Ernest D'Israeli Smith
Mr. SMITH (Yictoria-Carleton):
Would the hon. member permit a question?
Subtopic: CONTINUATION FOR ONE TEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
Mr. SMITH (Yictoria-Carleton):
Would the hon. member permit a question?
No. I do not propose at this time to go into any lengthy discussion of tariffs, but it does seem to me that it is carrying the theories and principles held by hon. gentlemen opposite to an extreme when they will not allow us to obtain goods from a foreign country if we can get them for nothing. That is the situation which confronts the people in my constituency.
What about wheat?
For two years in succession our crops have been destroyed by grasshoppers, yet this government would not allow those people to get potatoes for nothing when they had not the money with which to buy them elsewhere. I think I have a right to
Relief Act, 1933-Mr. Veniot
ask the government to give consideration to this special case. They would not allow these people to get relief in a way that would have cost nothing, so now I want to know what is the better way to which the Minister of National Revenue referred.
Shall .the resolution carry?
Hon. P. J. VENIOT (Gloucester):
Before this resolution carries I should like to direct the attention of the government to a situation which exists along our shores, particularly along the straits of Northumberland, the gulf of St. Lawrence and the bay of Chaleurs. Perhaps the provinces of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward island are affected as well.
I am the last one, Mr. Speaker, who would desire to countenance the violation of any of the laws we have established for the protection of game and the fisheries, but with the present conditions of distress, especially in the county which I have the honour to represent, I would ask if it would not be possible, as a relief measure, for the government to extend some of the seasons and not rigidly keep them as closed seasons. I well know that there is a treaty between Great Britain, including the Dominion of Canada, and other nations of the world for the protection of wild birds, and at certain periods during the year the season is closed. But you can readily understand, sir, that people with empty stomachs and with children at home wanting for food, know no respect for law. In order to prevent them from becoming criminals through the violation of the law as it now stands, I would ask the Minister of Marine (Mr. Duranleau) or the Minister of Labour (Mr. Gordon), whoever is in charge, to consider the possibility of extending the season or declaring the season open for next year.
Conditions are not improving in northern New Brunswick nor, I believe, in other parts of the dominion. If this season could be left open next spring and fall it would contribute materially to the relief of the poor people along those shores. The officers of the government in charge of the enforcement of the law, especially the mounted police, are showing no mercy; the county gaol of Gloucester has had as many as fifteen or twenty heads of families imprisoned for violation of the game and fisheries laws. I have mentioned the act protecting game birds. These birds abound in northern New Brunswick, and it will be readily understood that when the father of a family, knowing that his children are suffering from lack of food, sees within gun shot of his residence thousands of brants and geese the temptation to violate the law in order to obtain food is very great. I
think no great harm wrould come to wild bird life if these people were given an open season at least for one year.
The same arguments apply to the fisheries. Certain sections of northern New Brunswick have a closed season for lobsters, I think from June or July each year. Last year the lobster season, especially in the bays, was an absolute failure, while later in the fall, after the lobster had shed its shell and taken on a new coat, there was a great abundance. Yet if those people ventured out in order to obtain food for their families they were imprisoned. I have no fault to find with the officers. They are sent there to do their duty, and having received no contrary instructions from the department they have to carry out that duty according to the solemn oath they have taken. However, I would ask the Department of Fisheries seriously to consider granting a fall open season for at least one or two years in order to permit lobster fishing to be carried on in northern New Brunswick. If this is done it will relieve the federal, provincial and municipal governments of the necessity of spending a great deal of the money now necessary to relieve the distress which exists among the people along those shores. It is very hard indeed for them to conform to the law when they see that a few miles beyond an imaginary line lobster fishing is permitted, beyond Chockpish in the county of Kent, which is only perhaps eighty miles from the northern counties. I am referring to lobsters fished in the fall of the year from some time in September to the middle of October, down to Cape Tormentine. In the spring of the year, when the season is open in northern New Brunswick, the fishermen from that lower section come up and fish in our waters. Our people are too poor to go from their homes and fish beyond the imaginary line between Cape Tormentine and Ste. Anne de Chockpish in the county of Kent, because the only fishing they wish to have the liberty of engaging in at that time is to catch enough lobsters, not for public sale but for the nourishment of their families.
It may be said that they will violate the law, that they will abuse the privilege given them. I am free to admit that there will be some who will abuse that privilege, but it can be regulated under instructions from the department given to the officials or the mounted police in charge of that district, to see that no abuses shall take place. They are on the ground, they have their patrol boats, and they can visit these fishing grounds and issue permits to these people to lay traps
Relief Act, 1933-Mr. Gordon
and catch a certain quantity of lobsters each day.
Touching the rigid enforcement of the law, the same thing applies to the fishing of oysters in the county of Gloucester. I am thinking of a particular case in point where I think it would be well for the Minister of Fisheries to look into the matter. Under the present law the size of oysters to be caught was fixed two years ago; the round oyster was fixed at 3i inches-that was the smallest allowed to be fished-and the long oyster was 4 or inches, I believe. Now there are certain sections of the county of Gloucester where the beds have never produced a round oyster of over 3 inches. The nature of the oyster in these beds is such that it reaches its extreme growth at 3 inches in the case of the round and 3i or 4 inches in the case of the long oyster.
