February 15, 1935


Mr. G. G. COOTE (Macleod) moved the second reading of Bill No. 14, to amend the Foreign Insurance Companies Act, 1932. He said: Mr. Speaker, the provisions of this bill are the same as those of the bill which has just received second reading, with the exception that they apply to foreign companies rather than to Canadian and British companies. I should be glad to have this bill sent to the banking and commerce committee. May I say, respecting the point raised by the Minister of Justice (Mr. Guthrie) that I have never understood this particular section of the old act conflicted with the powers of parliament. However when the matter is discussed in the banking and commerce committee I am sure the point will be carefully considered, and it may be that the wording of the act could be improved upon. All I wish to do is to protect the policyholder. In the event of there being in his policy a cash surrender value sufficient to carry it, such policy should be carried as long as possible and at a reasonable rate of interest.


CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. E. N. RHODES (Minister of Finance):

Mr. Speaker, the observations I made respecting Bill No. 13 apply with equal force to this bill, the provision being precisely the same. Of course the former bill has to do with Canadian and British insurance companies w'hile this one deals with foreign insurance companies.

Topic:   FOREIGN INSURANCE COMPANIES
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Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to the select standing committee on banking and commerce.


FISHERIES ACT AMENDMENT


Mr. THOMAS REID (New Westminster) moved the second reading of Bill No. 17, to amend the Fisheries Act, 1932. He said: Mr. Speaker, let me say at the outset that this is not the first time I have brought this matter to the attention of the house, but it is the first session I have approached the problem by way of moving an amendment to the Fisheries Act. My reason for moving the amendment at this time is that after careful consideration and investigation into the whole matter of salmon fishing in the Fraser river and the waters adjacent thereto I have come to the conclusion that something will have to be done to protect not only the fishermen of the Fraser river but the great salmon fishing industry itse'lf. I am sorry that owing to the rules of the house I am unable to place on the records the boundaries as defined in the bill, but I have in my hand a map with the boundaries indicated thereon, and which I shall send over to the minister. The red lines show the Fraser river and the blue lines indicate the area covered in the bill, in connection with which I am asking the house to act. I will send this across to the minister so that he can follow me better as I proceed with my argument. This question, Mr. Speaker, affects 2,366 gill net fishermen. That is the number of licences issued for the Fraser river for 1934. Actually there are more gill net fishermen engaged than that, because they come in from other parts of the province at certain seasons of the year; and there is also the extra help some use. For the benefit of the house it is perhaps as well that I should take a minute to explain what purse seining and gill net fishing is. Purse seining is done by means of a large power boat. They go out to fish, and when they sight a school of fish they let down a net and circle the school or as much of it as the seine net allows. The net is about seventy-three feet in depth. When the fish have been circled there are cords that tighten and draw together the bottom of the net, and all the fish within the net are caught as it tightens up just like a purse. The seine is about twelve hundred feet long and, as I said, some spventy-three feet in depth. In gil'l net fishing, generally speaking, there is one man to a boat, although sometimes he has a helper, a boy or another man. The nets used in these boats in the Fraser river are nine hundred feet long and in the open water twelve hundred feet long, but they are shallow in depth compared with the purse seine, being only some thirty feet deep. Not only is the net shallower, but the size of the mesh is entirely different from that of the purse seine. The mesh of the gill net which is operated by the individual fisherman must be large enough to allow only the head of the salmon to go through. If that were not so they would not catch any fish, whereas the Fisheries Act purse seine has a very small mesh so as to catch everything that comes into it. I think that simple explanation will suffice. These two methods of fishing are better understood by those who have given study to the matter, but after this brief explanation I think hon. members will be better able to follow my argument. May I point out that the fishing industry in this country is one of our most important industries. I should like to put on record a few figures connected with it. The total value of the fisheries for the whole of Canada, that is the landed catch, according to the latest report, amounted in 1933-34 to 827,558,053. I would ask you, Mr. Speaker, and hon. gentlemen to note that the total value of the fisheries in 1929 was $53,500,000, and it dropped last year to $27,558,053. In 1930 the total value of the fish caught was $47,804,216. As to the number of employees in this industry: according to the records the total number of men employed in the fishing industry, actually fishing with the boats, in 1933-34 was 65,391; employed ashore in canneries and elsewhere there were 13,927 employees, making a total number engaged in the fishing industry cvf 79,328. Invested in the fishing industry is the sum of $40,907,470, of which $24,912,482 is invested in vessels and gear; and invested in canneries is a total of S15,094,988, making a total investment in the industry of $40,907,470. From these figures one can see that the fishing industry of Canada is no mean industry, and I mention that because there is genuine concern throughout the country because we have to-day no minister of fisheries. We had a minister of fisheries in 1930-31, and if I may make this personal reference we were indeed very sorry to lose the present Minister of Finance when he was transferred from his office of Minister of Fisheries to his present portfolio of finance. It is a cause for general complaint and alarm that one of the most important industries in this country has now no minister in charge of its administration. There is an acting minister, it is true, but may I say in all kindness to the present acting Minister of Fisheries (Mr. Stirling), and my remarks apply to his predecessor as acting Minister of Fisheries, that one cannot expect the same results when one is delegated only as an acting minister. At least that is how I believe anyone would feel if he were acting minister only, instead of the minister. The result has been that ever since the Department of Fisheries has been in charge of an acting minister he has had to rely entirely on the reports and recommendations made by his officials. I am frank to say that in my opinion the officials are practically running the whole fisheries department. No acting minister is given a proper chance to go into all matters connected with the fishing industry and so find out for himself what the actual conditions are. He is only the acting minister, and with all due deference to the present acting minister he has not yet had time to investigate the fishing industry thoroughly and he must therefore rely on what his officials tell him. There is another complaint I wish to register. There have been no meetings of the fisheries committee except for one session since I have been a member of this house. Very important changes have been made in the regulations by order in council, and may I point out that orders in council have been passed without any previous intimation to the fishermen or to those affected. Drastic changes have been made in the regulations under the Fisheries Act, in many instances simply by order in council. I believe that before an important change is made the matter should come before the fisheries committee, which I believe should be in session every year; but as I have 6aid since I have been here it has been in session only one year; since then everything has been done by order in council. The area which I am asking to be enclosed by fishery regulations with a view to prohibiting seining therein was previously closed to seining for over fifty years. It was not till 1933 that an order in council was passed'-at a time when the house was sitting, and without any warning being given-opening this area and permitting the purse seine boats to come into it and scoop up the fish. I know the acting minister might have different data from his officials, but the information I have regarding other districts is that seine fishing has been allowed in many areas in British Columbia until it was found that intensive fishing by purse seines depleted those areas. The result was that those operating seine boats, cannery companies and others owning these boats, looked around for new areas in which to fish and utilize their boats. They discovered one such area in the gulf of Georgia in close vicinity to the mouth of. the Fraser river, and so it was opened in 1933 for these purse seine vessels. In that year sixty-five of them were allowed in that area, and last season a total of 103 of these boats were operating there. I maintain that if this is allowed to go on, the great fishing industry of the Fraser river is in grave danger of being Fisheries Act



