Mr. Chairman, little did I think when I left Germany on the first day of May last that I would be called upon within a few months to stand up in the House of Commons to answer questions regarding such an important bill as this. Surely I can say, to use the words of another, that the whirligig of political fortune has hurled me into high office in a very short time.
The hon. member for Vancouver South was kind enough to advise me this morning that he was going to ask some questions along the lines of those he has already asked. I appreciate his courtesy. So far as the bill is concerned, the preamble to the constitution'-I do not intend to read it all-sets out four purposes, as follows:
(1) Raising levels of nutrition and standards of living of the peoples under their respective jurisdictions,
(2) securing improvements in the efficiency of the production and distribution of all food and agricultural products,
(3) bettering the conditions of rural populations, and
(4) thus contributing toward an expanding world economy.
It can be seen that these functions are phrased in very general language, are idealistic in their nature, and there can be no doubt that everyone in the world, not alone in Canada, would welcome their achievement.
So far as fisheries are concerned, it is realized that these broad idealistic conceptions must be reduced to something which can be practically applied to the bettering of the livelihood of fishermen, which is in turn tied up with the welfare of the people to whom they sell their goods.
It is felt that before such practical aims can be realized there must be a full and free interchange of thought and consideration on the part of any and all nations that will be affected. The food and agriculture organization furnishes a means of bringing together the experts in fisheries marketing and nutrition to consider the problem and to explore for the terms in which practical approaches may be recommended to their respective governments.
Under the interim commission, certain interchanges of ideas between the nations signatory to the final act of the Hot Springs conference have already taken place, and so far as fisheries go there have been certain recommendations made which will be considered at the Quebec conference.
It is realized that an approach to the fishery problem from the international point of view will have to be slow and that there will be many difficult and contentious problems to discuss. It is felt, however, there are certain of these in which there can be obtained measures of agreement; they are:
1. The developing of comparable statistics by fish producing and consuming nations which must be the basis for any intelligent consideration of the position of any nation in its economy, and it is expected that one of the aims of the organization will be to form a clearing house of world statistics.
2. It is also expected that they would act to collect, analyse, and disseminate world information relating to fisheries and fisheries products.
3. It is expected that it would foster the improvement of education relating to the fisheries and the spread of knowledge of fisheries science and practice.
4. It is also expected that it would play a very important part in bringing the fisheries nations of the world together with respect to
United Nations Food Agreement
the conservation of fisheries in international waters. A very large percentage of the thirty-seven billion pounds of fish that are yielded annually by the world come from international waters where every nation has a right to fish, and it is highly essential that nations come together in such a way as to see that the limited resources of the sea are not exhausted or wiped out. It is expected that from the deliberations which will occur under the food and agriculture organization certain recommendations will be made to governments concerning the desirability of their coming to an agreement, one with the other, with respect to conservation on the high seas. The existing agreements between nations-I think this is what my friend is most interested in- would, of course, continue to be effective, such agreements as are embodied in the various fisheries treaties between the United States and Canada, and which have meant so much benefit to our two peoples. It is the hope and the purpose of the food and agriculture organization to bring nations of the world together to consider whether an expansion of this method of approach to a common fisheries problem would be desirable and possible of recommendation to their respective governments.
I can go further and say that before we can arrive at a practical way of realizing the ideals and objectives as set forth in this bill there must be international discussion, and the purpose of this organization is to provide the means for that international discussion. I think we should all keep in mind that this organization-I think I am right in this; if not, the Minister of Justice can correct me- can only make recommendations to their respective governments for their consideration. This organization cannot bind their respective governments.
I do not know whether I have answered in their entirety the questions asked by the hon. member for Vancouver South, but I think I have dealt with what he has in mind in so far as existing international agreements are concerned. I think I am correct in saying, although I am not an authority on international law, that the present agreements will be paramount over any other agreements that may be made at a later date.
Topic: UNITED NATIONS
Subtopic: FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION