Hon. P. J. VENIOT (Gloucester):
Before this resolution carries I should like to direct the attention of the government to a situation which exists along our shores, particularly along the straits of Northumberland, the gulf of St. Lawrence and the bay of Chaleurs. Perhaps the provinces of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward island are affected as well.
I am the last one, Mr. Speaker, who would desire to countenance the violation of any of the laws we have established for the protection of game and the fisheries, but with the present conditions of distress, especially in the county which I have the honour to represent, I would ask if it would not be possible, as a relief measure, for the government to extend some of the seasons and not rigidly keep them as closed seasons. I well know that there is a treaty between Great Britain, including the Dominion of Canada, and other nations of the world for the protection of wild birds, and at certain periods during the year the season is closed. But you can readily understand, sir, that people with empty stomachs and with children at home wanting for food, know no respect for law. In order to prevent them from becoming criminals through the violation of the law as it now stands, I would ask the Minister of Marine (Mr. Duranleau) or the Minister of Labour (Mr. Gordon), whoever is in charge, to consider the possibility of extending the season or declaring the season open for next year.
Conditions are not improving in northern New Brunswick nor, I believe, in other parts of the dominion. If this season could be left open next spring and fall it would contribute materially to the relief of the poor people along those shores. The officers of the government in charge of the enforcement of the law, especially the mounted police, are showing no mercy; the county gaol of Gloucester has had as many as fifteen or twenty heads of families imprisoned for violation of the game and fisheries laws. I have mentioned the act protecting game birds. These birds abound in northern New Brunswick, and it will be readily understood that when the father of a family, knowing that his children are suffering from lack of food, sees within gun shot of his residence thousands of brants and geese the temptation to violate the law in order to obtain food is very great. I
think no great harm wrould come to wild bird life if these people were given an open season at least for one year.
The same arguments apply to the fisheries. Certain sections of northern New Brunswick have a closed season for lobsters, I think from June or July each year. Last year the lobster season, especially in the bays, was an absolute failure, while later in the fall, after the lobster had shed its shell and taken on a new coat, there was a great abundance. Yet if those people ventured out in order to obtain food for their families they were imprisoned. I have no fault to find with the officers. They are sent there to do their duty, and having received no contrary instructions from the department they have to carry out that duty according to the solemn oath they have taken. However, I would ask the Department of Fisheries seriously to consider granting a fall open season for at least one or two years in order to permit lobster fishing to be carried on in northern New Brunswick. If this is done it will relieve the federal, provincial and municipal governments of the necessity of spending a great deal of the money now necessary to relieve the distress which exists among the people along those shores. It is very hard indeed for them to conform to the law when they see that a few miles beyond an imaginary line lobster fishing is permitted, beyond Chockpish in the county of Kent, which is only perhaps eighty miles from the northern counties. I am referring to lobsters fished in the fall of the year from some time in September to the middle of October, down to Cape Tormentine. In the spring of the year, when the season is open in northern New Brunswick, the fishermen from that lower section come up and fish in our waters. Our people are too poor to go from their homes and fish beyond the imaginary line between Cape Tormentine and Ste. Anne de Chockpish in the county of Kent, because the only fishing they wish to have the liberty of engaging in at that time is to catch enough lobsters, not for public sale but for the nourishment of their families.
It may be said that they will violate the law, that they will abuse the privilege given them. I am free to admit that there will be some who will abuse that privilege, but it can be regulated under instructions from the department given to the officials or the mounted police in charge of that district, to see that no abuses shall take place. They are on the ground, they have their patrol boats, and they can visit these fishing grounds and issue permits to these people to lay traps
Relief Act, 1933-Mr. Gordon
and catch a certain quantity of lobsters each day.
Touching the rigid enforcement of the law, the same thing applies to the fishing of oysters in the county of Gloucester. I am thinking of a particular case in point where I think it would be well for the Minister of Fisheries to look into the matter. Under the present law the size of oysters to be caught was fixed two years ago; the round oyster was fixed at 3i inches-that was the smallest allowed to be fished-and the long oyster was 4 or inches, I believe. Now there are certain sections of the county of Gloucester where the beds have never produced a round oyster of over 3 inches. The nature of the oyster in these beds is such that it reaches its extreme growth at 3 inches in the case of the round and 3i or 4 inches in the case of the long oyster.
Subtopic: CONTINUATION FOR ONE TEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932