not only depleted but eliminated in a few years. I say *hat in all seriousness, because that has been the experience in other areas. When the area was opened up first, in debating the matter in the house the then acting Minister of Fisheries argued that it was a question of quality. In that area there was a run of a variety known as pinks, which come in every two years. They said it was necessary to allow the seine boats to operate, because the fish deteriorated once they started up the river. Last year it was the late run of sockeye salmon. Nothing was said in 1933 about sockeye salmon, however; it was all quality in that year. As I develop my argument further I intend to show that the opening up of the area was entirely in the interests of the cannerymen and of those who owned the seines. First of all I would call attention to this fact, that away back in 1922 a commission was appointed under the chairmanship of the hon. member for Anti-gonish-Guysborough (Mr. Duff) and I have here a copy of their report. That commission studied the subject thoroughly. It was composed of many members, including some who are still in the house, and one of whom was the hon. member for Nanaimo (Mr. Dickie). Another member was my hon. friend from Comox-Alberni (Mr. Neill). The commission went out to British Columbia to investigate the whole fishing industry, and among other things which they investigated was the question of seine fishing. This is the statement on seine fishing, which we find in the submission of the Duff commisison of 1922. I will quote from it: We think that an unlimited and widespread use of either purse or drag seines is a sure and quick way of depleting the supplies of salmon. But it was made clear to us that there are places on the coast outside of rivers where gill nets have not as yet been proved to be effective in catching salmon in reasonably large quantities. With this in mind, therefore, we recommend that drag and purse seines be not permitted to be operated for salmon except where their use has been demonstrated to be the only effective and reasonably economic method of catching such fish. There was the definite statement made by that commission who investigated the matter on the ground. They heard the gill net fishermen, the cannerymen and all other interests, and after due deliberation they recommended that no purse seine fishing be allowed where gill net fishermen can operate. I do not think the acting Minister of Fisheries will take issue with me when I say that the area in which they are now operating could be operated entirely by gill net fishermen, because for fifty years the gill net fishermen did operate in that area and it was not until 1933 that these others were allowed into the area at all. That seine fishing is the most destructive form of catching fish, I do not think there can be any doubt whatever; I believe it is even more dangerous than the traps, as someone has said. And as I have pointed out, wherever they have been in operation these areas have been depleted. As regards statements that have been made with respect to the depletion of fish in the Fraser river, I should like to read two reports which I have here, one by the United States department and one by the government of British Columbia. I have a letter from the director of fisheries in the state of Washington, addressed to me in December, 1933, after they had operated that area. He says: Heavy persecution of the run throughout the season both by American and Canadian fishermen resulted in the pack of about 180,000 cases which was considerably in excess of what should have been packed to guarantee a similar run in 1937. The other report is supplied by Doctors W. A. and L. S. Clemens, Pacific Biological Station, Nanaimo, British Columbia. I quote: Fraser River: The prospect for 1935 is very discouraging. In 1931, Mr. J. P. Babcock, after making an inspection of the spawning beds in the Seton, Anderson, Lillooet, Harrison and Shuswap areas and receiving reports of dominion fisheries officers through Major Motherwell for other areas, stated that the total number of sockeye that spawned in the entire river basin was one of the smallest ever recorded. Egg collections at the Pemberton and Pitt lake hatcheries were relatively small. I quote these two reports to show that intensive fishing by seine, and on the American side by seine and traps, is very detrimental and will have a marked effect on the future of salmon fishing in the Fraser river. We hear a great deal now about quality and about finding a market for our fish. But let me point out the great catches of salmon which used to be made in the Fraser river and in years when they found no trouble whatever in selling this class of fish. I have not the time to put all the figures on record, but if one cares to go back to the year 1926 he will find that the market value of salmon was then §18,769,605. And as regards the packs of salmon in the Fraser river, in 1913 we had over 2,000,000 cases of salmon packed -fresh fish caught in the Fraser river. To be exact, the figure was 2,409,760. Now it is interesting to watch the drop. In 1933 -I have not before me the figures for 