MOU an ex­er­cise in fu­til­ity, lacks vi­sion


Dear edi­tor,

Once again the fish­ing In­dus­try has been given the royal shaft by the gov­ern­ment, pro­duc­ers, and the Fish, Food and Al­lied Work­ers union (FFAW). Yet, it’s not a big sur­prise to those that work in the in­dus­try be­cause once the MOU started miss­ing dead­line af­ter dead­line for its re­lease date, the ma­jor­ity of those that had a stake in the process knew that this prob­a­bly was an­other ex­er­cise in fu­til­ity to re­or­ga­nize the fish­ery.

The ques­tion is who do we blame for this waste of time? The gov­ern­ment, the As­so­ci­a­tion of Seafood Pro­duc­ers (ASP) and the FFAW are blam­ing the mes­sen­ger and au­thor of the MOU, Mr. Tom Clift, but they failed to ac­cept re­spon­si­bil­ity for its fail­ure them­selves. Ev­ery­one should be aware that the MOU re­port was authored based on the rec­om­men­da­tions, ob­ser­va­tions, self­ish needs and as­pi­ra­tions of the FFAW and the ASP.

The news con­fer­ence aired on the Fish­eries Broad­cast by Min­is­ter Clyde Jack­man on Fri­day, Feb. 25 was a to­tal em­bar­rass­ment for the min­is­ter and his depart­ment, and also for the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment. I was amazed at the un­pro­fes­sional, con­fused, and un­in­formed re­sponses Jack­man made to ques­tions.

The min­is­ter didn’t give any real rea­sons to to­tally dis­re­gard the MOU re­port. How­ever, the sad part about Jack­man in this whole process was he made it into a po­lit­i­cal is­sue based on a vote count in the next pro­vin­cial elec­tion in­stead of a real com­mit­ment to solv­ing this cri­sis. I can guar­an­tee you that if the elec­tion was last month that Jack­man’s re­sponse and ac­tions to this re­port would have been com­pletely dif­fer­ent.

Jack­man doesn’t want to ap­pear to be shut­ting down ru­ral New­found­land and Labrador this close to an elec­tion, even though a forced re­set­tle­ment agenda is ex­actly what this pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment wants along with the pro­duc­ers and the FFAW.

The FFAW’s re­sponse is as ex­pected, blam­ing the gov­ern­ment for shut­ting down their half a bil­lion dol­lar-plus of tax­pay­ers’ buy-out money. What amazes me is the FFAW’s re­sponse to the fish­ing cri­sis and the fact it’s been the same since 1992 tells me there isn’t any way pos­si­ble that the FFAW wants to fix the cri­sis be­cause if they did they would have come up with a so­lu­tion that would NOT put the bur­den on the backs of the tax­pay­ers.

Mr. McCurdy and his cronies must re­al­ize that gov­ern­ments and the pub­lic will not ac­cept an­other buy-out/TAGs pro­gram: it’s just not go­ing to hap­pen. Mr. McCurdy con­tin­ues to falsely ad­vo­cate for ru­ral ar­eas, but in the mean­time he is work­ing hard to re­move fish­ers, crew­men, plant work­ers from their work and their cho­sen way of life by liv­ing and work­ing in ru­ral ar­eas.

The only thing in this process that makes any sense is the pro­duc­ers be­cause it is clear what their ob­jec­tives are and that is to con­tinue to mo­nop­o­lize the fish­ery by con­trol­ling the gov­ern­ment and the FFAW in or­der to max­i­mize prof­its. No­body can blame them on this point be­cause that’s their pri­mary goal in life and if gov­ern­ment and the FFAW don’t stop be­ing pup­pets to the pro­duc­ers the sta­tus quo will con­tinue till some gov­ern­ment or union leader grows a pair and takes on the pro­duc­ers.

Now where does this de­vel­op­ment leave us? The sta­tus quo with a gov­ern­ment that has lit­tle or no time for the tra­di­tional fish­ery, but all the time in the world for aqua­cul­ture. A union that is so back­ward in its think­ing that it can’t even come up with a con­struc­tive idea. The pro­duc­ers con­tinue to have a stran­gle­hold on the fish­ery be­cause of the con­trol they have over their pup­pets the FFAW and the gov­ern­ment. The pro­duc­ers do not have to con­tend with di­rect competition for their prod­uct from out­side sources be­cause the gov­ern­ment and the FFAW will not al­low that to hap­pen.

Look, change is hard, change is dif­fi­cult, change is nec­es­sary and change will come only when the at­ti­tudes of the lead play­ers in this cri­sis changes from play­ing po­lit­i­cal games to sav­ing the fish­ery; not for the pro­duc­ers, but for fish­ers, plant work­ers and ru­ral New­found­land and Labrador Brian Pol­lard Bishop’s Falls

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