December 4, 1984

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

SALTFISH ACT

PC

John Allen Fraser (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. John A. Fraser (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans) moved

that Bill C-6, an Act to amend the Saltfish Act, be read the second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Forestry.

He said: Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure to introduce Bill C-6 for second reading. It is legislation to amend Subsection 17(2) of the Saltfish Act to increase the permitted borrowing limit of the Canadian Saltfish Corporation to $50 million from the present ceiling of $30 million.

This is part of the backlog of legislation left over from the previous session. I am seeking the co-operation of Hon. Members to give speedy passage to this item of legislation. Its implementation is of considerable importance to the effective operation of the Canadian Saltfish Corporation and the large number of fishermen and saltfish processors in Atlantic Canada who depend upon the Corporation to market their catch.

Let me briefly outline the situation which has led to the introduction of this amendment to the Saltfish Act. The Canadian Saltfish Corporation, as I am sure many Hon. Members are aware, is a Crown agency which was established in 1970 with the primary aim of improving returns to fishermen. It was set up to bring about a change in the inefficient and haphazard marketing situation for saltfish which existed previously. The record shows that it has done a commendable job in this regard.

Under the Act the Corporation has a monopoly of the interprovincial and export trade in cured codfish-that is to say, salt bulk and dried codfish-produced in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador and on the lower north shore of the Province of Quebec. Under matching provincial legislation, the Corporation has exclusive purchase rights to cured codfish and to codfish for curing within the mandated region. The Corporation is required to buy all cured fish of an acceptable quality which is offered for sale within its area of jurisdiction.

When the Saltfish Act came into effect 14 years ago, the Corporation's borrowing limit was set at $10 million, which

was deemed adequate at the time. This limit was increased to $15 million in 1976 and to $30 million in 1980.

Due to the soft market conditions currently prevailing in the frozen groundfish industry, an increase in salt bulk and saltfish production is expected in the coming year. Because of this, and due to a number of other factors outside the Corporation's control, such as inflationary cost increases combined with severe devaluations of currency in importing countries, the Corporation anticipates that its peak borrowing in 1985-86 will be in the neighbourhood of $37 million. By the year 1988 it is predicted that this borrowing requirement will rise to $48 million.

I cannot emphasize too strongly that the sum of money established under the Act as the borrowing ceiling represents the absolute level of funds available to the Corporation as working capital in any one year. The Corporation cannot obtain additional credit outside this limit.

In summary, it is very clear that for the Corporation to operate effectively its borrowing limit must be increased from the current $30 million level. If this does not happen, the Corporation is likely to find itself in the impossible position of being obliged under its mandate to buy all the fish offered to it, at the same time having insufficient credit reserves to be able to pay the fishermen or processors. Of course, this is the same state of affairs confronting the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation which is also seeking to raise its borrowing limit under separate legislation.

As far as the Saltfish Corporation is concerned, this dilemma can be overcome by passage of the legislation before the House today. I trust Hon. Members will see their way clear to take that action with the minimum of delay.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SALTFISH ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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LIB

George Baker

Liberal

Mr. George Baker (Gander-Twillingate):

Mr. Speaker, I will try to be very brief with respect to this Bill. The Minister omitted to say that the major problem with the Canadian Saltfish Corporation today is markets. The problem is further complicated by currencies, the value of those currencies and whether they can get their money within six months or a year if they sell to certain countries.

There used to be a problem of grades of fish. That problem has been partially overcome. We now have in Canada some of the best grades of saltfish in the world. It is unfortunate that the Canadian Saltfish Corporation cannot in certain cases reward those areas of Atlantic Canada, specifically Newfoundland, which produce grade A top quality fish.

Under the Liberal administration a couple of years ago, the Government of Canada encouraged a system of quality control

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whereby fish were brought in to the wharfhead and iced. When taken out of the water, they were immediately bobtailed or bled, as we call it, then iced and graded on the wharf. For the first time we had what we, the industry and others, call a grade A product.

Unfortunately, when that grade A product was brought in, it did not fetch a higher price than the grade B product. Various excuses were made at the time for these discrepancies, mainly that there had to be a certain quantity of grade A fish available in order that a higher price would be paid. Without that quantity, you could not get into the grade A market in Brazil, for example. In a certain part of Brazil you can sell a high-priced quality product and in another part of that country you can sell the medium grade product.