1934- Fisheries Act the catch was 178.204 cases, compared with almost 2,500,000 cases in 1913. It was a wonderful industry employing many thousands in those days, with canneries up and down each side of the Fraser river; and at that time the industry was not bothered with anything about quality and regulations. I mention these facts in an endeavour to prove that the salmon fishing industry is going down, and this latest move by the government in allowing purse seines to operate in this area right in the mouth of the Fraser river, which practically makes it a trap, and in an area where gill net fishermen did operate for fifty years, will result in depleting the salmon there and in the ruination of over two thousand fishermen at present engaged in the industry. Some areas have been closed this year. A notice has been sent out from Vancouver that certain areas-5, 6 and 7-will be closed owing to the intensive fishing done with purse seines. I could mention other areas but I have taken these in particular. Ten years ago, when the seines first went into the areas which are now being closed, they caught anything from 10,000 to 20,000 per day. Their catch last year was between 1,500 and 2,000. It is no wonder the department, operating from Vancouver, has taken steps to close the area to purse seine fishing, but it is somewhat late. These people have boats and nets, and the department have said, "We will allow them to go into this last area," so they will do the same damage there as they have done elsewhere if seining is not prohibited. In 1933 we had the word "quality" thrown at us. I wonder what excuse will be offered in regard to this past season. I have made a thorough investigation as far as I have been able to do so, and have endeavoured in every way to ascertain the facts from the fishermen. From all the figures and all the data I can get I am reliably informed that the sockeye salmon are in better condition when they come up the river than they are before they come up. I know there is some question regarding the pinks, and if I have time I shall deal with that later, but I am speaking now of the late run of sockeye salmon that were caught last season. For the information of hon. members I may say that the salmon when they come out of the salt water and first taste the brackish water, stop there and wait in those areas until all food is gone out of their bodies. Then they go upstream and so get harder and harder as they head upstream, with the result that the fish caught further up the river after they have waited for a period in the open waters are, so experienced fishermen and experts say, of better quality for canning than the late run of sockeye which is caught out in the open. This might not apply to the pink salmon caughit in clear salt waters, but it does apply to the late run of sockeye. I have not time to go into the matter as fully as I would like because I see my time is passing and I have many things I would like to draw to the attention of the minister. There is a good deal of concern and complaint regarding the inspection board. I was present when the acting minister received in Vancouver a delegation and I think that question was gone into. But when his officials tell him that the canned fish that are condemned or considered to be second quality are those which have been caught by the gill netters, and that all fish of first quality are those which have been caught by the seines, that is untrue because no man can tell after the fish are canned which have been caught by seines and which have been caught by gill netiters, and the word of the cannery companies is not without bias. Might I point this out to the acting minister: I might mention two canneries, otherwise doubt might be cast upon this statement. The Phoenix cannery this last season bought all seine caught fish, and fifty per cent of their fish I believe were classed as second quality. Another, the Glenrose cannery further up the river, took all their fish from the gill net fishermen and that cannery had practically no cases condemned. I just mention those two instances. Coming to the question of quality, I have before me something that I should like to show to the minister-I do not know that it has been shown to him-and to the house, with regard to what is taking place in connection with the fish inspection board. Many rackets have been revealed in the price spreads committee, but I will indicate a racket participated in by the dominion government; it is so striking I thought I would mention and exhibit it to the house. I have in my hand an empty one-pound salmon tin. When the salmon is first canned they place on the lid the one word "Canada." When the word "Canada" is on the lid, that is supposed to represent number one quality fish. The inspector comes along, and by the way these inspectors are also buyers, because they are brokers-this is a point on which I should like to speak a little later as these government inspectors are also in the market for fish. When they inspect the cases of salmon they may come on a case which in their opinion should not be so marked, but is second quality. What do they do? They compel Fisheries Act



