William Chisholm MACDONALD

MACDONALD, William Chisholm, K.C., B.A., LL.B.

Personal Data

Halifax (Nova Scotia)
Birth Date
May 6, 1890
Deceased Date
November 19, 1946

Parliamentary Career

March 26, 1940 - April 16, 1945
  Halifax (Nova Scotia)
  • Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of National Defence (April 1, 1943 - November 14, 1944)
June 11, 1945 - April 30, 1949
  Halifax (Nova Scotia)
  • Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of National Defence (September 25, 1945 - November 19, 1946)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 42)

January 31, 1949

Mr. Macdonald:

Mr. Chairman, I take it that

Mr. Ilsley is not suggesting that there will not be another conference. The premier of Quebec who is not here said he would come back at any time.

The Address-Mr. J. A. Ross

I would hope that the representatives of the dominion government here stand in the same position, and are prepared to try it.

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August 29, 1946

Mr. MACDONALD (Halifax):

It has never been codified, but I think it has generally been accepted in British countries that the three-mile limit was the extent of the limit over which British power extends. That is modified in many cases by conventions and by agreements. But I would say that the mere fact that that was the law does not mean that that law should continue to exist as it is. It never had any scientific or logical basis. I think it was settled on the basis that when the question arose the range of a coastal gun was three miles. But we know to-day rockets go hundreds of miles, to say nothing of the distances which bombs from aeroplanes can be carried.

The hon. member for New Westminster referred to a proclamation of President Truman which was issued last December. It related to fisheries in waters contiguous to the United States. I have read the operative part of that document, which appears in Hansard, August 28, page 5524. It seems to me that this proclamation expressly reserves the rights of fishermen of other nations, and it also reserves navigational rights. It does not go so far as to provide that the United States can legislate in respect of waters which have been fished by their own nationals in common with nationals of other countries. The order provides, dealing with fishing activities in areas of the high seas contiguous to the United States, that-

Where such activities have been or shall hereafter be developed and maintained by its nationals alone, the United States regards it as proper to establish explicitly bounded conservation zones in which fishing activities shall be subject to the regulation and control of the United States. Where such activities have been or shall hereafter be legitimately developed and maintained jointly by nationals of the United States and nationals of other states, explicitly bounded conservation zones may be established under agreements between the United States and such other states; and all fishing activities in such zones shall be subject to regulation and control as provided in such agreements.

I take that to mean that if you have areas where the fishing was carried on solely by the nationals of the United States, then United States can make regulations dealing with the activities of the fishermen engaged on the particular area. On the other hand, if it is an area which has been fished not only by nationals of the United States but also by nationals of other countries, the control by regulation of the area must take place in consequence of an agreement arrived at between the countries concerned.

I mention these reservations in order to point out that proclamations alone will not cure the troubles of our Nova Scotia off-shore fishermen. I see no objection at all to the Canadian government issuing a proclamation which would follow the lines of President Truman's proclamation; in fact there may be a distinct advantage, because the mere assertion or declaration of our right to the control of fisheries over certain areas may of itself begin to establish a prior claim to those fisheries.

The banks with which the Nova Scotia fishermen are most concerned have I think been fished at times by nationals of other countries, and before any controls over the fisheries were exercised negotiations would have to be entered into with these other countries. At the same time there could be no possible objection that I can see to a declaration of our intention to establish conservation zones. The purpose will be to conserve the fish, and that is in effect the conservation of the food supply of a great part of Canada. It is proved, I believe, beyond question by those who have given scientific study to the matter that the new methods of fishing and constant fishing with those improved methods will deplete any fishery unless proper measures are taken for the control.

That brings up another question, to which the hon. member for Queens-Lunenburg referred, that of an improved patrol service on the fishing banks. I think that is really the immediate problem which now faces the Department of Fisheries. The proclamation can be made, and we can assert our rights in these international waters, but in the meantime the loss of nets and fishing gear will continue to go on. I suggest to the Minister of Fisheries that we might have considered by the government the amalgamation of the water services carried on by the government by the formation of a coast guard service or in some other manner. Five government departments maintain marine services at the present time, and this quite apart from those carried on by the navy. These services include the protection of fisheries, aids to navigation, lighthouses, the protection of customs revenue, hydrographic surveys and air-sea search and rescue work. The departments carrying on this work are the R.C.A.F., the R.C.M.P., the Department of Transport, the Department of Mines and Resources with its hydrographic section, and the Department of Fisheries.

Recommendations for the formation of a Canadian coast guard service have been made by the maritime marine federation, the Nova Scotia federation of labour and the white ensign association of Halifax. As was pointed


out by the hon. member for Queens-Lunen-burg, maritimers are a seafaring people. Many of them earn their living by fishing on the high seas or serving as seamen. They are sea-minded; they have a natural liking for the sea, and the formation of a coast guard service would appeal to them. They are not alone in advocating the formation of a coast guard service. The commission on veterans legislation headed by Colonel Bovey found that a coast guard service would 'be justified, not only for the employment of discharged naval personnel but also on the grounds of actual need.