The Government had to develop a system of subsidies. I know that is a bad word with the present Government, but a system of subsidies was developed for a grade A product. The major buyers were given the money to pay the difference to the fishermen who brought in the grade A product. I cannot see in the policies of this Government whether that system of encouraging quality fish in the market-place is being continued.

The Canadian Saltfish Corporation buys mostly in Newfoundland because it is mainly a Newfoundland-based product that we are talking about. There is some product along the coast of Quebec, but it is mainly a Newfoundland product. This year, the fishery in those areas was very poor. I would think that with all of the problems in the fresh fish industry and with all of the major plants in Atlantic Canada encountering closures due to strikes and to their financial situations, we would see an automatic increase in the amount of saltfish that is handled by the Canadian Saltfish Corporation.

Three and four years ago there was a crisis in the fresh fish industry. That is the industry which deals with fish that is normally frozen into cod blocks in Newfoundland, unfortunately to be sent to Massachusetts or somewhere else in the United States to be made into a finished product. At that time when the plants were unable to buy the fish, the fishermen normally salted the fish and sold it to the Canadian Saltfish Corporation. The Canadian Saltfish Corporation, the Corporation we are dealing with today, must by law buy every bit of saltfish that is offered to it. Three and four years ago the amount of fish that was sold to the Canadian Saltfish Corporation rose because there were problems in the fresh fish industry.

The fishery was very bad this year. There were problems with the fresh fish industry in Atlantic Canada. There were a certain number of fishermen who salted their fish and sold it to the Canadian Salfish Corporation through a licensed buyer. However, the amount of fish that was sold to the Canadian Saltfish Corporation was substantially less this year than it was in previous years. That was probably a godsend to the Canadian Saltfish Corporation because, according to my understanding of the situation, it had large inventories.

I estimate that the amount of fish sold to the Canadian Saltfish Corporation must have decreased by about 20 per cent. I imagine the Corporation would tell the Minister that the amount of fish that was sold to it had decreased by about 10 per cent or 15 per cent but I would say it was about 20 per cent. This highlights a very serious problem in the inshore fishery, specifically in the areas where there are fishermen who sell to the Canadian Saltfish Corporation. This problem is very, very serious and is of a magnitude that has never been seen before in this country. The fish were not there. They were simply not in the ocean in the latter part of this past summer.

The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (Mr. Fraser), in bringing forward this Bill, should keep in mind that because there were these problems in the inshore fishery in eastern Canada and because no action was taken by the Government to assist these fishermen, there are a couple of Cabinet Ministers in the present Government who are in serious trouble with the inshore fishery. They are in very, very serious trouble with the fishermen who sell to the Canadian Saltfish Corporation.

I recall that it was this Minister of Fisheries and Oceans who, together with the fishermen's union of Newfoundland, sent to the Minister of Employment and Immigration (Miss MacDonald) a list identifying some 1,600 fishermen who simply did not have enough stamps to collect unemployment insurance this winter. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans identified some 200 such fishermen in the northern area, about 400 in the northeast area and about 1,000 in the extreme lower east coast of Newfoundland.

I do not know what happened to the Minister's recommendation to the Minister of Employment and Immigration. I imagine that the people who work in the Department of Employment and Immigration must have gotten their hands on it and said: "We will hold off a bit now until the fishery season is over". That was in November. They will hold off until the fishery is over. The Minister of Employment and Immigration said that there would be no special program to assist the fishermen who sell to the Canadian Saltfish Corporation. The 400 fishermen that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans identified, who were in financial trouble a month ago, were from Fogo Island. Fogo Island is solely the Canadian Saltfish Corporation indirectly selling through the buyer of the Fogo Island Co-op.

The fishermen were in serious trouble, worse than ever before in their history. Last year it was bad. The federal Government last year-the Government that was accused of throwing money at problems-had a special program for fishermen. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment and Immigration (Mr. Hudon) recently stood in the House to read a statement from the Department which denied that such a program existed. It is frustrating for me, as a representative of the fishermen, as well as for other members on the government side who represent fishermen, to have this confusion.

December 4, 1984

The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans knows that there was a special program whereby fishermen's groups, associations or co-operatives, such as the case of the Canadian Saltfish Corporation, received an amount of money from the Department of Employment. That amount was exactly equal to the amount of money required to put fishermen to work fixing wharves, stages and haul-outs. The work would give the fishermen the required number of weeks to enable them to receive unemployment insurance. Why? Because it was not simply a subsidy. It was required to keep these people in the fishery. If that is not done this year-and it should have been done a month ago-we will see a decrease in the number of people fishing indirectly for the Canadian Saltfish Corporation.

