August 5, 1940 (19th Parliament, 1st Session)


Alan Webster Neill



If they did not use it all, they asked for more this year. It all leads to the conviction-and I am not speaking on my own account only-that we are neglected. It is not only the fisheries, but also the loggers and the grain men; I saw a big report the other day of the grain men complaining, but that has been in part altered. Begin a little further back; right down through the pages of history you get this story. Take the vote for $160,000-1 will not bring that up just now because the weather is hot and it always makes our maritime friends so exceedingly hot under the collar that I am afraid they will get apoplexy. But history shows that the fishermen of the Pacific coast have been robbed of their share of that $160,000, so much so that we have had men like Hon. Mr. Rhodes trying to defend it, but he had to admit that the act ought to be altered to agree with his conception. He said it was intended to mean something else. But the law says this is for the fishermen of Canada, not the maritimes alone.
Then take the lobster industry; they had an order in council passed about May 1. The lobster fishery in the maritimes occupies about three months in the year, and they thought they would not catch more than 70,000 cases- why, one cannery in British Columbia would put up that much. And they thought the price was going to be low and that something should be done, that the dominion government through the Minister of Fisheries should intervene in the marketing of canned lobster by appointing a controller and giving him authority to buy not more than 55,000 cases at $18 a case. That comes reasonably close to $1,000,000, and they gave him authority to sell it as and when he could. There was also an advertising campaign carried on. But that was not enough; later they introduced another amendment to the order in council.

S upply-Fish e ries-Adrninist ra tion
In the first order there was a provision that in order to get this number of cases bought from him the lobsterman had to certify that he had paid the fisherman a reasonable price per pound, I think 5i cents or something like that. But that did not suit the operators, so they had it changed to provide that the lobsterman had to take his oath or swear in an affidavit that he had paid this agreed price to the fisherman, but only on that portion of the pack in connection with which he got paid by the government. Well, if it was right and proper that he should pay 5J cents per pound on part of the pack, surely it was a good idea that he should pay it on the whole pack. This was aid for the maritimes alone.
That is just a casual instance. I have already dealt with this $800,000 that was so urgently needed, but of which only half was spent. Perhaps after the next census we will have a larger and more united representation from British Columbia; at all events I hope so. And if we have a majority I hope we will treat the maritimes more fairly than we have been treated in the past. I know it is not popular to speak at any length at this stage of the session, but is twenty minutes too long to take to discuss the merits of one of the largest industries not of British Columbia only but of Canada, and I think the second largest in British Columbia, involving revenue to the country of millions of dollars, revenue to the government of hundreds of thousands of dollars and the employment of many thousands of men? If the matter comes up late in the session that is not my fault. I always know when the house is going to adjourn because the fisheries estimates are always brought down the day before adjournment. Is that because the department is so small that they have very little regard for it, or is it that they do not want to meet criticism?
We have an additional handicap this year because of the war. This session the government has been too ready to hint that this, that and the other thing should be done because of the war. They do not use the word disloyalty, but if any attempt is made to oppose or debate a bill or estimate they say we are hindering the work of the war. Sometimes that is utterly unfounded. The other day we were scolded for holding up a matter for a day, but it turned out that the bill had to go to the senate, which did not meet until eight o'clock that night. The senate got the bill at eight fifteen, so that we really did not hold up the work of the war for very long. Attached to no party, as I am, I have sat on the side-lines this session and watched the various manoeuvres. I want to say that the leaders of all groups, par-95826-156
ticularly the leader of the Conservative opposition, have been cooperating with the government to the very greatest extent. We have also passed a great many things by unanimous consent, more than I ever saw before, and many of these matters easily could have been held up.
There may be odd cases in which the necessities of war require apparent discrimination or injustice as against an individual, a group or even a province, but such occasions are very rare indeed. There are few cases in which the prompt and vigorous prosecution of the war cannot go hand in hand with justice and equity in what may be called internal matters, provincial or even local in their character. A demand for justice in this matter is no sign whatever of disloyalty, and I resent even the indirect implication that if anything is done to oppose any measures the war effort will suffer. We have heard that; but this session we have adjourned more Friday nights than ever before, and have sat only one Wednesday night, so there does not seem to have been such a great rush after all.
This session we have seen a large number of workers in two of the greatest industries in British Columbia discriminated against. The fishermen of that province will say, and truly-that is the bitter part of it-"We have seen millions spent in the maritimes to help the very needy, poverty stricken people there, but we cannot get a nickel for British Columbia. We cannot get even the conservation work required to protect our industry, which is imperilled because of the way they have carried out these economy measures, by doing the cutting not in connection with the officials but in connection with the amount available for this work." The loggers will say, as they are saying already, "Yes, they gave unemployment insurance to the Japanese in the saw mills, but they have not given it to us. I suppose between them these two industries employ fifty or sixty thousand workers. Is that going to help our war work? Is that going to make us a united people, all anxious to do our share?
I do hope the government will adopt a different policy in regard to British Columbia. We are far from being disloyal; never mind what they say about being "pink." The other day the records showed that British Columbia had bought more war savings certificates per capita than any other province of Canada, and twice as many as Nova Scotia, so that after all we are not so very disloyal. Let the government show us that we are not the forgotten dog. The common expression is "the forgotten man," but I think I have used a better word. Show us that we are not the

