August 5, 1940

CON

Agar Rodney Adamson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. A. R. ADAMSON (York West):

Early in July I asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) a question with reference to press censorship. He promised me an answer some time later, and then I asked the question again. Would it be possible to get the question clarified before the end of the session?

Topic:   THE PRESS
Subtopic:   PUBLISHING OF MATERIAL BANNED BY ORDER OF CENSORSHIP
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):

My hon. friend has struck a good moment. The matter I mentioned was in the hands of the Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe) and I believe the acting Minister of Justice (Mr. Cardin) has been intending to answer the question when he saw the hon. member in the house. Probably the minister has not had the good fortune that I have had of having a view of my hon. friend directly opposite him. Perhaps the minister will answer the question now.

Topic:   THE PRESS
Subtopic:   PUBLISHING OF MATERIAL BANNED BY ORDER OF CENSORSHIP
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LIB

Pierre-Joseph-Arthur Cardin (Minister of Transport; Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Hon. P. J. A. CARDIN (Acting Minister of Justice):

The question referred to by the hon. member was submitted to the officers of the Department of Justice, and his observations were taken into consideration. Two or three similar cases had to be considered at the same time. In fact representations have been made in respect of two newspapers of opposite views published in Canada for having committed the same offence. After considering the facts in the two cases, and in view of the fair and open apologies which were offered by the two newspapers in question, it was deemed advisable not to proceed. We were convinced, among other things, that after the apologies had been published the penalty that might be imposed by the court would be very slight and the matter would become of much less importance thereafter. In the circumstances it was decided that the matter should rest and that, instead of taking proceedings at once, we should try to secure the cooperation of newspapers and endeavour to obtain, if possible, their assistance, so that we might ensure the observance of the defence of Canada regulations. No action was taken, particularly in view of the fact that complete and unequivocal apologies were made by the newspapers.

The house in committee of supply, Mr. Vien in the chair.

Supply-Fisheries-Administration

Topic:   THE PRESS
Subtopic:   PUBLISHING OF MATERIAL BANNED BY ORDER OF CENSORSHIP
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DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES


77. Departmental administration, $129,300.


NAT

Douglas King Hazen

National Government

Mr. HAZEN:

When the committee rose on Saturday we were discussing the regulation prohibiting the catching of salmon in the nontidal waters of the Saint John river with stationary nets by the descendants or assignees of the men to whom those rights were granted about the year 1785. I said at that time that I did not want to get into an argument with the Minister of Fisheries over this matter, but there are one or two things to which I wish to refer in view of the statement he made to the committee. I am referring to these matters in the hope that he will give them careful consideration. For, despite what he has said, I believe an injustice has been done and an illegal attempt is being made to deprive these men of what they rightfully own; and unless this regulation is changed it will be a continuing source of discontent and the matter will be brought up on the floor of the house year after year until justice is done.

The minister said that I was labouring under a misapprehension if I believed that any inherent rights were being taken away from these people. I say that certain inherent rights or, as I prefer to call them, vested rights, have been taken away. I have drawn his attention and the attention of the committee to the wording of the grants under which these rights were obtained by the present holders or by their predecessors in title from the crown when the grants were originally made. By these grants they obtained all the fishing in all the fishing waters. I will not go into the grants again to-day but I would point out to the minister that, in addition to the grants of the fisheries, these grants ran to the middle of the river or, to put it more correctly, ad medium filium aquae.

I would ask the minister to confer with the law officers of the crown further with reference to the matter before coming to a definite conclusion, with a view to changing this regulation.

I must take exception to the statement made by the minister that this regulation does not interfere at all with the rights of the people to fish, because the method they follow is the only one by which those who possess the grants can catch fish. The fish cannot be caught in these waters by angling; they cannot be caught by bait fishing; they cannot be caught by trawling. The only way in which these fish can be caught in the waters in which the people in question have these particular rights is by netting, and it has always been an inference, from the time the

grants were made, that the fishing to which they have the right included fishing by netting. This regulation, by depriving these men of the right to use nets, prevents them in fact from fishing. As a matter of fact, this so-called regulation is not a regulation at all. It is not a regulation in the proper sense of the word but is an attempt to confiscate valuable legal rights by order in council and without any compensation whatever.