If the amalgamation of the water services of the various departments other than the navy is desirable, and I think it is, the most satisfactory solution would appear to lie in the formation of a coast guard service. The existence of so many departments maintaining marine services seems illogical and may result in some duplication of government expenditure. There is a further consideration. Ships for these various services could be of standardized design and adaptable for naval use. The ships could more easily become part of the navy in the event of an emergency. Furthermore, a Canadian coast guard could advantageously form the nucleus of an expanded service should the need arise in war time. The members of the marine, section of the R.C.M.P. were incorporated into the navy at the beginning of the war. They made a great contribution and many of them served with great distinction. When hostilities ceased, the R.C.M.P. marine section was again absorbed by that force.

There is another consideration. An amalgamated service would be the logical instrument for the discharge of Canada's responsibilities in such international undertakings as air-sea rescue, ocean meteorological stations or other commitments of like nature which do not fall clearly within the work of a single department. During the war the R.C.A.F. had the responsibility for air-sea rescue service, and this service was operated by the R.C.A.F., assisted by the R.C.N. Under the terms of one of the conventions or agreements arrived at at the intei-national civilian aviation conference held in Chicago in 1944, Canada undertook to provide such measure of assistance to aircraft in distress in its territory as it might find practicable. If we are to have a coast guard it might well be patterned on that of the United States. No other country has a similar service.

If anyone is interested in the activities of the United States coast guard I would refer him to the hearings before the subcommittee

of the committee on appropriations when it was dealing with the coast guard appropriation bill for 1947. These proceedings set out clearly the functions of the United States coast guard both in war and peace. In war time it became part of the military forces of the United States and was operated by the navy. Under a directive issued by President Truman in December last it was directed that on and after January 1, 1946, the coast guard would operate under the department of the treasury. In other words, in war time the United States coast guard is part of the military forces of that country; in peace time it assumes its ordinary peacetime functions, such as the maintenance of aids to navigation, sea rescue activities, the enforcement of navigational laws at sea and along the coast and other such things.

In conclusion I would ask the Minister of Fisheries to give this matter consideration at an early day and bring it to the attention of the government.

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August 29, 1946

Mr. MACDONALD (Halifax):

I was very much interested in the minister's plans for the expansion of his department. I do not intend to say anything on the programme or on the appointment of inspectors which has been proposed. Before I proceed, however, I wish to say that the minister to-day has the confidence of all who are interested in the fishing industry. This places a great responsibility on him, and I know that his administration will fully justify the confidence placed in him. I intend to say something on a matter which was covered in the fine speeches delivered by the hon. member for New Westminster and the hon. member for Queens-Lunenburg, namely, the position of our fishermen off the Nova Scotia coast and on what we call the Sable Island and Quero banks.

This question presents two problems. One has to do with the destruction of the fishermen's nets, trawls and gear by steam trawlers. The other problem has to do with the conservation of the fish population now existing in those waters.

The first question as to the destruction of gear is not a new one in Nova Scotia. It has been brought up on many occasions in the past. This question was brought to the attention of the minister of marine and fisheries over twenty years ago. In 1924 a petition signed by fifty or sixty fishing masters protested against the destruction of their nets and gear 63260-349J

in the waters in or near Sable Island banks. The Sable Island banks lie southwest of the Quero banks. The petition was sent to the department of marine and fisheries of that day. Many declarations were sent accompanying it. These declarations, which were made by masters of fishing schooners, set out the particulars in detail of the damage done to the nets, and also in most cases gave the nationalities of the owners of the trawlers, as well as the names of the trawlers.

In consequence of those representations the government provided a protection vessel, the Arras to patrol the fishing banks off Sable island. The question of depredations by trawlers was also raised before the royal commission which was set up to investigate the fisheries of the maritime provinces and the Magdalen islands. This commission was headed by the late Hon. A. K. Maclean, who at the time was president of the Exchequer Court of Canada. There were several members on the commission, one of whom was the Hon. Cyrus Macmillan, who was afterwards minister of fisheries. The commission made its report in 1928. I should like to read one or two extracts from the report, which sets out clearly and concisely the complaints of the Nova Scotia fishermen in respect of the operation of foreign trawlers at that time. I might add that there was a minority report by the Hon. A. K. Maclean, dealing with trawlers. However, in respect of this question of the destruction of fishing nets and gear the commission as a whole were in complete agreement.

