July 25, 1944

LIB

Ernest Bertrand (Minister of Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. BERTRAND (Laurier):

No.

Topic:   FISHERIES PRICES
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR STABILIZATION, PURCHASE OF STAPLE PRODUCTS AT APPROVED PRICES, ETC.
Permalink
NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

Then I think the minister ought to give some undertaking with regard to these men, who for the most part are in the class of forgotten men, so that they shall be adequately represented and not represented by anyone from among the purely processing group. That is what has happened too often, and it is what has happened under certain conditions that exist to-day in connection with the fisheries. Controls are in no sense representative of the producing class. So far as my observation goes, they are representative entirely of those who are interested in the business as nonproducers, and I submit that the point of view of the producers

Topic:   FISHERIES PRICES
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR STABILIZATION, PURCHASE OF STAPLE PRODUCTS AT APPROVED PRICES, ETC.
Permalink
LIB

Ernest Bertrand (Minister of Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. BERTRAND (Laurier):

What board has the hon. gentleman in mind?

Topic:   FISHERIES PRICES
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR STABILIZATION, PURCHASE OF STAPLE PRODUCTS AT APPROVED PRICES, ETC.
Permalink
NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

You can imagine. I could name it, but I do not want to do so because I do not want to get

Fisheries Prices

personal. I will not name any individual, but I do insist that on any board set up to establish floor prices suitable to the fisheries the producers should be represented; otherwise I do not think they will get a fair show. It is important that this class of men should be represented. Certainly someone can be found among them who is intelligent enough and who has the confidence of his fellow men sufficiently to permit the government to appoint him to the board. I feel very strongly about this, because in days gone by, in many boards set up by this government, yes, and I might say by other governments, the producing class has not had very much say about matters which are vital to their well-being. Therefore I am pressing the minister to give an undertaking that when this board is set up the producing class shall be represented. The same principle should apply to the agriculture board. I am sure the Minister of Agriculture will see that the producers of agricultural commodities are represented on the board. I should be astonished if he did not do that. It is a sound principle. In respect of the fishermen, however, I am afraid that unless the point is pressed, that will not be done.

Topic:   FISHERIES PRICES
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR STABILIZATION, PURCHASE OF STAPLE PRODUCTS AT APPROVED PRICES, ETC.
Permalink
LIB

Ernest Bertrand (Minister of Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. BERTRAND (Laurier):

It is my intention to recommend among the members of the board a member from the fishermen, the primary producers, but of course council will appoint him. My recommendation will be there. This resolution, and the bill that is to follow, are intended to help the fishermen themselves.

Topic:   FISHERIES PRICES
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR STABILIZATION, PURCHASE OF STAPLE PRODUCTS AT APPROVED PRICES, ETC.
Permalink
NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

I am not objecting to the purpose of the resolution and the bill. I think that something has to be done in the period indicated in the resolution to protect the fishermen, because my observation over a considerable period of time is this, that after a period of inflation, such as we are bound to have in war time and such as we have now, when the price of fish is probably as high as at any time in the history of the industry, the prices to primary producers are the first to fall and the last to rise. Of course that is a difficult situation, difficult for the fishermen and for the government. There is no doubt about that. I do not know whether this is a good remedy. I am not sufficiently well versed as a student of economics to know whether the establishment of floor prices is a proper thing or not from the economic standpoint; yet I am anxious to see that some remedy shall be applied. If we were living in a different situation I would hesitate to press in connection with either agriculture or

fisheries for a floor or a ceiling, because there is a law of supply and demand and it is pretty hard to beat it. [DOT]

I was interrupted, in the confusion that prevailed at the moment in the chamber, so that I did not understand what the minister said in reply to my request for representation by a producer. I did not catch what he said. Would he be good enough to repeat what he said in that regard?

Topic:   FISHERIES PRICES
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR STABILIZATION, PURCHASE OF STAPLE PRODUCTS AT APPROVED PRICES, ETC.
Permalink
LIB

Ernest Bertrand (Minister of Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. BERTRAND (Laurier):

I said that it was my intention to recommend that on this board there should be a primary producer, a man from the department and one from the trade.

Topic:   FISHERIES PRICES
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR STABILIZATION, PURCHASE OF STAPLE PRODUCTS AT APPROVED PRICES, ETC.
Permalink
NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

Then may we take it as a pledge that this board will consist of a competent official from the department, a member from the producing class and 'a member from the trade? Is that to be the position?

Topic:   FISHERIES PRICES
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR STABILIZATION, PURCHASE OF STAPLE PRODUCTS AT APPROVED PRICES, ETC.
Permalink
LIB

Ernest Bertrand (Minister of Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. BERTRAND (Laurier):

Well, that is what I am going to recommend.

Topic:   FISHERIES PRICES
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR STABILIZATION, PURCHASE OF STAPLE PRODUCTS AT APPROVED PRICES, ETC.
Permalink
NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

As far as the minister is concerned, that is the policy he himself will propose to the governor in council. I think that is as far as I can ask him to go, but I should like to be as definite as possible on this point. My point is that the primary producer should be represented on the board.

