December 14, 1987 (33rd Parliament, 2nd Session)


Leslie Gordon Benjamin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Les Benjamin (Regina West):

Mr. Speaker, I rise to oppose this Bill, and advise my colleague, the Hon. Member for Western Arctic (Mr. Nickerson) that I was here in 1969 when we dealt with this legislation in its origins brought in by a Liberal Government, but Members of Parliament from the Conservative Party, the Social Credit Party, and the NDP supported it.
I have carefully read the speech of the hon. sponsor of this Bill, and I find it passing strange. He tried this in 1985 and he got nowhere, yet he still keeps batting his head against the same wall in spite of the overwhelming support by the massive majority of freshwater fishermen in western and northern Canada and northern Ontario.
I notice that his speech amounts to gutting this legislation. I do not know why he did not move a Private Member's Bill to repeal the whole Act, because that in effect is what his present Bill is doing. But in his speech earlier in the House on this Bill he stated that it would bring about the revival of co-operatives.
I wish to advise my hon. friend that we had a lot of small fishermen's co-operatives. At that time I was representing the constituency of Regina-Lake Centre, and there was a fishermen's co-op on Last Mountain Lake. Members of the coop lived in places like Dilke, Regina Beach, Chamberlain, and Findlater. They also lived on the other side of the lake at Nokomis, Earl Grey, and places like that.
The trouble they had was not in catching fish, but rather, as a little co-op trying to compete in the international market and the domestic market in central Canada against the large fish dealers, Safeways, and the Hudson's Bay Company. They did not have a prayer. They did not have the resources to compete in the market. They recognized that they needed something in the way of orderly marketing and central desk-selling, to some extent modelled on the Canadian Wheat Board. Since 1935 there has always been a handful of grain producers and grain companies that have tried to undermine, undercut, and destroy the principle of orderly marketing and the Canadian Wheat Board. The same thing applies here.
This is a time to enlarge the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation and give it the tools to do an even bigger job processing plants in the North and in the northern parts of the western provinces.

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