June 27, 1935

DOMINION FRANCHISE ACT

CONCURRENCE IN SENATE AMENDMENT .


Hon. C. H. CAHAN (Secretary of State) moved the second reading of and concurrence in amendment made by the Senate to Bill No. 109, to amend tihe Dominion Franchise Act. He said: The amendment made by the Senate will be found in the votes and proceedings of this day. For the word "except" they substitute the word "unless," so that in the seventeenth line it will now read, "unless evidence satisfactory to the judge has been adduced."


LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWGRTH:

Can the Secretary

of State give us an idea of the legal difference?

Topic:   DOMINION FRANCHISE ACT
Subtopic:   CONCURRENCE IN SENATE AMENDMENT .
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CON

Pierre Édouard Blondin (Speaker of the Senate)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

Shall the motion carry?

Topic:   DOMINION FRANCHISE ACT
Subtopic:   CONCURRENCE IN SENATE AMENDMENT .
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LIB

Pierre-François Casgrain (Whip of the Liberal Party)

Liberal

Mr. CASGRAIN:

On division.

Motion agreed to on division; amendment read the second time and concurred in.

Topic:   DOMINION FRANCHISE ACT
Subtopic:   CONCURRENCE IN SENATE AMENDMENT .
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MORTGAGE CREDITS FOR FISHERMEN


Hon. GROTE STIRLING (Acting Minister of Fisheries) moved the second reading of Bill No. 120, for the purpose of establishing in Canada a system of long term mortgage credit for fishermen.


LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. WILLIAM DUFF (Antigonish-Guys-borough):

A few days ago the Minister of

National Defence, who also happens to be acting Minister of Fisheries, placed on the order paper a resolution upon which this bill, No. 120, is founded. After reading the resolution not only once, but several times,

4024 COMMONS

Mortgage Credits jor Fishermen

and after consulting with several hon. members regarding it, I came to the conclusion that it was not very clear. It reads:

Resolved, that it is expedient to bring in a measure for the purpose of establishing a system of long term mortgage credit for fishermen, under the administration of the Canadian farm loan board, and to authorize the government of Canada to provide initial capital in an amount not exceeding three hundred thousand dollars,

If the resolution had stopped there and if the amount instead of being $300,000 had been very much larger, it would have been fairly satisfactory; but it goes on to say:

-and to subscribe an amount of five per cent of the capital stock as loans are made-

Whether the capital stock is to be $300,000 or a larger amount, the resolution is not very clear, but if the government is going to subscribe five per cent on only $300,000, that will mean that all it will subscribe will be the small sum of $15,000.

The Minister of National Defence is not satisfied to stop there. The resolution continues:

-to purchase fishermen's long term loan bonds in an amount not exceeding five hundred thousand dollars; and to guarantee the principal and interest of such bonds to an amount not exceeding one million dollars.

In other words, the government or the Canadian farm loan board can purchase $500,000 worth of fishermen's long term loan bonds, and whether out of this 8500,000 or another million dollars, the government can also guarantee the interest and principal of such bonds to be an amount not exceeding 81,000.000. If we take this resolution at its very best; if we give it the greatest amount of longitude and latitude, the most that we can make out of it is that the government is arranging through no less an organization than the Canadian farm loan board for loans to fishermen. It seems to me that some other method or means should have been adopted than to give to the Canadian farm loan board the matter of dealing with this very important question. The farmer should hoe his own row and the fisherman should plough the billowy main. Instead of this, Bill No. 120 coming under the farm loan board should as a courtesy at least to the great fishing industry of this country come under a special commission or board or be dealt with by the fishery organization in the government even if that organization is not as complete as it might be.

Bill No. 120 is based on this resolution and carries out some of the matters referred to in it. As I said a moment ago, under this bill

[Mr. Duff.)

this matter is to be dealt with by the Canadian farm loan board under the Canadian Farm Loan Act. If hon. members will look at this bill and compare it with the Canadian Farm Loan Act, they will find that this bill is copied almost word for word from the Farm Loan Act. The only practical difference I can see, with a few exceptions, is that the word "fisherman" is substituted for the word "farmer" in a few cases.

