Mr. THOMAS REID (New Westminster) moved that the house go into committee on Bill No. 17, to amend the Fisheries Act, 1932, (as reported against by the standing committee on marine and fisheries).
He said: Before the motion is put I have a few remarks to make concerning the bill and what took place in the committee. It i3 not my intention to cover the ground I covered when the bill was first introduced. At that time I dealt with the matter very fully. But in view of the fact that the committee has reported against it I want to make some statement as to what took place.
First I draw the attention of the house to the fact that on that committee there are some thirty-five members, and that when the matter came up for final decision there were seventeen present besides the chairman, and the vote was nine to eight. In view of that I felt it my duty to protest against the report of the committee being brought in, and to make a statement relative to some of the evidence that was laid before it.
When the final report was laid on the table there was at least one paragraph in it that I do not think the committee considered at all. I shall not read the whole of the third report, but it states in part that:
After consideration, your committee is of the opinion that the public interest, as a whole, would not best be served by the passing of the proposed legislation.
Now that question was not discussed before that committee when the vote was taken. The question was simply put to the committee whether my bill should pass or not, and the vote was taken simply on that question. In view of the small number by which that vote was carried I ask the house to refer the matter back to the committee, not only for further consideration along the lines I have stated, but also in order that witnesses should be called. The matter is so vitally important that the fishermen concerned, men who are employed in gill net fishing in the Fraser river, should be called from the Pacific coast to put before the committee the actual facts of the case. Although I did the best I could I still believe that had those men been allowed to come before the committee they would perhaps have made a greater impression than I did.
Briefly I wish to review some of the statements that were made by the deputy minister, as many of his statements before the committee were misleading. I am not say-
ing they were deliberately so, but in my opinion they were put forward in such a way as to becloud the issue and so left a wrong impression with the committee.
In clause 2 he stated that fifty per cent of the seine boats were owned by the canneries. I dispute that statement very strongly. It may be true that only fifty per cent are owned outright by the canneries, but the committee were not informed by the deputy minister that another forty per cent are partly owned by them. At a mass meeting in the city of New Westminster at which the deputy minister and the district supervisor were present neither of them thought fit to refute the statement made by the fishermen there that ninety per cent of the seine boats were owned or controlled by the canners; they were either afraid or they knew better.
Then in clause 4 of paragraph 2 he states that the United States got most of the fish. That aspect was not gone into very fully, but if anyone cares to look at the record he will find that there were years when we on the Canadian side of the line put up more fish than the Americans.
Then the deputy minister in making his statement to the committee quoted the pack of fish, not the amount of fish caught. We on the Canadian side are catching more fish than are caught on the American side, and have so done for years, but what happens? The cannery men, who are endeavouring to control the whole industry, tell the fishermen how many fish they will take, and other fish by the thousands are often thrown overboard and so destroyed. That waste has taken place for many years. If all the fish caught in the Fraser river and the gulf of Georgia were canned the pack on the Canadian side would be as great as if not greater than that put up by the Americans. The American canners can all the fish caught on their side of the line, but that is not the case on the Canadian side. So it was very unfair for the deputy minister to state to the committee that the pack on this side is lower than on the American side, giving the committee the impression that the Americans were catching greater numbers of fish than we on this side.
Then he stated that there is no demand for second quality. One has only to go down to some of the stores in Ottawa and see second quality fish being sold. And what does the storekeeper tell you if you ask for a can of that fish? He says: I cannot get enough of this second quality to supply my customers. Yet the deputy minister says there is no demand for the second quality pack. I ask any hon. member of the house to go to any store
in which is exhibited the second quality pack, together of course with the first quality pack; I venture to say he will be told the same thing I was told right here in the city of Ottawa.
The deputy minister also states that no purse seining has been allowed for early sockeye salmon. That may be so, but this year the canners came out in their true colours; they were advocating that the whole area at the mouth of the Fraser river be thrown open at all times for purse seining. Then the deputy minister states that up to 1916 there was no sockeye fishing allowed after August 21. He omitted to tell the committee, however, that for years before 1914 the date was October 1. Then he tried to interject the statement that the British dealers reserved their best labels for Canadian goods in years past. Did he tell the committee that some of the British buyers are taking the second quality fish and actually asking for a rebate to take' off the- first quality lids? During the past year there has been a great demand in the old country for second quality fish, because by simply flipping off the second quality lids those fish can be sold in Great Britain as No. 1 quality.
If I had more time I could place a number of these definite facts before the- committee. The deputy minister stated that when the Fraser river emptied into the gulf it flowed north. At its mouth that river is almost two mi-les wide; it flows approximately five miles an hour, and it flows south, not north. He did not place anything before the committee in support of that- statement. I make the unqualified assertion that the Fraser flows south towards the international boundary line. Anyone who crosses from Vancouver' to Victoria can see the line of demarcation away towards the gulf islands; the waters of the Fraser are brown and muddy, in contrast to the clear salt water. He also said it had been decided to limit purse seining to a small area. That was not an exact statement of the fact, because the area embraces practically the whole surface covered by the waters which flow from the Fraser river. One of the most terrible statements made, if I may use that term, was that the area which I am asking to have cleared of seines was not frequented by gill net fishermen. When I was home during the recess I took occasion to call the fishermen together and place before them all statements made. I could produce at least a dozen affidavits that gill net fishermen have operated in the area under dispute for the last thirty or thirty-five years.
The deputy minister spoke of the inspection board. That board stated, I suppose after
being asked by the department whether they could tell by inspecting fish whether they had been caught by purse seines or by gill netters, that they could not tell by inspection. What did the deputy minister tell the committee, however? He said they had asked the canners. What is the use of arguing any further about this when, as I say, the canners own or control ninety per cent of the seine boats? What is the use of asking the cannery men whether the fish condemned had been caught by seines or gill nets? I suppose it is only human nature for them to say that the condemned fish were caught by gill nets, because naturally they are all for the seines and against the gill nets. But the inspection board, that board of brokers appointed to inspect the fish they are buying, say they cannot tell. A delegation of fishermen went to the canners two months ago and asked the canners if they could tell whether the fish were caught by gill nets or seines. They told the fishermen they could not tell, and it seems very strange- that those statements should be made to the deputy minister. The inspection board seems to be all right when its opinions agree with those of the department, but when the board is against what the department has been advocating, then the opinion of the board is ignored.
I claim that the area under dispute is brackish water. The water of the Fraser flows into the gulf for many miles, but that point was not elaborated very much by the department. They simply ignored the fact that I had claimed that it was brackish water. That is one reason- why I think the fisheries committee should have gone into this matter more thoroughly. Witnesses should have been brought from the coast; the cannery men should have been invited also; proper tidal maps should have been produced by the deputy minister to support his contention that after the Fraser entered the estuary of the gulf it flowed north and that the area under dispute was not brackish water. So many misleading statements have been made that I have not time to go into all of them; I can only touch a few, to which I should like to direct the attention of the house. But may I say that while there have been many arguments advanced with regard to the quality of fish and the method of catching them, very little if any argument has been advanced by the department in regard to the time of year when the fish are caught, which is an all important question as far as quality is concerned. What did the department do last year? This is very interesting. At a public meeting it was stated on behalf of the department that the FraseT river had been closed because sixty per cent of the fish were too poor in quality to be