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


Joseph Alphée Poirier


Mr. POIRIER (Translation):

Mr. Chairman, with regard to fisheries, I should like to tell the house how much I appreciate the splendid work of the minister in charge of thats department. In the first place, I wish to point out the training of adult fishermen undertakers by the Department of Fisheries. Economists are unanimous in saying that plans undertaken in the economic or social field cannot be successfully carried out unless they are based upon an efficient and proper unit. Now, in the particular case of fishermen, such a unit has to be formed by means of advanced training.
As regards fisheries in particular, no development plan can be permanently successful if it does not provide for competent and efficient fishermen. The necessary impetus must come from within, it must be derived from the enlightened will of the fisherman himself. Without such a starting point, all outside assistance, such as cooperation from the church, government help, scientific data, eit cetera, can only supply temporary solutions, if it does not indeed remain wholly fruitless.
And it should be emphasized that efficiency and competence are not necessary only to those fishermen who wish to direct their activity toward the economic field, with a view to the establishment of a cooperative system.
The owners of large fish processing plants also benefit from the training of good fishermen, who supply them with raw materials. The quantity and especially the quality of the fish supplied must also be considered. And in the case of a product that becomes perishable as soon as it is taken from the water, the importance of this matter should not be underestimated.
In the case of fishermen who wish to secure-economic independence in their occupation, adult training is essential if success is to be

achieved. Fishermen are not in a position to take over at a moment's notice the management of their own affairs.
Since fishermen have neither the money nor the time to go back to school, it behooves the government to make adult training available to them. The government have two ways of discharging that duty: if they have their own teaching staff, they can undertake the work themselves. That is a rather unpractical method. The best one is that whereby the government discharge their duty by providing the necessary funds while entrusting the task to an independent institution accustomed to that kind of work.
It was for that purpose that, last year and again this year the government have voted $50,000 for adult training among the fishermen of the whole country. They have entrusted that work to proper institutions and, especially in eastern Canada, to the social and economic department of the high school of fisheries at Sainte-Anne, and to the department of public relations of the university of Antigonish.
During the war, a continuation of this work is required in order that fishermen may be induced to discharge their duty fully and to do what their country expects from them in the matter of production. There is no more efficient or less expensive form of propaganda.
We must provide for the problems of the after-w'ar period while the hostilities are still going on, and this is a field where adult training is especially required. We all know the slump that was experienced by fisheries after the war of 1914-18. If we are to measure the magnitude of the next slump by the ferocious character of the present war, we may expect a dreadful crisis. That is where the competence and efficiency of fishermen will take a vital economic importance, in avoiding social upheavals or at least lessening the country's burden.
Statistics show that there were in Canada, in 1938, 56,969 deep-sea fishermen, distributed as follows: Prince Edward Island, 3,309; Nova Scotia, 18,548; New Brunswick, 13,713; Quebec, 11,150; British Columbia and Yukon, 10,349.
Mr. Chairman, as it is my privilege to have the floor while the right honourable the minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe) is taking his seat. I am pleased to tender him our respects and our compliments.
To grant $50,000 a year for adult education would represent an appropriation of only 88 cents for each fisherman. Is anyone able to suggest a less costly and more effective form of assistance?
Mr. Chairman, although I have no desire unduly to waste this house's time, I would nevertheless like to point out that this item
[Mr. Roy.l
of $50,000 appropriated for the education of adult fishermen is without a doubt the wisest expenditure undertaken by the Department of Fisheries; the results obtained at the St. Anne school, thanks to a grant of $8,000, are magnificent, and entirely meet the wishes of those who have been endeavouring for many years to better the lot of our Gaspe fishermen. This educational work has developed the personal initiative of these people, who have already organized, under the leadership of the school's director, Father F. X. Jean, and of his confidential assistant, Professor Boudreau, 200 study circles comprising 1,500 members. These members after studying various matters related to fisheries, have organized eight unions grouped in a federation known as the "Pecheurs unis de Quebec." The federation controlled, this year, more than six million pounds of fish.
And that, Mr. Chairman, is what we have long desired; that the Gaspe fishermen should, following in the steps of their Cape Breton colleagues, assume the management of their own business for their own profit. The individual fisherman is powerless to better his lot, but, grouped in trade unions, our people will achieve each year a greater measure of prosperity. They will receive education in their special field, learn, without added cost to the consumer, better methods of preserving their fish and of preparing it for the market, as well as the most favourable conditions under which it can be shipped and marketed.
This entire cooperative achievement is due, Mr. Chairman, to the adult education programme carried out to date; and it is in view of the success obtained that I would request the Minister of Fisheries (Mr. Michaud) to increase next year to $15,000 the amount of $8,000 granted to the Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatiere school.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to say a word concerning the equipment allowances granted to fishermen during the last few years by the Department of Fisheries. These direct grants have proven most valuable to our poor fishermen: ranging from $10 to $25, they have brought each man an additional income of $100 or $150. The minister will acknowledge that, on the very day following my election, I requested him by wire to maintain these grants; since then, I have submitted to him several petitions from my constituents asking the maintenance of these very valuable grants. Unfortunately, it has been decided to abolish these allowances due to the enormous expenditures brought on by the war. I have no protest to make on this

score, Mr. Chairman, but I trust that this grant will be renewed as soon as the war is ended.
In view of the fact, Mr. Chairman, that there are a great number of industries related to the fishing trade which could be profitably established in my constituency, and that we do not possess 'the capital required to this end,
I would like to make, if I may be permitted to do so, an appeal to capitalists in other parts of Canada and even outside this country. There are at present in Spain and Portugal a great number of industrialists and business men whom 'the war has exiled from their respective countries, whether France, Belgium, Holland or Poland. I hereby invite them to establish such industries in Bonaventure county, where they will receive a hearty welcome from our people, a people of mixed origin who have found the secret of living together in the most perfect harmony, who are industrious, easily satisfied, and need only steady employment to live contentedly.
It might be possible, for example, to convert into fish flour the enormous amount of waste which is at present a total loss. Then there are the sand banks, replete with clams, which stretch almost without interruption from Nouvelle to Bonaventure, a distance of fifty miles. These clams are the finest in the world. If w'e had the necessary capital, we could establish a clam cannery which would be profitable both for the owners and the shore fishermen.
Lastly, Mr. Chairman, we could if we had the necessary capital establish one or two mackerel canneries. Mackerel, as the hon. member for Gaspe has just indicated, is an excellent fish which is found in abundance in the waters of the bay of Chaleurs. Many other industries could be established in connection with the products of our fisheries, farms and forests. Fresh farm produce could be placed on the markets of Canada and the United States when other sections of the continent cannot supply it. Our forests, properly developed, could produce indefinitely large quantities of lumber as well as of spool-wood, furniture-wood and box-wood.
I therefore make a sincere appeal to sound capital within and without Canada to open new industries in Bonaventure county, and also in Gaspe county, if my hon. friend the member for Gaspe does not mind my saying so. Such capital would meet with a most cordial reception from a people most eager to cooperate.
One word more. In the province of Quebec, as hon. members are aware, the administration of fisheries has been transferred by agreement from the federal to the provincial authorities. I do not quarrel with this, except to point out
that since this transfer was made Quebec does not receive its fair share of grants to fishermen. I therefore ask the Minister of Fisheries and the government to give the matter their serious consideration with a view to making to Quebec grants proportionately similar to those which the other provinces are receiving. Contributing our share of the taxation from which the expenditure on fisheries is provided, we are logically entitled to our share of the benefits. So long as I remain a member of this house I shall not cease to make this plea.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your kind indulgence.

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