May 25, 1939

MARINE AND FISHERIES

CONCURRENCE IN SECOND AND FINAL REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE


Mr. THOMAS REID (New Westminster) moved that the second and final report of the standing committee on marine and fisheries, presented to the house on Wednesday, May 24, be concurred in. Motion agreed to.


QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS

FREIGHT RATES ON WHEAT

LIB

Mr. TUCKER:

Liberal

1. Has the wheat board during the present crop year issued instructions to shippers in the prairie provinces to send wheat east instead of west if the freight differential in favour of the west did not exceed 3 to 5 cents a bushel?

2. On what basis are freight charges deducted from the 80 cent guaranteed price in the case of farmers in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, respectively?

3. Does the farmer in Alberta have deducted from his returns the freight to Vancouver even though his wheat is shipped to Fort William, and, if so, how much per bushel does he gain thereby?

4. Is the same policy applied in regard to

deducting only freight charges to Fort Churchill even though the grain is shipped from Saskatchewan to Fort William? _

5. Is any wheat stored in the Churchill elevator at present, and, if so, was this wheat shipped from Saskatchewan, and on what basis was deduction for freight made in the case of such wheat?

6. Can the wheat stored in Churchill be sold for a greater or lesser price than the grain in store at Vancouver or Fort William?

COST OF CANADIAN EXHIBIT AT NEW YORK world's FAIR

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   FREIGHT RATES ON WHEAT
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CON

Mr. CLARKE (Rosedale):

Conservative (1867-1942)

1. What is the total cost to the government of the Canada exhibit at the New York world fair?

2. What are the names and addresses of the persons who will be in attendance at this exhibit?

3. What percentage of Canadian materials and labour were used in construction of this exhibit?

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   FREIGHT RATES ON WHEAT
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LIB

Louis Édouard Fernand Rinfret (Secretary of State of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. RINFRET:

Return tabled.

PRIVILEGE-Mr. McIVOR

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   FREIGHT RATES ON WHEAT
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EXTENDED SITTINGS OF THE HOUSE-SPEAKER'S ST.AFF AND PAGE BOYS


On the orders of the day:


LIB

Daniel (Dan) McIvor

Liberal

Mr. DANIEL McIVOR (Fort William):

I rise to a question of privilege. It is well known that the Speaker's staff and the page boys are working overtime. I suggest that their cheques be increased or that they be allowed to work in relays.

Topic:   EXTENDED SITTINGS OF THE HOUSE-SPEAKER'S ST.AFF AND PAGE BOYS
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INCOME WAR TAX ACT


Hon. J. L. ILSLEY (Minister of National Revenue) moved the third reading of Bill No. 142, to amend the Income War Tax Act. Motion agreed to and bill read the third time and passed.


FISHERIES ACT, 1932 ASSESSMENT UPON OWNERS OF OBSTRUCTIONS TO ASCENT OR DESCENT OF FISH IN STREAMS


The house resumed from Thursday, March 2, consideration in committee of Bill No. 15, to amend the Fisheries Act, 1932 (as amended) -Mr. Michaud-Mr. Sanderson in the chair. Bill further considered in committee, reported, read the third time and passed.


SALT FISH BOARD

PROVISION FOR INVESTIGATION OF MARKETING AND ASSISTANCE TO PRODUCERS FOR EXPORT


The house resumed from Wednesday. May 24, consideration of the motion of Mr. Michaud for the second reading of Bill No. 130, to provide for the constitution of a salt fish board.


LIB

Vincent-Joseph Pottier

Liberal

Mr. V. J. POTTIER (Shelburne-Yarmouth-Clare):

In my remarks yesterday when

discussing the principle of this bill I tried to show the trend in the dried fish industry in particular and its effect on my constituency.

I referred to reasons for the decline in the industry in years gone by, and stated 'hat

Salt Fish Board

the effectiveness of competition from the salt cod industry of foreign countries was the major factor in the decline in our market. This was brought about in two ways: first, by subsidies and assistance given by foreign governments to the industry generally, and, second, by government regulation to improve quality and marketability. These factors have been particularly effective since 1920.

