Mr. H. Russell MacEwan (Central Nova):
Mr. Speaker, we of the Official Opposition welcome the statement the minister has made in the House today on this most important matter. I did not realize that the question I directed to him yesterday would get him going so quickly, but I thank him for doing so.
Shipbuilding subsidies were introduced by the former government under the right hon. member for Prince Albert (Mr. Diefenbaker) as a program to assist the industry in this country to become competitive with foreign shipyards. As we all know, to the end of 1969 the
November 27, 1970
subsidy amounted to 25 per cent but under the present plan will decline to 17 per cent by 1973.
I commend the minister for the step he is taking to assist our shipyards in getting into the export market. This is important, but it is only a stopgap measure and something of greater permanence must be brought forward. I commend to him, as I did yesterday, the recommendations of the Robertson Committee on Shipbuilding. As he pointed out, there are 21 recommendations in that report. Among them is a recommendation that subsidies on commercial shipbuilding remain at 23 per cent for deliveries prior to June 30, 1973.
Also of importance are the subsidies under the Department of Fisheries and Forestry in respect of fishing trawlers. These must also be maintained because of their importance.
I think the minister and the government should take cognizance of recommendation No. 1 of the Robertson Committee Report:
That the government develop, formulate and state a maritime policy that will ensure fulfilment of Canada's maritime interests, and that it establish appropriate organizational arrangements for continuous implementation of that policy.
I always believe in starting at the beginning so I commend recommendation No. 1 to the minister. We welcome the assistance in respect of export markets and we look forward to a permanent maritime policy which will help the shipbuilding industry of this country. The measures taken are helpful but a permanent policy must be forthcoming at an early date to assist in solving the unemployment problem. As the minister has said, activity in Canadian shipbuilding yards has been at a low level this year. The only way it can be brought to a higher, permanent level is by the government coming forward with a permanent and complete maritime policy.
Subtopic: ANNOUNCEMENT OF EXTENSION PROGRAM