We cannot have respectable people, full-time fishermen, going on welfare. They are much too proud for that. Therefore, they will get out of the fishery-as a lot of them have this year-and look for jobs in Toronto or Fort McMurray where they have relatives. Of course, they will not receive money from the mobility program of the Department of Employment and Immigration because that program has been substantially cut back. The restrictions of that program mean that the fishermen will not receive the money which would enable them to travel to another area to get a job.

The fishermen were laid off as they obtained the required number of stamps to qualify for unemployment insurance in order to get them over the serious problem they faced last year. If a fisherman had six fishing stamps, he could match them up with four labour stamps; if he had seven fishing stamps, he could match them up with three labour stamps. But if the fisherman only had five fishing stamps, the law stated that he must have had ten labour stamps in order to qualify for unemployment insurance. As the Minister of Fisheries understands, these fishermen had anywhere from nine stamps to seven stamps. It required one or two weeks' work to get those stamps. Under the previous government, as the fishermen worked that one or two weeks, they were laid off, collected unemployment insurance during the winter, and then went fishing again in the spring.

Now there is no program. Somehow, through the jigs and the reels and through misinformation, the Minister of Employment and Immigration stood in the House and told Members-representing the areas that the Minister of Fisheries identified to the Department of Employment-that the Government would put them to work on Canada Works grants. Everyone knows that a fellow cannot be laid off after a week if he is hired under a Canada Works grant. He cannot be laid off after two, three or four weeks. It is not allowed under the Canada Works Program. What are they doing? Even if some of those fishermen were employed under Canada Works, they would have to work right through the winter and probably next summer, taking a job away from someone in the community who really needs it.

[DOT] (U25)

There are several problems, Mr. Speaker. If a Canada Works Program was begun it would mean that if a man had

Saltfish Act

worked one week in the previous eight weeks, he would not be allowed to go to work. There are various problems associated with the announcement of the Minister of Employment and Immigration, who made an unforgiveable error by saying she will top everyone up to $3 million knowing full well that the districts affected are already up to $3 million under the the Canada Works Program. The Minister of Employment and Immigration is in very serious trouble with the fishermen who are covered under Bill C-6, an Act to amend the Saltfish Act. To lose these fishermen, Mr. Speaker, would be a tragedy for the Canadian Saltfish Corporation.

In examining their problem one can see that 99 per cent of these fishermen are poor people who sell their catch to the Canadian Saltfish Corporation. There is a program under the Department of Employment and Immigration but one cannot go to work under that program unless he is drawing unemployment insurance. Provincial governments have community development programs administered through the Department of Welfare, but one cannot go to work under those programs unless one is drawing welfare.

In the latter part of this summer the fishermen covered by the Canadian Saltfish Corporation, as a result of the cuts that were made, found themselves in the position that their boats had to be tied up and they could not fish. They had no money coming in and there was no special program in place to help them. Then, Mr. Speaker, we saw the discrimination practised against the fishermen which is inherent in our system in eastern Canada. These fishermen had no money to spend but when school opened their children's school books still had to be purchased. These fishermen went down to the welfare office and asked for welfare but they were denied for a variety of reasons. In some cases they were denied welfare because they were self-employed and in other cases they were denied because of a stupid 90-day rule under which provincial welfare departments operate. Under this regulation, if a fisherman had a good lobster season or a good groundfish season-and you can make quite a bit of money in a week with groundfish-he could not draw welfare for the next 90 days according to provincial regulations. So the trick used by a lot of these 1600 fishermen was to try to get on welfare in order to get their children's school books paid for.

I recall a phone call I had from a fisherman who sells his catch to the Canadian Saltfish Corporation. He is a gentleman about 55 years of age and he has three children in high school; one in grade 12 and two in grade 11. He asked me if the federal Government was going to come up with a special program and I told him to hoped so but I could not be certain. We have a change of Government now and this Government does not believe in throwing money at problems. This is a Government which does not believe in just maintaining a system because it is there. He told me he had a problem. He said that he had $70 on an upper shelf of a cupboard. That $70 was to buy food for the family during hard times. He has three children in high school and he cannot afford to buy their school books, which cost about $100 per student. He asked me: "What am I going to do? Welfare will not look at me because

December 4, 1984

Saltfish Act

of the 90-day rule and I am a self-employed man". What he had to do was give the $70 to the three children and tell them to buy whatever they could between them and he would have to borrow flour from next door to help them over this crunch.