The Minister of Fisheries (Mr. Michaud), in introducing the bill, referred to the trend since the days of the war or the year I have just mentioned. It was at that time that the vicious circle in which we now find ourselves started, and we are still confined within its bounds. During the period of the war, owing to disturbances in Europe interfering both with the fishing grounds and European fishing operations, there was in Canada a favourable reaction upon our fishing industry. There was increased demand and prices went up. After the war, however, European fish-producing countries reorganized their industry, and since that time they seem constantly to have gained ground to our disadvantage.

The government of Norway voted 83,000,000 as bounties for the three year period beginning in 1920. The sum of $600,000 was spent in securing the Havana market alone. We saw the fish of Norway quoted at extremely low prices in competition with us in markets where we thought we were firmly entrenched. Iceland made serious inroads in the markets of Spain and Italy particularly, offering more or less high grade salt fish at very low prices. Foreign countries not only helped by 'bonuses and Dounties; they also made regulations for inspection, and brought about much improvement in fish curing.

Norway, besides the help I have indicated, continued for a number of years to help by way of regulation and inspection, and was paying a bonus of at least $1 a quintal. France was paying $2 per quintal, and Denmark $1. It is understood that Norway paid $1,000,000 during 1937 in subsidizing this export, and $1,750,000 in 1938.

In 1921, when this trend started, a Canadian trade commissioner predicted that the markets which had been monopolized by Canada for the five preceding years would soon be lost if steps were not taken to help us to compete with foreign countries. Unfortunately that was true, and it was what brought about the conditions which now prevail. In some markets the process of our elimination came about in a secondary way: European producing countries shoved Newfoundland out, and, in turn, Newfoundland came in and interfered with our markets, so that by each of these circumstances we were being caught in the vicious circle which I have described,

rMr Pottier.]

I should like to refer hon. members to one interesting report given annually by Hawes & Company, an English concern of worldwide experience in the industry. They show what has happened as a result of these assistances and subsidies given by foreign countries. For convenience I compare the years 1919 and 1927. Norway, for example, in 1919 produced in fresh cod alone 359 million pounds; by 1927 their production had increased to 808 million pounds. The production of the Faroe islands, which in 1919 amounted to 99 million pounds, increased by 1927 to 103 million pounds. Iceland produced 168 million pounds in 1919 and 362 million pounds in 1927. Germany's production of 28 million pounds in 1919 had risen by 1927 to 110 million pounds. In France the increase was from 73 million pounds to 124 million pounds over the same period; in England the increase was from 173 million pounds to 328 million pounds. And this trend has continued. I give the figures for those two years because, so to speak, they split the period half way, indicating what the trend has been and how it has continued. In the same period our production dropped from 260 million pounds to 197 million pounds, and by 1932 had dropped further to 142 million pounds. So that where the other countries gained, we lost. This condition is a result of intensive assistance by way of bounties, subsidies and market regulations put into effect by countries.

Unfortunately in the salt fish industry there are no new markets. There are certain people throughout the world who eat salt fish, and there is no change in the consuming market in that respect. The only fluctuations in the salt fish trade are brought about by changes in the purchasing power of the people who are accustomed to eat and apparently need salt fish particularly in the warmer countries. Taking the world as a whole, there are no new countries to which we can look for markets in the immediate future, no other consuming classes who are likely to start eating salt fish. The only way we can hope to increase the income to our fishermen from this industry is to find our way back into the markets which we formerly had and which we lost through assistance given by foreign governments to their industry and to our disadvantage. We must take some steps to try to get back what we have lost, or even to hold what we have at the present time. This bill which is now before the house is designed for that purpose. I think it will be as effective as anything the government could bring in to assist this industry.