forgotten dog of the federation, and together with the rest of the country we will bear whatever sacrifice which may be necessary in order to win this fight for democracy.
There is one other point I should like to mention. This matter was referred to the other night by the hon. member for New Westminster (Mr. Reid) and every fisherman member from the maritimes has been aghast when I have told him about it. Until a few years ago in British Columbia you could give a man a licence to catch sock-eye salmon which, after he caught it, he was compelled by law to sell to one man for 55 cents and prohibited from selling to another for 75 cents. It seems incredible now, when I look back on it, but that was the law for many years. The 75 cent man was in Seattle; the 55 cent man was in Vancouver, and the fishermen were compelled to sell their fish within the province at the price fixed by the local cannery. That situation continued for many years. Finally when the hon. member for Yale was minister of fisheries he gave us a fair deal. The matter was brought up in the fisheries committee, and when they realized that they had an open hand and could do as they wished, that situation was changed. It had been the political pull of certain parties in the west that had maintained that situation for so long. That was years ago. None of the terrible things happened that were predicted; as a matter of fact the cannerymen themselves now import fish from the United States when it suits them and pays them to do so, just as they do it the other way when it suits them to do so. But if the fisherman wanted to ship his fish to the United States, where he would get 75 cents for them instead of 55 cents, he was not allowed to do so. To-day the law is that a man can sell his fish in the best markets.
That applied only to sockeye. Last fall, for reasons I need not go into, the price for chum salmon, a late, cheap variety, went up. A better price could be obtained in Seattle than in Vancouver; but the cannerymen, unknown to the fishermen or the members representing the various districts, had an embargo on chum salmon put through by the department. They wrapped it up nicely with some talk of loyalty, because the men concerned were mostly Japanese, and everybody knows I have not much use for the Japanese; but there is such a thing as fair play and honesty. The cannerymen did not want to pay a little higher price in Canada. I did not hear of it until the thing had been done. The fishermen's unions were not consulted or even advised. Surely the members representing those districts concerned could have been
given a chance to express themselves. Some of the members of the fishermen's union approached the cannerymen and asked what they were doing, but they were told that it was none of their business, that it was a private matter between the cannerymen and the government, which was almost true. That was not done because of the war but because they did not want to pay a higher price.
The other night the hon. member for New Westminster asked the minister if there had been any application from the canners to renew this embargo on sockeye. He appeared to think he had some reason to believe, as I have some reason to believe, that the cannerymen are going to make such an application, if it has not been made already, because there is now a demand for sockeye on the American side. There is no question of loyalty involved here. The British government does not want sockeye salmon because it is too costly, and the canners of British Columbia do not want to put it up because the market is doubtful. I do not blame them. They will pay only a very low price, because they have to take the risk. But there is a demand and a good price in Seattle. Why should the fishermen not sell in that market? It is not a case of keeping them from British empire consumption at all. They are not wanted in Great Britain, for the reasons I have stated.
The minister said that representations had been made to him by the same people that United States buyers were coming into the Fraser river. He also said that it was the intention of the department to maintain its independence as regards cannerymen, as it had with regard to fishermen. It would do me-and I think some other hon. members, and certainly the fishermen's union

a lot of good if he would make that more definite, and if he would say he would not for this season, at any rate, put an embargo on sockeye salmon. If he is asked to put it on the other four kinds I would ask that at least he first consult the fishermen, and the members of parliament representing fishing districts, who know something about the matter.
Of course I am not authorized to speak for other members of parliament in the matter, nor am I authorized particularly to speak for the fishermen. But I do know what their position is. I am convinced that they would very much like to hear such an announcement from the minister, simply that in view of the circumstances, and as it has no connection with supplying the British empire, he will not yield to pressure that may be brought upon him to place an embargo on sockeye salmon this year. We would like

him to say that if he is asked to put it on other fish, as he was last year, at least we might be consulted. I am not asking more than that. But we do urge that we ought to be allowed to express the wishes of the people who elect us before he takes any action in the matter.

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