What are the provisions of this bill? I am going to refer first to the amount involved or the amount which may be loaned under this measure to the fishermen of this country. Before I proceed with that, may I be permitted to say that in my opinion the fishing industry has at the present time greater possibilities than any other natural industry in this country. It is an industry which with a little encouragement with regard to administration, loaning of moneys, or obtaining markets has tremendous potentialities. This house voted $90,000,000 toward the farm loan board and loans to farmers, to which I am not objecting; the other day it was estimated that it would cost $10,000,000 for a housing scheme; last year we voted $40,000,000 for public works, a special amount in addition to the regular estimates, both main and supplementary and this year we have voted another $30,000,000 for public works, so that in two years we have voted about $80,000,000 for that purpose; yet the Minister of National Defence introduces this resolution and bill whereby the great fishing industry- and although I am giving the legislation the widest interpretation, I cannot make the amount larger-is entitled to the paltry sum of $1,800,000. That is almost an insult to the great fishing industry of this country.

Last year there were some 65.506 fishermen engaged in this industry, this number being distributed as to provinces as follows:

Number

Province: of fishermen

British Columbia 11,066

Quebec 13,627

New Brunswick 12,289

Nova Scotia 17,133

Prince Edward Island 3,194

Manitoba 2,822

Saskatchewan 614

Alberta 743

Ontario 3,984

Yukon 34

It is true that in the last two or three years, due to certain conditions which I need not elaborate at this particular moment, the fishing industry has fallen off much more than it should. But I remember in 1930 the Prime Minister spoke in Halifax, and I want to

Mortgage Credits for Fishermen

refer to the statement he made then because of the small amount which this resolution and bill calls for. In his address in that city he promised that "he would throw the whole financial power of the state behind the fishing industry." Now, after five years, in the dying days of this parliament and after parliament has been sitting almost six months this year, the government has come down with this bill. I might refer to it as a six-month's conception bill, whereby they are only going to arrange for the fishermen to borrow $1,800,000.

The Prime Minister also said he would throw the whole financial power of the state behind the fishing industry. He said:

I must not lightly make statements that I am not prepared to the last syllable to carry into effect.

Well, how is he carrying into effect the statement he made in Halifax that he would throw the whole financial power of the country behind this great industry? Here is what has happened in the last five years: Value of Fisheries of Canada

1929 $53,518,000

1930 47,804,000

1931 30,517,000

1932 25,957,000

1933 27,558,000

So, in spite of the promises that the Prime Minister made to the fishermen of this country, whether on the Atlantic, the great lakes or the Pacific, the falling off in value of fisheries in those five years is almost fifty per cent. Therefore I say the Prime Minister has not carried out his promise. But to-day, when this parliament is almost over and the government realize that they must go to the country and face the electors in a few weeks, the Minister of National Defence comes down with this sop legislation in an endeavour, I presume, to get the votes of the fishermen. But let me say to him and to this government that the fishermen of this country are not going to be fooled by this legislation.

I cannot deal with all the sections, it would take too long, so I am only going to deal with one. Clause 6 says:

Loans made under the authority of this act shall be subject to the following conditions:- (a) loans shall be made only on the security of first mortgages on fisherman's lands-

I call attention to that.

-not exceeding fifty per cent of the actual value of such lands and the buildings thereon as appraised by the board.

Now that certainly is a great handout to the fisherman of Canada. He is going to be

compelled to give security on his land, if he has any. Then we go further:

Provided that no one person and no two or more persons having joint or several ownership of the land to be mortgaged shall have by way of loan in the aggregate at any one time more than one thousand dollars.

Is not that wonderful legislation for our fishermen? Is not the government generous? They are going to give the fisherman not more than one thousand dollars to build a vessel, a boat or buy gear or do something else in connection with his business, but, they say, before we give you that thousand dollars you must mortgage any land you have, and if you have not any land you cannot get the thousand dollars to help you prosecute this industry, to start you young men who are coming along, aged nineteen, twenty, twenty-five. You must go out first and get a house and land. The result will be that this bill is absolutely worthless. I say to the Minister of National Defence that this bill as far as the fishing industry is concerned is a sham, a mockery, it is useless, because I am very doubtful if ten per cent of the fishermen, the sixty-six thousand men in that industry, in their present condition, would mortgage their real estate if it were possible so to do. And there are thousands of men in the fishing business who have no real estate. We know that the fishing game is a young man's game. It is true the old men have to go fishing with their sons and the young fooya, nevertheless if we are ever going to put this industry on a proper plane it must be carried on by young men. Young men have no real estate,, own no land, but the Minister of National Defence comes along and says: We will lend you one thousand dollars if you will give us two thousand dollars security on your real estate. Let us assume for a moment that they have real estate, what is going to happen? Take the deep sea fMiing industry. For many years we have had in Nova Scotia a cooperative scheme. These fishing vessels and boats are built under such a scheme. There are sixty-four shares in one of these vessels. The vessels are about 150 tons gross and when built and ready for fishing carry some twenty men. To-day a vessel of this description with auxiliary power will cost about $32,000. In the piast the scheme has been that some young man who wants to get on in life goes around among his friends and neighbours and asks for subscriptions for one or more shares in the vessel'. Suppose that under this scheme thirty-two men decide to build a fishing schooner costing $32,000. Assume that they

