Newfoundland National Convention, 28 March 1947, Debates on Confederation with Canada


March 28, 1947

Report of the Fisheries Committee:[1] Committee of the Whole

Mr. Chairman The committee is now considering that section headed "The Co-operative Movement".[2]
Mr. Fowler Mr. Chairman, I suppose I was partly responsible for this section not passing yesterday afternoon. There are, a couple of observations I would like to make now, however, relative to the co-operative movement. When Mr. Newell was speaking yesterday he stated that there was no money put into the co-operative movement by the government. Mr. Keough however did inform us that the government did have money in several of the co-operative movements, especially land settlements. Then aquestion from Mr. Hollett elicited an answer from Mr. Newell, that the government had advanced them $50,000 annually for salaries and travelling expenses. I contend that any committee bringing in a report on any department or institution in which government monies are involved should show what that department is costing and is likely to cost in the future. I feel that in order to arrive at the cost of government these are the facts we must have. They are more important than the price of some fishery products ten years ago.
Mr. McCarthy Mr. Fowler seems to want to know how much is involved so far as the government is concerned. I might say that the land settlements (at the present time there are two or three) were started with money supplied by the government, and when they were wound up there was a certain amount of stock, buildings, etc. left over, and an inventory was taken. and in the case of Lourdes it amounted to $8,000. Some people think that $8,000 was passed over as a gift but that is not correct. We have not yet paid off the full amount, but we have it down to about $2,000 and will pay it off practically at any time. It is not a matter of the government losing any money. This same situation applies to Midland and Point au Mal.
Mr. Hollett What Mr. Fowler really wants to know is why the people should be taxed to the extent of $50,000 a year to maintain or sustain some particular ideology which some people wish to bring forward. I think that's your point is it not, Mr. Fowler?
Mr. Fowler Yes, sir.
Mr. Hollett I would like to know that too. I wonder if Mr. Job can tell us?
Mr. Job I can't answer it, but I asked Mr. Newell the other day and I believe it has been more 412 NATIONAL CONVENTION March 1947 education than anything else. I believe it is having an important effect among fishermen. I believe in the movement because it is making people think. It is costing the government $50,000, but you can't very well say it is costing that much as a co-operative movement, it is part of the education of the people, I think.
Mr. Hollett What is it doing for the fisheries?
Mr. Job It has undoubtedly done quite a job — it has exported quite a lot of salmon and lobster. I don't see why they should not do it. Competing with merchants, Idon't suppose you object to that do you?
Mr. Fowler I am not objecting to anything, I just want to know what it is costing the country and what it is likely to cost in the future.
Mr. Hickman If it will clear it up any I have the estimates here for 1946-47.... That is a total of 22 for the personnel, for which there is a budget of $31,400, and travelling expenses of $18,000, which makes a total of roughly $50,000. That is how it is laid out in the estimates.
Mr. Smallwood A moment ago I asked Mr. Jones from Harbour Grace, who sits behind me, to work out a little mathematical table. I asked what percentage $50,000 was of $30 million, and he handed it back — 1.75%. The government is spending 1.75% of the total expenditure on the encouragement of the co-operative movement. I don't like that, Mr. Chairman I think it is entirely wrong. I think that in the budget the co-operative movement ought to have spent out of public funds for the purpose of education and propaganda three or four times that sum. I think there should be 50 field workers or more. I think the whole tendency of the government ought to be the encouragement of the co-operative movement. That's a lot better than communism, and if you don't have a co-operative movement in this world, that's what you are going to have. There is no iron curtain shutting Newfoundland off from ideas around the world, and if we don't do something to prevent it from happening, mind you don't wake up ten or 15 years from now and find in Newfoundland a communist ideology. There is one thing that can prevent that, and that's the co-operative movement. Mt. Hollett wanted to know if the co-operative movement competes with the fish merchants....
Mr. Hollett I did not ask any such question.
Mr. Smallwood Sorry, well someone was wor rying for fear the co-operative movement might compete with the merchants. Let's get this straight. In this country for the past 400 years there have been merchants ... in charge of our fisheries. Up to now we have not been able to do without them. They collect the fish, pack and export it, but I don't suppose anyone thinks that when God created the world he ordained that the fish trade of Newfoundland had necessarily got to be in the hands of merchants. So long as there is no one to replace the merchants you have got to have them and be glad, but there is nothing to say that fishermen should not be their own merchants through organising co-operatively, and that movement, spreading as it is throughout the earth, should be encouraged here in Newfoundland, and no government can do anything basically better than to encourage the cooperative movement.
Mr. Hollett In reply to thatexcellent speech we have at least three co-operative men here — Mr. Newell, Mr. Keough and Mr. McCarthy. To you I would like to put this question, and I take it they have studied the co-operative movement much better than I have, is it consistent with the whole idea of the co-operative movement that the government should assist in any shape or form to enhance this movement?
Mr. Keough I am not here at the National Convention in particular to defend the co-operative movement. I don't see that it needs any particular defence. For instance, when ten people get together to do a certain piece of business it is called private enterprise, but when two or three or four hundred people get together to do the same piece of business it suddenly seems to have an ideology involved. As to whether it is consistent with co-operative ideology that the government should be involved, I would say not particularly. In this country the government happened to get involved, but in the first instance it happened to get involved in the wrong way. It got involved in land settlements and suddenly one morning they woke up to find they had a cooperative society on their hands. Overnight they had a government store down there, and that's now called a co-operative society. It is possible that the government may have lost a few thousands in other government stores. If they did I have no particular sympathy for them, that's the price they had to pay to find out that co-operative March 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 413 stores should not have been run in that particular fashion. There is one other point, whether it is consistent for the government to have monies involved in the co-operative movement — I would say not particularly. With regard to the maintenance of the Co-operative Division, when a country spends money to educate its citizens nobody raises much objection, but apparently when they educate the people as to how to make their dollars go further people have a lot of objection....
Mr. Newell I would say that the co-operative movement is open to constructive criticism, and the term ideology as applied to the movement is not one to create embarrassment. History is on the side of this movement, but I am at a loss to understand what particular ideology is being taught by these government- sponsored field workers. The word "ideology" is common currency in die last few years, but I wish people would be careful in the use of it. You get the idea that there is something subversive going on, that you might wake up some morning and find a lot of anarchists on our hands. As far as I know, and I am open to correction, there is no ideology being taught. The money that the government is putting into the co-operative movement it is not putting into individual co-operative societies. A certain amount of money had been previously invested in land settlements' stores, but it is not the practice of the government today to put money into co-operative societies. Any money from now on will be on the same basis as they put it in cold storage companies — loaned as a deal with private business. This $50,000 that the government is spending on the enhancement of the co-operative movement is to organise adult study groups to see by what means they can help solve their problems and benefit themselves financially.
There should be no more criticism directed at that sort of investment than there is at primary schools or adult education, on which the government has spent $3 million. It is purely an educational expenditure. It does strike me as rather odd that this Convention, which has hitherto so warmly endorsed the investment of govemment money in research to develop the fisheries, etc., without any dissent whatever, should suddenly find itself balked because the government is investing $50,000 in the development of the most impor tant resource we have — the people of the country. That's what it amounts to. Actually at the moment, in the estimates of 1946-47, I don't believe there are quite as many people on the staff — not that it matters much, but we might have the records right. There are 16 workers and two stenographers.
Mr. Hickman That was only an estimate.
Mr. Newell Perhaps if we had had more cooperative societies 50 years ago and right down through, certain things that happened in 1933 might never have happened, and this Convention might not be meeting here today.
Mr. Ashbourne I am quite in favour of this co-operative movement. I believe that it is a world-wide movement and viewing its effect in other countries I believe it is in Newfoundland to stay. Whether or not the working out of these co-operative ideas will bring the utmost value to the greatest number remains to be seen, but I think it contains the seed of something which is very essential and valuable to the people. Now with regard to the amount spent, the way I figure it out it is less than 1%. Of course it looks large enough, $50,000, but I am of the opinion that we want more co-operation in this country all around. A year or two ago there was a firm here that wanted to invest about $1 million in the building of a powerful steamer to prosecute the seal fishery, and the government was asked to help in that matter by perhaps chartering this boat in the summer to go to the Labrador, quite a place for tourists and probably there would be a good many dollars come into the country if we had suitable boats to take people down around there. That proposition was turned down. Today we are told that around the Labrador there are probably 200,000 seals, a very valuable asset and one of our natural resources. It is not easy to get to these seals by small auxiliary boats, they have not the power for one thing, except when the ice is breaking up and they can get through it. There is a case where if the government had co-operated with that firm, and there are not many firms willing to put $1 million down, it would be a great benefit to the country. It might be possible, with cooperation in some other way, that plans like that could be worked out....
Mr. Hollett It appears to me that both Mr. Keough and Mr. Newell misunderstood me. I feel that I know something about the co-operative 414 NATIONAL CONVENTION March 1947 movement, and I am in sympathy with it. I asked a direct question, and got a camouflaged answer. I asked whether it was consistent with the whole idea of the co-operative movement that it should obtain government assistance. 1 got no proper answer, and I am surprised, from two men who are so prominent in the co-operative movement. They should have said, "No, the government has nothing to do with it."
Mr. Keough What right have you got to get any such answer?
Mr. Hollett I asked for it. If you could not answerit you might have said, "I'm sorry I cannot answer it", but to give a camouflaged answer and use the word ideology, to try to cover up the question and not answer it properly, I don't give anybody much credit for that. The whole idea is not to get any assistance whatever from the government. It starts from a very small nucleus and builds up gradually. If you are going to get the government to come in and spend $50,000, where is it going to stop and when? If they are going to spend that much why should they not spend $500,000 or more to put it through? The co-operation Mr. Ashboume is speaking of is entirely different. We all believe in co-operation, but whether we all believe in the co-operative movement is another thing; but I do believe, according to Dr. Coacly, that it is not the way to get a co-operative movement going well in any country, to get assistance from the government or Dr. Grenfell or anyone else.
