‘Government Playing Favourites’

Looks like we not only have the government discriminating again, but also some political insider favouritism: 

“After the federal fisheries minister announced a new licence for an important clam fishery would be awarded to a partnership of ‘indigenous’ groups from across Atlantic Canada, the government is facing fresh criticism over how it awarded the licence, and for the ‘Liberals’ ties to the winning bidder.

“The decision to award one-quarter of the Arctic surf clam quota to a partnership that included ‘indigenous’ communities was intended to further {one-way} ‘reconciliation’ by helping ‘First Nations’ {aboriginals} gain a foothold in a lucrative market and to break the monopoly on Arctic surf clams that has been held by Halifax-based ‘Clearwater Seafoods’.

“Clearwater says…the company has invested $156 million in its fleet in the last five years, according to Christine Penney, vice president of sustainability and public affairs, with the expectation that it would continue to harvest the full quota.

“In February, Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc announced the new licence would go to a partnership between Nova Scotia-based ‘Premium Seafoods’ and the ‘Five Nations Clam Company’, a new entity comprised of ‘indigenous’ groups in Quebec and all four Atlantic provinces.

“The Newfoundland government and ‘First Nations’ in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia quickly complained, in part because neither Ottawa nor the ‘Five Nations Clam Company’ would say which ‘indigenous’ communities were involved until weeks after the decision was made.

“Now, the ‘Fisheries Council of Canada’ and the federal ‘Conservatives’ are adding their voices to those crying foul. Last week, the fisheries council, which represents Canada’s fish and seafood industry, wrote a letter to five federal ministers expressing concern that such decisions could create uncertainty for investors.

“Taking away long-standing licences and quotas does not respect past investments and has put a chill on future investments by Canadian fish processors. Many coastal communities and fish harvesters rely on their local fish processor to purchase their goods in order to bring their products to market. Without continued investments, the entire industry will stall”,

reads the letter, which was sent to LeBlanc and the ministers of Finance, Innovation, Agriculture and International Trade.

“Fisheries council President Paul Lansbergen said when it comes to increasing ‘indigenous’ participation in the industry, he prefers an existing program that allows Ottawa to buy licences from holders willing to relinquish their quota and re-issue them to ‘indigenous’ groups. But, in this case, the government simply reallocated 25% of the 38,000-tonne quota. Clearwater wasn’t “given an option”, he said.

“(LeBlanc) just took it away.”

“A spokesperson for LeBlanc confirmed his office has received Lansbergen’s letter.

“As always, we will take their concerns into consideration and respond in due course”,
he said.

Arctic surf clam

“After LeBlanc announced his decision on Feb. 21, ‘indigenous’ communities in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland that had submitted their own, unsuccessful bids complained that the ‘Five Nations Clam Company’ had not named its partners. They suggested the company was only reaching out to potential partners after winning the licence.

“Earlier this month, LeBlanc confirmed to reporters that ‘Five Nations’ had “reserved spots in their proposal” for ‘indigenous’ groups. It wasn’t until March 8 that Chief Aaron Sock of Elsipogtog ‘First Nation’ {a ‘nation’ of 3,334 people} in New Brunswick, who represents ‘Five Nations’, announced the names of the four other partners:
–Abegweit ‘First Nation’ {a ‘nation’ of 381 people} in Prince Edward Island,
–Potlotek ‘First Nation’ {a ‘nation’ of 739 people} in Nova Scotia,
–the Innu ‘First Nation’ of Nutashkuan in Quebec
and the Southern Inuit of NunatuKavut in Labrador.

“Sock did not respond to multiple interview requests, but Tony Wright, a biologist with the Nutashkuan Band council, said the licence would bring jobs and more funding for social programs to his community.

“Now, however, the federal ‘Conservatives’ are suggesting that connections between the ‘Liberals’, ‘Five Nations’ and ‘Premium Seafoods’ could have played a role in LeBlanc’s decision.

“For one, ‘Premium’ President and CEO Edgar Samson is the brother of Nova Scotia ‘Liberal’ MP Darrell Samson. Moreover, the President of ‘NunatuKavut’, the ‘Five Nations’ partner from Labrador, is former ‘Liberal’ MP Todd Russell.

“First we learned the minister awarded the contract to his ‘Liberal’ colleague’s brother even though his application was missing critical elements”,
‘Conservative’ fisheries critic Todd Doherty said last week.
“It gets even better.… The minister’s former colleague and Liberal MP, Todd Russell, is also getting in on the action.”

