Mr. J. C. BRADY (Skeena):
Mr. Speaker, permit me to say a few words on this very important treaty. The very fact that two nations decide to enter into a treaty presupposes the importance of the subject matter dealt with. Undoubtedly the halibut fishing industry is of very great importance, not merely to Canada but also to the United States. I have read the treaty as brought down yesterday. I am in perfect accord with the efforts made to conserve the greatest fishing banks at present in the world. If
hon. members have read the story of our Atlantic fishing grounds they will recall that many years ago halibut existed in abundance on the great fishing banks of the North sea; to-day they are non-existent. We find that, steadily, for the last twenty years halibut which was caught in abundance off cape Flattery, many years ago, were decimated in that area, and1 then Hecate straits, became the great centre of our halibut industry and continued to be so for a period of ten to fifteen years. Once more the scene changed. To-day the halibut fishermen have to travel right to the extreme end of Alaskan boundaries; they have to go as far as Kodiak, and beyond, even to Unalaska near the Behring sea. That being the case we must realize the gravity and importance of this treaty renewed between two great nations.
I do regret however that in the text of the treaty the government has overlooked a very important matter in respect to the halibut situation. At the present time the great weight of power, wealth and control of these fisheries is not in Canadian hands and has not been for years past; it is in the hands of Americans. They have the wealth and the power, and through these sources they have obtained almost complete control of this great and important fishing industry. For example, last year in the port of Prince Rupert over 30,000,000 pounds of halibut were landed, and of that poundage 20,000,000 pounds came in American vessels. For some reason or another it is a very easy matter to have the press misrepresent what one is trying honestly to represent to the public. What I said last year, and what I repeat this year, has nothing to do with retaliation upon the United States; it is simply a question of equality and fair dealing between the two countries which have made this treaty. I want to impress upon the government the fact that in our salmon fisheries we have a large area of neutral waters; strictly speaking these should be part of the Canadian waters. I refer to the great Hecate straits lying between Queen Charlotte islands and the mainland of Canada. What happens in connection with this fishing ground? Every year hundreds of American fishing vessels enter our harbours and violate the sacred treaty which was entered into years ago between the United States and Canada. I gave evidence of this last year. The result is that in every phase of this great and important industry the Canadian fisherman has not the rights to which he is entitled, while on the other hand the American nation realize the importance and the greatness of the fishing industry and
Halibut Fisheries Convention
are ever alert to get every advantage. So important is the fishing industry and so great the demand of the American public for fish that we can never hope to supply it. Fish is one of the most important foods consumed by the American people. I may be too late, but I ask the Prime Minister to make one more effort to secure for Canadian fishermen, their rights in connection with this important industry. A few weeks ago, I placed before this house certain facts; they are facts which can be authenticated by any one who desires so to do. Canada has in Prince Rupert a wonderful port on the Pacific coast, and it is the only port at which American vessels can deliver their fish and have them sent with expedition to the great markets of the United States. The result is that the American fishing vessels bring their fish to that port, and they do not pay a single cent; they are charged only one dollar for the licence to fish, and they receive the full benefits of the port. They are allowed to ship their fish from that port in bond; they seek Canadian ports as a shelter from storm; they receive all the benefits we can confer and in return we receive practically nothing.
I urge the government in pursuance of this treaty to try to impress upon the United States the necessity of a fair deal in a matter which has a profound interest both for that country and Canada. That is all I ask.
Topic: HALIBUT FISHERIES
Subtopic: CONVENTION BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED STATES