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Ontario and Quebec. I was quite aware that it would be unpopular; such action ever is, but my duty was plain. I would rather not have imposed a regulation obnoxious to my people; but I laid aside personal interests. I find, also, that my hon. friend, in order to make a little capital out of this, goes back on himself.
Hon. Mr. MITCHELL---Do not impugn my motives.
Hon. Mr. SMITH--What did my hon. friend do in Quebec? Did he increase the taxation of the people, without announcing his policy to this House? I wonder that he does not recollect it. I can show what he did. He imposed from 50 cents. to $1 a barrel on salmon of his own mere arbitrary will, without reference to the Government or this House. Where is my despotism when compared to this?
I acted with the approval of the whole Government. I have the evidence in my own hand if he disputes it.
Hon. Mr. MITCHELL-I do not dispute that; but I do not hold that two wrongs make a right.
Hon. Mr. MITCHELL-Go on.
Hon. Mr. SMITH-In the New Brunswick Act 1863, I find Section 12, which runs as follows:
Hon. Mr. SMITH-I do not know what was recommended, but I understood you to say, that it was for registration purposes.
Hon. Mr. MITCHELL-Well, I did say so.
Hon. Mr. SMITH-I will show that this, as other statements he has made, is inaccurate; and convict him of havmade a false statement before the House.
"The Governor in Council may impose and levy an annual tax on every net used for the taking of salmon on the sea coast or in the bays and rivers in this Province not exceeding fifty cents for every net fifty fathoms in length, and one-half cent for every fathom above fifty fathoms; and may also enforce and levy such annual tax as may be deemed reasonable, on all and every engine, weir or trap used for taking fish in the rivers or on the sea coast or in the bays of this Province."
This was the law in New Brunswick in 1863; and Section 13 runs as follows
Hon. Mr. MITCHELL-We have read all this.
Hon. Mr. SMITH--You have, but not the House; you said that there was no law.
Hon. Mr. MITCHELL---I did not. Hon. Gentlemen---Order! Order! Hon. Mr. MITCHELL--What I said. was this that Justices of the Peace. in the County of Northumberland recommended the Government to take such action, and the Government passed that law with reference to the issue of an Order in Council, the tax being paid into the Municipal Treas ury.
Hon. Mr. SMITH--I will show you now that you have only made the another inaccuracy. You say that it matter worse---that you have committed that it was a tax. The 13th Section was a registration fee; I have shown provides :--
"That the taxes imposed under the pro visions of this Act, or the regulations to be made by authority thereof, shall be collected by the Wardens in the respective districts, and shall be paid by them into the Provincial Treasury in such manner as the Governor in Council may direct; and it shall be the duty of the Wardens to make full and correct returns of the amounts so collected and paid over by them respectively, annually, on the 31st day of October in each year, such returns to be forthwith transmitted to the Auditor General."
What does the hon. gentleman say about that? He told us that it was a municipal tax, paid into the county funds; but here is a law declaring that it was a tax to be paid into the
hands of the Receiver General or friend
"The owner or owners of nets used for the purpose of taking salmon, shall be liable to and pay the following annual tax, namely: For every net so used of fifty fathoms in length, fifty cents, and for every fathom over fifty, one-half cent; and the owner of every weir or trap used or set for the purpose of taking any fish, shall pay an annual tax of one dollar for every such weir, and of ten dollars for every such trap."
My hon. friend, in the letter he has addressed to me, has charged me with partiality to my own community; he says that its residents were only taxed $1 per weir, and the fishermen in other sections $10. I showed, however, to my hon. friend in my reply that there was not a weir in my county, and therefore his accusation entirely falls to the ground. My hon. friend essayed to give the matter another turn, as to
the issue between us.
Now, Mr. Speaker,' I said I would show that my hon. friend had during his administration stated distinctly that these proprietors had no exclusive rights. I wrote :—
"Although the question as to whether riparian proprietors have the exclusive right of fishing opposite their land is a legal one, and is really not involved in the controversy between us, it is as well, perhaps, to discuss it briefly.
“You have unreservedly given it as your opinion that they have this right. On this point I distinctly take issue with you, and will call you as a witness against yourself to show that in 1870 your opinion was then in accordance with mine. In your report to Council (which was erroneously print d of Council) referred to in my former letter as dated 27th January, 1870, you use this language: There are doubtless in the Maritime districts numerous fishery stations where
the parties have been in peaceable occupation for a long time, and being in some instances riparian proprietors they think they have acquired a sort of preference by such prior occupancy. They may also desire to secure these holdings by leases or licenses.'"