For the areas covered by this poor inshore fishery, Mr. Speaker, on the northeast coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, that is how bad things were this summer. If you went into a community like Tilting you would have seen all the boats hauled up three-quarters of the way through the so-called fishing season. But this Government will not do what the previous Liberal government did. It will not assist those people although the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans sent a list of the fishermen to the Minister of Employment and Immigration and she verified in this House that that was done. So did the union. Then we see a provincial system which discriminates against these poor people. Is there any wonder that we have lost fishermen? They are not going to go back to the boats any more this year, those very inshore fishermen who keep the Canadian Saltfish Corporation alive.

I would say, Mr. Speaker, a few Cabinet Ministers are in trouble with these inshore fishermen. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is one, together with the Minister of Employment and Immigration, the Minister of National Revenue (Mr. Beatty) and the Minister of the Environment (Mrs. Blais-Grenier). That particular Minister is in trouble because these very inshore fishermen who sell to the Canadian Saltfish Corporation did not like it one little bit when she, in response to a letter to the Prime Minister (Mr. Mulroney) from Greenpeace, sent a letter to a Canadian delegation somewhere in Europe and told them not to object to Greenpeace being recognized by this international union of environmentalists. She can stand up and say: "We did not want to object. Is it not right that they become a member of this organization?" However, Mr. Speaker, by this very act she is supporting that organization.

I said at the beginning that I would not be very long, but I wanted to bring to the attention of the House a serious problem that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is going to have with the buyers for the Canadian Saltfish Corporation. The problem concerns the interpretation of rules and regulations by government departments. I have here a letter from Employment and Immigration Canada to a fisherman which says:

-this is to verify that the amount of salted ground fish, wet salted (salt bulk) is 600 cwt (600 lbs.) for an insured week. This is calculated at the end of the fishing season and for each 600 lbs., you would be entitled to one fishing insured week.

That is what the regulation says. The calculation is not on the value of the fish you sell, it is on the weight. Six hundred pounds entitles you to one fishing insured week. That is how salted fish is distinguished from fresh fish or other products controlled by the Unemployment Insurance Act and the Department of National Revenue in the determination of a question, as they put it. The fisherman brings this letter to the buyer and tells him he is supposed to be calculating the benefits in this way. The buyer turns around and writes two

letters, one to Employment and Immigration Canada to verify this, and another to the Department of National Revenue because that department determines who qualifies and who does not under the Unemployment Insurance Act.

In the letter that the buyer sent to the Department of National Revenue, he says that the fisherman said:

-we should take his total number of pounds of fish shipped and divide by 600 pounds to arrive at the number of insured weeks. However, this is not the way that we do the calculation.

If that is not the way they do the calculation, then they are in very serious trouble with the Department of National Revenue and the Department of Employment and Immigration. He continues:

We have been calculating the number of insured weeks in the week that the shipment was made.

Please inform me if the above calculation is correct. If it is not correct, 1 would like to have some clarification on the matter.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the chief of source deduction of the Department of National Revenue is a man who knows. He has never made a mistake that I can recall. Never. He writes to the buyer:

-this will confirm that your method of computing the insurable earnings and weeks from the sale of a cured catch is indeed correct.

The information provided by Canada Employment and Immigration Commission . .. will be discussed at a meeting of the Commission and this Department with a view to ensuring the proper information emanating from both offices is factual.

As far as I can see, the Commission was correct in its interpretation. The Department of National Revenue was correct in its interpretation. Then we turn to the Deputy Attorney General of Canada and let us see what he thinks. Here is a buyer who averaged out the entire earnings for the total period covered by the fresh and cured catch deliveries instead of calculating the earnings separately and for the week in which they were caught. There have been countless cases like this, Mr. Speaker, in which a fisherman seeks an opinion from the Commission, the Department of National Revenue and then perhaps a judge, and all three are at variance. But the bottom line is that if that fisherman or buyer takes it to the final court, the Federal Tax Court of Canada-regardless of what the Departments involved have said-whatever that court says, that is it. If someone in the Commission made a mistake, it is the fisherman who suffers, not the buyer. It is not the Commission, not the Department of National Revenue, but the fisherman involved.

