Mr. George C. Nowlan (Digby-Annapolis-Kings):
Mr. Speaker, my first words must be of appreciation for the kindly greetings which have been extended to me by all members of the house regardless of the side upon which they sit. In that connection I should like particularly to express my personal appreciation of the greetings tendered me by the right hon. Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent). These are things that shall never be forgotten. I realize that some of these expressions may be tinged with regret, but I realize also that they are nonetheless sincere and they certainly are most welcome.
If it were not for the ordeal confronting me I would think that this was a most pleasant place in which to find one's self. I am sure that I have the sympathy of all those who have preceded me in this rather trying experience.
I appreciate that on an occasion such as this one does not engage in partisan political discussion. I trust I will have the indulgence and forbearance of the house. I should also like to express my best wishes and congratulations to those other fellow sufferers of the other afternoon who were introduced to the house prior to myself. I am sure that like myself they found the walk from the door to the clerk's table one of the longest walks upon which they ever entered in their lifetime.
I think most of them have already participated in the debates of the House of Commons despite the fact that only a little over one week has elapsed. I wish to congratulate all of them and express my good wishes to them,
although I do not want that remark to indicate my agreement with all the remarks of the last speaker, who, I think, very unfortunately interjected a political atmosphere into something which should be absolutely devoid of politics. Perhaps it would not be amiss to remind the hon. gentleman that those on this side of the house, in order to keep external affairs out of politics, sedulously avoided contesting the election so that the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Pearson) might enter the house as he did.
I understand it is appropriate at this time to make some passing reference to the constituency which one has the honour to represent. If I embarked upon that course it would exhaust the time that is allotted to me. Therefore I will simply say in passing that my constituency is a sort of microcosm of Canada. The home of the first government of Canada was in my constituency. It is the land of Evangeline, the background for the expulsion of the Acadians. I am sure that British Columbia members will admit that we grow the finest apples in the world.
I will proceed to other matters without further remarks on that score.
There are various matters of local interest to which I should like to refer. I think we all appreciate that an occasion such as this is perhaps not the best time to deal with them. There are many that perhaps would be dealt with better when the estimates are before the house. I do not intend to enter upon a discussion of local matters to any greater extent than necessary. It is true, however, that the result of the election in my riding was, to some extent, determined by the fact that the people wanted certain protests uttered, and certain demands brought before the House of Commons.
With your permission I should like to refer for a few moments to matters which, although of local interest, may have some interest outside of my own constituency. I should like to say something about our fishermen. When I say "fishermen" I do not mean the fishermen of the riding of the Minister of Reconstruction and Supply (Mr. Winters) who go out on the banks in schooners. I wish to deal with inshore fishermen only.
We have many of them in my constituency. During the last few years United States trawlers have dragged along the coast line of the United States until the fishing grounds there are certainly depleted. Whether that is due to this or other causes may be a matter for argument. As a result, United States trawlers are now appearing off our own coast in ever-increasing numbers. The livelihood of the inshore fishermen of my constituency and of the maritimes-I know noth-
The Address-Mr. Nowlan ing about the west-is threatened because of this practice. As I understand it, under international law these heavy United States, trawlers can drag to within three miles of our coast line. Yet Canadian trawlers, built with Canadian money and manned by Canadian crews, are prevented by government, policy-and, I suggest, proper policy-from fishing within twelve miles of our coast. I suggest that it is a rather anomalous situation that Canadian fishing vessels, manned by Canadian seamen, should be prevented from fishing within twelve miles of our coast, whereas United States fishermen on United States trawlers are permitted to fish within three miles of our coast. It is a situation which should be rectified.
Not too many years ago, the Department of Justice was not slow in moving the three-mile limit out to twelve miles when it was a question of catching rum-runners hovering off the coasts of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. During the first great war the navy decided to scrap the old three-mile limit and move it out to twelve miles. I believe this is a matter with which the government should deal. It is my understanding that at the present time there is proceeding an international conference on fisheries. I would suggest to the Minister-of Fisheries (Mr. Mayhew), and the Minister of Reconstruction and Supply, who I know, has a tremendous interest in the matter, that this question should be taken up at that conference and some arrangement made concerning it. If that is not possible, then I would ask the Secretary of State for External Affairs if this is not a proper matter for negotiation with Washington. It must be done, and it can be done. As the Secretary of State for External Affairs undoubtedly knows, in so far as the bay of Fundy is concerned, this is an open question. If you read the correspondence between Mr. Bacon, who was Secretary of State at Washington, and Lord Bryce, you will find that the British claimed the bay of Fundy was coastal waters, and the United States said it was a part of the high seas. They both agreed to disagree, and to keep the matter open for future reference. I suggest that the time has now come to settle this matter once and for all, and I urge upon the government the necessity of taking action which will avoid the absolute ruin of our inshore fishermen.
