"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Government stands limp

While DannyWilliamsAdministrationNewfoundlandLabrador "stands firm" on something they have no jurisdiction over, DannyWilliamsAdministrationNewfoundlandLabrador shows absolutely no interest in the federal-provincial "joint management" that everyone has supposedly been clamouring for, forever.

Indeed, in his comments before the Senate fish committee, DannyWilliamsAdministrationNewfoundlandLabrador fisheries minister Tom Rideout repeatedly re-inforces the DannyWilliamsAdministrationNewfoundlandLabrador official line that the federal government has, and should have, jurisdiction over fisheries:

While the accomplishments at the NAFO meeting are significant, the implementation of these measures has yet to be tested. We need to see these new policies in action, and until we are confident that they will effectively address non-compliance, we do not see this as a substitution for Canadian custodial management.


By applying custodial management out to the edge of the continental shelf, Canada would manage the stocks that currently straddle the 200 mile limit.


As the coastal state, Canada would assume responsibility for ensuring that conservation and scientifically-based management is applied. Canada would be responsible for surveillance and enforcement.


I would also like to take this opportunity to reiterate our government’s support of Canada in not agreeing to an outright ban on bottom trawling on the high seas. We support the position that a ban on bottom trawling outside of 200 miles would result in tremendous pressure on our country to implement the same ban within 200 miles.
So much easier to Blame Canada. Blame the Europeans. Do anything, anything, anything at all, other than take the greater provincial role in fisheries management that is supposedly the province's historical constitutional demand.

And that is supposedly on offer from the government of Stephen Harper and Loyola Hearn.

But recall that at the heights — or in the depths — of the Roger Grimes crypto-separatist sabre-rattling, Danny was very cagey, never actually stating support for federal-provincial joint management of the fisheries. As the Hansard of May 8, 2003 shows:

Mr. Speaker, I take great pleasure in joining with the comments and the statement by the Premier, and his initiative. I actually consider it a compliment to our party and to our policies over the years, because we have stood for this position for a long time. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, in our Blue Book during the last election, under the leadership of the Opposition House Leader, we stated, "A national agreement to discuss renegotiating constitutional roles and responsibilities in the fisheries, achieved by our party in the late eighties, was subsequently quashed by the Liberals at a time when it would have benefitted us most. A PC Government will aggressively pursue a Canada-Newfoundland Fisheries Agreement providing for a joint decision-making process to give the Province a meaningful say in decisions on fisheries management, which have a major impact on our economy and our social fabric."

As well, Mr. Speaker, during that election, Leader Byrne, House Leader, said: The PC Party stands firmly with the communities in Newfoundland and Labrador whose economy, heritage and very existence were build upon the fishery. We stand with the men and women who look for leadership in rebuilding the industry and restoring it as one of the pillars of our economy. With these words, Ed Byrne, today signed a contract on fisheries, a clear expression of the Progressive Conservative commitment to Newfoundland and Labrador fishers and plant workers. That was in February of 1999. It could have been implemented four years ago.

In that contract, a Progressive Conservative Government will aggressively pursue a Canada-Newfoundland Fisheries Agreement providing for a joint decision-making process to give the Province a meaningful say in decisions on fisheries management which have a major impact on our economy and social fabric.

In June of 2000 our Fisheries Critic, the Member for Bonavista South: Opposition Fisheries Critic, Roger Fitzgerald, says Atlantic Accord-like shared fisheries management is a timely solution to the problem underlying the latest fisheries allocation crisis. Fitzgerald’s proposal brings order and balance to fisheries management. The Newfoundland Government should insist on the establishment of a new management regime that is mandated and protected under federal and provincial law. This can be done through a fisheries management accord.

Mr. Speaker, our party is very, very clear on the record and have been for some considerable period of time, so, I certainly welcome the initiative. I also agree that it is time that something should be done, however, we have to consider the timing of this. This is something that could have been done for some considerable period of time.