I wanted to bring that to the attention of the Minister as an illustration of the confusion around the sale of saltfish in the country and of a grave injustice that has been dealt to a poor fishermen who does not know any different and sells his fish to a buyer in good faith. If the buyer, the Unemployment Insurance Commission or the Department of National Revenue has made an error in determining the question, it is the fisherman who then faces having to pay back to the Government thousands and thousands of dollars.

December 4, 1984

At this very moment in the area covered by the Saltfish Corporation, there are 106 cases of fishermen who have been told they must pay back to the Government of Canada thousands of dollars. This happened at a time when the fishery was bad and the Government of Canada said it was not going to give them enough stamps for unemployment insurance. At that time 106 fishermen left and in 1985 they will have to face the courts. The cases will be brought pursuant to the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1971, the appellant versus the Minister of National Revenue, respondent. It will be a case of the Minister of National Revenue versus the 106 fishermen who sell to the Canadian Saltfish Corporation.

I wanted to bring that to the attention of the House for a particular reason. It is fine to look back and say that the Department has made a mistake. It is in black and white, but in a court of law it does not matter who made the mistake. No one is reprimanded in the Department of National Revenue or the Unemployment Insurance Commission. It is the fishermen who must pay on the bottom line. The buyer was misled in written statements from government departments. Therefore, in 1985 it will be the Minister of National Revenue versus each one of these fishermen before the Federal Tax Court of Canada.

I brought that up because under the Act the Minister of Employment and Immigration has the power and authority in cases of hardship, when it is determined that a person must pay back money, to forgive that money owed to the Crown. That is why I am bringing this up today. I am asking the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to make representation to the Minister of Employment and Immigration to forgive the amounts owed to the Crown. Another way to short-circuit it would be if the Minister of National Revenue would say that they are not going to proceed with these cases. I do not know what reason he could use. I suppose he could say that there was written contradictory evidence from government departments. If that were done, I suppose it would be creating a precedent which would be very difficult to change in future cases.

Certainly, Mr. Speaker, something must be done. Any fair-minded person must realize that something must be done for these fishermen who sell to the Canadian Saltfish Corporation. Who would deny that? One would have to be crazy not to realize that something must be done for the fishermen. It is unfortunate that the Minister of Employment and Immigration could not have set up a special program to give these fishermen their unemployment insurance stamps. He could have put them to work for $200 a week so they could draw 60 per cent of their income in unemployment insurance. Is that too much to ask for a primary producer in the country? Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, that is not the way it worked out.

I have gone on longer than I should have, Mr. Speaker. I mentioned that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, who was in trouble, is not in as much trouble as the other Ministers are. I would like to congratulate the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans for sending that list to the Minister of Employment and Immigration to verify the 1,600 people who needed their

Saltfish Act

unemployment insurance. I also want to chastize the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, in the areas covered by the Canadian Saltfish Corporation Act, for agreeing to policies handed down from on high and for agreeing with the group of people in the back room who decided to do this, that, and the other thing without consulting him. He will stand up in the House and say he was consulted, but I do not believe he was consulted when they decided to charge fishermen for the charts. I think he had to do what he was told with the substantial cuts in his Department. I know the philosophy behind that.

There was a statement issued in the PC Handbook called "Pocket Politics". I wish there were a hole in whatever pocket it went into. It is absolute garbage as it relates to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. In Newfoundland we would call them all cracked. It is insane, Mr. Speaker. It says in "Pocket Politics" that:

The current budget for the department is almost $700 million per year, almost 20 times what it was in 1968.

Under Liberal management, Canada's fisheries have become virtually uneconomic, and have taken on the characteristics of a social welfare system, especially in Atlantic Canada.

Fisheries policy has been designed to make the industry dependent upon Liberal goodwill, patronage and government handouts.

An example given is Crown corporations that rigidly monopolize vital sectors of the market. The Minister is now bringing in a Bill to extend the borrowing authority of this Crown corporation. It continues:

Subsidies expand the industry with no thought to the limits of biological resources. Over-expansion on the Atlantic coast has bankrupted the processing industry and forced a massive federal bail-out that does not solve the real problem.

