonably prosperous and self-reliant status.

I cannot suggest a more futile or more meaningless recommendation. I never heard and I cannot conceive that the former minister, the present minister or the government as a whole intended to levy any special tax upon the fishing industry, yet the first recommendation is that the government refrain from doing so. I do not think it needed a firm of engineers or a commission to make a recommendation of that kind. What they mean. I do not know, I am sure. I am not going through all the recommendations contained in the report.

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Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES
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IND
LIB

James Layton Ralston

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

It is this:

(b) That consideration be given, subject to ^insurmountable constitutional or other obstacles, if any, to the ultimate withdrawal-within a specified period, announced in advance-of the fishing bounty, except any that the government may decide to apply to destructive species, and that the sum so released be devoted by the department to assist in the execution of educational and other measures directed toward the permanent improvement of the industry.

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IND
LIB

James Layton Ralston

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

I want to give the government credit for efforts along educational lines in connection with the fisheries but in doing so I am paying a lefthanded compliment to their predecessors in office also. Educational work in connection with the fisheries has been carried on by both governments, and a great deal has been done in that respect. I believe we are all convinced that this is one way in which we can assist the fishing industry, but I do not think it needed any recommendation from a commission to establish that fact, and I do not think the assistance which will result from the withdrawal of the bounty will mean a great addition to the funds available for that purpose.

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CON

Finlay MacDonald

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacDONALD (Cape Breton South):

You would not be in favour of withdrawing the bounty?

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LIB

James Layton Ralston

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

No. Then the recommendations go on to deal with the fisheries conservation policy, with which I dealt last night in connection with lobsters. A sort of lefthanded recommendation is made in connection with the trawler in paragraph 2 (b):

That, in general, conservation policy shall be directed to restriction of seasons, locations, and of licences-partly as a means of securing adherence to and respect for regulations-but not of the gear or equipment used. Only such reasonable and effective regulation shall be exercised, in the latter instance, which may prevent uneconomic destruction of the species, or any serious deterrent to the quality of the fish caught.

I suppose there are more teeth in that recommendation than in any of the others, though they are well veiled and covered up. At least that is a direct recommendation against restrictions on trawlers. The next paragraph has to do with the classification of information, and the following paragraph states solemnly that the Department of Trade and Commerce shall consult with the officials of the Department of Marine and the Department of Fisheries in connection with the information thus made available in order to initiate discussions with the various steamship companies operating from or to Canadian ports in reference to the adjustment or improvement of their services, schedules or facilities. I hardly think it was necessary to recommend consultation between various departments of the government and I venture' to say that these officials have discussed many times with the steamship and railway companies the question of rates on fish and the' cost of transportation. Then there is a reference to the sockeye salmon treaty, and in paragraph 5 the biological board is urged to direct greater concentration upon the solution of practical problems of fishery research. Paragraph S is as follows:

That consideration be given by the minister to the advisability of a reference to the Board of Railway Commissioners for Canada of the whole question of railway rates and tariffs respecting freight and express shipments of fish and fish products . . .

That question has been before the board more than once on applications by individual shippers. So far as I know there has been no case prepared or reference made by the minister, and it seems to me that if this recommendation had been really intended to mean something it should have been positively to the effect that a reference be made to the-Board of Railway Commissioners with regard! to this very important matter of the cost of transporting fish instead of gently suggesting consideration of the advisability of a reference. I do not think anything has been done in that connection at all.

The next paragraph suggests that the Canadian Fisheries Association be broadened in scope, and the following paragraph suggests that the Department of Fisheries conduct a campaign of education, as previously mentioned. Paragraph 9 recommends that the information collected be made available to the trade. Paragraph 10 suggests that encouragement be given to the formation of a lobster canners' association, and in paragraph 11 it is suggested that the biological board be requested to carry on experiments with a view to developing small fish reduction units suitable for establishment in the less important fishing centres. Units of this kind were established years ago; I do not think that is any new policy at all, and obviously this would! meet only a small part of the real problems of the fishermen. Paragraph 12 recommends that every effort be made to extend the degree of diversification practised in the curing industry, and in paragraph 13 it is suggested that:

Supply-Fisheries

means be sought for reducing the number of brands of canned salmon. Paragraph 14 states:

That encouragement should be given to fishermen's cooperative unions for the purpose of obtaining their supplies cheaply and of improving their standards of production.