“In a statement, a spokesperson for LeBlanc said he rejects any implication

“that the decision was made for any other reason apart from providing the greatest possible opportunity to ‘indigenous’ communities from across Atlantic Canada and Quebec.”

“Russell did not respond to a request for comment. In an interview earlier this month, MP Darrell Samson said he was “absolutely not” involved in the awarding of the licence to his brother’s company…”

–‘New criticism surrounds federal decision to break Arctic surf clam monopoly’,
Maura Forrest, National Post, March 27, 2018

Feature PHOTO: Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc
(Andrew Vaughan–Canadian Press)




“Clearwater’s monopoly consisted of three federal licences that allowed the company to harvest up to 38,756 tonnes last year. But last September, federal Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc announced he was issuing a fourth licence, for one quarter of the existing harvest, to a new participant that would have to be an ‘indigenous’ group in one of the four Atlantic provinces or Quebec. It was a move both to break the monopoly and to help ‘indigenous’ communities gain a foothold in a lucrative market.

“Grand Bank Mayor Rex Matthews spoke out right away, angry about possible job losses.

“The minister just pulled the rug right out from under us,”
he told the ‘Post’ on Monday.
“That’s the only species we have …. All we do is surf clams.”

“Newfoundland Fisheries Minister Gerry Byrne said he “cannot find the logic” in the federal government’s handling of the decision.

“It has been anything but reconciliation,”
he said.
“It has pitted province against province, community versus community and ‘First Nation’ against ‘First Nation’.” …

“What is different about the surf clam decision is that this is the first time that I’m aware of that an existing (licence) holder had quota removed from it a) involuntarily and b) without compensation”,
he said.

“Last week, Newfoundland Premier Dwight Ball told ‘CBC News’ that, as far as he knows, no ‘indigenous’ group in Newfoundland has partnered with the ‘Five Nations Clam Company’, and called for the licence to be withdrawn.

“And on Friday, a group representing 13 Mi’kmaq communities across Nova Scotia chimed in, claiming no Nova Scotian ‘First Nations’ have signed on, either.

“We have serious questions about the integrity and fairness of the process”,

said Chief Terrance Paul, co-chair of the ‘Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs’, in a statement. The 13 Mi’kmaq communities had submitted their own bid for the fourth licence last fall, in partnership with Clearwater. They’re now calling for a review of the process…”

‘How a clam was supposed to further Indigenous reconciliation, but caused an uproar instead’,
Maura Forrest, National Post, March 5, 2018


On-board handling of Surf Clams. (N. Stolpe photo)

“Rex Matthews, the mayor of Grand Bank, Nfld., where ‘Clearwater’ has a processing plant, did not mince his words. In a letter to LeBlanc, he said he had received the news

“with a sense of shock, disbelief, disappointment and discouragement”.

“His town is “reeling and flabbergasted” that the government would take nearly 10,000 tonnes of allowable catch from a quota that has been granted to Clearwater for years, he said.

“This decision by your department has shattered the dreams of those employees who will see harvesting vessels tied up early in the year and their plant closed for at least four to five months of the year. These employees will now be forced onto the payroll of the federal government through the EI system, whereas before they were productive, contributing and proud members of society.”

“The Mayor goes a little far when he accuses the government of “expropriating” ‘Clearwater’s quota. It is, after all, a public resource and quota does not confer property rights to the fishery or the fish.

“But ‘Clearwater’ deserves credit for developing the Arctic surf clam fishery into a $92-million market through continuous investment. ‘Clearwater’ successfully harvested its full quota in 2016 for the first time because it added a new $70-million factory-at-sea vessel to its existing fleet of three. Further, it is in the process of building a new $70-million harvesting vessel as replacement for one of the older ships.

Canadian surf clams packaged for sale in the Chinese market, Clearwater Seafoods Limited Partnership facility near Qingdao, China, Monday, October 31, 2011. (MARKETWIRE PHOTO–Fisheries and Oceans Canada)

“You don’t make those kinds of investments if you think you are about to lose the right to fish.

“LeBlanc said in an interview in St. John’s Tuesday that discussions to open up the market have been going on for over a year.

It’s not a surprise”, he said — which will apparently come as news to the Mayor of Grand Bank…”

–‘Liberals turn against seafood producer in name of Indigenous reconciliation’,
John Ivison, National Post, September 12, 2017

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