February 28, 1902 (9th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Fletcher Bath Wade



In the decision of the Privy Council on this question and others that were submitted by the Dominion and the provinces, there are specific findings that it is well to understand. It was contended on the part of the Dominion that the Dominion had the proprietary right in certain of the fisheries. That was settled adversely to the Dominion, it being held that proprietary right of the fisheries were vested in the provinces or in the individuals who possessed the same at the time of the British North America Act. But it was also held that the Dominion has absolute control, so far as the regulating is concerned, and that in regulating, they can interfere to any extent with the proprietary rights, except to the extent of granting an absolute right of fishery to other parties. It is also decided that the Dominion, under subsections 3 and 12, has the right to raise a revenue by taxation on the fisheries by way of license, and that the provinces have a similar right. The whole question is reduced by that judgment, as I understand it, to this-that the Dominion government has the sole right to regulate the fisheries and the provinces cannot interfere with that in the slightest degree. Thus, the Department of Marine and Fisheries is left in the same position as before in this matter and must make the same expenditure as before, in order to enforce the law, because this parliament is the only parliament that has power to make regulations about the fisheries. Back of this, there is a question that may arise in the future, and that is whether the Dominion has or has not, in days past, undertaken to give an exclusive right of fishery when they

granted licenses for the use of traps and other engines for the capture of flsh. If they did so, the question arises whether the parties who paid these license fees supposing that they were receiving exclusive rights of fishery would have a claim upon the Dominion for the refund of that money. But this does not question in any way the obligation upon the department to make and enforce fishery* regulations, for. in that respect, the provinces are absolutely powerless.

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