Mortgage Credits for Fishermen

all have real estate; the Canadian farm loan board would take thirty-two mortgages on thirty-two pieces of land, thirty-two real estate properties, in order to help build a $32,000 vessel. The thing is ridiculous. I say that under this act the government will never spend any money, because nobody will be able to take advantage of it. And the same thing applies to smaller vessels. If men want to build, boats or get gear to carry on the industry they will be unable to take advantage of this act for two reasons; because a lot of the younger men have no real estate, and those who have, if it is clear of mortgage, need to keep it clear in order to maintain their credit, to carry on their business and to look after their families.

There is only one way to handle this matter. Even if it were a good bill nothing could be done under it in the next two or three months. If the government had been sincere in this legislation they should have introduced it last January or February, when parliament opened, for everyone knows thalt the fishing season starts at that time. Whether in Nova Scotia or British Columbia or on the great lakes, getting new boats built, repairing nets or traps or gear, is done during the winter season so that they are ready when the ice goes out on the great lakes or the season starts in the maritimes or British Columbia. So this legislation even if it were good would be absolutely useless as far as 1935 is concerned. I say that the proper thing to do is to withdraw this bill. It is not in the best interests of the fisheries, it is legislation under which not one dollar can be borrowed as far as this year is concerned. Instead of legislation copied almost word for wrord from the Canadian Farm Loan Act, when the election is over and a- new government is elected and a new Department of Fisheries is constituted that department should settle down and consult with practical men and find out what is in the best interests of the fisheries. I should like to know who suggested legislation such as this. I have no hesitation in saying that my friend the hon. member for Digby-Annapolis (Mr. Short)) was not consulted, because he is a practical man, he knows what should be done in the interests of the fisheries, and we all regret that he is not going to run in this election. He has given the best years of his life to the fishing industry and for a number of years has sat in this parliament and given it the benefit of his counsel as far as fishing is concerned. We all hope he will be translated to a higher sphere and that the public will not lose the benefit of his services.

We hear a great deal of talk these days about guarantees or bonuses on wheat and other things; we hear whisperings about setting a minimum price on wheat. If this government is sincere in its desire to help the fishermen I should like to ask the minister why this bill does not contain a clause giving a bonus to fishermen or setting a minimum price for fish. Let me tell my hon. friend that in France to-day the fishermen receive from the federal government forty francs per quintal, or the equivalent of $3 in Canadian funds, in order to help the fishermen and increase the number of those who go down to the sea in ships. That is what the French government has done, but all the acting Minister of Fisheries gives us is a bill copied from the farm loan bill, substituting the word "fishermen" for the word "farmer."

It may be said that we have not taken advantage of our opportunities in this house to bring forward suggestions. Let me say that four months ago in the select standing committee on marine and fisheries I gave notice of the following resolution:

Whereas the fisheries of Canada are in a very unsatisfactory condition due to the

depression and other causes;

And whereas for a number of years thefishermen of Canada have not been able to

make sufficient money from their avocation to properly look after their families and keep their boats and fishing gear in a satisfactory condition;

And whereas the fishing industry is capable of great development if some encouragement is given this primary industry of Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that this select standing committee on marine and' fisheries

memorialize the government and House of Commons of Canada to bring down and enact legislation whereby a sum up to and not exceeding ten million dollars will be loaned to the said fishermen and fishing industry, under proper regulations, for the purpose of providing money to build boats and vessels, purchase gear, et cetera, erect bait and cold storage plants, provide a bounty to ship builders to build fishing vessels, and a bounty or bonus of so much per one hundred pounds on fish caught by the fishermen as well as for any and all other purposes which may be deemed in the interests of this great industry.

I hope hon. members will not think me boastful or egotistical if I say that in a small and modest way during the time I have been in this parliament I have endeavoured to advocate certain things in the interests of this great industry. I may be asked why, after giving notice of this resolution, I did not ask the select standing committee to consider it. There were several reasons. One was that shortly after I gave the notice we had the long adjournment of five weeks. Then, after giving the matter further consideration, I felt

Mortgage Credits jor Fishermen

that if I brought up this resolution in committee and had it discussed there, being a member of the opposition, perhaps the government, from their own political standpoint, might not want me to get any credit for it. So, being a fairly good politician, I decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and I considered that by filing the notice with the committee I had done enough to bring the matter to the attention of the government. And in all modesty, sir, I suggest that the bill now before us insufficient as it is, has been brought in at the last moment because of the action I took suggesting that $10,000.000 be voted by this parliament for the fishermen.

