Matthews says surf clam decision flawed from start

Grand Bank Mayor says it will be in­ter­est­ing to see what Prime Min­is­ter does

The Southern Gazette - - Front Page - BY COLIN FAR­RELL MARYSTOWN, N.L. Colin.far­rell@south­erngazette.ca

Grand Bank Mayor Rex Matthews said he was not sur­prised to learn that Ethics Com­mis­sioner Mario Dion had found for­mer fed­eral Fish­eries Min­is­ter Do­minic Le­blanc to be in con­flict of in­ter­est when he awarded a li­cense for Ar­tic surf clams to the Five Na­tions Clam Com­pany.

Dion made his decision avail­able pub­licly on Wed­nes­day, Sept. 12.

Le­Blanc’s wife’s first cousin is con­nected with the clam com­pany.

“From our prospec­tive we find it’s pretty trou­ble­some and un­set­tling to have it con­firmed that the min­is­ter was in a con­flict of in­ter­est,” said Matthews. “I’m not sur­prised, I mean this process was flawed from the be­gin­ning and this con­firms that the process was not above board, and it was not done in an ob­jec­tive man­ner.”

Matthews said it is sad to learn that the min­is­ter was not act­ing in good faith when award­ing the li­cense, “…he should never have used his of­fice to fur­ther the in­ter­ests of his fam­ily and his friend, that is to­tally not ac­cept­able.”

Matthews said that the min­is­ter should not have put him­self in that po­si­tion.

“As soon as he re­al­ized that there was a po­ten­tial for con­flict of in­ter­est, then Le­Blanc should have re­moved him­self from that file,” the mayor said.

Le­Blanc served as the fed­eral min­is­ter of Fish­eries and Oceans un­til June, when a cab­i­net shuf­fle saw him in the role of the min­is­ter of In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Af­fairs

He also added it will be in­ter­est­ing to see what ac­tion the Prime Min­is­ter does in re­sponse to the find­ings of the ethics com­mis­sioner.

“Ei­ther the Prime Min­is­ter agrees with the ac­tion of the for­mer (Fish­eries) min­is­ter or he doesn’t, he can’t have it both ways,” said Matthews. “His decision, and the days ahead one way or the other will tell all Cana­di­ans the state of our govern­ment.

“If he ac­cepts this then peo­ple are not go­ing to be happy, if he doesn’t then he should do the right thing and re­lieve Min­is­ter Le­blanc from his po­si­tion in cab­i­net. That’s the right thing to do, that’s the hon­est thing to do, and that’s what he should do.”

Matthews is still call­ing on the fed­eral govern­ment to can­cel award­ing of a fourth li­cense.

“This whole process needs to be can­celled for good, not an­other de­lay for two years, it was wrong from the be­gin­ning, it was wrong all the way through, and it’s more wrong now, an let the fish­ery con­tinue un­der the same terms and con­di­tion as it al­ways done for the last 30 years.”

FISHNL weighs in on find­ings

The Fed­er­a­tion of In­de­pen­dent Sea Har­vesters of New­found­land and Labrador (FISH-NL) is call­ing on Trudeau to fire MP Do­minic Le­Blanc from the fed­eral cab­i­net for break­ing con­flict of in­ter­est rules when he was min­is­ter of Fish­eries and Oceans.

“Le­Blanc broke con­flict of in­ter­est rules by award­ing a lu­cra­tive li­cence to fish arc­tic surf clams to a com­pany that was set to be run by his wife’s cousin — a decision that would have seen re­source and jobs leave our prov­ince,” says FISHNL pres­i­dent Ryan Cleary.

FISHNL is also call­ing upon Premier Dwight Ball, as well as the prov­ince’s seven Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment to be unan­i­mous in de­mand­ing Le­Blanc’s im­me­di­ate dis­missal.

FILE PHOTO

Grand Bank Mayor Rex Matthews.

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