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SEA-NL questions federal candidate Mary Shortall’s commitment to inshore fish harvesters

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Wednesday, Sept. 15th, 2021

With less than a week away from the federal election, Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador is watching local candidates closely for their commitment to the inshore fisheries.

Ryan Cleary, SEA-NL’s interim Executive Director, questions whether the NDP candidate in the federal riding of St. John’s East will stand for inshore harvesters in Ottawa if she wins the Sept. 20th election when she ignored them as head of the province’s Federation of Labour.

“As a labour leader Mary Shortall turned her back on the fishermen and women of Newfoundland and Labrador in favour of the union executive,” says Ryan Cleary. “The question must be asked, who will Mary Shortall stand for if she’s elected to Parliament: workers or the union and party executive?”

Cleary points out that as President of the Federation of Labour, Shortall failed to react to a 2016 Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court decision — later upheld on appeal — in favour of inshore scallop harvesters who took their union to court over a compensation fund for lost fishing grounds in the Strait of Belle Isle.

In the court case, it was revealed the FFAW-Unifor had negotiated a compensation package with Nalcor without permission of scallop harvesters.

“It was unprecedented for a Canadian union to have deceived its members, and not a word from Mary Shortall,” said Cleary.

As federation president, Shortall also condemned a 2017 attempt by inshore harvesters to break away from the FFAW-Unifor, despite being a Unifor member herself at the time with close ties to the union, and having served on the board of directors of the FFAW-Unifor’s dockside monitoring company.

Furthermore, Shortall and the Federation of Labour were also silent in 2018 when the FFAW-Unifor executive unilaterally changed the union constitution, blocking thousands of inshore harvesters who had signed FISH-NL cards from running against them.

The harvesters were again prevented from running for union office this past spring, and Shortall remained silent on this critical issue when she should have defended them.

“Mary Shortall has never made any attempt to reach out to thousands of inshore harvesters to investigate what was behind their frustrations,” said Cleary.

“As the candidate for St. John's East, Shortall should finally clarify to voters whether, if elected as one of the province’s seven MPs, she will continue her track record as a mouthpiece for the union executive or elevate herself as a true voice of workers.”


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