Mr. Newell I had thought that hitherto we made it plain that co-operative societies are business operations, and are not receiving assistance from the government. That is defnite, This $50,000 is being spent to finance adult education — those who go into a community and offer leadership in formulating study groups.
Mr. Hollett Is it consistent?
Mr. Newell No co-operative society or anybody interested in the co-operative movement is urging that they put any money into individual co-operative societies as a business venture, because it is generally felt it would not be in the best interests of such societies. As to whether the government or the Grenfell Mission should spend money on a field service, which is education which may result in the formation of study clubs, that is a different question and the situation is this: if the government or somebody else did not sponsor such a movement, the probability is the movement would not get started. Mr. Hollett referred to Dr. Coady; he is connected with the movement in Nova Scotia. St. Francis Xavier College, I understand, sent out men to organise study groups as part of the adult education movement. It was not financed by the government, but it was by somebody. He and all the other people had to eat, they had the elementary human needs, somebody had to pay them. The point is this: if in the beginning you had not had the government mooting the idea, then it possibly might not have been mooted. I agree that the sooner the cooperatives are strong enough to take over educational work, the better — in some places they are strong enough. In the Flowers Cove area they saw fit to withdraw the field workers, so we are going to pay for it ourselves. The people dug into their pockets. That was only after they got a start. Whatever we feel ideally, we have to be practical and admit such assistance is necessary; but certainly not when it applies to a business enterprise being carried on.
Mr. Jackman Up to about halfan hour ago I was doubtful if we were getting anywhere as far as the Convention is concerned; but when someone backs up the workingman, we are certainly on the road to responsibility especially when that is done by a Water Street merchant. I am not a co-operative worker, but I feel grateful to the co-operative movement for what it has done for Bell Island. We could not do it on our own. We were not educated in that manner and of course we had to depend on the field workers of the co-operative to put us on the right track. We instituted a credit union within our own union and we did it for the purpose of getting some of our men out of debt. and make them independent. I could quote a few cases of what I consider the co-operative movement did which benefited not only the working class but the employment class as well. We had a man who came to the credit Committee to know if it was possible to raise a loan. He was in debt to his merchant in the amount of $300. His merchant told him if he could pay off the amount he would give him 20% discount. We gave him the money and he received his 20% discount — $60 — and he has not been in debt since...
Mr. Smallwood I cannot agree with Mr. Hollett when he says the government is giving money to March 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 415 the co-operatives. They are not. They are spending the money towards an educational movement which will put Newfoundland back on its feet....
Mr. Hollett That is under 'Education' not 'Fisheries'.
Mr. Penney I want to correct the record. A matter was brought out in yesterday aftemoon's debate on the co-operative section of the Fisheries Report. I understand the delegate from Bonavista Centre, a wizard on statistics, said that the co-operative movement began around ten years ago. I want to try and show that is incorrect. Some 15 or 16 years ago, a co-operative movement originated or was in operation in the town of Carbonear. It had a membership of some 40 people, a cross-section of merchants, labour. politicians and everything in the town. I do not know of any member who favoured confederation.
Mr. Smallwood Was that the poultry association?
Mr. Penney Yes.
Mr. Smallwood You were president?
Mr. Penney I did not say that. Fifteen or 16 years ago a co-operative was in operation in Carbonear, representing all denominations, labour and industry and all shades of political beliefs (except confederation); it operated until the younger members could not give it the time involved, when it was agreed to close up and distribute the assets to the people. During the time it was in operation members competed in public exhibitions in St. John's and won many cups and prizes. These souvenirs are still held in the homes of the winners. This co-operative society did not have the privilege of radio propaganda or special advice, yet it earned and paid dividends and gave the people a nest-egg until disbanded. I believe Canon Rusted will bear me out, and also Father Coady of Tors Cove, through whose efforts we were able to obtain a pedigreed Jersey bull, the offspring from which is around the settlement of Carbonear and until this day is producing butterfat and milk of a quality second to none anywhere, and this was in keeping with the quality of fresh eggs known so well all over the place. From this you may believe that the cooperative movement was in being before the time of Commission government.
Mr. Ballam ....When we find the net price derived by the fishermen from sales to co-operatives is two to three times the price paid by the local buyers, that in itself proves the co-operative movement must be doing a wonderful job or else local buyers are falling down on the job.... I know the co-operatives on the west coast boosted the lobster fishery. Sweden is a 100% co-operative country; every phase of the industry in that country is co-operative, even the government. They get government assistance. Sweden is the most solvent and successful country in the world. If by spending government funds we can promote any such idea that might come near anything in Sweden we should do it by all means....
Mr. Newell I am anxious not to create false impressions. I would like to refer again to the figures — I hope nobody will get the impression that, because there is such a discrepancy in prices paid by local buyers and by co-operatives, local buyers are deliberately holding down the prices. I think the local merchants were paying as big a price as they could pay. This is important in the point of view of the fisheries.... With reference to competition, I remarked there was one or two firms which paid as much as 26 cents or 27 cents this year. Ever since the co-operative movement has gotten strong enough to have fairly large quantities of salmon on the market, there have been chartered boats to do it. It has been common practice for local dealers collecting certain amounts of salmon to get space on boats chartered by the co-operative society, and to enable them to pay practically the same prices as co-operatives. Most of the businessmen say they feel it is a good thing if the earnings of the fishermen can be increased, then the businessman has a chance of getting his bills paid.
Mr. Roberts I would like to say a word or two in regard to the co-operative movement on the northwest coast. with regard to the lobster fishery. I am not a co-operative man, neither am I a fisherman, but living in the midst of the co-operatives, we are all more or less connected with it. Mr. Ashbourne was wondering if extensive fishery would deplete fish. It can, especially in regard to lobsters. Fifty years ago lobsters were a nuisance, a pest, no one knew about canning lobsters. Their only use was for fish bait. Finally some Canadian who knew the northwest coast came down and packed those lobsters. The best price paid was 50 cents for 100 lobsters, regardless of what size they were. Today they are paid practically 50 cents each. In 1920 the government 416 NATIONAL CONVENTION March 1947 had to put on a closed season to protect the fishery. After the season was opened they found, after four or five years, the same thing was happening. They were tinning lobsters and some of the fishermen were not altogether honest. They packed small lobsters and female spawn lobsters, which should have been left there. The government were considering another closed season when another Canadian firm came on the coast buying these lobsters fresh. They were not a large concern.
Mr. Smallwood Buying live lobsters?
Mr. Roberts Yes. They paid pretty nearly what the people were getting for tinned. Then Maritime Packers came in, they opened branches at Lark Harbour and Bonne Bay and after a couple of years, the co-operative business was introduced by the government. The field workers showed the people where they could double their earnings by getting the lobster to market and cutting out the middle men. The first year the co-operatives sold lobsters, they got 20 cents; the Maritime Packers paying 10 cents. They had a lot of expense. The co-operatives began to grow and in three years the whole coast had gone co-operative. Maritime Packers still held their plant at Lark Harbour and were not a branch of the society. Last year they paid 14 cents to 17 cents; average 16 cents a pound. The co-operative society at Rocky Harbour and Bonne Bay averaged after all expenses paid, or loss to the fishermen, 35 cents a pound. There is a great spread between 17 cents and 35 cents a pound. It means the fishermen are doubling their wages. It does not mean they are banking this money — they have more to spend and their standard of living is higher. Another good thing is this — it has centralised the industry. The co-operative officials or inspectors, when a boat comes in, go through the catch and the small lobsters and spawning lobsters are thrown overboard. They cannot be sold. Instead of the industry decreasing, it is increasing every year.
Mr. Watton ....I am quite in accord with the co-operative movement. I think it is a good thing, but I do not think it is a question of government. I am not very familiar with the co-operative movement, but I do happen to know a little about it and I am in accord with the fundamentals behind the movement. I know for a fact in some cases in this country what the co-operative move ment has done. People have come into communities where there are three or four big merchants, with this idea — that they will close every business house in the community. I don't think that's co-operation.
Mr. Bailey Mr. Chairman, I believe in the co- operative movement, and l think it was in the north where the first co-operative movement started in this country. I am sure it was a good thing, but unfortunately transportation was one of the reasons that it was killed. I don't know whether Rev. Burry is conversant with the way the Labrador coast was, back in the years when even if you had money you could not buy anything. Everybody that came along with a pedlar's pack went out of it with the packjust as heavy as when they came in. There was no limit to what they had to sell and the people could not afford it. Dr. Grenfell put in ten stores. The people were up against it, but the stores carried on until 1928 anyway, I don't know if they are still in operation now, but I believe if they had had the right system the people would have benefitted a lot.
The question was put here yesterday, "Was the government behind the co-operative move ment"? Absolutely, I am sure ofthat, but an awful long way behind. I don't know whether the rest of the members of this Convention believe that the co—operative movement is a long time overdue in this country, but I certainly do. I don't see why we have to be at the beck and call of somebody else when we can get together and produce, and I believe the day will come when Newfoundland is going to come to the top, and every man that is interested will be able to market what he produces. I came in here in 1939 from a district that was suffering, and on the way home I met a bunch of lads and lasses between Winterton and Ham's Harbour and l was wondering if I could get a lift home. I asked who they were and they said they were the co-operative workers. I said the government needed to get the people interested in co-operation. I believe the government would have done a lot in those days with a clear, sane policy, when they had to give out the money to the people. There was not a village in Newfoundland that did not have a percentage of people on the dole. They could have taken a truck and gone to some central place and bought the food and divided it among themselves instead of buying from the retailer. You would have had the March 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 417 germ of the whole co-operative movement, and I don't believe that you would have to spend $50,000 a year today on field workers. That's why I said the government was a long way behind co-operation.
Mr. Burry I don't need to rise to support the co-operative movement, it has a great deal of support throughout the country and in this Convention. I rise to support the idea that the government should give some support to this movement as it has been doing in the past by educating the people to get into this thing as their own.... Mr. Bailey spoke of the co-operative movement in Labrador. As we all know Sir Wilfred Grenfell started it and it failed, and now it has been taken over by the co-operative movement and they are doing a great job of it. I hope that the government of the future will support this movement...
