This is a time to give them the tools on equalizing transportation costs in order that those who are furthest away can get their product to market in central Canada, in the United States, or other parts of the world with some semblance of an equal opportunity and equal competition.
I remember that in 1969 Members of Parliament from northern Canada were citing how, because of transportation costs alone, they had to compete with freshwater fishermen in southern Ontario, southern Quebec and the northern United
December 14, 1987
States who were already catching fish right next door to the big markets. If the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation does nothing else but pool those costs for the benefit of all freshwater fishermen, it would be doing a great service to those fishermen in northern Canada, northern Ontario and western Canada.
Of course we need more fishermen's co-operatives. What they should be doing in their co-operatives is pooling their individual resources and with financial support from their local communities, credit unions, banks, or whatever, to purchase things like boats, motors, nets, and insurance. There is a host of other things which could be pooled in a co-operative which would reduce their costs and provide them with a better return on their catches. To expect individual fishermen or small individual co-operatives to move into the big leagues of the international markets is to be totally unfair to them and can have no other result than to lower prices.
We had examples in 1969 and 1970 of fishermen getting two cents or three cents per pound in the territories, ten cents or fifteen cents per pound in Manitoba, and twenty cents per pound in northern Ontario. Why was this? It was because they were closer to the markets and had better transportation facilities. We have been through this once before. If my hon. friend cannot learn from some recent history, he will be condemned to trying to repeat it, which is exactly what he is trying to do now.
We must have stronger central marketing of primary products such as grain and grain products and fish and fish products. Primary producers, whether they are grain farmers or fishermen, have never been price makers. They have never been allowed to set a price related to their costs of production or to their geographic location. They have always been price takers. What happens is that buyers, in particular international buyers, play one area of the country against another. They will get fishermen in the Northwest Territories trying to underbid the ones in Manitoba or northern Saskatchewan. Fishermen have been through that before, and those who have been in the freshwater fishing industry for a while know what it was like then and do not want it to happen again.
If there are problems regarding certain species or certain lakes, they should be solved by the fishermen themselves meeting with the Freshwater Fish Marketing Advisory Board and with the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation where they can be resolved. If the corporation needs funding on a pay-back basis over a period of years at a preferred interest rate, let us give it so that it can do an even bigger and better job.
Let us look at the annual reports for the last five years which contain some of the things the hon. gentleman is complaining about. We see that 1987 was the best year they ever had. Initial payments and the final payments totalled $48.3 million. If my memory serves me right about catch in
Freshwater Fish Marketing Act
the annual report, it works out to about $1 per pound or whatever. In any case, it was the best year ever. All I can say to my hon. friend is: "If it is working, don't try to fix it". He does not need to throw out the baby with the bath water. He should be moving amendments to strengthen the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation so that it can do an even better job for all fishermen in the area which the legislation covers.
I am getting a little tired of seeing the true colour of the Tories. I am not sure whether my hon. friend even knows what supply side economics is, but let me put it to him this way. According to his theory in this legislation, fishermen supply the fish and the market economics tells them how little they will get for it. That has been the problem with the so-called theory of supply side economics. Producers must band together and work co-operatively through their own agency. The agency is there for them and for no one else. We cannot say that it is overburdened with bureaucrats. It does not have a big staff. In fact, it should have half a dozen more people who do nothing but sell freshwater fish and processed fish. There should be more of them doing that in central Canada, in the United States, and in other countries of the world. They need more staff, not less. They do not need friends like my hon. friend from the territories. As far as I am concerned, his legislation means that he is not a friend of orderly marketing to get better income for fishermen. He is also against the best interests of freshwater fishermen generally. He has proven that with what is in his motion. I am appalled that he would try to do it a second time. He did not learn his lesson the first time.
I hope the Government can assure us that the motion will be defeated at second reading, or that it will die in committee where it deserves a totally unnatural death. If the Government cannot give us that assurance, I am sure that we can get enough people to keep it going until five o'clock. Then I hope we will not get to it again until October, 1999, because that is all the motion deserves. I hope my hon. friend will take another look at what he is trying to do and will talk with fishermen all over the North. We not only have good fishermen along our northern lakes and rivers of the prairie provinces, Ontario, and the territories. We have first-class fish. In fact, if you will pardon me, Mr. Speaker, we catch fish that size in northern Canada and the northern parts of the provinces, and that is between the eyes. There is no problem about the quality of fishermen or the size and quality of the fish. However, there is a problem with a few Hon. Members in this place and a handful of disgruntled fishermen. I do not think the hon. gentleman from the territories is doing much to help them with their problems. All he is trying to do is to make them worse.
If there are problems, they can be solved through the fishermen's agency because it belongs to them, not to the Government of Canada. It was set up by Parliament for the welfare, good order, and benefit of freshwater fishermen. It was long overdue. I suppose that every year or two a couple of hon. gentlemen will come into this place and try to wreck what it took decades to build up. Instead of bringing in Bills to
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Freshwater Fish Marketing Act
improve and strengthen the legislation, they will try to bring in legislation to kill it, and that can only be to the detriment and loss of freshwater fishermen in our part of Canada.
Subtopic: PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS-PUBLIC FRESHWATER FISH MARKETING ACT MEASURE TO AMEND