Everyone is trying to do that. Paragraph 15 states:

That overlapping of the inspection acts . . . should be adjusted; that inspection service by the proper authorities should be extended to cover fish reduction plants and retail stores . . .

and so on. Paragraph 16 suggests the employment of express rather than freight for the shipment of fresh fish. That is the report in connection with our fisheries, made by a so-called expert commission. Does anyone wonder why I suggest that so far as any actual help to the fisheries is concerned the report is practically a dud, because I believe whatever it contains of importance already has been taken up by the department, and whatever is contained in the report that is not important was not worth appointing a commission to find out. My bon. friend from Comox-Alberni (Mr. Neill) has given me the proper word for the report, and I thank him for it; the report is one of platitudes.

I should like to say just a word with regard to the matter of taxation, the first point mentioned in the report. The other night there was a discussion in connection with the sales tax on salt; a good deal was said to the effect that fishermen should use Canadian salt, and that the government was quite right in imposing a 6 per cent sales tax on salt imported into Canada. Since then I have found that there are 380 men engaged in the whole salt industry in Canada, including the part of the country from which you and I come, Mr. Chairman. I think probably the minister has a report dealing with Canadian salt in connection with our fisheries, and I doubt very much whether it unreservedly supports the ideas expressed by my hon. friend the Minister of Finance with regard to the usability of that salt in the operations of the fishing industry. As a matter of fact the situation is just this: I have talked with those engaged in the fishing industry in my own constituency and I myself did everything in my power to assist Mr. Chambers, in connection with Malagash salt. I endeavoured to get packers and fishermen down there interested in it, and it was with difficulty that they were induced to take it up. So far as its use in connection with their fish was concerned, I am bound to say that the reports were not too satisfactory. My hon. friend

knows what the difficulties are. Mr. Chambers tried to do all he could to meet them, but the unfortunate situation remains. The hon. member for Antigonish-Guysborough (Mr. Duff) knows more about the fishing industry than I ever hope to know, and the other night he said that it had not proved satisfactory to the industry. What is the use, under the guise of helping the fishermen, of trying to force them to use material that they consider is not satisfactory, and imposing this six per cent tax on them in connection with salt, which is one of the basic materials they use in their industiy? In addition to that, there is a three per cent excise tax, but at the moment I am discussing the sales tax. Salt was always free of sales tax. The Minister of Fisheries suggested that most of the fish is exported anyway and that a rebate could be obtained. Let me give him an illustration and ask him how the fishermen can really get a rebate in connection with salt used on their fish. The fish are placed in butts into a salt pickle. Some of the fish is taken out and made into dried fish for use partly in Canada, and some of it is sent green to the United States. How will anyone tell how much salt is used in connection with exported fish and therefore how much of it is entitled to the rebate? The fish is sold, perhaps, to a jobber in Canada, part of it finding its way to the domestic market, some of it in this part of the country but most of it in the eastern provinces, and a portion is sent to the United States. It is simply impossible, therefore, to tell what proportion of it is entitled to the rebate, and this is merely the imposition of an irritating tax from which the fishermen gets no benefit whatever. Who pays? There is only one man who pays, and that is the fisherman. The minister might say, "But you do not take the tax on a pound of salt and deduct it from the price of the fish." Supposing the dealer pays a cent or a cent and a quarter or a cent and a half a pound, he does not take a fraction of a cent per pound off for the salt. What he will probably do is this: he says, "we have to reduce the price of fish at a certain time to meet market conditions." And the reduction comes three or four days earlier than it otherwise would in order to take care of the sales tax on the salt, and the fisherman pays it. If there is to be an increase in the price of fish, it comes later, that is what takes place, and the fisherman pays the difference. In common with the others who spoke the other night, I protest that this government is not even carrying out

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the spirit of the first paragraph of the report, and are certainly not helping the industry by putting on that sales tax.