Mr. Starkes I notice the number of cases that came from Notre Dame Bay — 3,648 cases, which averaged around $45 a case. Part of Notre Dame Bay happens to be in my district and I certainly would like to see the co-operative movement down there if they would bring in 32 cents a pound to the fishermen for their lobster. If the lobster caught in Notre Dame Bay last year was sold for 32 cents a pound, that would have netted them $70,000 more than they got. I believe every member will agree that the co-operative movement is a benefit to the fishermen.
Mr. Newell Before we pass on I should like to say that I am simply amazed at the enthusiasm which the co-operative movement has been given by individual members of this Convention. One point I would like to clear up is about the government putting money into it. The best means of deciding whether or not the government was justified in conducting co-operative educational policy would be to examine the result which that policy has achieved. I feel that since the co-operative division has been in existence only some ten years, and viewing the situation that we had to begin with, the individualistic attitude of the average Newfoundland fisherman, the suspicion of anything new which we all have, I think that the results achieved by this annual expenditure have been nothing short of amazing. I can say that because none of that money is being spent on my salary! What I intended to draw the attention of the Convention to was another point in connection with the co-operative movement that has not been brought out. We have seen how the earnings of fishermen have been enhanced, and even in the St. Anthony area in one year the co-operative society paid out $45,000 in cold cash for salmon, plus whatever it paid out for boxes, etc. If that salmon had been sold locally it would have fetched $18,000. In other words there was a $27,000 increase over the local price. When you add up all these amounts it must seem obvious that purely on the dollar advantage the $50,000 which the government is spending annually, and which seems to be causing some delegates concern, is money well spent. And then too I am interested in the educational value of a movement of this kind, in fact any movement that has an educational value. Two or three days ago when we were on another section of this report we read that the Fisheries Committee endorsed the idea that we should try to put the Newfoundland salt codfishery on a cash basis, and there was a good deal said on the advantage of cash trading over credit taking. I have before me the annual report of the Registrar of the Co-operative Societies, Dec. 31, 1945, and the co-operative credit societies, which are small community banks, have loaned to their members $834,667, and if you look at what has been done in l946 in loans, because the amount is increasing every year, among these 60 or 70 credit unions, the amount must be well over $1 million at the present time, loans that have been made by the people themselves. I might also point out that the number of loans overdue is less than 1% of the total amount loaned. The point I am trying to make is this: we come in here and talk about the desirability of going on a cash trading basis, and here is a group of organisations that have a plan for putting that idea into effect. I don't mean to suggest that that million dollar loan business was all to fishermen, but a great proportion of it was loans to fishermen, and I have myself seen fishermen borrowing cash from credit unions to buy motor engines, fisheries supplies, etc., and very often patronising the local merchant with that cash.... The total number of members in those societies in 1945 was 4,640, which is only a small proportion ofthe people.
Mr. Crosbie I am in favour of the co-operative movement, but we have spent one and a half hours discussing it, and I think it is time we went on to other things.
[The section was adopted, and the Secretary read the next section[1]]
Mr. Job There are two more appendices, one is the extracts from Mr. MacKay's book,[2] we thought it would be a good thing to put the extracts before the Convention. Appendix L[3] is a summary taken from the Post-War Planning Committee's report. I think we might take that as read. Appendix M[4] is a rather interesting document prepared by the Natural Resources Department in reply to a request for information as to the amount expended in connection with the fisheries since 1934. Delegates can refer to it at any time and we can also take that as read, if that is agreeable.
Mr. Smallwood What is the position now with regard to remarks of a general character on the report as a whole?
Mr. Chairman You have an opportunity to do that on the motion to adopt the report as a whole.
Mr. Spencer Page 64 of the report: "(m) Bounty for Repairing...." I understood an arrangement was made some years ago about that. I wonder if the Committee could tell us, is that practice now discontinued?
Mr. Job I think we shall ask Mr. Ashbourne if he could tell us that.
Mr. Ashbourne It had been the practice of the government to pay a bounty for repairing vessels. It was discontinued. I am afraid I cannot read the minds of the Commission of Government as to why this should be discontinued. I do remember one enquiry was made as to whether a bounty was payable or not, and it was remarked that the bounty was not payable at the time. Coupled with that was some remark about the matter of inspection, as to whether or not it might not be abused. That depends entirely upon the inspector himself, and I see no reason why, if the system could be abused by some who wanted to affect sham repairs, the person who wanted to effect any repairs should suffer. I am in accord with the suggestion and I believe there are vessels along the coast that could be repaired. It has been done in the past. With the exception of that excuse I do not know of any other reason why the matter was dropped.
While I am on my feet I would like to reply to a question asked by Mr. Hollett as to the quantity of Merchantable fish shipped out of this country last year, and if any of it was classed as such. I went to the Fisheries Board this morning and I give you the official figures:*
There is no report at the Fisheries Board of the amount of Merchantable fish exported from Lamaline.
Mr. Hollett A few years ago Lamaline was the exporting center, now it goes direct from Grand Bank.
Mr. Harrington The Committee gives the approximate numbcr of men prosecuting the salt codfishery. I wonder if the Committee could give the number engaged in fresh fishery?
Mr. Job Those numbers there partly fished for fresh fish and partly engaged in salt fishery. These numbers refer to the entire fishery.
Mr. McCarthy Page 2 of Appendix 1: ....Does that mean that if a local vessel left St. John's to go to Halifax, she could not land freight along the coast?
Mr. Job Yes, that is the meaning. What is happening is this — take a vessel loading at Port Union bound for Placentia Bay. She clears from Port Union and is permitted to carry cargo from Port Union to Placentia Bay. If it is any other vessel clearing for a foreign port, she is not permitted to carry cargo between ports.
Mr. McCarthy Were any enquiries made as to the reason?
Mr. Job There was no satisfactory reason given. The only reply was that it was the custom in Canada.
Mr. Hickman I think it was originally instituted to prevent foreign vessels or time-chartered ships      
1943 22,019 qtls. 4.27% of the total exports of graded fish
1944 8,165 " 1.78% "     "     "  "     "       "          "
1945 11,528 " 1.98%    "     "     "      "     " "  " "
March 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 419 from calling at several ports and taking away cargo belonging to Newfoundland coastal boats or vessels.
Mr. Bailey Does that mean our own vessels?
Mr. Job All vessels except government.
Mr. Crosbie The answer I got was that we must "christen our own baby first."
Mr. MacDonald I am not quite clear on this. "....but the extremely heavy expense of managing steamers and vessels in Newfoundland as compared with other countries is a serious detriment." Where is the extremely heavy expense in operating local ships? I do not mean ships running around the coast. I am talking about 10,000 ton ships. One reason why we should have our own ' ships is dial there is considerable money paid out to foreign ships which money goes out from this country and does not come back.... Is it not possible to arrange some way to have our own ships carry that freight? They could handle some or a large percentage of it. It incurs a great deal of initial expense to build a ship, I know, and whether the extra amount of freight would correspond to the increased cost, I am not prepared to say....
Mr. Job In reply to that, there is a very considerable portion of the outfits of ships that have to be purchased here and it is more costly here. Again, repairs cost very much more here than in Canada. One of the competitions we have had in the past has been Norweigan competition. These Norweigan ships have been getting cheaper provisions than us. I expect they also have been getting lower wages; also they are subsidised. We are up against all these. The only thing to do would be to make sure we got all our expenses down to the finest point. You will remember in the sealfishery report, in the case of coal, they charged duty on it although it never left the ship. They all count up in the expenses of running a ship.
Mr. MacDonald I am talking about ships to handle imports and exports, ships of from 5,000 to 10,000 tons, ships to carry paper and iron ore. If these ships were owned in Newfoundland and employed on foreign trade, it is not necessary for them to buy their supplies in St. John's.
Mr. Starkes ....I am speaking of something I know a little about. I was on a ship sailing out of here some years ago, and we bought very little. I was an engineer, and except when we were absolutely stuck we never got goods in St. John's. I don't suppose we get $20 worth of supplies here, because we were going to ports where there was no duty to pay. That is the point I am raising with regard to the heavy expenditures on materials bought here in St. John's. These ships don't need to buy here.
Mr. Job They have to buy some.
Mr. Starkes Very little unless they are stuck, and then they buy just enough to take them to Sydney.
Mr. Job I think my own experience has been that we have to buy quite a large portion of our stuff in St. John's. I am speaking now of running a steamer like the Ungava[1]. We have a very heavy expense here and pay quite a lot for duty, for such things as rope and all that sort of stuff.
Mr. Bailey Mr. Chairman, I don't know why we have no merchant marine.... I know if a country like Greece, which has practically no import or export trade, could become the fourth largest tramp tonnage in the world at the outbreak of this war, and whose only assets were the seamen they could put to work, we should be able to do the same, because I know what our seamen can do. I should not say this perhaps, but I am forced to. I was not satisfied with our Transportation Report, and I went back quietly to find what the trouble was. I found out that the little Kyle[2] takes 25 tons of coal daily to operate it. The ship I was on, the Halcyon which was 26,000 tons, used to take 10 tons daily, but I don't know the tonnage of the Kyle. Now I believe the Ungava is around 25,000 tons.
Mr. Job No, from 18 to 22,000 tons.
