The pot of federal money that was initially proposed to compensate Newfoundland and Labrador for giving up a constitutional right is today being used against us.
That constitutional right was minimum processing requirements (MPRs) that ensured fish caught off our shores was processed on our shores, and it was given up for the Canada/EU free-trade deal.
In exchange, the then-Harper government promised to put $280 million into a $400-million federal/NL fisheries fund. Read about it here.
Only Harper didn’t follow through.
Leading up to the 2015 federal election, Justin Trudeau said straight up “the promise should be honoured,” but once he got in office the original deal (or what was thought was a deal) was altered.
In the end, the Trudeau administration brought in a $325-million “Atlantic Fisheries Fund” for all Atlantic provinces — not just Newfoundland and Labrador, which ended up with $100 million.
Trudeau’s promise was $180-million short. Some Parliamentarians called it a bait and switch, others called it a crab walk. Yet another MP (Judy Foote, current Lieutenant-Governor) said the province was actually coming out ahead.
And now $8 million of the Atlantic Fisheries Fund (plus another $2 million from ACOA) is being used for St. John’s-based Ocean Choice International to build a new “showcase” processing/packaging plant in Nova Scotia. (SEA-NL wrote about it here.)
In freaking Nova Scotia.
Which now leads the way in Canada's seafood industry, according to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans from Nova Scotia.
SEA-NL called for an apology from the minister.
Fish from here may someday soon be processed and packaged at an OCI plant in Nova Scotia built with money from yet another Newfoundland and Labrador give-away/take away/screw away.
But it gets even worse — efforts to learn the amount of unprocessed fish that's being shipped out of Newfoundland and Labrador for processing, which the elimination of MPRs allowed for— have been unsuccessful.
Governments can't or won't say. Fish represents the blood of the province's fishing industry, and it's bleeding out.
The blood of all NLers should be boiled by now.
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