With respect to coverings, I do not know what the minister was thinking of when he permitted, at least without any strenuous objection-perhaps he did object to some extent-a tax on the coverings, articles which in themselves are free of the sales tax, and on barrels, butts, boxes and everything used in connection with the packing of fish. Here again there is only one man who pays, and that is the fisherman, because the people who supply the boxes say that if they have to pay the sales tax the man who supplies the raw material must have the deduction made. Again, it is done in the same lefthanded fashion. No direct charge against the fisherman is made, but just as before, the reduction in the price of fish comes a little earlier. There again, you cannot possibly make a case for the reduction of the tax, because you do not know how much is exported. The man who actually produces the fish and pays the tax is probaly not the man who exports at all, and therefore he cannot get his money back. I know of little industries, all over the western shore particularly, where the men, with their families, in little outhouses, put up a certain amount of dried or boneless fish, as it is called. They may sell it in the domestic market, or possibly to a jobber. How will these people get the rebate on coverings in connection with exports? It is merely an additional tax on this basic industry, and while it does not come within the recommendation of the Cockfield-Brown report, which says that you shall refrain from putting a special tax on the industry, at the same time it contravenes that report to this extent, that it imposes on the industry a tax which up to the present time it has not had to bear. I submit that it is in direct contravention of the principle which we are all trying to establish, namely, assistance to this basic industry.

I spoke of boneless fish. That is boxed. But so are haddies and fillets. Some of these come to this market up here, but many of them do not. Often round fish are boxed and iced. You will never get a rebate of these taxes and, as I say, the fisherman is going to pay. I submit that the minister would be well advised to take up with his colleagues in cabinet this matter of the sales tax, which is of so much importance to the fishing industry.

Further with regard to the sales tax provisions, I find that on one article of fishermen's gear which was apparently considered as exempt, the tax has never been attempted

to be enforced until this government came into power. I am not suggesting that the wording of the schedule is such that the department is not justified if they construe the wording, strictly in imposing the tax; but, trawl kegs, which are buoys used for the purpose of keeping up trawls, were never taxed before; they were regarded as part of the gear of the fisherman and exempt. Last year trawl kegs had a sales tax, a. very heavy item, imposed upon them. I know some men in the cooperage business who are engaged in making trawl kegs, and one of them has had to pay on the kegs not only for last year but for previous years as well. Again, the burden is passed on to the fisherman, and this contravenes the intent of the exemption schedule to the sales tax, which provides, or at any rate is supposed to provide, that gear used in connection with the fishing industry shall be free of the tax. This is a matter to which I wish to direct the attention of the Minister of Fisheries and of the Minister of Finance. I have already brought it to the attention of the Minister of National Revenue and pleaded for some amelioration of the present situation.

The hon. member for Antigonish-Guys-borough and I do not agree on some things in connection with the fisheries; naturally, as regards the length of season in our respective constituencies, we differ. He got a fifteen-day extension to the first part of his season, and I had fifteen days cut off the latter part of mine.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES
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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. RHODES:

Plus six weeks.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES
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LIB

James Layton Ralston

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

That was a special relief

season in December and January. Guys-borough got a continuous season, having fifteen days added in the spring of the year when the catching is good, without having to outfit twice, whereas the western shore got a split season, having to outfit twice, and that extra season in the most inclement part of the year.

With regard to halibut, reference has been made to Newfoundland fish. Here is another case in which the Minister of Fisheries would be well advised to give direct attention to the situation with regard to fish coming from that dominion. Last year I protested against fish from Newfoundland being made exempt from the special one per cent excise tax. I considered that this was an extra tax which Newfoundland fish should bear the same as the others. This year I protest more vigorously still against Newfoundlfand fish being exempt from the three per cent excise tax, and I hold in my hand a telegram which I received

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the other day, and which probably the minister has also received. I shall read it. It is dated May 3, and reads:

Newfoundland halibut being dumped in this country duty free is demoralizing our very limited Canadian market and has already driven prices to a point where our fishermen cannot operate and pay expenses. On behalf of our Atlantic coast halibutters, four of whom are tied up at our wharf this week, we vigorously protest this lack of protection for one of our primary industries, when practically all other Canadian industries are enjoying a large measure of protection by tariff and when we are virtually excluded from United States market by tariff and transportation charges. Can we not get some prompt action on this matter which is of such vital importance to our hard pressed fishing population.

