Mr. Brian Tobin (Humber-Port au Port-St. Barbe):
Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to have the opportunity to stand and speak on Bill C-211. A year and a half or two years ago, I had the opportunity to visit the riding of the Hon. Member for Western Arctic (Mr. Nickerson) and the communities on both sides of Great Slave Lake. There is no question about it when the Hon. Member for Western Arctic says there is not total happiness and unanimity with respect to the value or otherwise of the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation. One can find that sentiment quite readily on both sides of Great Slave Lake, particularly on the lower side. There is no doubt about that at all.
Despite the sentiment that there were problems with the FFMC, I am not sure there is a unanimous view that it ought to be wiped out of existence. Having said that, let me say that I was very interested to hear the Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (Mr. Binns) speak because I was not quite sure at all what the Government's position on the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation was going to be. In fact, if I were a betting man, and I am not, I would have bet a substantial amount of money that when the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, as he is wont to do, stood in his place to speak on behalf of his Minister, he would not have been urging those of us in the House who are interested in this matter to vote against the Bill which was prepared and supported by the Member for Western Arctic, namely Bill C-211, which would wipe out the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation. 1 thought he was going to stand and encourage all of us to join him and his Minister in putting the thumb on the spread of communism in this country just as fast as we could.
Freshwater Fish Marketing Act
Why would I say communism, Mr. Speaker? Because I did some homework. I went back to a speech given by the Hon. Member for Richmond-South Delta (Mr. Siddon), the same Member who is now the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, to see what his views were on this Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation. The Minister's Parliamentary Secretary spoke on his behalf, giving his view that this is a useful, helpful and dynamic organization, that it might need some slight changes and tinkering but it is a good organization. This same Minister, speaking in his place in this House as a member of the Opposition, and a lowly back-bencher at that, said, with respect to the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation in 1980
I suggest what we have now is a system of monopolistic dominance in the fish marketing industry, in the prairie provinces in particular, which is a far cry from what I understand to be the principle of democratic socialism where free enterprise and the private sector can operate in competition with one another. What we have is virtual communism in all of its forms in the example and illustration of the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation.
He went on to state, "I say it is the beginnings of communism in this country because it takes away from the individual the right to compete". Those were the words of the Hon. Member for Richmond-South Delta before he was the Minister of Fisheries and Ocean, and nothing but a lowly Conservative back-bencher.
I thought the Hon. Member for Richmond-South Delta was seeing red then when he made those ridiculous comments that a Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation was the symbol of growing communism in the country. The only joy I can take out of this futile debate today, once again about this Bill, is that, obviously, having heard from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, in the intervening nearly eight years since the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans gave this speech in which he described the Freshwater Fishing Marketing Corporation as communism he has seen the light and come to his senses, and that the spirit of perestroika has invaded his soul. Now he wants to give the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation a chance to survive, notwithstanding the heavy hand of the Hon. Member for Western Arctic who wants to put an end to this corporation.
You can well understand, Mr. Speaker, being a longstanding Member of this House who is held in high regard by all Members from all corners and all Parties, and with a good sense of the ridiculous, that I could not help but note that speech given by the Minister who called it communism eight years ago and who now so stoutly defends the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation. May I say, it is an interesting conversion on the road to Ottawa to the Cabinet, to 24 Sussex, or the Governor General's residence.
In conclusion, I wish to read a copy of a letter dated November 23, 1987 to the Minister of Fisheries, the Hon. Member for Richmond-South Delta. It was written by Maurice Blanchard, Chairman, Fishermen's Advisory Committee, regarding Bill C-211. I wish to quote a couple of excerpts. Mr. Blanchard states:
December 14, 1987
Freshwater Fish Marketing Act
By any industry measure, the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation is a success. It has shown steady growth and has just completed another year of record sales and record returns to fishermen. The Corporation has consistently generated profits over the past 15 years and has provided fishermen with a level of security that never existed in the past. This is not to say that all fishermen believe the Corporation is perfect. The fact is that even I and other members of the Advisory Committee have questioned the concept of single desk marketing at one time or another. But we did not really understand how the Corporation operates.
Now that we are fully aware of the strengths and benefits of single desk marketing, we have become supporters of the Corporation. This is not to say that we always approve of everything the Corporation does, but there are few issues that we have not been able to work out through reasonable discussion. Like the large marjority of fishermen, we believe that while not perfect, the fishing industry in this region has never been in better shape.
Mr. Blanchard went on to state:
As representatives of fishermen across the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation region, we ask that you and other Members of Parliament vote to defeat Bill C-211. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.
This letter was signed by Annie Bird, La Ronge, Saskatchewan; Helgi Jones, Gimli, Manitoba; Jane Mayo, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories-this is in the Member's own riding who wants to gut the corporation-William Quequish, Weagamow Lake, Ontario. I am from Newfoundland, and 1 forgive people for mispronouncing some rather famous parts of Newfoundland, so I hope they will forgive me for mispronouncing famous places elsewhere in the country. The letter is also signed by Joe Tsannie, Wollaston Lake, Saskatchewan; Raymond Dupres, Slave Lake, Alberta; Ed Isfeld, Winnipeg Beach, Manitoba; William Cordell, Pikwitonei, Manitoba; Elmo Helgason, Ashern, Manitoba; Bessie Irvine, Grand Marais, Manitoba; and Guy L'Heureux, Joussard, Alberta. I am sure that I mispronounced half of those communities, but it was in total innocence.
The point that I am trying to make is that the reason the Minister of Fisheries has come to his senses and no longer sees behind the doors of the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation the spread, the germ, or the seeds of communism in this country is that he has obviously had an opportunity as Minister of Fisheries to visit some of those communities, or at least to speak to many of those people who are on the Minister's advisory committee. He realizes that one cannot take a few complaints, albeit sometimes legitimate complaints, legitimate proposals, or legitimate aspirations about an industry and the role that a Crown corporation plays in that industry, and use it as justification for wiping out that corporation.
I would urge all Members to defeat this Bill. I urge my good friend and colleague, the Hon. Member for Western Arctic, who represents such a dynamic, interesting, and important part of Canada not to waste the time of the House or his own valuable time with the continued reintroduction year after year of this Bill. It has about as much chance of passing as the Minister has of going back to his old and rather foolish views about the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation.
Subtopic: PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS-PUBLIC FRESHWATER FISH MARKETING ACT MEASURE TO AMEND