Now, I would ask my hon. friend what he meant by this? He alleges that these people, having exercised the right for so many years, fancied that they could claim it by some priority of occupancy, but that they did not have the exclusive privilege they imagined they possessed. I think my hon.
to assume it.
is well aware of the fact,. that I had no object in persecuting the people of my own Province. I thought that we were dealing with them in a most benignant way. felt the responsibility of introducing the system which had prevailed in Ontario and Quebec, and I was prepared In 1874, the system of licenses was adopted, when I was told that in Quebec payment had been made for some years at the rate of $1 per barrel for salmon taken, and I could only in all honesty introduce the policy into New Brunswick. In one year we issued licenses to the number of twenty-five on the Restigouche River, and it worked admirably. The The people were well satisfied. next year I thought it better to continue the system beyond the Restigouche, and the first duty imposed was $1 per barrel. I adopted the standard of my hon. predecessor. When this. Order in Council was promulgated, delegations came and stated that the Fisheries were very much depressed. I replied at once if the representations were made to the head of the Department they would have been listened to willingly. The tax was reduced to 40 cents, not for New Brunswick alone, but also for Quebec. Well, we had petitions from the very fishermen of the county which my hon. friend represents. They stated distinctly they did not object to the pay tax, and that it was only fair they should contribute something to the maintenance of this branch of the public service. They knew that a fishbreeding establishment had been placed on the Miramichi, and they stated they were prepared to pay their share for its maintenance. I will quote their petition as it is summarized in my letter to the hon. member :-
"I have received petitions from the fisher. men of Miramichi, couched in suitable and becoming language, and written in a spirit. which does them great credit, and gives evidence of their intelligence and respectability. Differing from you, they recognize the justice of the charge, and express a willingness to contribute to use their own language-Your petitioners are not opposed to contribute their fair proportion of the cost of maintaining the protective and propagating organization This sentiment is commendable, and merits and establishments of the Department,' &c.
the approbation of every honest and right
minded man. The Government ask the fisher
men to do no more; and if they can show that the tax is, under present circumstances, too high, I am quite prepared to recommend a reduction; and I may here say that I think they have made out a good case, and one that calls for a modification of the tax."
Now, this was the spirit of the fish ermen when my hon. friend entered the county and stirred up sedition among them and preached rebellion. I find in the records of my Department the following:
"DEPARTMENT MARINE AND FISHERIES, OTTAWA, 11th February, 1871.
SIR,--The Minister has had under his consideration your report dated 16th December, 1869, in connection with part of your annual report for last year, relative to the rating of license fees for salmon fishery stations,
A schedule of the licenses granted in the
Division under your charge for the years 1864, '65, '66, 67 and '68, shewing the average catch and average license fees per annum, was prepared here at the time for your guidance, and you were also requested to complete this statement for the following years in order to enable you to offer your suggestions thereon, and to pla e the Department in a position to determine upon a fair and reliable mode of rating these stations. I herewith inclose blank forms which you will please fill up accordingly with such details for the year 1869 and 1870 of salmon fishing in your Division. This information is wanted at once and you will please lose no time in supplying it.
Upon enquiry made by Dr. Fortin, he has been informed that the increase in the rate of licenses, has been only on the new ones issued for the past two years; that the several applications for such licenses were made with a full knowledge on the part of the applicants that if granted they would be subject to the rate he complains of, and that in no case has any person objected to the same, or withdrawn his request.
Dr. Fortin has, morcover, been informed that the Minister did not contemplate at present applying any new rates to the old stands, until such time as a uniform system can be established and made applicable to the different sections of the Dominion, which subject it is proposed to carefully revise in connection with arranging some such uniform system as is above referred to.
I have the honor to be, Sir, Your obedient servant, W. F. WHITCHER. For the Hon. Minister of Marine & Fisheries. " Hon. Mr. MITCHELL-Who is that signed by?
Hon. Mr. SMITH-By Mr. Whitcher. Hon. Mr. MITCHELL-- That is right.
Hon. Mr. SMITH--Does my hon. friend repudiate that?
Hon. Mr. MITCHELL--Your hon. friend will tell you what he does when he stands up to reply.
Hon. Mr. SMITH--My hon. friend says he is not responsible?
Hon. Mr. MITCHELL--.I say nothing of the kind. I am responsible, but I will explain the matter.
Hon. Mr. SMITH-I will not detain the House longer; I have other records that I could cite to show the policy of my hon. friend. It is clear that it was to extend a uniform system throughout the whole Dominion. My hon. friend has said that I did not extend this to Nova Scotia. It is known that in New Brunswick we have a fishbreeding establishment on the Miramichi, placed there in his own county In Nova Scotia by my hon. friend. they had none, and I may add, the law of that Province, as it existed before Confederation, was in full operation up to last session. Wherefore the posi
tion of the two Provinces was not analogous.
The Inspector of Fisheries of New Brunswick, a protegé of my hon. friend, and an appointee of his own, recommended very strongly a tax of $2 per barrel, and he knew very well the condition of affairs.
From the information I had, there were no such fisheries in Nova Scotia as those of the Restigouche and the Miramichi. Therefore the circumstances were to a large extent different. I believe this tax is necessary, not so much for revenue purposes, as a basis for the administration of the Department. It is not the intention of the Government directly or indirectly to interfere with the occupancy which these people have for so many years enjoyed. In deference to this feeling, I did not exact all that I had the power to do under this 19th Section of the Fisheries Act of 1868.