Mr. Bailey Now as regards the loss to this country in having other vessels coming in here and taking freight out of it, while good men are walking around on the dole, it is considerable. If you remember there was a time when there was hardly a Newfoundland seaman, master, mate or anything around because we had foreign owners down here getting men to man their ships. I can't see for the life of me why it costs ships more to operate in this country than anywhere else, because I know that when you are sailing foreign you can buy in the cheapest markets in the world 420 NATIONAL CONVENTION March 1947 and put in your stores.... It seems to me there is something lacking. Our men get no more money than the Norwegians and the Greeks. They get $120 a month. lean assure you there is no place in the world where wages are so small as in Newfoundland today. We never got more than $50 a month and often $30. I never got $30 on a Norwegian ship and I am sure they are as good as ours are. I am not satisfied with the answer given as to why we have not got a merchant marine. I think it is because there is an easier way to get money than to worry about where your ships are, and what they are doing, and where they are going to find freights. That's the trouble today.... You take the Prospero and the Portia,[1] they are still running, but they should have been diesel 25 years ago. These ships were repaired after they left here and I can't see why they could not have carried on to a ripe old age. The Kyle could have been turned to oil too, and when you look at the money that's spent every year in the coastal service of this country you can see that those ships are too costly to operate, and the same thing applies to everything. I would not be surprised that if Scandinavian or British owners came to Newfoundland they would make those ships pay, because in the first place you have got the men — 460 men today are under register up at the railway office waiting for jobs. I am sure it's a disgrace that our country has got into this place when you take the place we were in 60 or 80 years ago. We could have operated in the bad times for $20 and $25 a month and a lot of men would have been glad to get jobs, in fact I know men who signed on for $15 a month to get jobs. I can't see why we pay more, and get more overtime. I believe something should be done in this line.
Mr. Hollett Speaking of the mercantile marine, it is no use to have a mercantile marine unless we have something to put in the bottom, so to speak. Those figures that Mr. Ashboume has been so kind as to produce show that in 1945 we could apparently ship less than 2% of our fish as merchantable. What has happened? Did the Committee find out the cause? Is it possible that our people can't make Merchantable fish? I can believe now that the man who wrote that letter to Mr. Smallwood was real and his figures were real. What happened? Did you, Mr. Job, and your Committee try to find out the trouble?
Mr. Job We think the standard has no doubt been raised in recent years.
Mr. Hollett You can't raise the standard of Merchantable fish, can you?
Mr. Job I will tell you an experiment we made. We got an amount of fish and had it successively culled by five different cullers and there was a tremendous difference each time. The difference between a Merchantable fish and a Madeira fish is very slight.
Mr. Hollett I don't believe the figures. There is something wrong. I think the Committee should have taken pains to find out what is wrong with it. If nothing is wrong, let's cut it out altogether and sell Madeira only.
Mr. Starkes In my opinion what is wrong is that years ago we always had our fish graded as merchantable, Madeira or West India. The people tried to get merchantable, which was the best price, but the past two years our fish has been graded as merchantable, Madeira, Thirds and West Indies. Thirds and West Indies are actually the same, but they have been receiving the same price for it as Madeira, Thirds and Madeira being the one price. They are not encouraged to make Madeira fish. If we had only three prices they would be encouraged to make good fish.
Mr. Job They are encouraged to make merchantable by the difference in price, but they can't do it apparently.
Mr. Smallwood I raised that matter in the first place, and I am wondering now about this 2% of all the codfish exported which is classified as merchantable. Is that the only word that is used? Is some merchantable fish exported from the country under some other name?.... Frankly I don't believe that only 2% of the fish exported is Merchantable. I don't believe it, and I am not going to believe the Fisheries Board or the Customs or the Chairman of the Fisheries Committee or anyone else. I just don't believe it. There is a catch somewhere. Does it go out under some other name, and if so what is that name? For instance take shore fish, which is one quality of fish that I know something about, and that Spanish shore fish, I have seen it packed — hundreds upon hundreds of quintals, in Bonavista, English Harbour, up the shore from Bonavista in Elliston — beautiful fish, as they say in March 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 421 Bonavista, just like cheese. I know that is shipped out under many names, and I doubt if the word Merchantable is used. There is choice, prime and other grades, but I don't remember the word Merchantable being used, but a lot of it was Merchantable. Then again Madeira. Is it shipped out as Madeira? Under what names and grades is that fish shipped out? The mere fact that there is some technical classification of only 2% merchantable makes me believe that there is some other name. Now somebody knows we are going to get at the bottom of that and lift the lid off.
Mr. Crosbie Mr. Smallwood makes some very bad statements at times. Apparently he does not want to believe anyone. It does not sound logical or responsible for a man not to believe in anything. With regard to Merchantable fish, the grades have changed in the past few years, and I believe the figures are possibly correct. Speaking for our own firm we have not exported a merchantable fish for five years, or bought one for that matter, for that period. The fish in this country is not as good as it was ten or 15 years ago. Whether it is the fault of the curing or what I am not in a position to say.
Mr. Smallwood What names are they exported under?
Mr. Crosbie Merchantable and Madeira, you can go down to the Fishery Board and see.
Mr. Hollett What is the difference in price?
Mr. Crosbie I am not sure, but $2 or $3 a quintal anyway.
Mr. Bailey I wonder can anyone tell us what the names are that the fish is exported under? How many grades and the names on there?
Mr. Job I will have to refer back to Mr. Crosbie, I have been so long out of that I don't know.
Mr. Crosbie I will take a crack at it. Merchantable, Madeira, Thirds, tom cods, West India and him and scale fish — these are the grades they are exported under today. Bim is a new one. If you get on a culling board today you are mesmerised, you can go down on my premises any time when you are not too busy with confederation. You have Madeira no. 1, 2 and 3, and so on with each grade. You want to be a genius today to know the salt codfish business on grades.
Mr. Vincent I move that this section be adopted.
Mr. Ashbourne Referring to this matter of cull if I might, as far as I know the cull, when the fish is bought from the fishermen, is Merchantable, Madeira, West Indies and tom cods, not Thirds. Thirds is an export grade, which means that when the fish is culled at the exporting premises there are certain fish which are graded as Thirds. There are some people who think that the fishermen should have that extra grade too — Thirds....
Mr. Chairman I would like to draw your attention to the fact that l have permitted the debate to wander. There has been some information solicited, but we are not dealing with the salt codfish section just now. The motion is that this section now pass, as read.
[The motion carried. It was then moved that the report be adopted as a whole]
Mr. Vincent ....This report deals with what is in all probability the most important debate to be discussed in this chamber. I do not see the urgency to railroad it through, it concerns more than 60% of our people. On Tuesday, fishermen north, south, east and west listened with great interest to something that appeared to be in the nature of an accusation, a firm or firms receiving an overall commission on every quintal of saltfish shipped out of this country, Tonight they may have some misgivings when they hear of agents, commission merchants, brokers, trade representatives, and sundry others, all getting some cut from what they, who go down to the sea in ships, can extract but a very poor living. I am not quite content with the chairman's explanation that in his opinion this is justified. The whole economy of our country revolves around our fisheries, and I am surprised that so many delegates have not shown a greater interest in this debate.
I do not know what phase of our fisheries should get top priority, I would say that one is so dependent on the other. Mr. Crosbie specialises in fresh codfish products, in this he is joined by Mr. lob, whose firm also figures largely in the fisheries. But just for purposes of comparison, I would point out that in the last fishing season, 1946, the value of the salt cod expert was more than three times the export value of fresh and frozen cod products. If, as Mr. Smallwood with his pessimistic outlook on this phase of the industry suggests, or Mr. Crosbie with his "catch herring" policy points out, if this means curtains for everything but the fresh products and herring, then it devolves upon us to be up and doing something about the reconversion of the salt cod; and reconversion to the fresh and refrigeration 422 NATIONAL CONVENTION March 1947 means a very costly investment....
In Bonavista North there are around 70 schooners and some 1,500 inshore fishermen. Very little of the expensive Labrador outfits can be of any use for fresh fish. Schooners will have to be refrigerated, plants must be built and I would remind the Commission of Government here that in all Bonavista North and Centre there is no freezing plant. There is a bait depot at Greenspond, so when the salt cod goes, something must be done at once to give those displaced fishermen a chance to cam a living. Their present fishing equipment for the greater part, I refer to the Labrador outfits, will be considered obsolete and scrapped.... I believe in our fisheries and I am prepared to wager that in the future we will stand or fall not by farming, not by forestry, not by mining, but by our fisheries, and that only....
I entirely agree with Mr. Crosbie that the figure of $24 million is very conservative and I certainly do not visualise it falling below that for many years. Your Committee suggests a wider diversification of this important industry, with emphasis laid on the fresh and frozen fish markets; that there are tremendous possibilities in our herring fisheries no one doubts, and that it is fast becoming a major branch of the trade is certain. Yet can the herring fishery, centralised as it already is, and restricted to certain specific areas in the island, absorb a part of the many men, who when the salt cod markets go, will of necessity be seeking other sources of employment?
Hanging over every phase of our fisheries must ever be factors beyond our control, such as our utter dependence on the economy of foreign countries to purchase our products, and our absolute lack of internal markets. Coupled with that are the uncertainties of our fisheries; even this year the failure of the Labrador schooners to secure the elusive cod may seriously affect the getting of good fishermen to follow that calling.
With the subsidiary fisheries I shall deal but briefly. The once proud industry of our hardy sealers has dwindled to a shadow of its former self. Of the minor industries, salmon and lobster figure prominently, both seem to be firmly established in the continental market, and the future seems bright. The revival of the whaling industry and its impact upon the economy is something Newfoundlanders must have greeted with much satisfaction. The liberal wages paid by the operat ing firms is very commendable....
The Fisheries Board costs the fishermen of Newfoundland exactly $225,000. I agree that department has justified its existence. But nothing is altogether perfect and there is still much room for improvement. There are discrepancies in our culling system, in our inspection personnel. This must be corrected; codfish, salmon. lobster, should be firmly rejected if it does not meet the requirements. Inspectors should be fair and fearless and ensure a good article for export which will automatically ensure our retention of good markets.