the cannery to put on another lid on which is marked "second quality." Thus you have second quality, but what do some of the buyers do? They buy a lot of these second quality fish and take off the outer lid so that the tin remains with the word "Canada" on it. The result is that during the past season there has been a- large demand, I understand, from buyers abroad to the brokers in Vancouver for these second quality fish because they can buy them at about half the price; the first tin remains intact with the word "Canada" stamped on it, so that they can sell it in the stores as first quality fish after removing the second quality lid. Talk about a racket! The department knows about this but no steps have yet been taken to stop it. I am not going to develop the argument further, although I should like to say more about the inspection board because I heard a good deal about it. Strangely enough there was a great demand on ithe brokers this year for second quality fish, which can be bought much cheaper than the number one quality.


LIB
LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. REID:

I believe there is a difference of about three or four dollars a case. I thought it well to bring up this point because this practice should be stopped. The whole situation is a farce. I do not know whether the minister has seen this type of tin, but I am sending the whole thing across to him, because it is really 'worth while showing it.

Topic:   FISHERIES ACT AMENDMENT
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LIB

William Richard Motherwell

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

Are these inspectors paid employees of the government on full time?

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LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. REID:

The inspectors, while they are appointed by the dominion government, are paid by the cannerymen at the rate of so much a case. The inspection board, so far as payment is concerned, is no charge on the government; the cannerymen pay it. But human nature, being what it is, brokers should not also be government inspectors; that is a situation that should be changed. It is bringing the whole industry under suspicion, because they are receiving orders from abroad, and if they are receiving orders for second quality fish and there is none in the market, well, if they wanted to they could find some, because all they would have to do if they were so disposed-and I am not accusing them-would be to turn down certain cases on inspection. I am not saying that they are doing this; far from it; I have no proof of it, but there :s the possibility.

[Mr. Reid.l

So far as quality is concerned the industry is very much alarmed also at certain statements which have been made, and in addition in regard to closing time of which I shall later speak. But with reference to the quality of the fish and the statement that it is necessary to have the seine boats catch the fish away out in the open before they get up the river, I will first read this: Major Motherwell, the man in charge at Vancouver, attended on September 12 last a Kiwanis club meeting in New Westminster, and he said at that time:

Sixty per cent of the present run of sockeye salmon entering the Fraser river are not in fit condition for canning.

That at least is what he is reported to have said. This information comes from the British Columbian, a paper published by one of our senators and printed in the city of New Westminster. He said that sixty per cent were not fit for canning, and his statement was made on September 12, but about two weeks later the river was opened up and fish were allowed to be caught. The fishermen are asking this very pertinent question: If the fish were not fit for canning on September 12, were they more fit two weeks later? That was the point. That question is a very difficult one to answer because the argument has been advanced by the officials that fish begin to deteriorate at a certain period and therefore they close the area so as to allow spawning and also, they claim, to maintain the quality of the fish. I shall just ask the minister to take note of this matter; I think he heard something about it while he was in Vancouver.