Nor is that all of the trawler story. Not only are United States trawlers fishing outside the three-mile limit, but persistently and consistently they are fishing inside that limit-under cover of darkness, and sometimes in broad daylight. They drift to within a short distance of our coast line. As a matter of fact, on more than one occasion lobster
242 HOUSE OF
The Address-Mr. Nowlan traps set within a few hundred yards of our coast line have been caught up by the trawls of United States trawlers. This matter has caused a great deal of concern to Canadian fishermen. It is bad enough to have the three-mile limit, but not to be able to enforce it is something which causes dissatisfaction. The reason for that is that we have in that area only one small, old and inefficient patrol boat, the Capelin. In a stiff breeze no self-respecting sailor would embark upon her because he would realize that he was risking his life. That boat has to tie up at night because it cannot patrol after dark. Representations were made to me by the fishermen a short time ago. I took up the matter with the Department of Fisheries, and as a result of my representations the superintendent of the fisheries department at Moncton sent the big patrol boat, the Cygnus, down to the bay of Fundy. I am sure that the Minister of Justice (Mr. Garson) and the Minister of Fisheries know what result attended upon that. On its first patrol of the bay of Fundy the Cygnus caught a United States trawler within two and a half miles of the Nova Scotia coast line.
If one had the time it would be rather interesting to read the newspaper stories which appeared last week concerning this matter. The first day there was a glaring headline announcing the seizure, and a picture of the boat with men of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police guarding it. The next day the statement appeared that the boat was going to be forfeited and sold. Then there were stories of protests from various places outside the country, but the department still stood firm and said that the boat was going to be sold. On the next day there was a suggestion that possibly the boat might be released in order to engage in fishing, but that a deposit would have to be made with the department. Then the next day, Friday to be exact, the Minister of Justice issued a little statement-for which he should be commended, because it was certainly brief and economical-in which he said that on his instructions the Araho was being released immediately. I asked if it was released without a deposit, and he replied that it was; therefore the incident is closed.
I presume the department felt this was a proper case in which justice should be tempered with mercy, and perhaps one should not quarrel too much with that point of view. But I am sure neither the Minister of Fisheries (Mr. Mayhew) nor the Minister of Justice (Mr. Garson)-and I am certain not the Minister of Reconstruction and Supply (Mr. Winters)-would be so naive as to accept the explanation that the radio direction finder
was out of order, and that this was the reason this boat was within two and a half miles of our coast line. These were deep-sea fishermen. They could tell by glancing across the water, either by day or by night, whether they were within one, two or three hundred yards or one, two or three miles of the coast line, and no radio direction finder was needed. It is the story we always hear when the murderer is caught; he says the gun went off by accident.
In any case, Mr. Speaker, two things are necessary. In the first place the Cygnus must be maintained in those waters, and in the second place more and more efficient patrol boats must be built. In that connection I should like to mention another matter which has been advocated by the Halifax Herald from time to time and which I think is in the thoughts of most people in the maritimes. We are a maritime people. We are proud of our sailors, proud of our fishermen; yet on our eastern coast, at any rate- whether or not this is so on the west coast I do not know-we do not have any coastguard service whatever. When our ships get into trouble we have to call upon the United States coastguard to help us out. They have done so generously and well. I realize that in this modern day and age the aeroplane renders wonderful service, and certainly the search and rescue squad of the R.C.A.F. at Dartmouth, and now at Greenwood, has rendered yeoman service. But aeroplanes cannot rescue drowning sailors; and I suggest that to help maintain the traditions of Canada as a great maritime nation we must have an efficient coastguard service to help our sailors and carry out the work which has to be carried out in that connection.
Then, Mr. Speaker, if we had a patrol service and a coastguard service I believe the difficulties of the fishermen would be met temporarily, at least until such time as it is possible to negotiate a treaty under which the coastal line may be moved further off shore.
There is another matter to which I should like to refer, a matter which has been mentioned in this house a great deal, of course, during the last few days; that is, the plight in which our farmers find themselves. We in our constituency are particularly conscious of that situation, because the fruit growers of the Annapolis valley have been largely dependent upon the export markets of Great Britain and, to some extent, western Europe. Those markets have been lost to us, first because of the war and now because of sterling restrictions. This applies not only to apples. This week here on parliament hill we saw a committee representing all the poultry raisers of Canada, who were worrying about the restriction of their markets, and who could see that within the immediate
future their industry might be facing disaster. Our fishermen are facing restricted markets because of lack of sterling; our lumbermen see the possibility that the British market may be closed to them through restrictions on sterling, and they are facing a most serious situation.