The one thing that we cannot let happen now is that we get diverted from the issue. This is a very, very important, a very fundamental issue. We have a commission before us right now that is due to report next month on strengthening our place in Canada. This initiative, if it had been commenced three or four years ago, would now probably have come to fruition. This is a long term initiative, it is going to take some time. I don’t want to see this House diverted and spend a long time. I welcome rigorous debate, as the Premier has indicated, but we don’t need rigorous or controversial or partisan or adversarial debate on this particular issue right now. If we could see the plan, if we can see the resolution and detail - we need to see the plan for this joint management; what it is going to cost; how it is going to be done; how it is allocated. Perhaps we, as all parties, can agree and not have a rigorous debate, because I am not certain at this point in time that we need to go into an adversarial situation. We have wasted a lot of time on that. If there is a crisis in our Province now, our people, our families our communities are at risk out there and are suffering and we need to deal with it.

Although I welcome this, and I take great pride in the fact that it is now on the table and that we pursued it for so long, the timing concerns me. We want to make sure that this does not become political; that this does not simply become an election issue; that it is not simply grandstanding and takes our attention away from the important matter.

Personally myself, Mr. Speaker, I feel that the federal government has legal responsibility. I feel they have been negligent in the management of our resources. I think we have a legal action against the federal government and that also is a possible long-term solution.

We certainly do welcome it. I want to make sure it is well thought through. I want to see the details, if the Premier has the resolution, a copy of the strategy and the plan; how he plans on going about this; how it will be implemented; what it will cost and where the separate jurisdictions will be held.

I am certain we, as a party, will consider it and if it is well thought through and well planned there will be no need for rigorous debate. We will support it wholeheartedly, but I do qualify it on having to see the details.

[Emphasis added.]

While Danny speaks about his party's past positions, and the pronouncements of other members of his caucus, the word "joint management" do not pass his lips. As would later prove par for Danny's course, he "welcomes" stuff. And he qualifies it

But he doesn't actually state that he, personally, supports it.

Nope. And also par for Danny's course, he lets others do the dirty. Ed Byrne and other PC MHAs got to rattle the joint management sabres in the House and in the media, so that they, not Danny, would be the ones on record on the issue. Glorious Leader's lips remained unsullied by a position or a promise he might later have to backtrack from. Let the others create the impression that the provincial Progressive Conservatives would go all out for joint management...

... because Danny Williams never said he would.

(And whatever happened to his Great Lawyer's brainwave of a Great Lawsuit against the federal government, anyway?)

So it is utterly unsurprising, then, that Glorious Leader has shown absolutely no inclination to take the federal Conservatives up on their party policy document:

v) A Conservative Government will adopt, with any interested coastal province or territory, a system of increased provincial management over fisheries through a system of joint management and joint fisheries councils modelled on the system proposed by unanimous resolution of the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly in May 2003 and as detailed in the government of Newfoundland and Labrador's white paper on the subject as released in 2003.
Or on their 2005/06 election promise:

A Conservative government will protect Atlantic fisheries, giving more control to the provinces over the fisheries...

Yet, the question of joint management is conspicuously absent from his election "wish-list" from last fall.

But assuming he lasts long enough in office, down the road, when "joint management" is no longer the official policy of the federal government of the day... guaranteed, Danny Williams will start rattling those sabres again, demanding something he knows he won't get, ratcheting up the Grimesesque crypto-separatist rhetoric, Blaming Canada.

For now, and for that future day, remember: Danny Williams has never shown much interest in demanding joint management in the past.

Nor, while there is a federal government which supposedly is offering it, does he show much interest in it now.

Why is that?

Tom Rideout's closing comments on Back Talk today give the answer.

He worked himself into a frothing, spitting lather against the fisheries bureaucrats at 200 Kent Street in Ottawa.

And if there is one inherent provincial resource that the provincial government will hoard, treasure, and defend from alienation or dilution more than any other... it's the ability to blame stuff on 200 Kent Street in Ottawa.


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