I should like to speak about the exports of sockeye, but as the hon. member for Comox-Alberni has on the order paper a resolution with reference to that matter I shall reserve the remarks I intend to make on that subject, which is very important and has a bearing on this bill. But I invite the minister's attention to the matter of the closing time put into effect on the Fraser river in the 1934 season. Fishing is closed for the week-end to all kinds of fishermen. I should like him to get from his officials an explanation of why the purse seiners were allowed to operate eight hours ahead of the gill netters. They certainly could make a cleanup in the first eight hours, because as is well known to all who know anything about the industry, the opening morning after an area has been closed to allow the fish to go up for spawning is the best time for a catch. The seiners can catch more on a Monday morning than on a Friday morning. The fishing goes down as the week passes; the fish become more scattered and do not school up in such large numbers. I think the

Supply-Agriculture

question why the seine boats were allowed to operate some eight hours more, as they were, is worthy of the minister's attention.

As to the quality, it is a strange thing that the American cannerymen who compete with the Canadians in the markets of Great Britain can pay more for the Canadian caught pinks and late run sockeye fish than the Canadian canners offered. For the late run of sockeye in the Fraser river the United States cannerymen were offering twenty-five cents per fish when our cannerymen in many instances were afraid to take them in case they should be turned down as second quality. Putting those double lids on adds quite an extra amount of expense; first they put on one lid, and then the other. The canneryman was afraid to take a chance, and so this last season, 1934, he was not ready to take the late run of sockeye, and the majority of those fish were taken across the line where the Americans paid an average of 25 cents each for them. Last year when our pink salmon was said to be of little value the Americans were paying fifteen cents for them to the fishermen who took them across the line, when all the Canadian canners were paying was two cents per fish. Yet we are meeting their competition in Great Britain. Someone suggested that is a matter for the attention of the price spreads and mass buying committee, but I suppose it is too late for that now.

I should like the minister to reply. I have many matters that I should like to bring up in this connection. The matter is a very serious one. The whole industry is faced with disaster; many of these men are being forced on relief. The Deputy Minister of Fisheries stated that this past season the fishermen made the best money they ever made, but I deny that statement right now. He quoted figures, but in those figures he included Japanese fishermen who operate their boats the entire twenty-four hours a day. If he takes as the catch of one man that of a boat operated twenty-four hours a day it may well be said he did well. But as for the white fishermen on the Fraser river I dispute the deputy minister's assertion; they did not make as much this year as in past seasons. Besides the loss of late run sockeye, other varieties of fish were picked up by the purse seines and their catches diminished thereby.

As the hour is almost up I must conclude my remarks, but I make this suggestion to the minister. If the attitude of the government is to turn down the bill I suppose I shall have to abide by it, because they have the majority; but I appeal to them at least to let this bill go to the committee, in which case I

would ask in all seriousness that representatives of the fishermen be brought from the Pacific coast to appear before the committee. It is all very well for the cannerymen who have plenty of money to appeal to the acting minister or the deputy minister, but the fishermen are not in that position, so I urge upon the minister that they be brought before the committee if the bill is referred to the committee.

Topic:   FISHERIES ACT AMENDMENT
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CON

George Hamilton Pettit

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. G. H. PETTIT (Welland):

The hon. member (Mr. Reid) referred to the alarming reduction in the catch and output of fish. Is not the chief factor in that situation the methods and the various kinds of seines and other contraptions used by the American fishermen fishing in the adjacent waters and off that point of land where the fish pass into Canadian waters-

Topic:   FISHERIES ACT AMENDMENT
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LIB
CON

George Hamilton Pettit

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PETTIT:

-is that not leaving very few of the sockeye for the Canadian fishermen to take?

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LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. REID:

I should like to discuss that point before the committee, because the hon. member has not the right angle. Categorically I would say no, but I should like to answer it more fully in committee.

Topic:   FISHERIES ACT AMENDMENT
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CON

George Hamilton Pettit

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PETTIT:

Would not the real solution of the matter be a treaty between the United States and Canada, assented to by the state of Washington which has certain rights under the terms of it's entry into the union?

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LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. REID:

It might, but only if seines were prohibited. I should be very pleased to answer all such questions before the committee,

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CON

Pierre Édouard Blondin (Speaker of the Senate)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

This is not in order; the house is not in committee.

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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE


The house in committee of supply, Mr. Bury in the chair. Publications, $32,197.60.


February 15, 1935