The Premier of Newfoundland called that massive bail-out the best thing that happened since confederation. Who creates over-expansion in the Atlantic fisheries, Mr. Speaker? They did not say that in "Pocket Politics". Those licences are issued by provincial governments and have nothing to do with the federal Government.

Reading this is almost like reading a communist manifesto. It says:

The current budget for the department is almost $700 million per year, almost 20 times what it was in 1968.

So what, Mr. Speaker? It should be 40 times what it was. The policy emanated from cuts in the Department.

I know my time is running out, Mr. Speaker. Have I used up my 20 minutes? I have two minutes left in 40 minutes? I have gone on a little too long.

The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is going to cancel the fishing vessels insurance scheme. In the one minute I have remaining I would like to appeal to the Minister not to cancel the program. If it is cancelled there will not only be fellows who will owe thousands and thousands of dollars to the Department of National Revenue, but they will also have their boats repossessed because, under provincial law, they must have insurance for provincial loans to remain in force. You must have your own insurance before you can get a loan from a provincial loan authority. You cannot just cancel something

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and leave a little fellow with a 19-foot boat trying to make a living on the great northern peninsula unable to get insurance through a normal insurance company.

I see the Minister nodding his head. He is perhaps going to be dealing with this, and I know he is going to try to overcome what the Minister of Finance (Mr. Wilson) laid down as being the law of this country. It is wrong for a small group of people from on high to cast down his policies without consulting the very people they should be consulting in this country.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SALTFISH ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

Marcel Danis (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

The Hon. Member for Vancouver-Kingsway (Mr. Waddell).

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SALTFISH ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

John Allen Fraser (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fraser:

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Hon. Member.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SALTFISH ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

Marcel Danis (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

There are no questions for the first three speeches. However, if we have unanimous consent, the Hon. Minister may ask.

Is there unanimous consent?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SALTFISH ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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?

Some Hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SALTFISH ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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NDP

Ian Gardiner Waddell

New Democratic Party

Mr. Waddell:

No.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SALTFISH ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

Marcel Danis (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

The Hon. Member for Vancouver-Kingsway (Mr. Waddell).

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SALTFISH ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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NDP

Ian Gardiner Waddell

New Democratic Party

Mr. Ian Waddell (Vancouver-Kingsway):

Mr. Speaker, I listened with a great deal of interest to the remarks made by the Hon. Member for Gander-Twillingate (Mr. Baker). I thought for a moment he was going to ask for unanimous consent to go on for another 40 minutes. We certainly would have enjoyed listening to him for another 40 minutes.

He used a phrase I have never heard and I thank him for teaching it to me. I imagine it must be an East Coast phrase because we do not have it on the West Coast. He referred to the jigs and reels, and somehow through the jigs and reels in a debate on the Saltfish Corporation he managed to speak about Greenpeace, welfare, unemployment insurance, taxation, the communist manifesto and finally insurance. I congratulate him for doing a good job on behalf of his constituents in getting through the jibs and the reels into the things that concern his constituents. I gather he has very many poor people in his riding, particularly the inshore fishermen on the north coast of Newfoundland, and I learned something from his speech.

I have noticed that Mr. Richard Cashin and the officers and members of the Newfoundland Fishermen, Food and Allied Workers Union have also been speaking out and working hard on behalf of those people. They are quite disadvantaged compared to we rich city dwellers in other parts of Canada. The Hon. Member talked about the syndrome of going down the road, this time fishermen from Newfoundland, to Toronto, to Fort McMurray and to other places in Canada. I am sorry that sort of thing happens in this country. I wish it did not. I am sure the Hon. Member and the Minister would agree that

we should be putting together a fisheries policy to help those people stay and thrive.

I have just returned from Europe. I spent some time talking with people in the European Economic Community, particularly the Danes and to a lesser extent the Greeks, about the fishing industry. When I see what the Danes have done, especially with their industry and how they have concentrated on quality, we have something to learn. The Hon. Member mentioned in his speech how important quality is, how important the product is and how important it is to sell in foreign markets. We have a lot to learn from them, and I hope we can.

On behalf of my Party, I have a few things I want to say about this Bill. The Bill seeks to amend the Saltfish Act in order to increase the Canadian Saltfish Corporation's borrowing power from $30 million to $50 million. The last time an increase in its borrowing authority was authorized was in 1980, as we heard from the Minister, when it went up from $15 million to $30 million. This is a simple amendment seeking to put the borrowing authority up to $50 million.