That is signed by Ralph P. Bell of the Lockeport company in Lockeport, Nova Scotia. That is a ease where the Newfoundland fish are completely demoralizing an industry in Nova Scotia, the halibut industry. These fish are now to be exempted from the three per cent excise tax instead of the one per cent, and I ask the minister to view this matter in the light of giving assistance to the fisheries. The fishermen are entitled at least to the preservation of the domestic markets regarding which the report of Cockfield, Brown and Company was supposed to be particularly concerned.

What is on the other side of the sheet? For the last two years there has been a consistent and persistent effort to tax those things used by the fishermen which were formerly free. I refer to food, clothing, gasoline, oiled clothing, and tin plate which I forgot to mention in connection with the sales tax. These things are -being taxed and these taxes, as well as the sales tax on packages are being paid by the fishermen as well as by other members of the community. For the first time taxes are being put on these articles used by our primary producers and I submit that the minister, considering this matter in the light of what was supposed to be the purpose of the report of Cockfield, Brown and Company, should take off these taxes.

The mention of tin plate reminds me that when I was dealing with the sales tax I neglected to mention the lobster canning industry. A tax in connection with coverings means a tax on the tin plate and the cans used for packing lobsters. Many of these cans go outside of Canada and many are sold within Canada; those sold within Canada must pay the tax, while a rebate can be obtained on those sold outside of Canada. However, the rebate is obtained by the exporter and not by the man who actually supplies the can

in the first place. The cost comes out of the fisherman.

This whole fishing industry, the third largest in Nova Scotia so far as money is concerned, is in desperate straits at this time. If the minister had access to the budgets of these lobster fishermen he would realize the large contribution they make to the communities in which they live. Only allowing a small amount for depreciation on boat and engine, it costs a fisherman about six or seven hundred dollars per season for gasoline, help, rope, traps and so on. It is not as if the man could go out and use only his labour; he has got to do more than that, he has got to invest money, and they have to earn their expenses before they get anything for their families. These men are in such a position that the matter of taxation becomes vital to them. The taxes should be taken off those things which they use instead of new taxes being imposed.

The suggestion has been made that a bonus should be paid on fish. A strong delegation from the salt banker industry waited on the minister and urged that a bonus be paid. The shore fishermen of Nova Scotia are in need of assistance and the only practical way to meet their needs is by way of a bonus on all shore fish, not trawler fish. If this were done the industry would be given a chance to live and it would be doing only that which was done for the wheat farmer in the west and for ' other primary producers, such as coal producers. An -opportunity would be given to these men to compete with trawler-caught fish and at least get hack some of the domestic markets which they have lost.

I urge upon the minister, as I urged upon his predecessor, that he carry on negotiations of the most impressive character, if I may use that word, with the country to the south of us whereby its tariff regulations may be so adjusted as to give us proper access to that market. The minister knows that since 1923 there has been a provision on the statute books-this was put through by Mr. Fielding -with regard to reciprocal trade in natural products. I submit that the time has come when negotiations should be resumed to permit an opportunity of entry to that market. Let me remind the minister that at the presenttime the tendency in the country to the south is all the other way. The tendency has been to exclude our lobsters except above a certain size, and if this government does not change its present attitude with regard to high tariffs I fear that that market will be seriously endangered. I do not want to take up the time of the committee any further except to say

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that these points with which I have dealt have come up from time to time and I have put them together to discuss under this item in order to urge upon the minister that he give serious and earnest consideration to the desperate plight in which the fishermen of Nova Scotia find themsevles at the present time.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES
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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. RHODES:

Mr. Chairman, the hon.

member for Shelburne-Yarmouth (Mr. Ralston) in his remarks, which I could not help but observe were highly and wholly critical, has covered a very wide field. At the outset of his remarks he proceeded to criticize very severely the report of Cockfield, Brown and Company. It may be that the findings as read by my hon. friend from that succinct and abbreviated digest of the report which has been brought down to parliament have not been happily worded, thcj7 may be more or less general in their terms, but I would point out to my hon. friend that he should bear in mind the fact that there was a very exhaustive examination made by this company covering a period of approximately nine months.

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May 21, 1932