The idea of the 25-ton powered boat for late inshore fishing is sound and. unlike carrying out ice in small boats in July and August, is practicable. The best thing in this report is this centralisation idea, the objective for which we should constantly strive. This must come with the reconversion of our fisheries, and the opening up of our communications, so that when Mr. Crosbie starts his processing plant at Wesleyville or Hare Bay in my district, fast trucks will speed up from Musgrave Harbour and Lumsden with the fish fresh from the boat. A centralised curing and processing plant situated in Bonavista Bay could serve 50 miles of fishing coast if the plant could absorb all the catch.... Our fisheries are the vital life blood of our nation; we need more men of vision, men of a gambling spirit, men who will seek out and exploit every last chance to utilise to the last ounce our fishery products and byproducts.
I do not want to be accused of self-serving localism but I cannot refrain from saying that if there are two districts where the opening up of communications is of vital importance to the future prosecution of the fisheries, they are the districts of Bonavista North and Centre. Every settlement from Hare Bay to Musgrave Harbour, a distance of 60 miles, is a fishing settlement, and with the advent of the mechanisation and modernising of the industry, and centralisation, roads must be built. Like Mr. Hollett, who yesterday fearlessly demonstrated that he was not a native of Burin, nor of Grand Falls, but of Newfoundland, I am unable to endorse the opinion that there is sufficient justification for the expenditure of $1.5 million in a certain specified area on the pretense that it is vitally necessary to the industry there, while 150 men, women, and March 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 423 children of fishing stock waddle through mud in another district, and have not the wherewithal to improve their methods of catching or curing the same product....
The social security scheme, so ably discussed by Mr. Hillier yesterday, deserves more than passing comment. Our fishermen from now on will be watching with great eagerness the activities of our energetic Board of Trade now actually studying that question. Here's where the words of vital importance get their fullest meaning. Of the co-operatives I will say no more than to intimate to Messrs. Newell and Keough, that they can count Bonavista North as a sympathetic supporter of the club which threw the bouquets at their organisation yesterday.
Mr. Job I am wondering where that information came from that the road is going to cost $1.5 million? I did not get on my feet to refer to that, but rather to a statement made by the member from Bonavista Centre who yesterday said that a little bird gave him some information. I want to make clear to the delegates that it was a very untruthful little bird. I got this direct from the Fisheries Board: the cost of group marketing of all salt codfish exports from Newfoundland for the past several years has been below 1.5% of the export value. That includes the amounts paid to the organisations to which he refers.
[The committee recessed until 8 pm]
Mr. Smallwood I would like to congratulate the Fisheries Committee upon what I consider to be one of the finest pieces of work in connection with a report on fisheries in Newfoundland ever compiled. I know of no other document on the fisheries so complete, and so accurate on the whole....
I have absolute faith in the basic possibilities of the Newfoundland fisheries. We must never forget that over half our entire economy consists of the fisheries and that half of the population is directly affected by the fisheries, and that the remainder who are not directly affected, are certainly so in an indirect way. Everyone in Newfoundland stands or falls in the long run by the fisheries. We must not make the mistake of neglecting the fisheries. We must never forget that we cannot have a prosperous Newfoundland without prosperous fisheries. So I would like to say I have great faith and great belief in the basic possibilities of the fisheries of this country, and any man who has not that kind of faith had better leave the country and forget it. Having said that, I think it is common fairness and common sense for us to take a realistic look at the fishery situation, not so much as it is at the present moment, but as it is likely to be in the next two to four years, and then what it is likely to be eight, ten and 20 years after.
For the past several years the fisheries of Newfoundland have been going through what you might call a honeymoon. A lot of countries had stopped fishing almost completely. Only a limited number were fishing in the last few years. The result has been a world-wide shortage of fish and fish products, including oil and other products, and the consequence has been that the demand for fish has been great because at the time the supply was down, the demand was up and the ability to buy it also up. That is now coming to an end.... The shortage will soon be over. What we will have to face is perhaps ample supplies and more than enough to meet the demand.
[Mr. Smallwood surveyed fisheries developments in other countries]
All that, while it is serious, is not as discouraging as it sounds. Nominally there appears to be in all the fish countries an elaborate and in some cases hasty programme of expansion in the means of taking, producing and processing fish. It means that immediately ahead there is going to be difficulty on the part of all the fish countries to market sufficient quantities. That is why I am so keen on three things: development of the fresh fish end of the fishery; of herring oil; and of meals and fertilisers from herring and other kinds of fish in Newfoundland.
It seems we have reached a point that we never did reach before the war. We have to get down to brass tacks — keep up with the times; keep in the forefront in the development of fish trades. If we do not, we are going under. Clive Planta, Secretary of the Fisheries Council of Canada ... made this statement: "From discussions with the delegates at Copenhagen and later at Bergen, I gained the same impression of the trends of the fisheries. Without exception, every fish producing country was gearing its economy to maximum production with emphasis on quality. On all sides there was evidence of every country adopting progressive steps to extend its fisheries and also of adopting all new and improved methods."
Iceland is expanding, so is Sweden. Norway is seeking maximum expansion. Great Britain will be back to pre-war strength within a year. Other countries are building new and improved vessels, including factory ships. The action of the fishery industry in shaking off traditional modes has brought about greater concentration. Private companies have joined large co-operatives; have federated and expanded; fisheries unions have developed and become a permanent part of the industry. It means we have to get on our toes or Newfoundland is going to be left far behind in the march of progress. She cannot afford to be left far behind with over half the economy of the whole country. What can we do about it? This Convention, nothing What can the country do? It seems to me we have to reduce the cost of production in the fisheries and in other things as well. Like Mr. Job, I never lose the chance to stress that.... The fisheries are burdened with costs that they do not have in other countries. If we are to compete we must bring down the cost of production. Second, scientific research; and third, new methods of production and of processing. I would say the fishery has to get off in new directions — herring, oils, meals, fertilisers, canning — I have great faith in canning. The Committee tells us that Senator MacLean appeared before them — he is one of the biggest fish men in Canada — and one of the members asked him, "Why is it you are not bothering the United States?" "I never even think of them, we are shipping to 100 different countries," he said. That is canned fish. His plant is costing $250,000. We have enough to put up five like that and not miss it. If Senator MacLean can have 11 or 12 in Canada, why not 10 or 12 modern efficient plants in Newfoundland? We have to do it.
In connection with new methods, it is only fair to say a word of praise of the Hon. Mr. Job who is one of its pioneers in the fish trade of the country. Every now and then his firm comes up with something of a pioneering experiment, and they are still at it. Then Mr. Crosbie in whose energy, in whose ability, courage and daring in the fish trade, I have the utmost respect, as I expect everyone else has.... Also Mr. Monroe, Mr. Hazen Russell and the Harveys, who have broken new trails, started new products. But it is not vast enough; it has to be done under tremendous pressure if the fisheries are going to provide a living for our people.
Fourth is the question of a new tariff. I understand that there is a feeling among some that capital should not be brought in for our fisheries; that if we cannot produce the capital, we should do without it; any new development in the fish industry we cannot get with our own capital, we should not get it. This country has been running 250 years. The amount of capital we have accumulated is woefully below the amount we need. It is nothing to be ashamed of. The United States itself was built up with capital brought in from Great Britain. Canada was built up with capital brought in from Great Britain and the United States; New Zealand and South Africa, the big countries loaned it out, they became developed and loaned it to other countries. I am not an economist or a statistician, but I see the fisheries have to have new capital by thousands or millions. Why not become a greater country than Iceland with its 120,000 population? We have 318,000 population. Why not become one of the most modern? If we have not got the capital in Newfoundland, let us go after it and bring it in.
Fifthly, we can put tremendous emphasis on organisation. The Fisheries Board deserves a lot of credit. Let us bear one thought for William Coaker and for Mr. Justice Dunfreld who was a director of Job Brothers in 1919. They were pioneers; they were too early to have the idea of organisation. The Fish Exporters Group was born in 1919 and it has flowered and blossomed. Give them credit, but do not forget the men who preceded them,
Sixth, the co-operative movement. That I regard as fundamentally one of the most important developments that has taken place in the fisheries, and especially in regard to the cost of production. One way to reduce cost is by cooperation.
Seven, a separate department of fisheries. I would not have fisheries linked up with land, forests. etc., I would have a completely separate department of fisheries. At least one of the departments of the government can specialise in one department of fish.
I am not going over the estimate of $25 million. Whatever differences of opinion we may have at least we can agree on this. When it gets down to estimating the value of this country, it would be very poor criticism if I tried to paint the March 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 425 picture glowing only for the sake of arguing against, say, responsible government.... Regardless of the form of government we get in l948 this country is due for a recession in the fish trade, that is likely to last three or four years.
I have absolute faith in the eventual uiumph of this country. She may go through hard times, but Newfoundlanders have in them what it takes. If only the country can get a decent chance, we will amount to something in the end.
Mr. Spencer ....We are all agreed that the fishery is likely to remain for many years the main industry of this country, and in the past we have invariably thought of the salt codfish industry. In this respect our thinking was wrong, but there is no need for me to enlarge on this as it has been dealt with very thoroughly.
My experience of the fishery has been that the fisherman who got most out of fishing, who made the most comfortable living, was without exception the man who was equipped to go after and catch different types of fish. If a man was equipped to go after halibut, he went after them in the early spring, or one who had enough herring nets would go after them when they were plentiful, and in recent years he could sell them to the government bait depot or the local herring packets. Unfortunately, the bait depots have not the refrigeration or storage capacity to handle all the herring that can be caught. Then when the time of the year came for salmon he went after them; the same is true of lobster and mackerel, and if he had a harpoon aboard of his boat, and was lucky, he might add a swordfish to his catch; and he only went after cod when none of the other fish were available. In this way if the price was low for any one type of fish, he very likely made up for it on the other types. For this reason I cannot quite agree with the table in Appendix B, which draws a comparison between the catches of the inshore and deep-sea fisherman.[1] I have no doubt it is accurate as far as codfish is concerned, but it does not give the true picture, as many of those who are classed as inshore fishermen catch other fish besides cod. This may not apply to all parts of our coast, as there may be sections where they catch only cod.