"The Governor in Council may from time to time make, and from time to time vary, amend or alter, all and every such regulation or regulations as shall be found necessary or deemed expedient, for the better management and regulation of the sea-coast and inland fisheries, to prevent or remedy the obstruction and pollution of streams, to regulate and prevent fishing, to prohibit the destruction of
fish, and to forbid fishing, except under authority of leases or licenses, every of which regulations shall have the same force and
effect as if herein contained and enacted, not
withstanding that such regulations may extend, vary or alter any of the provisions of this Act respecting the places or modes of fishing, or the terms specified as prohibited or close seasons, and may fix such other modes, time or places as may be deemed by the Governor in Council to be adapted to different
localities, or may be thought otherwise expe
I challenge the most complete investigation into this matter. I feel that I am not chargeable with acting in an arbitrary or tyrannical manner, but on the contrary I have treated the fishermen with the greatest consideration. I have convicted my hon. friend of many inaccuracies, and he should frankly almit that he was under a misapprehension when he told the fishermen of Northumberland that the Government were exercising arbitrary powers. All these papers will be submitted to the House, and I should very much like to have this matter thoroughly discussed.
Hon. Mr. MITCHELL-The motives attributed to me by the Hon. Minister of Marine and Fisheries are unjust and incorrect, and I trust the attempt which he has made to raise false issues will not succeed. He has attempted, in the first place, to quote the decision of the Courts of Law to which I myself referred. The decision, as I have stated, was never appealed. I am not prepared to accept as conclusive the decision of a single Court on a single case in a matter of such importance as this.
I am not prepared to accept the decision in that case as final as to
whether the people have riparian rights or not; my hon. friend did not pursue a fair course when he knew the position the people took on the question.
Hon. Mr. SMITH-I did not know that.
Hon. Mr. MITCHELL-The hon.
gentleman is very ignorant of public opinion in that part. I will ask my hon. friend whether Dr. Fortin did not urge and press the necessity of extending that tax, and it was then resisted by the people of the Maritime Provinces. The justification he makes is very weak, and he should be prepared to admit that two wrongs do not make a right. The illegality of increasing the tax in Quebec had never struck me during my ad ministration of this office. Ministers head in their Department, and the rely to a great extent upon the subgentleman who occupies that position in the Department of Marine and Fisheries, Mr. Whitcher, is a man of great ability and thoroughly quainted with the working of the system. The tax was made on the recommendation of the officers in charge of the district, backed up by Mr. Whitcher, and sanctioned by myself without giving as much consideration to the matter as I ought, as it was not one affecting a principle but merely increasing the rate. But I am convinced now that I was wrong, and I am not ashamed of admitting of it. The hon. gentleman has no ground to stand upon when he justifies his acts by a mistake of mine.
Hon. Mr. MACKENZIE---I think there has been too much said in this debate of the opinions and views of some principal officer in the Department. That officer has no responsibility; no officer in the Departments has. It would be far better to avoid mentioning Departmental officers by name when referring to their opinions, as they have nothing to do with the House.
Hon. Mr. MITCHELL-I thank the
Hon. Premier for reading me a lecture, but it would have come with better taste if delivered half an hour ago when the Hon. Minister of Marine and Fisheries began the reference to those officers.
Hon. Mr. SMITH-I read from a further, but hope I shall have another paper. opportunity to refer to it during the Session when the papers are laid before the House.
Hon. Mr. SMITH suggested that the hon. gentleman should strike out the word “ arbitrary" in the address, and the papers would be forthcoming.
Hon. Mr. MITCHELL---Yes, and referred to the officers of the Department too. The hon. gentleman quoted the operation of the Act in New Brunwick, which states the tax is to go into the revenue; but I am not prepared to say that, because that portion of the Act escaped my mind that I have made any material error in the statement of the case to this House. The hon.
gentleman said 1 went into my county for the express purpose of creating ill-feeling and inciting rebellion. That statement is not correct. The people did not know from me that I was coming down.. I go every year, and they expected me,
and had written me to come
I don't think the hon. gentleman has satisfied this House that he acted fairly towards the Provinces. I don't think he has made any case, or touched the question which I first started. The hon. gentleman has referred to the dissatisfaction in the county. I recollect the time when we were trying to carry Confederation, when the hon. gentleman predicted that if we united with Canada, our fishery rights, among other things, would be taken away, and that the people would be ground down. My hon. friend finding that his prophetic vision—
Hon. Mr. SMITH-I said nothing of the kind during all my speeches.
Hon. Mr. MITCHELL-I can show the hon. gentleman speeches in which they appear.
Hon. Mr. SMITH-I challenge it. Hon. Mr. MITCHELL-Very well, I will endeavour to hunt them up. No more violent speeches were made than the hon. gentleman made, and to carry out the predictions and grind the people he has adopted this policy to verify his own prophecies. I don't propose to continue this discussion