The minister said on Saturday that the government was not infringing upon the ancestral rights of these people but that it was simply saying to them that they cannot snare salmon just as they cannot snare deer and moose. But it does not say to the people that they cannot hunt or capture deer and moose, whereas it does say to these people that they cannot capture or catch salmon. It has prohibited them from catching salmon; for it has stopped them from netting, and that is the only way in which these fish can be captured or caught by the people who hold the grants. It is an attempt to confiscate a valuable legal right by order in council and without compensation, and I say to the minister that it is illegal and unjust.

If, for the general good of the country or of the province or of a certain part thereof, the government considers it advisable to acquire these rights then it should pay for them. The minister's suggestion that they will pay these men for their nets and equipment is simply adding insult to injury and injustice. If their rights are to be taken away they should be compensated not only for their nets but also for their rights in the land.

When private angling clubs on such rivers as the Restigouche or the Bonaventure and others wanted to improve their fishing, how did they go about it? They went to the net fishermen. They did not ask the government to confiscate the rights of these fishermen, or if they did they did not succeed in getting the government to do any such thing, paying nothing for it. They went to the fishermen themselves and paid them for their rights and got them to take up their stands, thereby allowing a larger number of fish to go up the river. That is the course which the government should take to-day if it wishes to take away the rights from these men in the nontidal waters along the Saint John river.

If the minister wants to improve fishing in these waters, he might very well remove the dams from the mouth of the Mispec and also from the mouth of the Nashwaak opposite the city of Fredericton. If these were removed not only would angling be improved but the commercial fishery would also be improved in the non-tidal parts of the river and in the harbour and the bay of Fundy.

Supply-Fisheries-Administration

I do not want to labour the matter but I am going to ask the minister to do two things. I ask him to review this regulation and to consider further the facts and consult with the law officers of the crown so as to be thoroughly satisfied that it is not an infringement of legal rights. I ask him also to consider the matter from this point of view, that it is not a regulation but an absolute prohibition or confiscation. I will ask him, further, to go to the non-tidal part of the Saint John river and investigate the matter carefully for himself.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES
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LIB

Joseph Enoil Michaud (Minister of Fisheries)

Liberal

Hon. J. E. MICHAXJD (Minister of Fisheries):

I cannot allow this item to carry without adding something to what has already been said and correcting the impression that may be created by the hon. member's statement, that the change in the regulation, brought about this last spring, is an injustice to the land owners and also that it is an illegal attempt to deprive people of certain rights. The regulation, which I read before, is that the use of nets in any non-tidal waters, except under a permit of the minister, is prohibited. My hon. friend has construed it as confiscatory. It is a provision restrictive of the common law rights of people to fish in waters on the foreshore of their land. It is claimed that it is illegal and unjust because the grants from the crown, to which reference has been made, specifically mention that the owner shall have the right to fish and to the fish running in the waters. This has to be interpreted just as the provision of the British North America Act must be interpreted. The British North America Act says that the federal government shall have the exclusive right to regulate fisheries in sea coast and inland waters, and the interpretation put upon the grant has been that it means that the owners had the exclusive right to enjoy the fishing in these waters, provided that the public interest and conservation were safeguarded. It has been so interpreted from time immemorial.

Up to 1908 these people had not enjoyed the legal right to net fish on the foreshore of the Saint John river. From 1908 up to the spring of 1940 legislation allowed them to set nets at a certain time of the day and during a certain period of the year. If my hon. friend were right in his interpretation of these grants it would mean that no municipal, provincial or federal authority would have any right to regulate the time of year, the time of day or the day of the week, or the method in connection with the catching of fish. It would mean that these people would have the right to place a fence in the river and hold all the fish that came up to the fence or net, since no one could interfere with their

[Mr. Hszen.1

ancestral or legal rights. That would not be fair and no interpretation carrying that meaning could be put upon the wording of the grant. All that the regulation does is to control the method whereby these people or the owners of land abutting the foreshore or waters of the river Saint John shall exercise their rights. In the past, legislation has been enforced and accepted by these people, limiting their rights as to the time, the season; now we are limiting their rights as to the method of fishing.