I would add my voice to that of Mr. Hillier and the Fishery Committee, when they advocate a scheme of social security for our deep-sea fisher men. I consider it is the distinct duty of any country to provide protection and security for the families of our men who go down to the sea in ships.
With regard to the fresh frozen cod industry, our people are becoming more fresh fish conscious and every effort should be made to find markets for our products.
I feel there is no need for me to more than mention the co-operative marketing and export of our fishery products. The results speak more eloquently than any words of mine.
Now to consider the value of the fisheries to the national income of this country for the years which lie immediately ahead. In my opinion the men who comprise the Fishery Committee have wide experience in matters pertaining to the fisheries, and the reasons they have given for expecting an annual income from the fisheries of approximately $25 million are sound, and unless something drastic happens to our markets, can be expected to materialise. We hear much of the need for new industries, but to me our greatest need is to develop to the full the industry that we have.
Mr. Bailey ....I hardly know where to begin to enumerate the ills and shortcomings that have befallen the backbone of our economic structure, the codfishery.... I firmly believe that every sane Newfoundlander — whether layman or fisherman — should have a chance to study and closely follow this report. The government should put it out in pamphlet form and send a copy to every hamlet in Newfoundland. Its figures leave much room for thought, I was forcibly struck with the great differences in the export of our fish during the past and at present. We find, for example, in 1908-09 the export of salt cod was 1,732,387 quintals. Whilst I know that two of our markets — Italy and Greece — are in the doldrums today, yet we find that in 1945 the export of our saltfish was 1,058,933, a decrease of 673,454 quintals, or a loss of over $10 million at 1945 prices. Was there a market for that fish, and we did have the fish to supply it, or have we lost the markets where we marketed that extra 700,000 quintals of fish? I think the time for stocktaking in our primary industry was long overdue. Another 40 years at the rate we are going will find us without any markets....
I'll take the report of the Fisheries Post-War Planning Committee first. It says, "Foreign trade is the very life blood of Newfoundland and every effort should be made to co-operate with other producing countries in endeavouring to find solutions for the numerous problems which will face the saltfish trade in the post-war years."[1] It goes on to say that Newfoundland has no bargaining power with most countries consuming her saltfish, and consequently it was to the British government that Newfoundland had to look for protection. We have had bargaining powers in the past. Did we use them? I cannot understand why we, a maritime race, had to look to Britain in the past; before steam at the end of World War I forced our sailing vessels from the sea we were in a more fortunate position then we are today. Now we have had two world wars; wealth, as we knew it in 1914, has been practically blasted from the earth. All nations have become creditor nations either to their own peoples or outsiders.... We today are a fortunate people if we face and plan for the future....
I don't think the saltfish business is dead, but I firmly believe the time has come for a rejuvenation, and a nation with a backbone instead of a wishbone can do just that. This country has the resources to feed its people and could feed, clothe and house ten times as many more in a manner comparable with any frontier people. This will mean very careful planning unless we are going to continue in the same old lairrez-faire way. If so, then heaven help us. The time has definitely come to call a halt and we must get busy and seriously co-operate along entirely different and more progressive lines if we ever hope to become economically independent.
There is not one market that we had and lost that would have gone out of our keeping if we had shipped the proper quality fish, except those markets wherein the people have built their own ships and caught their own fish. Ever since I can remember I have heard it said that everything is OK if the quintal of fish buys the barrel of flour. It is when the price of flour is up and the fish down that the people worry. What steps have we taken to ensure our people that we can sell fish and buy flour? Not from 1931 to 1940, however. Look at our exports of fish in 1936-37, 965,699 quintals — a drop of 766,688 quintals below the 1908-09 score of 1,732,387 quintals. Now that should make one wonder how our people were fed. Bread from British mills, mostly from Spillers, bakers in Cardiff. Why did we get flour from there? Because Britain was supplying manufactured goods to Australia, Argentina and Canada and was getting wheat from them. Is it possible that with 150,000 square miles of this earth we could not find anything to trade with those countries to get wheat to feed 280,000 people? What was wrong? Let us examine the situation closely. Just where were those superb young seamen that the British Admiralty called for in October 1939 for boarding boats' crews? On the crossroads of every village in Newfoundland, their hands nearly worn off through keeping them in their pockets so long, because somebody could not operate a merchant marine as cheaply as other countries. We had no ships. Who, when we were borrowing money by the millions, would not allow five ships to be built for the trade of the colony, who was to blame? Who in a changing world expected to carry on in the same old way? But look what we got. Now. the path is ahead of us today, a thorny path if we take the wrong turning, but a path that will give our people freedom from fear and freedom from want if we do what can and should be done. We have it in our hands today, let us plan wisely. Today we have no deadwood and we have a backlog, if I may use those terms. By that I mean we have no fleet of sailing vessels, the deadwood, like we had after the last war, which high insurance and low freight rates made obsolete in a few years. To enable us to enter the maritime field the people of Newfoundland, through the government, have nearly $40 million, that is what I meant by the backlog. We have no obsolete ships like Norway and Iceland. We can start from scratch with all modern improvements in the ship of today, and this is where this island home of ours can begin to live. In the past we had to sell our fish in cheap markets and buy our food in dear ones, we had no chance to barter. The lack of a merchant marine has done that to us, for no country today, no matter how willing they are to sell for cash, can sell to a country when they have no cash Formerly you could sell to one country for cash and take that cash to another country and buy goods, but that is impossible today. There March 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 427 fore the country that is in a position to ship its products in its own bottoms to another country and take from that country the products of that country, is in a far better position to do business and create trade than is a country who has not the means to transport its own goods and return with other necessary cargoes. This is where we have to start today. We had in Australia, in 1908, a market for 65,000 quintals of fish. We lost that. The Norwegians and Icelanders were putting into the English market at that time their soft-cured fish, 18 hogsheads to the 100 quintals, we were putting in Labrador and Strait Shore cured fish, 13 hogsheads to the 100 quintals, seven days sun. A fish that held up and sold itself wherever it went. That fish was the kind of fish that went to Australia, and every Australian who could get fish for tea Sunday evening had it. They called it Newfoundland tea fish. Messrs. Munn, Baine Johnston and Job started that time what we called the Labrador slop. Ships came out from England with coal, discharged here, were not cleaned out, had no inspection, and went north and loaded at Grey Island and down the coast. The fish was stowed in bulk, no cask, I helped load them. This fish went across and was shipped to Australia, and by 1913 not one fish was eaten in Australia. First the fish was soft-cured and could not stand the handling, then it was stowed in bulk with sand from the men's shoes, coal dust from the stringers and other dirt and nobody would buy it. Brokers in towns in Australia took a beating of at least $4,000 on a single shipment. That is how we lost one market.
We had quite a market in the west of England. I believe Mr. Goodridge knows how we lost that market during the first world war. In the cities of Bristol, Exeter and Taunton, Newfoundland shore cod was on practically everybody's table for Sunday's tea. In October, 1917, the wholesale house on Broad Quay, Bristol, finished taking Newfoundland cod. It was Labrador slop, toe rag they called it. This grocer was 40 years in the business. I have shown you how markets were lost. I watched them go and talked with the men who imported the fish. Others I could speak about but it is water under the bridge and time forbids me, but don't forget we did not lose those markets because people did not want to buy New foundland fish, but because we would not send them the quality of fish they required. Speak to the average Newfoundlander today and he will tell you that the saltfish business is dying; sure it is, but handled right, shipped in the right type of ship, and stored in the right kind of stores in Newfoundland, and you would sell 4 million quintals. The market is unlimited if marketed the right way, and it is one of the most expensive foods in the world. In the south I have never paid less than 50 cents a pound for cod in my life — 58 cents in Montevideo in 1911, 63 cents in Panama in 1935, 32 cents in Bristol in 1914. There was a profit somewhere and anybody living in a tropical or semi-tropical country wants saltfish. I referred to the market we lost in Australia. We can get that market back when things settle down and the world gets back to normal. Now we cannot sell fish to Australia for cash because the rate of exchange is against us, but this is the way we can turn that cheap money to our advantage.... First we have to find at least four ships to do three jobs, seal fishery, refrigeration for carrying perishable goods and other cargoes, built and owned by the country, operated by a shipping board like the Fisheries Board.... By building those four ships it would be possible to operate in the trade of the island all the year around, and, under the direction of the shipping and fisheries boards, all classes of exporters including the co-operatives would be able to avail of their services. They would be able to take any kind of a cargo, mixed or otherwise, anywhere in the world. They would not only be able to bring in the pelts from the ice but they would be able to bring in the meat as well. With cold storage facilities we could have seal meat all the year around. Perhaps we could find a market for this meat in the future.... I see nothing improbable in this idea. If the money that was put into the Newfoundland Hotel had been put into ships of this type at the time the hotel was built, it is probable that the ships would not be showing a deficit such as the hotel is.[1] If we had had the ships I have described, and a flour and feed mill, we could probably have created a market for about 100,000 quintals in Australia. They have nearly 6 million people and they have the wheat, wool, meat and dairy products that we need.... 428 NATIONAL CONVENTION March 1947 There is another market in the Argentine which we could get into, they have cold storage facilities there already. We can take from them wheat, corn and cheaper grains, also linseed and meat. So with a flour and feed mill we would be independent of the world in feeding our own people and our own cattle. The Argentine is a market for flaked and boneless fish, another industry we can start here. I have put down on paper here an extensive programme, maybe an ambitious one, but there is nothing that a progressive government cannot accomplish with less than $20 million and we have that money. Surely if the Iceland government is going to spend $40 million on the reorganisation of their fishery, and they have only a population of 130,000, we can invest less than $20 million with our population of nearly three times that number. There is not a tree on leeland, whilst we are assured of at least $16 million in wages from our forests, and the market is here for flour and feed. We have a cloth mill which last year used 120,000 pounds of Australian wool, and that was getting it the dear way, carried past our doors to the United States and then hauled across Canada. If this wool was imported direct the mill would probably be able to use more.... Our butter factory can use the dairy products. We can bring them. I cannot see how it can fail. I see no reason why we could not be on the pig's back with the resources we have.
