Mr. J. R. Tucker (Trinity-Conception):
Mr. Speaker, I, too, should like to add my humble but nevertheless sincere congratulations to those which have been expressed to you on your re-election as Speaker of this house. From what I have seen and learned since coming to the house, you are extremely capable of carrying out your many and varied duties in a manner that would reflect distinction upon you and honour to this house. I sincerely hope that all members on all sides will realize how important your position is and co-operate with you in every possible way. Personally, I have been impressed with your ready smile and your greetings which I have received whenever I met you outside of this house.
I should like also to join with hon. members who have offered congratulations to the Deputy Speaker, and I trust that his duties will be a labour of love. I should like, too, to offer congratulations to the hon. member for Spadina (Mr. Rea) upon his appointment as deputy chairman of the committee of the whole. Last, but by no means least and all the more sincerely, I offer congratulations to the mover (Mr. Lafreniere) and seconder (Mr. Nielsen) of the address in reply to the speech from the throne. If one can judge by the speeches of these young members, I feel sure that they will prove worthy members of the ridings they now represent. It has often been said that in order to get a good name one must pass from the known to the unknown from which no traveller returns. If
these words are correct, we might consider the hon. members whom I have mentioned to be walking ghosts. We are all, I am sure, glad to know that those to whom I have offered congratulations are very much alive, especially the Speaker, as hon. members will learn if they do not abide by his rulings.
Your position, Mr. Speaker, is a very important one as those of us who sat here on Monday, May 12, for the first time found out. We were informed by the Speaker of the Senate that His Excellency the Governor General did not see fit to declare the causes of his summoning the present parliament of Canada until this house had chosen its Speaker. We had to return to the House of Commons and appoint our Speaker. I say, without fear of contradiction, that our appointment was a very popular one and we hope that the troubles of the Speaker will be but little ones.
I come from the most easterly province of the dominion, England's oldest colony and Canada's newest province. St. John's, where I had the honour of serving as councillor for nine years, was an old city, when Boston, Massachusetts, was nothing but a swamp and New York was inhabited by indians. Giving up our identity as England's oldest colony was, therefore, the greatest decision that Newfoundlanders ever made. The following poem. Mr. Speaker, may help to explain our feelings:
Newfoundland was proud to be England's oldest colony.
Loving her dear mother land, by her side she takes her hand
Devon, Scotch and Irish stock, sturdy as the sea-girt rock
Leave their homes and leave their boats, don their khaki-coloured coats
Newfoundland has fought and bled, far and wide her fame has sped
Newfoundland was proud to be England's oldest colony.
Nine fair sisters in one home, with the north pole on its dome:
Facing both the east and west with a friendly slate abreast.
Smile upon the lonely one, they have done as she has done;
Fought and bled in freedom's cause, won like her the world's applause
Did she join her home to theirs, Yes! her head in pride she rears
Newfoundland was proud to be England's oldest
But the offer was most sincere and the offer was always there;
Newfoundland has changed her mind, and in time she too may find
Burdens shared are light to bear, triumphs shared are double dear,
She has gladly joined the sheaf bounded by the maple leaf;
Knowing well she still may boast answering in her sister's toast;
But Newfoundland was proud to be England's oldest colony.
At the present time Newfoundland is anxiously awaiting the report of the royal commission on term 29 of our entry into confederation with the nine provinces of Canada. The district I have the honour to represent contains some of the oldest occupied parts of the new world. Its shores were the scene of some of the oldest commercial activity in North America. It was in Cupids in Conception bay that John Guy of Bristol started a colony at the same time the first English settlement on the mainland was started at Jamestown, Virginia. British firms established branches at a very early date in Trinity. Although these original businesses have disappeared, the main industry which attracted commercial adventurers to this remote area continues to flourish in Trinity and Conception bays.
My district is made up of approximately 180 communities with a population of 57,000 inhabitants. There are many settlements in my riding with lovely names. Here are a few which might be of interest to this house: Little Heart's Ease, Heart's Delight, Heart's Desire, Heart's Content, where the S.S. Great Eastern landed the first transatlantic cable. We also have the following places: British Harbour, Ireland's Eye, Whiterock, Flatrock, Caplin Cove, Burnt Point, Lead Cove, Chapel Arm, Bay-de-Verde, Freshwater, Blow-me-Down, Blackhead, Dough Fig Point, Hatchet Cove and Come-by-Chance. The riding begins at Spillar's Cove just a mile south of cape Bonavista, where John Cabot discovered the new world, and takes in Trinity and Conception bays, ending at Georgetown near Brigus, the home of the late Captain Bob Bartlett, the famous arctic explorer.