With regard to the argument advanced that these people cannot catch fish except by nets [DOT]-that is, that they cannot catch the salmon that run in those waters by angling or trolling -I submit it is possible for them to catch by angling if they want to use that method, and they are not deprived by legislation of the use of that method. As proof that it is possible, I might quote the headlines from New Brunswick newspapers showing that since nets have been prohibited in those waters angling has been very successful. For example, a news item from the Saint John Telegraph-Journal of July 18, headed:

Record catch of salmon taken. Hartland pool popular place during week; many visitors.

Then from the same paper of July 13:

Fishermen have field day at Hartland salmon pool.

That is in the middle of that territory, about midway between the head of the tidal and the head of the non-tidal waters.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES
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NAT

Douglas King Hazen

National Government

Mr. HAZEN:

Did not the same conditions prevail at the Harts pool?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES
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LIB
NAT
LIB

Joseph Enoil Michaud (Minister of Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. MICHAUD:

I am just giving these examples to show that fish can be caught in those waters by other methods than setting nets. Another news item in the Telegraph-Journal of July 25, from around Fredericton, says: "Hooked fish jumps into angler's boat." The fish are so plentiful, so anxious to get out of these waters, that they jump into the boat when hooked. I am simply giving these examples to show that fish can be caught by other methods than by set nets.

I know that there has been for some years a controversy with respect to the interpretation of the wording of these grants of land on the Saint John river. But after many years of consideration by officials of the department and law officers of the crown, and in the light of interpretations placed on other constitutional clauses by the different courts of the country and the privy council,

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it is thought that the Department of Fisheries or the government by legislation have the right to regulate the methods by which the successors of the original grantees can exercise their rights. And that is the limit to which these rights have been interfered with. They have simply been regulated as to the methods of exercising such rights.

Regarding the request of the hon. member that I should look into the possibility of removing a dam at the mouth of the Nash-waak river, flowing into the Saint John, I am pleased to be able to inform him that recently steps were taken with a view to having these obstructions removed by the owners of the mill or the industry or of the shore rights, and I am told by the officers of the department that finally we have been successful in having this obstruction removed. But I understand my hon. friend to state that there are also obstructions at the mouth of the Mispec and that such obstructions should be removed. I remember having had considerable correspondence and negotiations with the city of Saint John and some people in that district regarding an old granite dam built some years ago which is no longer used for industrial purposes and which offers some obstruction to the fish ascending that branch of the Saint John river or the east side of the bay of Fundy. We are still negotiating with the interested parties. Last year an offer was made to the interested parties in Saint John through the city council that the federal Department of Fisheries would contribute fifty per cent of the cost of removal of those obstructions. So far I do not know of any action having been taken by those interested, but this offer still stands, and if it is found that the public interest requires the total removal of the obstructions at public expense, we shall see that it is done.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES
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CCF

Clarence Gillis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. GILLIS:

I notice that the departmental estimates have been reduced approximately 36 per cent. In my opinion this will render the department unable to carry on much necessary work with respect to developing the fishing industry from a national point of view. I was surprised a few evenings ago to hear the leader of the opposition bring to the attention of the house the fact that in New Brunswick a privately-owned fish company had been subsidized to the extent of seventy-five per cent of the total cost of the erection of a fish processing plant in that province. I was surprised for this reason, that for the past five or six years throughout the maritime provinces an effort has been made by the people themselves to rehabilitate the fishing industry along cooperative lines. I know of no other industry

in Canada in which the people have made greater strides towards reestablishing themselves and improving their economic position. This assistance was given, I understand, through the provincial government to a privately owned fish company. I was surprised because I know in that province the cooperative movement is fairly well developed and is paying particular attention to the rehabilitation of the fishing industry. For example they have in New Brunswick 650 study clubs with a membership of 5,200. The plant established there is a private enterprise operated for profit. While we have contributed seventy-five per cent of the total cost of the plant, we have no say in its operation, and the fishermen are being exploited through that medium, instead of being aided in reestablishing that industry on cooperative lines.

