I wish to take only a few
minutes of the time of the committee. I must confess I am not very well versed in the subject of fisheries; my constituency is an inland constituency. When I was the sole New Brunswick representative of my party from 1935 to 1940 I did make some study7 of the fishing situation, though possibly I succeeded only in showing how little I knew about it. But I was very much interested in the subject.
I want to take this opportunity of adding my congratulations to those of the hon. member for Saint John-Albert, on the minister's appointment. I feel that these felicitations come with very good grace from the hon. member for Saint John-Albert, because it is entirely due to him that the minister has his position to-day. The fact is that he defeated the candidate who was supposed to be the minister from the province of New Brunswick. When the present minister was appointed there were people unkind enough to say that it was "Hobson's choice". Let me say immediately that that is not at all my opinion.
I feel that the minister compares favourably with men from that province who have held the position on previous occasions, and I am sure he compares favourably with many of the other present members of the cabinet. I might add, though, Mr. Chairman, that that compliment can be taken for whatever it is worth.
The hon. member for Saint John-Albert said that the minister in charge of fisheries had great responsibility. There is no question about that. I would also point out that he is not only the xMinister of Fisheries, but also the minister representing the province of New Brunswick. We have had good reason to complain over the past years of the lack of attention which the government and ministerial representatives from our province have given to our affairs. I sincerely hope, and I wish to impress this upon the present occupant, that we shall receive better treatment in the future, and that his attention will be directed not only to his department but to everything which pertains to the benefit of the province of New Brunswick. I assure him that if he does so he will have every assistance which can be given by hon. members on this side of the house.
The matter upon which I wish to speak for a few moments is that of markets for our fisheries. During the war years Canadian fisheries have been prosperous; we have been able to sell our produce in good markets, and have received good prices. For many years before the war this was not so. Fisheries, in the maritime provinces at least, languished for lack of markets, and I hope one of the chief concerns of the minister and the government will be to provide markets for our fish. The war made it impossible for many other countries, including Norway, Great Britain, Newfoundland to a great extent, and Iceland, to carry on their normal fishing, industries. This was not altogether true in our case, although we lost a good many men to the army who otherwise, probably, would have been carrying on this occupation.
In connection with the problem of providing markets, I wish to ask the minister a question, to which he can reply when he answers other questions which have been and will be asked. Is an investigation being made in his department of the possibility of transporting fresh fish from the maritimes to the larger centres in Quebec and Ontario? I believe that this could be done profitably by plane, and that, with the general use of the aeroplane to-day as a method of transport, the matter of transporting fresh fish should be given very careful consideration. As we all know, it is almost impossible to obtain fresh fish in cities like Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto. What goes as fish up here is something at which we in the maritimes would be inclined to turn up our noses in scorn. The people of these provinces do not. know what the taste of fresh fish is like, and I am satisfied that if an effort were made to increase the fresh fish market in the central part of Canada, it would be of great benefit to the industry.
There is also the matter of the South American and West Indian markets. Our maritime people lost those for a number of. years, but there is a great possibility of opening up in South America particularly a market for cured fish which would be of great benefit to the fisheries of our part of Canada.
The hon. member for Saint John-Albert spoke about, preference for returned men, in the fisheries department particularly; but it applies to all departments. I know that the committee on veterans affairs which is sitting at the present time is very anxious that this preference shall be honoured. I think that in the past the principle has been fairly -well observed by the government, but there have been exceptions, and we have felt that the act has been got around in many cases. I had occasion to write to the minister the other day about a young man who was applying for an appointment with his department. He is not an overseas man in the sense in which we use the term, but he was a member of the merchant marine and also volunteered for active service but due to low category only served in Canada. We all know that the merchant marine played an important part in winning the war; they were engaged in a most hazardous occupation. Many men . who served in the armed forces did not suffer the hardships and privations endured by the men of the merchant marine, nor did they encounter any more dangers. I hope therefore that the men of the merchant marine will be considered when civil service appointments are being made.