I did not mention that this bill covers all salt fish, including boneless herring, mack-

Salt Fish Board

erel, pollock and hake. These are not small items. For instance, in boneless cod the value was $175,000; pickled codfish, about $300,000; pickled and salted herring, $400,000; mackerel, $400,000; pollock and hake, about $40,000. All these will be affected by this bill, in addition to the dried codfish to which I have been referring up to the present. I have not mentioned these other types of fish that will be affected by this measure because I believe the dried codfish industry has been a backlog, so to speak, of the fishing industry in the maritime provinces. With the trend going down, as I indicated, we suffered severely; and we must try to reverse that trend, which will be to the benefit of the people generally.

It seems to me there are limits to the benefits that can be derived' by fishermen generally from the fresh fish trade, and in our lobster industry difficulties are constantly arising. Under present conditions in the fresh fish trade you must have two things; the fisherman must be comparatively near the fishing grounds, particularly the shore fisherman, and he must live in a district reasonably near his market. Fresh fish must be transported quickly; otherwise it will spoil on its way to the market. In the salt fish trade, however, the situation is entirely different. The fisherman brings his fish ashore and salts them, and then he can keep them indefinitely, for a week, a month, or longer. That enables the fisherman in the outlying districts to cany on where it would be impossible for him to do so if he were engaged in the fresh fish trade.

I should have stated that Newfoundland found itself in exactly the same position at a somewhat earlier period. Away back in 1936 they established a fisheries board which at present is practically a marketing board. It assists the fishermen financially, more or less controls exports and tries in every way to improve the marketing of the product. I think, therefore, the time has definitely come when we must take some such action as is proposed in this measure. There are two sets of individuals who will be affected by this legislation, the shore fishermen and the schooner fishermen. I hope this bill will benefit both classes, and that the shore fishermen particularly will be encouraged to carry on. The man in the outlying district who is too far from the market to engage in the fresh fish trade can and will produce salt fish if he can sell it at prices that will bring him a reasonable return.

I realize that there may be difficulties in the selection of a board. This is not a pleasant thing for me to mention, but I think it my duty to give my views on the subject. I do not desire to embarrass the government, but I must urge upon the minister that no person should be appointed to the board who is directly or indirectly interested in the export of fish. It can easily be seen how difficult and impossible it would be for an exporter of salt fish to sit on a board that is passing out government money to assist in the export of that fish. I do not care how fair a man might try to be; human nature has too many frailties to be put to a test of that kind. I want to see on the board men who are particularly sympathetic to the fishermen. The quality of human understanding possessed by the members of the board, together with their executive ability, will largely determine the success of the measure now under consideration. I hope the price to the fisherman will be increased to a point where it will be sufficient to enable him to carry on, and I trust the board will have that in mind in mapping out a definite policy.

We have in this measure a definite plan. How many years have we heard people say, "Oh. something has to be done about the fishing industry." But inevitably when you ask what should be done the answer was "I don't know." In 1935 the then leader of the government said at Bridgewater: "I confess I do not know what is the remedy." From across the floor of the house we have heard, "Something has to be done," but never have we had a definite plan suggested. In this measure we have a definite indication of what the government proposes to do. As I have said previously, the time has come when the fishing industry must be looked at specifically with a view to making definite decisions in regard to it. The step now being taken is definite and specific and looks towards the development of our fisheries. I believe we have become seized with the extent and possibilities of our fisheries resources and that we are now showing an intention of dealing with them in the same manner as we deal with the other primary products of this country. I realize, as I think every reasonable Canadian must realize, that there are limits beyond which we cannot go. The government must not be wasteful, and new fields must be broken cautiously. I intend to stress before my constituents the benefits derived under this bill, to argue that it is fair and reasonable and that they should take advantage of it. I see it as a new experience, holding forth great hope and containing great possibilities. I am convinced that the fishermen generally will see the merits of the legislation and will do their share to bring about greater production and increased prosperity.