I do not wish to interrupt the hon. member, but surely the subject he is now elaborating is quite remote from the resolution.
The resolution relates to unemployment relief, Mr. Speaker.
The resolution proposes:
That it is expedient to introduce a measure to continue in force the provisions of the Relief Act, J932, until the 31st of March, 1934.
I regret very much indeed if I am violating the rules but I submit that a great deal of latitude has been given others. I should be glad of the privilege of finishing this topic, because I think I am discussing relief measures.
Not for the last ten minutes.
Well, if the Prime Minister wishes to raise a technical objection I will take my seat and let him bear the responsibility.
Shall the motion carry?
Motion agreed to and the house went into committee, Mr. LaVergne in the chair.
Before the resolution
carries I want to make a few observations with respect to the bill which is to follow, and that is in connection with the amount to be spent for direct relief. The question of the investing of the executive with power has been the subject of a good deal of debate in this chamber, and the government in the last two years has taken the responsibility of assuming the power without any limitation as to amount. Hon. members will well recall
that in 1930 the condition of affairs throughout the world presented a rather alarming picture and it was thought desirable at that time to invest the executive with very wide authority in case matters arose that would need immediate attention, and that authority was exercised through the agency of the then legislation and was continued into the next year.
As hon. members know, the method of providing, first, work on a wage basis and afterwards devoting the attention of this government to help and succor for those in need has been continued up until the present time. After the legislation of 1930 had been in operation, with succeeding extensions, for some fifteen or sixteen months, it was made apparent at a provincial conference that the expenditure devoted towards works and subscribed to by the provinces, municipalities and this government, was too great a burden for those agencies to bear any longer. That subject was debated at length at a provincial conference held on April 9 last year, and it was the unanimous view of the provinces that they could no longer carry on. Of course, it resulted as well in a great deal of difficulty for the federal parliament to carry on and finance, and as a result of that conference it was determined to devote what moneys were available to the relief of those in need and to apply such funds to suit the peculiar situation that might arise from time to time in the dominion. Committees were set up in all the provinces, by the provinces themselves, to deal with their peculiar local conditions.
It has been argued here that a national commission of some sort should have been appointed and should still be appointed for the purpose. That matter was also discussed with representatives of the provinces and the answer was, as one would anticipate it would be, that the administering of moneys to those in need being, as I think every member will agree, peculiarly one for the municipalities and the provinces to deal with primarily and, in a condition of affairs such as at present exists, one to which the federal parliament is justified in contributing, the provinces would not be prepared under these conditions to relinquish their legislative authority and autonomy in so far as that subject was concerned and give it over to the federal power or to any commission set up by the federal authorities.
Mr. II.ANBURY: Has that opinion been
expressed by all the provinces of Canada?
That is my recollection.
Relief Act, 1933-Mr. Mackenzie King
Is there any correspondence to that effect?
I doubt it.
Mr. MACKENZIE KING:
I doubt it, too.
That was the view expressed at the conference held at Ottawa on April 9 and it was reiterated just two or three weeks ago at a subsequent conference with the representatives of the provinces. The provinces took the attitude, I think very properly so, that it was one of their functions to do just that thing. Together with the municipalities they were subscribing towards relief more in money than the total of the advances made by the federal authorities. I have no reason to complain about the administration generally within the provinces and I seriously doubt if any commission, federal or otherwise, could have carried on with any more efficiency than the committees set up throughout Canada in the municipalities and the provinces. They have provided economic administration of relief to those in need.
Reverting to my observations made when I first spoke upon this resolution, I may say that as a result of the experience of the last few years, there is a much better organization of effort. Hon. members will understand that it is a most difficult thing to organize and administer a department to deal with a subject matter such as this, one that involves all the complexities of the home and of human life. Each succeeding month has disclosed that the administration is becoming better organized and being placed upon a more efficient basis. However, there is still room for improvement because, as hon. members probably know, there are a few instances where people who did not need relief took advantage of the time and the situation in order to obtain relief from the public treasuries. I do not think I have sufficient facility of speech to describe such people as they should be described. The people of this country are straining every effort at this time to provide assistance for worthy people who find themselves in need and any man who will take advantage of the times in order to obtain relief by some circuitous or underground way will not soon be forgotten or forgiven by the Canadian people.
As I said, the organization has improved greatly because of the knowledge we have gained in the past and the government considers that it is no longer necessary to have included in the bill unlimited authority so far as money is concerned. The bill to be presented to the house will have a limitation
so far as direct relief is concerned. This limitation will be in harmony with the experience we have gained in the past and will have regard to the commitments for the next fiscal year which we believe will not exceed $20,000,000.
Mr. MACKENZIE KING:
Mr. Chairman, it certainly is gratifying to see that what has been urged so strongly from this side of the house right from the outset has at last come to be part of the accepted policy of the ministry.