Some of the most modern fish plants in eastern Canada are within the confines of my riding. There is a large fresh fish plant at Harbour Grace, which is owned by NorthEastern Fisheries Ltd. At Dildo there is a large whaling and fresh fish operation, and here an extension to the wharf is badly needed. At Catalina in the northerly part of my riding is probably the greatest concentration of fresh fish plants in eastern Canada. This is the headquarters of the huge Fishermen's Union Trading Company which has a great supply business and salt fish processing plant at Port Union, which is also the headquarters of the Union Electric Light and Power Company and the home of the newspaper, the Fisherman's Advocate. From the harbour of Catalina is exported approximately one-quarter of all Newfoundland salt codfish.
In the same harbour there is also a large modern fresh fish plant belonging to Fishery Products Limited. This plant, which is one
The Address-Mr. Tucker of the largest frozen fish plants in Newfoundland, has just been completed. Also in Catalina harbour in the northwest arm is a large federal experimental salt fish drier located in the premises of S. W. Mifflin Limited. This plant, the most modern of its kind, is proving that light salted shore fish can be cured artificially and economically. I am pleased to say that during recent years the Liberal government, by means of an enlightened dredging program, improved the harbour of Catalina making it more feasible to carry on business. A coastal wharf is also being built and is situated in the most sheltered part of the harbour. I am also very happy to say that Little Catalina, a large settlement devoted almost wholly to the production of salt fish, will soon have a breakwater which will greatly facilitate the fishermen in their vocation. At Elliston, approximately ten miles north of Catalina, is located another fish plant. There are a number of other places in the riding where public works would prove of great economic benefit and I shall deal with those as time goes on and with the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Green).
Clarenville on Trinity bay is a rail centre and a distribution point for supplies. Clarenville became world famous in 1935 as the place where General Balbo, the famous Italian aviator, landed his fleet of 20 ships on his famous trans-Atlantic flight of planes across the Atlantic. The hon. member for Laurier (Mr. Chevrier), a former minister of transport, started the first telephone cable across the Atlantic which was landed at Clarenville.
One of the first air strips in Newfoundland was built at Harbour Grace and was used considerably following the Lindbergh flight by fliers attempting to cross the Atlantic. It was from there that Old Glory flew to her doom and Amelia Earhart made her first crossing. This air strip could be used as an auxiliary airport.
At Bay de Verde is a large and important fishing settlement and the breakwater now under construction will be of great value to the fishermen. I am glad that steps are being taken to complete this breakwater so necessary for the fishermen in that area.
While from the point of view of general income of the people the fisheries are not as relatively important today as in the years past, the development of the pulp and paper industry, mines and the United States bases, as well as the acceleration of public works has created an economic value which has in sum total greatly outstripped the production value of the fisheries. On the other hand, no single industry or activity directly affects so many of the people as do the fisheries. In
430 HOUSE OF COMMONS
The Address-Mr. Tucker Newfoundland there are approximately 16,000 fishermen who live in more than 1,000 fishing communities along our 6,000 miles of coastline.
The major fishery activities are the frozen fish industry which depends entirely on the United States market for its distribution and the salt codfish industry which is almost entirely dependent on foreign currency markets; For centuries this was the only industry in Newfoundland and the people established their homes in small settlements along the coast where salting is the only feasible method for the preservation of the fish. Many of these places were built up, became quite important and achieved fair-sized populations because of that industry. Recently there has been a great decline in the value of that branch of trade which is adversely affecting a large number of our fishing population. The difficulties come from (a) the extreme competition of foreign salt fish producing countries which are taking a much larger share of the world's demand and (b) the difficulties of getting foreign exchange and import licenses in some of our principal markets.
In its foreign trade policy Canada should ldok at the urgent need of this industry and the numbers of people serviced by it in Newfoundland and conduct negotiations for exporting facilities to some of these countries as well as for the release of currency. Departments of government too often look at the sum totals of figures, that is, import and export values as between various countries, and not closely enough at the relative importance of certain industries in the support of large numbers of people who suffer badly if those industries are allowed to decline through lack of international trade facilities.
A particular problem now exists in that industry because of the complete closure of the Brazilian market because dollars are not available. The Department of Trade and Commerce should take a very close look at this problem and try to devise means whereby reciprocal trade can reopen that market for Newfoundland.
Third, there was a general trend away from Newfoundland fisheries by the people because of the difficulties of sale and the surpluses that often existed resulting in uneconomic prices. The application of unemployment insurance to fishermen started during the Liberal administration is having the effect of bringing a great many back to the industry, and it is particularly needed now because of the substantial lessening of the number of men in the woods operations of the pulp and paper companies. This makes it all the more necessary for a very active policy to be inaugurated in the marketing of
salt fish; otherwise there may be an unmarketable production which would set up a very great problem, not only for fishermen and the industry but for public administration as well.