I say $10,000,000 is a small amount to spend in order to help the fishing industry of this country. As I have said, there are 65,000 fishermen in Canada. Under this legislation, making the very best of it, all we can hope for is that the government, through the farm loan board and other people, will arrange to loan the fishermen $1,800,000. That is only $1,000 each for 1,800 fishermen. It may be argued that not more than 1,800 fishermen could or would take advantage of this act even if it were not drafted as it is. I have some knowledge of the matter, and I am sorry to say that the fishing industry is in such a state, due to the depression, to the falling off of markets and to the prices received for fish in the last few years, that these fishermen are in dire need of assistance from this government or some other source. Therefore I say that even if this legislation was of such a type that the fishermen could take advantage of it, $1,800,000 is not nearly enough to be of any benefit to this great industry which is scattered from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Therefore I say, Mr. Speaker, that the minister should withdraw this legislation; he should not proceed with it because, as I said a moment ago, it will be of no value because the amount is too small and because the fishermen will not be able to take advantage of it due to the clause which provides that they must give first mortgages on their land. Let me say to the minister that if he is determined to go on with this legislation, section 6 should be removed. The only right way to loan money to fishermen is on the goods or chattels which they buy with the money loaned to them. Let the government take chattel mortgages if they loan fishermen $1,000 or $5,000.

Topic:   MORTGAGE CREDITS FOR FISHERMEN
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CON

Finlay MacDonald

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacDONALD (Cape Breton South):

And have them carry insurance.

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LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

I am coming to that. First I say $1,000 is a ridiculously small amount. How many schooners of one hundred tons can be built for that sum? How many schooners of even twenty tons can be built for $1,000? There should be no specific amount stated in this bill. Whether the amount loaned is $5,000, $10,000 or $20,000, my suggestion is that the government should insert a clause providing that they will loan up to seventy-five per cent of the value of the boat and gear, take a chattel mortgage or bill of sale, register the security and then take out marine insurance up to the amount advanced. That is the only sensible and sane way to do it.

Topic:   MORTGAGE CREDITS FOR FISHERMEN
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CON

William Gordon Ernst

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ERNST:

Would the hon. member permit one question for the sake of information? Where would he draw the line that is, what about the small boats which cannot be insured?

Topic:   MORTGAGE CREDITS FOR FISHERMEN
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LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

I am afraid my hon. friend

is mistaken; small boats can be insured. Every boat can be insured; under an amendment passed several years ago-perhaps my hon. friend does not know this-you cam register a boat from one ton up. I remember we changed it from five tons to one ton. Even if they were not registered I say there would be no difficulty in having the boats insured, not only in regard to marine insurance but also in regard to fire and accident insurance. I say to the minister that this is the only sensible way to proceed if he is sincere in his desire to help the fishermen of this country. I hope he will give me credit for being serious in this matter and for desiring to help the fishermen just as much as he does, because together with other hon. members I have advocated this for the last number of years and have been vitally interested in the industry for 40 years in a business capacity. I say the only way to help the fishermen is to drop clause 6, draft a business like clause and not put such a low limit on the amount that may be borrowed. Loan the fisherman 75 per cent of the value of his boats, his gear or other equipment and take a chattel mortgage to ensure repayment. That is the only sensible way to do it because as this bill now is it will prove absolutely useless as not ten per cent of the fishermen could give lands and real estate as securities. As I said before, it would be absolutely ridiculous to have ten, fifteen or twenty people give mortgages on ten, fifteen or twenty different pieces of land in order to secure a loan to build a boat.

This bill has been introduced at this late date when no benefits can be provided for the fishermen. The construction of new boats

402S

Topic:   MORTGAGE CREDITS FOR FISHERMEN
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IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. A. W. NEILL (Comox-Alberni):

Mr. Speaker, I intend to consider this bill more particularly from the angle of its effect upon the fishing industry of the province from which I come. I cannot go as far as the hon. member who has just sat down (Mr. Duff) in his wholesale condemnation of the bill. I shall vote for the second reading but I am impelled to do so more by a consideration of .the name of the bill and what I hope it implies than by anything in the bill itself. The bill is called the Canadian Fisherman's Loan Act. It may be asserted that that title enacts the principle of assistance to fishermen but I am afraid that that is not so. It only makes an assertion, it only affirms a principle and the details of the bill fall short of carrying out the hopes which might be raised by a consideration of the title.