We need men of vision who would not be afraid to step out of the rut we have been wallowing in too long. We have looked for leadership where it wasn't to be found. Too long we have thought that only certain men could do things — why not do it ourselves? The time has come for us to change. God helps those who help themselves. We all belong to this island home of ours, everybody must work together, if the fisherman is getting a good living everybody is getting one. If I may quote the Cabot and Lodge couplet, "Too long have we been under / The towering South Side Hills, In the land of the sacred Cod / Where the Jobs spoke unto the Bowrings / Then the Bowrings spoke to God." I am not speaking disparagingly or irreverently of these gentlemen, but that is the pedestal our folks have put them on, and then blamed them when things went wrong. Now we want leadership from all classes.
I don't hold with the pessimistic view. I know there are hard times ahead for everybody and I consider we are the lucky ones. Sure, the fresh fish is going to have a hard time. A wholesaler asked me in Grimsby, "God, man. how do you get the fillets so fresh?" "Because", I said, "they are mostly caught within ten miles of the freezing plant, and a lot of it is not six hours out of water before it is frozen." Nothing in the world can take place of Newfoundland shore dried fish, especially after three weeks of the caplin. When we get central curing stations with artificial drying, then we will hold our own with the world. Throw a Newfoundland fish down anywhere, after you have cleaned the blood, guts, and blubber off the napes, washed it with running water, dried it hard and made it white, and it will sell itself. If the regulations apply to the merchant they must apply to the fishermen as well. We have had 40 years of propaganda trying to get fishermen to take the entrails off fish, and still this is not done, even though they know this is one of the reasons why our fish won't sell. Let the government put out an order that next fall fish with blood and guts and liver on it will not be permitted to be purchased by the merchant, and that fishermen producing that kind of fish must take it home again, and I'll venture to bet that you will get clean fish. Then we are suffering too much today from the saying, "It's good enough for the blacks." Fish from all other fish producing countries is white, why not Newfoundland fish? The custom of grinding fish into packages by the crew should be abolished, and boxes used. I noticed one box of fish from Norway and cask fish from Newfoundland in Montevideo; the customer tried the weight of the two fish and he eventually bought the Newfoundland fish because it was fuller fleshed. The Norse fish was thin but he said it looked better. Newfoundland fish was good but it was crushed with the screw....
I have already dealt at some length with the herring, and will leave that fishery with this observation, that when the world gets settled down the wedge inserted by UNRRA in middle Europe should be followed up. The seal fishery is there and there is no if. The fishery is there, and we have $12 million in Britain, she has the men to build the ships and we have the men to man them. The world is starving for fats and seals are fat, so let us demand those ships and get busy before other nations deplete our seal herds. The time is right now. The whaling industry, while not spec March 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 429 tacular, fits into our economy and will, if common sense rules are carried out, go on for a long time. I believe our subsidiary fisheries can, in many cases, be enlarged.... The figure of $34,499,171 for last year was heartening, and although these are inflated values, yet our fishery is in a healthy condition and I believe a firm policy now, with an eye for new markets and also to barter where we can't get cash, will put us through. But it must be done by a combination of government, merchants, and fishermen. We are all tied up together. I believe the whole question of the Labrador cure is that we heavy-salt too much of it.... With regard to decked boats of 20-25 tons, those vessels would be very economical, especially on short hauls.... The time has come for the nations to get together to find out where fish spawn and to protect those regions, because the depletion of the Banks is caused by the heavy dories and nets ploughing up the bottom and destroying the food the fingerlings live on in their early life.... The depletion of the Banks also makes great inroads on the shore fishery. In the Straits of Belle Isle in 1880 it was usual for two men fishing from whale boats with hand lines to land from 360 to 460 quintals of shore fish from the 15th June to the 20th September. Today three men are doing well to land 160 quintals in the same time, fishing with motor boats. I believe the setting up of the Fisheries Board is a step in the right directionand more power to their elbow. The co-operative movement, especially in the fisheries, should and must be of prime importance to this country. It is only when the fishermen show an interest in the fish from the time it spawns until it reaches the consumer that our fisheries will come into their own. Bounties should be given for the repair of schooners.... I am not in a position to speak from experience with regard to the frozen fish business. I know it has a future. I believe that if we had one strong central company with faith in the resources behind it, this would be the coming industry, with the ships I have spoken about in the first part of this address....
The land for the bases is a job for the Foreign Office in my estimation, and is outside our jurisdiction, but I firmly believe we should get a government of our own people elected to present our case to those who made it, and to get the case adjusted. I believe we should get some adjust ments in lieu of hire for our land, that would pay us better in the long run. I believe central curing stations are long overdue, also cold storage facilities for storing the fish we have to keep over a long time.... Depots for salt outside of St. John's are long overdue. Anything that makes the outfitting of the fisherman less expensive should be of prime importance, first to the fisherman and then to the government. This should be done as quickly as possible. We should demand, while our present status exists, to have access to the British marketing agency in the same proportion as a regular citizen of the United Kingdom, and if we do get back dominion status we should be a pan of that agency either by negotiation with the UK government or by other means, even if it meant a cash contribution towards its upkeep. They have the greatest marketing agency in the world and I believe there is no reason why we should not have a liaison with them.... There is one more thing I want to speak about and it is the insurance; as Kipling puts it, "If blood be the price of Admiralty", we have paid it in full in the past. I believe not in an insurance but a pension scheme paid something like the British government paid to their seamen and fishermen during the war, where a widow would receive a pension until she remarried, and the children until they reached a certain age. This could be a tax on the industry with the government standing a part of it. The time has come for social service to come into the picture in this country. The government employee gets it, why not the primary producer's dependents, if he is drowned? If a loss of limbs occurs through hardship, sickness, stranding or suffering hardship on wrecks, then he should be looked after....
Mr. Job I would like to thank Mr. Smallwood and Mr. Vincent for their kind words. I congratulate Mr. Smallwood on his very fine speech. The only disappointing part of it was the absence of remarks about markets. It is all very well to talk about getting new capital and developing fisheries. We have developed it to saturation point at the moment, and unless you get markets what is the point? I am disappointed he made no reference to the point I stressed so much here — a quid pro quo from the USA for the concessions already given them. When the delegation goes to London, I hope someone will not forget to bring up that point in spite of the fact that the Commis 430 NATIONAL CONVENTION March 1947 sion of Government has said they did not think it is a matter for discussion. I firmly believe if it is brought up, the matter will be discussed. I am still of the opinion that the most vital part of the whole report is where we stress the need for the US market. Unless we can get something of that sort, it will be a poor situation in the future. It is all very well to say America has a big fishery of its own, we can still get a small quantity and it would make all the difference in a decent living for our people and the reverse; if we do not take this opportunity, it will be a great mistake. I distributed copies of a pamphlet on that question and received from outside the country, from people who are used to national questions, a very flattering statement. They thought that we had put forward an extremely strong case for approaching the US.... Great Britain has already purchased considerable quantities of frozen fillets from Norway. Her readiness to buy from Norway was on account of exchange. We are up against that in the British market today. With the consent of the Treasury I hope something can be done in regard to Great Britain. The American market remains in its present position. You know what it would mean if we have to shut down the cold storage plants. I again stress that we must push that question of quid pro quo from the United States.
Mr. Reddy ....I would like to refer to the deep- sea fishermen of the southwest coast, as I feel I know something of the hardships they encounter whilst pursuing their avocation. This type of fishing entails greater hardship than the shore fishing. The men leave their homes in the dead of winter, when storms are most severe, and the danger and hardships to which they are subjected earn for them a special place in our consideration and a special recognition by the government in any future plans for the development of the fisheries.
This past number of years many of our sea fishermen proceeded to Lunenburg to engage in the deep-sea fishery. The return they receive for fishing there is higher than for fishing the same length of time in Newfoundland. I believe if the cost of production in this industry was lowered, those men would earn as much in this country as they do in Lunenburg — thereby adding the wealth of their labour to their own country.
The Newfoundland fishermen have paid a heavy price down through the years — hardly a year passes without the loss of some fishermen. There have been occasions when entire crews failed to return. Many of the stories of heroism and suffering are never told. Although those men have insurance under the Bank Fishery Act, the amount paid to dependent widows and children is a mere pittance. Of course the PMD Fund gives great assistance to such bereaved families, but I urge the government to immediately devise plans for adequate insurance for those brave toilers of the deep.
This past year has witnessed the inauguration of a more modern way of fishing. A large fresh fish filleting plant has been completed at Burin, as well as a fishmeal plant considered equal to, if not surpassing, anything of its kind on the North American continent. Three fair size draggers are in operation at the plant, manned with local captains and crews, which up to the present time has brought to the old and historic town of Burin, with its long and checkered history in the Bank fishery, an unprecedented era of prosperity that has penetrated many towns and villages on the whole Burin Peninsula. The undertaking has required large capital expenditure — whether this is American or private capital I am not aware. I do know for the proper development of the fisheries of this country we need capital to the extent of at least $50 million....
In common with many others I view with the utmost alarm the increased activity of European countries on the Grand Banks. Unless some international control is exercised, those famous fishing grounds will be depleted of fish, which in turn will have a serious effect on our shore fishery. I would suggest that die Fisheries Board take immediate steps that would lead to the protection of the fishing banks, the lifeline of our country's natural resources.
Referring to the Burin Peninsula road, to which some members here yesterday showed much disfavour, I entirely disagree. Mr. Monroe appeared before our Fisheries Committee and stated he was prepared to expand his plant at Burin by another million dollars if adequate communication could be provided. This road would serve four districts — Fortune Bay, Burin West, Burin East and Placentia West. The people in those districts realise that this road would bring them out of the isolation they have so long en March 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 431 dured, and I am happy to say the government proposed to start this road this spring.
Mr. Cashin Did I understand Mr. Job to say that Britain had placed or was about to place an order for fresh fish in Norway, and the reason they could not place it in Newfoundland was because of exchange difficulties?