Fourth, it is a general thought that the salt fish industry is outdated and does not merit aggressive promotional plans by the government and industry. This is all wrong. The world's consumption of salt fish has been increasing year by year and it is recognized as one of the major internationally traded products in the world. Some of the competing countries have been modernizing their production methods and building up their fishing fleets to the extent of operating floating factories and largely under the impetus of government planning and assistance. Very little of that has been in effect in the Newfoundland industry, notwithstanding the fact that the location for fishing is one of the best in the world.
The Department of Trade and Commerce has offices and permanent officials in most of the countries which consume Newfoundland products and it is very necessary for the economy of our province that these officials adopt a very aggressive policy in dealing with the government departments and the traders of these countries with respect to the handling of Newfoundland salted fish. It is a traditional trade and it is very important to note the slipping away which has been prevalent in past years. It is vital that this trend should be arrested and a strong promotional policy introduced. I am glad to relate, however, that since 1930 our fresh fish industry has greatly developed. In 1938 we exported about 500,000 pounds, while last year we exported more than 52 million pounds of fresh fish.
The federal governments have done much to assist our fishermen but much more assistance is required. When visiting my riding I have heard complaints about the lack of bait depots and docks. I understand the Department of Fisheries have in mind a^new bait program and I should imagine that consideration has already been given to the problem of bait supplies.
I would particularly like to have the erection of a bait depot considered in both South Port and Hants Harbour in Trinity bay. I should also like to see more wharves and breakwaters constructed in settlements where fishing is the main industry, not only in my riding but in all the ridings of Newfoundland and Labrador. Newfoundland fisheries rank among the richest and most important in the world and are undoubtedly one of our economic mainstays. We have in our fish industry a Klondike just as great as that of any gold claim in California or
even in the Yukon. It was Lord Bacon who said that the fisheries of Newfoundland are richer than the mines of Mexico and Peru.
Every year there are caught millions of dollars worth of codfish, herring, salmon, lobsters, squid, caplin, turbot, halibut, white-fish, seals and many other fish. With respect to our chief product, the codfish, we are losing some of our best markets owing to a lack of systematic way of marketing and curing the fish. For some years we have experienced competition in the fish markets of the world; every country is endeavouring to place their best products on the market. Only a few days ago Jamaica raised objection to our marketing and the codfish of Norway and Iceland are becoming of great importance, being subject to standard culls and superior curing and inspection.
There is no question that the codfish of Newfoundland is superior in every way but if our government does not institute a better way of curing and marketing of our fish and more uniform containers for our fish we will soon have to take second place. Our codfish is not up to the required standards set by our customers and no incentive has been offered our fishermen. They have not been encouraged or impressed with the importance of our fish being handled as a food product should be handled.
I regret to relate that we have much unemployment in Newfoundland. We have at the present time about 40,000 persons unemployed and approximately 18,000 drawing unemployment insurance. Less than half the unemployed still have unemployment insurance benefits and more people are unemployed without insurance today than the total number of unemployed a year ago. This condition is causing great hardship. Unemployment is a problem not easy to solve in my province; as indeed it is difficult to solve in any other part of our great dominion. We in the opposition hope a solution will soon be found, since unemployment affects all our constituents, indeed, all Canadians.
I would also like to mention the urgency of docking facilities for schooners and small craft. There are at least three communities where a slipway or dock could be built and used to good advantage by many fishermen and coastal traders in the riding of Trinity-Conception. Firstly at Catalina, which is fast becoming one of the most important fish centres of the island; secondly at Clarenville, which has a small shipyard and where a slipway could be very cheaply and easily constructed and would assist in producing employment and keeping the shipyard employees occupied which in turn would be of great benefit to the owners of fishing vessels and coastal schooners in the area; and thirdly
The Address-Mr. Morton at Harbour Grace, where there was at one time a slipway now out of operation.
In my opinion a slipway or floating dock should be placed at Harbour Grace as soon as possible to assist the fishermen who are returning to that occupation. In many of the above mentioned places there are skilled carpenters and shipbuilders who could provide valuable workmanship.
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I bring you greetings from my riding and I would like to very sincerely thank the electors of Trinity-Conception for the honour they have conferred upon me and the confidence they have placed in me by electing me their representative in this House of Commons. I shall try at all times to be worthy of that honour and confidence by working for my riding in particular and my country in general.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY