The whole pack was either shipped to England or supplied to the Canadian forces. Mr. Buchanan gives those figures too. He says:
Of the 1941 to 1946 packs, 7,600,000 cases (or 80 per cent) were used for the forces or shipped to the order of Great Britain for overseas needs.
Then he goes on to say:
Probably no other similar food industry made the same sacrifice in its domestic market.
A year or so ago it became obvious that the overseas market for canned salmon was falling off. We on the coast hoped that the Marshall plan would enable European countries to buy our canned salmon. I have here a dispatch of April 8, 1948. The heading is "Marshall Plan may aid Province's Industries". With regard to salmon its says:
Canned salmon, one of the province's big natural crops, was being faced with declining dollar holdings in the United Kingdom and other markets, and looked as if it might become a surplus at home.
Both the salmon and the herring catches, which are much more than can be used in Canada, will probably be needed to supply foodstuffs to Europe.
The belief was that the Marshall plan would mean that our market in Great Britain and on the continent of Europe would be continued. But the situation became steadily worse, and I find here a clipping of January 21, 1949, again in the Vancouver press. The heading is "Salmon Gets Last Chance" and the first paragraph reads as follows:
Fisheries Minister R. W. Mayhew has begun last-chance negotiations toward agreement for sale of British Columbia canned salmon to the United Kingdom, and upon his success or failure will depend to great extent the prosperity of this province's fishermen in 1949.
The next day we had a press dispatch to the effect that Ottawa might agree to accept sterling currency for British Columbia salmon. But on January 27 a further dispatch appeared reporting an interview with William F. Bull, who apparently is director under the Export and Import Permits Act. Mr. Bull said in Vancouver that one of his headaches was what to do about a market for British Columbia's tinned salmon. The dispatch reads in part as follows:
"Talks are now under way in London, but we don't know the answer," he told members of the shipping and foreign trade bureaux of the Board of Trade Wednesday. British commonwealth countries took from 50 to 60 per cent of British Columbia's tinned salmon prior to the war. But this year it was feared they might take none.
Then the next development was a statement by Sir Stafford Cripps reported in the
Canadian press of February 22 of this year. He had this to say with regard to canned salmon being purchased from Canada by Great Britain:
"Normally we buy canned salmon from Russia or timber from Scandinavia or bacon from Poland because we can pay for it in sterling, whereas similar Canadian supplies would cost us dollars."
The canned salmon market has now been cut off completely. I have here a further dispatch of March 23, just ten days ago, which again appeared in the British Columbia press, and which reads in part as follows:
Fishing, among B.C.'s top four industries, faces a threat of disaster this year due to failure of last-minute negotiations for sale of canned salmon to the United Kingdom.
A surplus of 250,000 cases is now backed up in warehouses and a pack of 1,500,000 cases was expected this year. This may be sharply cut by lack of markets.
That is the largest fish company in British Columbia.
-vice-president R. E. Walker says "if we don't get rid of present stocks, fish prices will drop this season -enough to put many small fishermen out of business."
I am afraid that is an accurate description of the situation. We have this difficulty with regard to selling the salmon in the United States: there is a tariff of 25 per cent against our canned salmon. It is so high that I believe it is practically impossible to get the canned salmon into that market. So unless the Minister of Fisheries has some hopeful news for us today, it looks as though the fishing industry in British Columbia will be hard hit during the present year. You will have noted, Mr. Chairman, that there is quite a large carryover from last year and a large pack is expected again this year!
I have no doubt that the minister has given deep consideration to the problem. Different solutions have been suggested. One is that Canada accept payment in sterling. Another is that some arrangement be made for exchanging our goods for goods produced by Great Britain; for example, exchanging canned salmon for steel produced in the old country. The suggestion has also been made that the government should take steps to underwrite the 1949 pack. Those are various remedies that have appeared in the press from time to time. I am not at the moment advocating any one of them, but I suggest to the minister and to the committee that it is absolutely imperative that a market be found for this canned salmon. It looks as though the situation may be disastrous; I hope it will not be. I am afraid, however, that the situation is bad. Certainly there is a serious problem to be met in this particular industry.