Topic:   FISHERIES PRICES
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR STABILIZATION, PURCHASE OF STAPLE PRODUCTS AT APPROVED PRICES, ETC.
Permalink
IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

I entirely endorse the remarks made by the hon. member for York-Sunbury (Mr. Hanson). My quarrel is that he does not go far enough. He goes only half way.

Topic:   FISHERIES PRICES
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR STABILIZATION, PURCHASE OF STAPLE PRODUCTS AT APPROVED PRICES, ETC.
Permalink
NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

You go the rest of the way.

Topic:   FISHERIES PRICES
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR STABILIZATION, PURCHASE OF STAPLE PRODUCTS AT APPROVED PRICES, ETC.
Permalink
IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

I do not know where he got it, but he appeared to get from somewhere the idea that this board was to consist of three persons. Does the minister endorse that?

Topic:   FISHERIES PRICES
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR STABILIZATION, PURCHASE OF STAPLE PRODUCTS AT APPROVED PRICES, ETC.
Permalink
LIB

Ernest Bertrand (Minister of Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. BERTRAND (Laurier):

The board will have for its duty the management, the buying of fish, if we buy any, and so forth, but when the bill is introduced the hon. member will find that there is in addition an advisory committee.

Topic:   FISHERIES PRICES
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR STABILIZATION, PURCHASE OF STAPLE PRODUCTS AT APPROVED PRICES, ETC.
Permalink
IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

I do not know whether this is the latest form of communism or socialism, or what it is, but it might be called midsummer night's madness. I wonder if the house and the government appreciate the extent to which this resolution goes-a resolution brought in to-day casually without notice. If we put it through the first thing we know we shall be dealing with a bill that is not printed, or we shall be asked to do so, or it

Fisheries Prices

will be submitted to us an hour or two before we discuss it. I wonder if the committee really appreciates the magnitude of what I might call the violence of the change that is suggested. They are going to appoint a board of three people to do what has never been done before in the whole world, namely, to fix a price for all fish products in Canada. On the suggestion of my hon. friend to the left, one of those three men is to be a member of the producing class, and one from the processing or manufacturing class, and apparently one a government official. Good heavens!

I cannot find words to express my astonishment-

Topic:   FISHERIES PRICES
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR STABILIZATION, PURCHASE OF STAPLE PRODUCTS AT APPROVED PRICES, ETC.
Permalink
LIB

Ernest Bertrand (Minister of Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. BERTRAND (Laurier):

May I intervene for a moment? This board is not going to fix the price, as my hon. friend suggests. It is to fix a minimum price when necessary. That is very lifferent,

Topic:   FISHERIES PRICES
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR STABILIZATION, PURCHASE OF STAPLE PRODUCTS AT APPROVED PRICES, ETC.
Permalink
IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

And the government will have to take over the stuff at that minimum price. That is the idea. I wonder what they are going to do with it. As my hon. friend to the left says, the law of supply and demand will fix the price and the government will have to take the stuff over when it falls below a certain price. They will have to take a thousand tons of herrings to-day and a few thousand tons of pilchards to-morrow. What are they going to do with it? The same principle applies to the marketing boards who look after agricultural products. Certain people can grow potatoes at a profit at $20 a ton. Other people cannot grow potatoes at a profit at less than $40 a ton. Is the man who grows the expensively produced crop to be taken care of? Is that to be the standard? What is to be done with the stuff that is left on the government's hands?

There is to be a board of three. There are two large divisions of the fishing industry, one on the Pacific coast and the other on the Atlantic coast. Surely there ought to be a man from the Pacific and one from the Atlantic on this board to look after their special problems. Suppose that point is yielded and we get a man from the Pacific and a man from the Atlantic. The man on the Pacific has to deal with the capture and manufacture of whales. Do you think the man who fixes the minimum price on Whales or whale products will be qualified to fix the minimum price on pilchards or herrings? Then there are halibut and salmon, six different kinds of salmon each with a different value, varying as much as SS a case between the highest and lowest grades. Then there are herring and pilchard reduction plants, and so on. Then there is the liver oil industry. Three men are to be appointed. They

are to have the handling of this huge subject, and they are going to fix the minimum price. The minimum price will be so much. The minister says it will be a fair price. Who is to fix the fairness of the price?

As I have said, in one place the price of salmon may be so much, but it could not be begun to be produced at the same price somewhere else. All the complex implications of these things are to be handled by one solitary man on this board who represents the producer. Why, it would take a board of a hundred men to give justice to all these people. The resolution does not explain how it is to be done. I hope it will be explained in the bill. There is no law that I know of that has as yet been devised to beat the law of supply and demand. When there is more stuff produced than there is demand for, the price will go down. You can cover it up all you like, but the price will go down until the lower price induces a greater demand so that the market balances. That is the only way it can be done. If the government propose to do that, they will have an awful proposition on their hands, because when a certain price is guaranteed for herrings or potatoes and I know I can produce at that price I will exert my utmost efforts to produce, knowing that the government has to take care of it. Ordinarily I would be afraid to put in too many potatoes one year because it looked as though there was going to be a small demand, but when I have the government behind me I am reckless in that regard and I will put everything I can into the growing of those potatoes, knowing the government has to take care of me.