I want to express to the government, and particularly to the minister, the appreciation of my constituents in respect of this legislation. I think the minister has d"T,e more-and I

Salt Fish Board

say this advisedly because I believe it should be brought to the fore-than any other minister of fisheries we have ever had. He has wrestled with the situation and has striven to bring about a definite policy of economic planning; by which I mean that this is the first legislation brought before the House of Commons in the interests of fishermen that has involved any element of economic planning. The minister has made of the Department of Fisheries a real department. I beg hon. members to approve the bill as an evidence to our fishermen that their difficulties are being considered, and that we are working with frankness and harmony of purpose in extending to them a helping hand.

Topic:   SALT FISH BOARD
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR INVESTIGATION OF MARKETING AND ASSISTANCE TO PRODUCERS FOR EXPORT
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LIB

John James Kinley

Liberal

Mr. J. J. KINLEY (Queens-Lunenburg):

Mr. Speaker, this is a bill entitled "An act to provide for the constitution of a salt fish board," and it has for its primary purpose the improvement of conditions among and the bringing of greater returns to the primary producers. There are other provisions, but, as I see it, the heart of the bill is in paragraph (b) of section 5, which says:

5. The board shall . . .

(b) devise and recommend to the minister a plan, or plans, which may be adopted for the orderly marketing of fish, salt or to be salted, with a view to improving conditions and bringing greater returns to the primary produce and the exporter.

I believe the word "produce" is incorrect; it should have an "r" added, making the word "producer."

The bill contains also power to investigate and report. In addition there is the item of $800,000 in the supplementary estimates to provide for assisting the salt fish branch of the fishing industry. I believe that this item in the estimates, and the appointment of the salt fish board are two vital factors which will tend to improve conditions in the industry.

The hon. member for Comox-Alberni (Mr. Neill), for whom I have the highest regard, and on whose opinions I place great value, has criticized the appointment of a board. He has said that it simply looks like the appointment of another board and further expenditure by the country which could not be justified. I have heard expressions of opinion from people in Nova Scotia and elsewhere to the effect that with its own staff the Department of Fisheries could carry out the work for which the board would be appointed. I should like to point out, however, that for a long time we have had ministers of fisheries at the head of the Department of Fisheries, and yet successive governments have failed to deal effectively with the matter. Moreover, at its last session the legislature of Nova

*Mr. Pottier.]

Scotia passed a resolution asking for the appointment of a resident deputy minister of fisheries in Nova Scotia, indicating that in that province there is a feeling that local knowledge should be brought to bear on fisheries matters, and that there should be more attention paid to the fisheries in that part of the country.

I am informed that there is a provincial fish board in British Columbia, and I have no doubt that that board, appointed by the British Columbia legislature, would cooperate with the dominion government as it sees fit in the interests of British Columbia fisheries.

There is this to be said about a board: It seems to be part of the necessary equipment of a democracy. It is always well in bringing forward something new for the benefit of an industry to call in technical experts who are interested in the industry. While at the present time in Canada the appointment of boards is criticized, I would point out that we are not overloaded with them in the maritime provinces. The appointment of a board would be an added advantage to the maritimes in presenting their claims to the government and in persistently and intelligently pressing those claims, as is done in western Canada.

I do not think the members of the board should be highly paid. I believe there are men in Nova Scotia who, for the sake of seiving the public and the industry, would readily serve on a board of this kind. These are men who have been successful in the industry, who would not depend for their daily bread wholly upon any fee they might receive for their services, and who do not demand a high standard of living. I do not think we need any $5,000 a year man, or anything of the kind, on the board. Such service should be considered an honour, and I am confident that the men chosen would gladly cooperate with the department and the government in the interest of the fisheries of the province.

The hon. member for Shelburne-Yarmouth-Clare (Mr. Pottier) has suggested that no one either directly or indirectly connected with the export of fish should be on the board. Well, as I read the bill, if we eliminate those who are interested in or who have been connected with the export and production of fish we should have no one left but members of the learned professions, without practical experience. So far as possible I believe we should confine the appointments to men in the fishing industry.

Topic:   SALT FISH BOARD
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR INVESTIGATION OF MARKETING AND ASSISTANCE TO PRODUCERS FOR EXPORT
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May 25, 1939