If there is any solution to the problems of the fishermen, it rests with themselves. They have to be instructed in the processing and marketing of fish. The extension movement through the university of St. Francois Xavier has made great strides, at least in the maritime provinces. I have had the pleasure of travelling through Nova Scotia and seeing the work that has been done in that industry. I know that the government are subsidizing it to some extent, but the grant is not adequate.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES
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LIB
CCF

Clarence Gillis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. GILLIS:

It was $50,000 spread over the maritime provinces. That is not very much.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES
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LIB
CCF

Clarence Gillis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. GILLIS:

Dozens of young men who were taken out of fishing boats have given gratis their service and their time to that movement. They have been schooled and educated in that movement; they have studied the problems connected with the processing and marketing of fish, and I consider them the most capable group of people in this country to deal with those problems. These young men travel from one end of the province to the other carrying on that work. If the government are interested in establishing that industry on a firm, workable basis, instead of having it handled by private enterprise which exploits the fisherman, I believe every assistance ought to be given that cooperative movement in connection with the erection of processing plants, cold storage plants and so on.

I have had some correspondence with the Minister of Fisheries since coming here, in connection with the Lockeport fishermen, who have been trying very hard to improve their

Supply-Fisheries-Administra tion

position. They went through a strike and formed a union. In my opinion the lowest standard of living to be found anywhere in Canada exists in that district. Wages are as low as ten to fifteen cents an hour, and the fishermen are exploited by the private fish companies. In addition to establishing a union they have established a cooperative fish processing plant, and have been asking for some assistance with respect to the establishment of a cold storage plant as well. The minister pointed out, no doubt quite properly, that this year there is no grant for services of the kind, so that he was not in a position to help them. That is one reason why I am somewhat disappointed to see the estimates of this department reduced. In view of the fact that the fish industry in Europe has been completely wrecked, they should be increased. Canada has a potentially great market for fish if that industry can be properly organized, set up, assisted and directed by the government, through the medium of the people themselves.

There is another service which I called to the attention of the minister and which I still believe should be established, though the minister's reply was not very encouraging. The fishermen ask for a radio broadcast setting out fish prices from day to day or week to week, so that when they come in from fishing they may know exactly what their fish is being sold for. This service would not cost a great deal. In sections where the fishermen are organized and operating cooperatively they have established standard prices, but in other sections private buyers take advantage of their ignorance with regard to prices, buy up the catch in the whole section and throw it on the market, which tends to keep fish prices unsettled. The minister's reply in regard to the establishment of this broadcast, which would be similar to the broadcast provided for the information of farmers, was that it would not serve any national purpose. Probably that is correct; Saskatchewan and some of the other provinces might not be interested in the price of fish. But I do not think it would entail a great deal of expense if once or twice a week there was a broadcast from Ottawa to inform those interested in the price of fish as to market conditions, so that fishermen might be in a position more or less to standardize their prices.

I should like to leave those two thoughts with the minister. Personally I think the fisheries is the most depressed industry in Canada. I do not know of anyone who suffers as the fisherman does, but I believe there may be a solution to the problem. They are taking a greater interest in their own affairs; they are trying to establish themselves on a

[Mr. Gillis.l

reasonable basis, in order to rehabilitate their industry. I think that is the real solution to the problem, to have them become interested in themselves, to help them establish lobster packing plants, fish processing plants, cold storage plants, and so on, to give them an incentive to keep on working. At present they are unemployed fifty per cent of the time; at times they face starvation, and often I have wondered where they got the courage with which to carry on. If there is any chance of doing it the minister should rearrange the funds available to his department in order to give these men every possible assistance.