I want to say something about the background of the Corporation as I understand it. The Corporation was established in 1970 by the then Minister of Fisheries, Mr. Jack Davis, a fellow British Columbian. This Corporation has the exclusive right to market saltfish produced in Newfoundland, Labrador and the lower north shore of Quebec. It is a nonprofit Corporation which was established for the purpose of improving the earnings of the primary producers of cured saltfish. What is important to note here, Mr. Speaker, and it is important for Conservative Members in the House to follow this, is that before the establishment of this Corporation the saltfish industry was in a shambles, in much the same way as the freshwater fish industry was in the West before the establishment of the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation in the Prairies. In other words, the private sector-the market here-was unable to operate effectively and efficiently in the fishing industry and so the Government set up this non-profit corporation. We seem to be going in reverse these days and I will come to that in a minute. The market was not working for the fishermen so the Government stepped in and set up this non-profit Corporation.

The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (Mr. Fraser) said in his speech, to quote what he said a few minutes ago: "The record shows it; the Corporation has done a commendable job". I hope the Minister and the Government generally will not take corporations like Petro-Canada and other government corporations that have done a commendable job, to put it mildly, and out of pure ideology get rid of them. This is an example.

The Saltfish Corporation has been very successful. It has turned a profit every year since its creation, with the one exception of 1983-84. The annual report for this year, as far as I know, has yet to be published and the loss for the year 1983-84 is not yet known.

It should be noted that since this is a non-profit Corporation, any surpluses made by the Corporation are rebated to the fishermen as annual dividends. In 1983-84 the Saltfish Corpo-

December 4, 1984

ration was able to absorb its loss by depending on reserves it had built up for a rainy day. The Corporation has yet to cost the taxpayers a dime. It has been self-sufficient. The only place it gets its money or working capital is from the Government, but so far it has not run at a loss.

The Corporation is small and efficient. It has 48 full and part-time employees. It packages, markets and in some cases processes saltfish, which mainly consists of codfish but also includes pickled herring and salted salmon. It buys fish from agents, who are private entrepreneurs, and then markets the fish. The primary consuming countries to which the Corporation exports saltfish are Portugal and Puerto Rico, the latter country being part of the United States.

Unfortunately, since 1980, the last time that the Corporation had its limit of borrowing capacity raised, the devaluation of the European currencies against our Canadian currency has had a serious impact on the export of saltfish. The Hon. Member for Gander-Twillingate mentioned this in his speech but he did not elaborate. Let me say something about it so that you understand it, Mr. Speaker. The Portuguese escudo is now worth one-third of what it was against the Canadian dollar in 1980. That is not bad for Canadian tourists-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SALTFISH ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
PC

John Allen Fraser (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fraser:

May I ask the Hon. Member a question, Mr. Speaker?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SALTFISH ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
PC

Marcel Danis (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

No. The Hon. Member has the floor. The only way that could be done is with unanimous consent.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SALTFISH ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
NDP

Ian Gardiner Waddell

New Democratic Party

Mr. Waddell:

Maybe the Minister will ask a question at the end of my remarks. Beware of Scotsmen asking questions, Mr. Speaker, as the English learned to their chagrin! The Minister and I have both been seen together in kilts, but I can tell you that I am the only one who has worn a kilt in the House of Commons. You can ask me that later.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SALTFISH ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
?

Some Hon. Members:

Oh, oh!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SALTFISH ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
NDP

Ian Gardiner Waddell

New Democratic Party

Mr. Waddell:

Let me go back to the Portuguese escudo. The point is very important. The reason is that this currency has fallen in value vis-a-vis the Canadian dollar. Other European currencies have also fallen, such as the Italian lira and the Spanish peseta.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SALTFISH ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
PC

John Allen Fraser (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fraser:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Ordinarily I would not rise at this point, but in the interests of the democratic functions of the House I must ask the Hon. Member, who is well known to me and who wears the kilt, as I do, if he would consent to a question being asked.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SALTFISH ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
NDP

Ian Gardiner Waddell

New Democratic Party

Mr. Waddell:

Certainly I would.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SALTFISH ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
PC

John Allen Fraser (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fraser:

Are you for the Bill or against it?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SALTFISH ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
PC

Marcel Danis (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Is there unanimous consent for the Minister to ask a question?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SALTFISH ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink

December 4, 1984