Despite the fact that I intend to vote for the second reading I should like to point out certain features which seem to weaken the usefulness of the bill in the hope that the minister will take them into consideration. The acting minister comes from the same province as I do and we in British Columbia have high hopes of the interest which he will take in fishing matters. This is the first time that an hon. member from the Pacific coast has occupied that position. The first point to which I would direct attention is the definition of a fisherman. The bill states:

"Fisherman" means a person whose principal occupation consists in fishing;

That is all right 'but the definition of fishing is as follows:

"Fishing" means the taking and processing of fish of ali kinds for commercial purposes.

Mortgage Credits jor Fishermen

If the taking and processing of fish is to be considered as one occupation, it may apply to the man on the Atlantic coast who catches the fish and salts, cures or dries them but it would eliminate a large body of the salmon fishermen in British Columbia who take no part in the processing of the fish. They merely catch the fish, they merely take them out of the water to sell.

Topic:   MORTGAGE CREDITS FOR FISHERMEN
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CON

William Gordon Ernst

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ERNST:

Is the member making the

point that persons borrowing must both take and process?

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IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

Yes; my point is that taking and processing are combined together, so a man to qualify would need to be employed in both. If that is the meaning it will cut out our people in British Columbia. If the word "and" is to be translated "or" that is equally undesirable because it will then-

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CON

Grote Stirling (Minister of Fisheries; Minister of National Defence)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STIRLING:

And/or is meant.

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IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

Even then "or" would not

do because if the processing of fish qualifies a man to borrow that would let in a cannery owner and the casual labourer working in a reduction plant. It should be confined to the man who gets the fish out of the water. That would be sufficient. You do not need to say anything about processing, but if in addition he does process it, that is so much to the good. The man in Nova Scotia will not be cut out if he processes, but you do not want to leave out the British Columbia man because he does not process.

Paragraph (f) of section 2 defines "fisherman's land." I admit that this is copied out of the farm loan act. The definition here is:

"Fisherman's land" means land under occupation or owned by a fisherman.

For the love of Mike if a man goes and squats on a piece of land or rents it, can he go and mortgage that property? That is too absurd to need pressing home. It should be limited to lands owned by fishermen, but instead of that it says lands owned or occupied by a fisherman. A fisherman may rent land or may squat on government property. He may get permission from the owner to put up a shack on the foreshore, and the owner might come along two or three years later and find that the land had been mortgaged during that period. That needs re-defining. Under section 3 the board may lend on the security of a first mortgage on fisherman's lands as defined in the interpretation clause, so the definition will need to be changed.

Dealing with section 3 the board can only loan money on first mortgages on fisherman's land alone. As the hon. member for Antigonish-Guysborough has said, that is wholly undesirable. It takes away a great deal of the proposed usefulness of the act. I have here a wire which has just been received by the member for Skeena (Mr. Hanson) from the Canadian Halibut Fishing Vessel Owners' Association. It reads:

Through the press we learn that a fisherman to participate in the proposed loan must own property. If so this would bar ninety per cent of our fishermen here. We think his boat and gear should be security. Please endeavour to have bill changed accordingly.

There is no question that that is so. If you are going to confine it to the little piece of land which the fisherman owns, large numbers of them do not own any, at least in my district, where they live in rented houses, or in a boat on the shorefront, then in the language of this telegram, which was quite unsolicited, a substantial proportion, although I hardly think it would be as bad as 90 per cent, would be eliminated from the bill altogether. The loans should certainly be made on the gear as well. I know that chattel mortgages are not very desirable, but there is a clause in the act which says that the board can loan only 50 per cent of the value, and the period should be shorter than in the farm loan act, where it is twenty-five years, because a fisherman's gear and even the boats and engines wear out much quicker than that. Unless you are going to let the gear form at least a substantial portion of the security you might as well forget the act altogether. That is one of the very worst things in it.

Then we find under section 6 that the loan they can get is limited to $1,000. That is not enough; it is not half enough; it is not 20 per cent enough. Some small trawling boats will cost $1,200 to $1,500 but when you get up to a seine boat it costs $25,000, and that is more than the value of many an ordinary farm. Yet a farmer can get a loan of $5,000 and up to 66 per cent of the value of his land, while these fishermen can get a loan of only $1,000, and not more than 50 per cent of the value of their land only, while the farmer can have a land and chattel mortgage as well.

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CON

William Gordon Ernst

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ERNST:

May I ask if the seine boats are as a rule owned by single individuals?

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IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

To quite a considerable

extent and to an increasing extent. Originally they were owned entirely by the cannery companies.

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June 27, 1935