If we are going to help these people, Canada should be made fish conscious. In 1939 Canadians ate only 26 pounds of fish per capita, as against 125 pounds of meat. One reason for this is that meat is government inspected and graded and attractively displayed in the average store. Fish is neither graded nor inspected; it reaches the market in any old condition, and when you go to a store to buy fish it does not look' very inviting. Here is something the government might do. We have plenty of inspectors and other officials in this department, and it would be a good move if the minister considered some sort of organization which would see to it that fish are properly graded and inspected.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES
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LIB

Joseph Enoil Michaud (Minister of Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. MICHAUD:

With most of what the hon. gentleman has said I quite agree, but I should like to point out to him that the grant or subsidy to which he referred was made by the provincial government. Our only connection with it was to agree to the use of part of the money which had been allotted to the province in order to subsidize that plant. We did not do even this, however, until we had surveyed the ground and investigated the possibility of having this industry taken over by the cooperative organizations of the province. However, we found that these organizations were not then, and are not yet, in a position to undertake a project of that magnitude. They did not have the proper organization or experience to carry on that work. The provincial authorities entered into a contract in order to prevent exploitation by private industry; and the fact that this year these people are receiving for their fish 100 per cent more than they were paid last year, before that industry was established, would indicate that they are being safeguarded by the conditions of that agreement and by the control the province has over that industry. To-day the cooperative groups of the district are very well pleased with the treatment they have received, and it is entirely possible that in a few years they may be in a position to take over this

Supply-Fisheries-Administration

industry, after they have acquired the necessary experience. It must not be forgotten that this is a new industry in that district.

It is an altogether new form of fish processing and marketing at that point. Prior to this year those fishermen were drying and salting their fish almost exclusively for export markets. Due to world conditions we sought to change the method which had been followed by these people, for their own benefit.

With regard to helping cooperatives by means of bonuses or subsidies, that was not confined to New Brunswick. ,Uast year we helped the industry of Nova._JScotia by subsidizing private plants, in efrder that they may be equipped to take care of local conditions.

I recall that we offered a subsidy in one very important district which has been badly stricken, the Canso district. They were intelligent enough, however, to realize that under present circumstances they were not yet ready to take care of or to use to advantage the money offered to them. They suggested that some semi-public undertaking should be entered into with the industry which had been established in that locality, and for the time being that served to take care of the situation. It cannot be said, I suggest, that we have neglected the fishermen or their cooperative organizations.

Something has been said in regard to the broadcasting of fish prices. May I point out that the question of finance is not involved. The fact is that in Canada we have not yet any fish market; we have no fish exchange; we have no fish pier-except in respect of halibut on the Pacific coast, and of course I am confining my observations to the east coast. The industry on that coast is still using cut-throat methods of operation. Prices are not determined by any board, exchange or market in any locality. Those prices are determined by what fishermen are willing to take from the people who want to buy their fish.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES
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LIB
LIB

Joseph Enoil Michaud (Minister of Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. MICHAUD:

Yes, by the demand. Therefore we should find it very difficult to inform the fishermen of fish prices for any particular day at any particular place. Of course we could tell them what buyers were offering at a particular time, but it is possible that that information might lead the fishermen to the belief that the prices mentioned are market prices, and that they could not get more even if they asked more. Until the industry is better organized, the government believes that for the present it is in the best interests of the fishermen not to induce them to believe that certain sets of facts or certain conditions do exist, when in 95826-155

reality they do not exist. I hope that before long we shall be in a position to supply the information the fishermen want.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES
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IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

Mr. Chairman, I should like to ask the minister some questions in regard to the departmental staff. At page 88 of the estimates I find an allowance of $3,600 for a private secretary. This is the usual grant for a private secretary, and I am quite sure he has earned it. All private secretaries do, although this department is not a very big one. But lower down on the page there is a further item of $600 as an allowance for secretarial duties. Will the minister explain the purposes for which that money is used, and tell the committee how much of it was spent last year?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES
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August 5, 1940