Mr. Job Yes.
Mr. Cashin How much was it?
Mr. Job About 20 million pounds at 15 cents a pound.
Mr. Cashin To my mind that order should have been placed in Newfoundland. With regard to exchange, they have it right here. We pay them $3.25 million interest in sinking fund on our sterling debt. Consequently if they felt like giving us that order, it would not involve purchasing dollars in Great Britain; it would mean paying the interest and we in turn here would pay the dollars over to the fish exporters who supply the fish for that order. In my opinion that is a very flimsy excuse for not buying fresh fish in Newfoundland. That was the only point I wanted to make, and I want to congratulate the Fisheries Committee on their excellent report.
Mr. Starkes During the past few years, we have been selling fish through the International Food Control Board; I understand that board is now to be discontinued as far as Newfoundland fish is concerned?
Mr. Job I understand that after the end of March there are no more sales through the Combined Food Board.
Mr. Starkes If anyone got an order for 20,000 quintals, would they ship it direct or through the Fisheries Board?
Mr. Job I think it would be through the Fisheries Board.
Mr. Starkes In connection with small steamers, I understand there were a few men — returned soldiers from the US — who came here in a steamer to get supplies to go to the sealfishery. I am told the position is that before she could sail from St. John's or from Newfoundland, she had to pay $4,000 tax or get a clearance from the Customs to sail for Halifax. Their intention was to bring in the seals and manufacture them and give employment here. The position is today if a man took sick or the boat lost a propeller and had to make port, as soon as he entered port her first obligation is to pay $4,000 tax to the New foundland Customs.
Mr. Job That is under the old Sealing Act.
Mr. Chairman The matter is not strictly relevant to the issues before this Convention; but as a matter of information, if any member of the Convention is in a position to answer, I will allow the answer.
Mr. Job I am not in a position to answer it. I have no doubt they are sticking to the Sealing Act which was made for the protection of seals and men. What the actual position is, I do not know. I think six or seven years ago when Norwegians came out they were refused clearance — they wanted to discourage foreign vessels.
Mr. Harrington The Fisheries Report has now been debated for 22 hours and I do not propose to keep it on the carpet much longer. There were a couple of points which struck me. On page 39 — referring to the local consumption of fish in 1946, 68,760 quintals worth almost $1 million. The average family is given as 4.5, that makes 25 pounds of fish per person per year, less than a half pound a week. We are a great race of fishermen but we do not each much of it. There is an argument there for a strong campaign of "Eat more fish" or a "National Fish Week". If the local consumption amounts to $1 million in 1946, I see no reason why we would not be persuaded to treble that or double it, which would mean something.
On page 44 — this matter of centralisation. If this country has a problem, this is it. We have heard a lot of talk about it, most of the delegates know about it at first hand. I am representing St. John's but I have travelled a great deal of the coast — I have been on most of it. I have seen some of the places where our people live; I tell you it goes to your heart sometimes, it does to mine, what they have to do without, living in those places! There is a big argument there for this business of roads (which caused a lot of controversy). I am not taking sides; if it is a case of removing isolation, then by all means we should see what we can do about it. But I do not believe in this business of roads alone, just to link up all settlements. No government can possibly do that or attempt to do it. Mr. Vincent has referred to centralisation several times. I strongly support the idea. We have to get our people together into large communities or we are not going to get anywhere under any form of govern 432 NATIONAL CONVENTION March 1947 ment. We cannot afford it.
I note the small amount the government has spent or is going to spend on research. It is a great pity. The fisheries have been and will continue to be the mainstay — surely we should invest a little money in that vital aspect of it. I have not much to say about co-operation. I think it is a worthwhile movement and is contributing a great deal to a better economic setup and outlook and I wish it all success. Another last point, the matter of insurance for fishermen, some sort of guarantee or safeguard for families. I think it is a terrible state of affairs in 1947 that the primary producers are in such a precarious position. I would like to go on record as being in accord with any scheme which can be formulated to assist fishermen and their dependents.
Mercantile marine — I agree with Mr. MacDonald and Mr. Bailey. It is basic and the people wish a return of some shape or form of our old mercantile marine. We had a tremendous fleet in the old days. Sometimes Newfoundlanders went off on a barque or brigantine to the ends of the earth...
Mr. Smallwood Mr. Harrington has reminded me of a pointI forgot to raise. I was asked to raise it by persons engaged in the fresh fish trade. There are in St. John's something like 1,000 shops, maybe more. Quite a few of them are beginning to sell fresh fish.... The point is this: in Canada and the United States, and I imagine in Great Britain, shops selling fresh fish are required by law to have the proper cold storage facilities.... I am wondering if there are any regulations on it. Is anything being done to protect the quality of fish after it leaves cold storage?
Mr. Job Until quite recently all or most of it was sold to one or two fish shops. Recently they are selling more to grocery stores, but they deliver only a small quantity each time. It is all wrapped. They have no cold storage facilities in those shops.
Mr. Hollett I rise again to congratulate the Committee on the excellence of the report. I can quite see what a tremendous amount of work was put in on it. In doing that I am reminded of the remark Mr. Harrington made when he said there was a controversy about a road. There was no controversy whatsoever. A remark was made that the word "vital" be taken from the record. That was all there was to it. This Convention has gone on record as believing that the building of the road atacost of $1.25 - $2 million was not of vital concern as far as the fisheries is concerned. But Mr. Reddy from Burin has chosen to take the matter up again. I still maintain that the Convention was right when they adopted that. It is an accomplished fact. The government has decided they are going to put the road through. It was most unfortunate that the name of the man who has established a plant there should have been introduced. I am sure that gentleman would be the last to think there was a move on his part to get the road through. I do not think that even that gentleman thinks that because he wants to extend his plant in Burin, the government should extend the road.
Mr. Job I would like to thank Mr. Hollett and others. I hope you will all bear in mind that Mr. Keough has been largely responsible and that he has worked very hard. As regards Mr. Hollett's objection to the use of a certain gentleman's name, that gentleman is on record before our Committee as advocating that road....
Mr. Newell I do not want to be like the speaker who said he did not want to delay the House and then got up and made a second speech. There are two questions — what are the fisheries worth to the country, and what are they worth to the people? Can they provide a decent living for the people engaged in it? I think the first has been covered by the Committee. I am not going into that $25.25 or $24.75 millions. We take that with the knowledge there is an element of guesswork in any such estimate, and the Committee has done a good job in making that estimate. I also feel we have the right idea in being enthusiastic about branching out into newer forms of fishery.
With regard to the second question — how much will the fisheries be worth to the people engaged in it? That depends to a greater extent upon ourselves. I would like to say that even at high prices, even when conditions are at their best, in many parts of this country the fisheries have not been providing a decent standard of living for the people engaged in them. There are several reasons for this. The high cost of credit that was stressed here. There are methods of handling and the attitude many people have towards the articles which they themselves produce. Five years ago the situation came up in March 1947 NATIONAL CONVENTION 433 connection with the salmon fishery. The English market had been lost; none of the people who had been marketing salmon had made any arrangements with the American market; where I happened to live the people had been salmon fishing for years and then found there was no way to dispose of the salmon. No one wanted them, so they thought. These people learned their lesson the hard way. I want to assure the Convention that they will never be caught in that position again. They have an organisation that will put it on the market for them. It seems to me that while it is not quite self-evident, while we ought to have a certain amount of faith in the produce of the country and in the fisheries, I, at any rate, do not hesitate in going so far out on a limb as to say that barring absolute blank catches, the fisheries can be so organised as to give a decent living to the people engaged in it.... If I did not think that, I would clear out of this country. We have to have a different approach from anything in the past.... While I concur with the government's putting more money into research; while I have nothing but the highest esteem for people who have faith enough to build cold storage industries and try to develop new markets; I feel there is one essential factor in the long or perhaps in the short run, the success or failure of our Newfoundland fisheries will depend to a very great extent on the people who are engaged in the primary production. There are two ways we can get their interest in their own welfare more than they have shown in the past: one is through educational methods, educating the people in the fishing boats to a better standard of values with regard to the produce they have to market, in the necessity of new methods of handling. Even that is not enough. The normal average individual will only have the biggest interest in anything when his own financial returns are tied up with that interest, and in the past we have suffered much because there was never discrimination between the man who made a good product and the man who made an inferior one. The fisheries will only be successful when the fishermen are shareholders of the enterprise and when their income depends as much on the successful marketing operation as on the catch. The average fisherman feels his job is done when he has salted it, dried it and passed it over to the merchants. That is why I deplore any niggardliness with regard to the investment of public monies on such things as co-operative education.
Mr. Fogwill It is not my intention to debate this excellent report but I was most interested in the fresh fish question. In reference to some figures quoted by Mr. Smallwood, I think he quoted 400,000 pounds of fish in 1943. Has he got those figures broken down?
Mr. Smallwood Not here....
[The committee of the whole and the Convention adapted the Fisheries Report and adjourned]


Newfoundland. The Newfoundland National Convention, 1946-1948 Vol 1: Debates. Edited by J.K. Hiller and M.F. Harrington Montreal: Memorial University of Newfoundland by McGill-Queen's University Press, 1995).



Selection of input documents and completion of metadata: Gordon Lyall.

Notes de bas de page:

  • [1] Volume II:181. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]
  • [2] Volume II:202. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]
  • *
  • [1] Volume II:243. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]
  • [2] Volume II:246. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]
  • [3] Volume II:246. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]
  • [4] Volume II:249. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]
  • [1] The Ungava was a Job Brothers sealing steamer; the Halcyon was a foreign ship.
  • [2] A Reid Newfoundland steamer.
  • [1] The Prospero and the Portia were Bowring Brothers' ships.
  • [1] Volume II:217. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]
  • [1] Volume II:246. [Volume II is not in The Confederation Debates Collection]
  • [1] The hotel opened in 1926, and went into receivership in 1931. It was then taken over and maintained by the Newfoundland government.

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