We are nearing the close of the session. This bill is being introduced now and will go through in a few days. I admit I do not understand how the government can in such a casual way deal with a subject of such huge complications and implications. I hope when we get the bill it will make clearer what is to be done. But I view this measure with considerable apprehension. I do not see how the thing is going to work. It is going to make for a lot of trouble and confusion. I do hope the bill will be more explanatory than the resolution, but as the Scots say, I have my doubts.

Topic:   FISHERIES PRICES
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR STABILIZATION, PURCHASE OF STAPLE PRODUCTS AT APPROVED PRICES, ETC.
Permalink
CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

It is not my intention to debate the resolution at this time. I do not think we can intelligently discuss the matter until the bill is before us. We intend to forego any detailed discussion until the bill is presented.

I agree with the hon. member for York-Sunbury. I am glad that I can find a spot to agree with him, because as a rule we dis-

Fisheries Prices

agree. I emphasize the necessity for having on this board representatives of the producers. Unless that is done I do not think you are going to make any changes. The manipulation of the fishing industry has been largely in the hands of the private buyers. If the composition of the board is to be such that you are merely going to give super-authority for the regulating, marketing and fixing of prices to those who have exploited the industry in the past, then you are not going to make any changes in the interest of the fishermen.

I do not share the fears of the 'hon. member for Comox-AIberni. I know that within the industry itself, and within the past ten years, the cooperative movement has developed men who are capable of solving the problems of the fishermen through the medium of the machinery now being set up by the government, if they are given the opportunity. I could name a dozen men from the ranks of the fishermen, on the east coast at least, who are qualified in the field of marketing and price fixing and every phase of the industry. If these men are taken in and given a chance they will make a success of it. I wish to emphasize that because I think the Minister of Justice sounded the keynote yesterday when he referred to how the department endeavoured to select the judges. He said that they tried at all times to pick the judges from the practising profession. I think that is a good principle. It is a principle that should be applied to all the machinery that is being set up in a particular field. If it is good for the judiciary to select those who are to administer the law from those who are practising law and understand it, then that same principle should be applied to those boards that are being set up. Those who produce and understand the industry from the practical point of view should be given posts in the administration of the industry.

I shall reserve any further remarks I may have to make until the bill is before the house, because I have considerable to say on this question.

Topic:   FISHERIES PRICES
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR STABILIZATION, PURCHASE OF STAPLE PRODUCTS AT APPROVED PRICES, ETC.
Permalink
NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

I am

delighted to find myself in agreement with the hon. member for Cape Breton South oni one point. I think we are both right. I was glad to hear him say that there are qualified men among the producers who could assist in this proposed programme; but you cannot ignore what the hon. member for Comox-AIberni has said. How are you going to make this board work? Let us get right down to brass tacks and if the minister and his department have any ideas on the subject, let us [Mr. Gillis.J

have them. How are you going to make it work, having regard to the principle of the law of supply and demand? There is an old saying that you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink.

If Canada were a self-contained nation and people were fish-minded I do not think there would be very much difficulty in establishing floor prices, if they were reasonable prices; but two-thirds of our total production goes into the export trade. I think that is an approximately correct statement. Therefore you are dealing in what is a world commodity. Unless it is intended merely to establish a subsidized or bonused position I do not see how this can be worked out; but if this thing is going to develop into a subsidy, let us call it by that name. That is what I think it will develop into, a subsidized position for the fishermen in the transition period. I have no great objection to that, provided it does not last too long and does not cost too much. Everybody else in this country is being subsidized; we are now going to subsidize judges' widows by giving them a pension; we are going to subsidize babies pretty soon, and before we get through with this thing everybody is going to be subsidized and we will be in the position of taking in each other's washing. That is what will happen; that is the ultimate end of this sort of legislation. Bonuses and subsidies are a last resort. They may be justified in an emergency, and I believe that in the transition period there will be a real emergency as far as the fishermen are concerned. Take our codfish industry on the east coast. How many people in Saskatchewan or Ontario have ever tasted the luscious dried cod of eastern Canada? Very few; yet that is the principal product of the Atlantic fishing industry.

Topic:   FISHERIES PRICES
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR STABILIZATION, PURCHASE OF STAPLE PRODUCTS AT APPROVED PRICES, ETC.
Permalink
LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

We distributed it but our friends of the C.C.F. did not like it.

Topic:   FISHERIES PRICES
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR STABILIZATION, PURCHASE OF STAPLE PRODUCTS AT APPROVED PRICES, ETC.
Permalink

July 25, 1944