At page 93 of the report there is this statement:

Under the second general heading of direct protection of the fishermen, two objections to steam-trawlers were expressed to us-that the steam-trawlers are foreign-owned and foreign-manned, and that they destroy fishermen's gear without making restitution. With reference to the first of these protests, six of the ten trawlers now operating from ports in the maritime provinces are said to be owned in Canada; and the majority of the crews are said to be naturalized British citizens. This objection may therefore be considered as relatively unimportant. But the contention that steam-trawlers destroy the fishermen's gear was supported by well substantiated statements by many fishermen who themselves had suffered loss. At Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, the captains' association was represented before us by counsel who stated that the damage to gear of some of the Lunenburg fishing fleet by steam-trawlers amounted in recent years to at least five thousand dollars. We were told by several fishermen that it is sometimes the practice of steam-trawlers to set their fishing course where other fishing vessels have taken up their position, and that they destroy, particularly during their night fishing operations, the gear that lies in the track of their trawl. In Great Britain, there have been many prosecutions of operators of steam-trawlers for such destruction of the gear of other fishermen and


many convictions have resulted. There, however, the aggrieved fisherman may place his case, for equitable adjustment, before a general court specially established for this purpose. The Canadian shore fisherman has no such privilege; he has to depend on his own effors to protect his rights and his property, and his efforts are usually futile. France, it is said, maintains a light cruiser or patrol boat to enforce discipline among French steam-trawlers operating on the banks; and we were told that the Canadian hospital ship on these fishing grounds endeavours to provide protection for Canadian fishermen's

fear. But the statements made to us by many shermen indicate that the protection is far from adequate.

Then the report goes on to say that- Beyond her territorial waters, Canada has no jurisdiction. The high seas are free to all nations as fishing grounds, and no country alone can prevent the steam-trawlers of other countries from operating there with their own methods and in their own way.

The two important questions above, which call for consideration, are the taking of immature fish and the destruction of fishermen's gear. They are questions that can be disposed of solely by international negotiations and arrangements. We, therefore, recommend that an effort be made by the government of Canada to bring about an international conference or negotiations among the nations from which steam-trawlers now operate on the fishing banks of the North Atlantic, with a view to making international arrangements or agreements for the regulating of all fishing vessels on the banks, particularly for the protection of fishermen's gear and for the more complete conservation of the fisheries in those areas. The desirability of such negotiations has frequently in the past been discussed and advocated, but no practical or definite plan has yet been formulated.

Those are extracts from the majority report of the commission. The Hon. A. K. Maclean, in his minority report with reference to this matter, had this to say:

Complaints were made to the commission, particularly at Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, concerning the damage done to line trawlers and fishing gear by Canadian and foreign trawlers. Such damage occurs in international waters. This being the case, regulations to effectively alleviate or end these complaints must be the subject of international action. In the North Sea, where fishermen of many nations are engaged in fishing, it was found necessary to regulate the manner and methods of fishing, and to police the fishing areas. To achieve this end a convention between Great Britain, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, France and Holland was entered into, in 1882. It is said that this convention has in a large degree accomplished its purpose. For the same reason, as well as others to be later mentioned, I would recommend that the government of Canada take the proper steps to secure, if possible, an international conference representative of the countries whose citizens fish on the North Atlantic fishing grounds, with a view to the enactment of international regulations governing the operation of trawlers in these waters, and the punishment of offences against such regulations.

I said a few minutes ago that this question of the destruction of gear and nets of

fishermen is not new. In the course of my law practice I have been concerned with several cases where fishing schooners have been run down by trawlers. One of these, which is a typical case, and reference to which may be useful, concerned the vessel Mahaska. This was a Lunenburg fishing schooner which was run down by a French trawler in 1929, and sank as a result. The material facts are set out in two or three sentences of the judgment of Mr. Justice Mellish, the admiralty judge who tried the action. I quote:

This is an action for damages by collision. The Mahaska is a fishing schooner. On the 22nd March, 1929, she was lying at anchor near Sable island banks.

I have said that the Sable Island banks lie immediately southwest of the Quero banks which were mentioned yesterday by the hon. member for Queens-Lunenburg. The judgment goes on to say:

At about two a.m. on said date she was when so lying rammed and sunk by the defendant ship -a steam trawler. The weather at the time was fine and clear.

In that case two lives were lost and the schooner sank in four minutes. It was only because of the skill of the members of the crew handling the dories that a much greater loss of life was prevented. What I wish to bring to the attention of the committee is this, that so far as I know no action has ever been taken to implement the recommendations of the royal commission that an international conference be held with a view of making agreements for the regulating of fishing vessels on the banks.

The second problem which is presented in connection with the Quero banks is that of the conservation of the fish. Some question was raised yesterday as to the international law bearing on this subject. It is true textbooks say that the fish in the high seas are the property of the persons who first catch them, and the jurisdiction of a country extends over adjacent waters only to the three-mile limit. That may have been international law when these textbooks were written, but law can, I suggest, become obsolete or should not be followed because of changed circumstances. The world has changed since the days when these principles of law were first enunciated: it has become smaller. Te experience we have had of recent years shows that international law as known at one time is not respected generally by all nations. The Canadian Bar Association is meeting to-day in Winnipeg, and I read in the morning papers that one of the questions to be considered there is the codification of international law.


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August 26, 1946

Mr. MACDONALD (Halifax):



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August 17, 1946

Mr. MACDONALD (Halifax):

Would the minister be good enough to tell the committee what the government is prepared to do to assist municipal airports?

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