All these primary producers are in difficulties. This government has inaugurated a system of price support, and that is good. However, I am sure the minister and everyone else will admit that price support in itself is not a solution. We see these surpluses starting to build up; and what the end may be it is hard for any of us to say. I think we must go further than that, even as a temporary measure. Many may not like it; there are those, I know, who are violently opposed to it, but some system of controlled, orderly marketing of all these surpluses which are starting to overhang the markets of this country and of the world must be developed. I suggest to the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) one step I believe he should seriously consider; that is, the inauguration of a natural products marketing act. I believe the minister is giving this matter consideration; I hope he is, as I know he has been giving consideration to many of these matters for a long time. So I do urge upon him the importance of this action.
But that would not be a final solution. You can have your price support; you can have your marketing act; but the only possible solution in the long run is some action to regain the markets of western Europe, Great Britain and the entire sterling area. Unless that is done I believe our producers may be in great difficulties and even reduced to the level of a peasant economy. Our principal market has been across the seas, and without that export market we may barely eke out an existence. Thousands may be forced to migrate, as has been suggested; and the economy of the country may be permanently impaired.
I am not suggesting for a moment, of course, that this government is wholly responsible for the loss of the sterling markets. We all realize that various factors enter into this matter. There was the war; there have been the controls which have come on since, and the various policies of other governments. All these things enter into the situation. I do believe there has been a trend of thought-perhaps a proper one-that Canada was going to develop into a great industrial nation because of changes that have occurred in regard to natural resources and so on, and that during the coming years we would see an increasing flow of goods to the south, with the result
The Address-Mr. Nowlan Canada would become a wealthy exporting nation, sending tremendous quantities of goods to our neighbour the United States. Then we would be wealthy and powerful, and exchange restrictions would be a thing of the past. That is a pleasant picture, and it may become a true one; it may materialize within the next twenty-five years. Given that development; given migration; given an increase in population, and all these things can happen. But, sir, that is not a solution for the people of this generation. They will not live long enough to benefit from those markets. They must regain the overseas markets.
So if this government is vulnerable-and I think perhaps it is on some points-I would suggest with respect that there are two points on which I would differ markedly with it. One of these points, of course, is only indirectly in reference to sterling; but I think the financial policy of tying our dollar to parity with the United States dollar brought a great deal of economic loss and disaster and prejudiced our dealings with the sterling area. More than that, I believe there has been a tendency, probably not on the part of the minister but on the part of officials in various departments, to assume that Great Britain was through, that sterling never again would be convertible, and that those of us who had any hope of regaining access to the markets of western Europe or Great Britain were living in a fool's paradise and ought to resign ourselves to the harsh facts of life. I think there was and probably still is an attitude of defeatism in that respect, Mr. Speaker, which has motivated this government in not proceeding as aggressively as I think it should in trying to rectify these difficulties and get us back into the sterling area.
We talk a great deal about the iron curtain; in his speech this afternoon the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Pearson) referred to it. There is another curtain which is causing almost as much trouble in the world, economically. That is the curtain which is hanging across the world with a dollar sign painted on one side and the pound sterling painted on the other.
That curtain must be lifted, sir, so that people can trade easily back and forth. Unless that is done the primary producers of this nation face disaster. This government must do something about it. Without interjecting political complications into this opening debate, I say this, that if this government does not succeed in overcoming this difficulty, with respect to trading in the sterling area, then as surely as day follows night it will be replaced by another government which will attempt, and will finally succeed in doing so.
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The Address-Mr. Nowlan
There is a minor matter relating to agriculture to which I should not refer at all perhaps at this time, and that is the plight of the potato growers in my province. I know it is a matter of which the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) has considerable knowledge. It is the unsatisfactory situation in which we find ourselves in Nova Scotia, not only from an economic standpoint, but it is also definitely irritating to the pride of the people of that province. I am not criticizing this government for what it originally did. It had to take some action. The only trouble was that it moved too late. We were embargoed, kept out of the United States market, in so far as table potatoes were concerned.
Then, this government proceeded to set floor prices for potatoes grown in certain parts of New Brunswick, floor prices for potatoes grown in Prince Edward Island, but no floor prices for potatoes grown in Nova Scotia.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY