Judy Foote, MHA for the District of Grand Bank and Opposition Critic for
Innovation, Trade and Rural Development, calls the premierís stance on
resource development in the province a double standard, with the fishery
resource and its development being shortchanged by the premier.
In a news
release earlier this week on the Lower Churchill, the premier stated that
the project would be produced in keeping with the governmentís agenda of
developing resources for the maximum benefit of the people of the province.
"This statement only reinforces what we have been saying all along," says
Foote. "The premier has a certain gleam in his eyes when it comes to big
projects, whereas the fishery is clearly viewed as being a thorn in his
side. So little attention has been given to the fishery by this premier and
as a result, rural communities are disappearing as outmigration has become
the daily norm.
"The fishery is in a crisis, the magnitude of which has not seen since
the cod moratorium in the early 90s. In fact, there are those engaged in the
fishery who say the devastation that is happening today in our province
pertaining to the fishery will have more serious repercussions than the cod
moratorium. Whether the premier is turning a blind eye to this fact or
whether he is at a complete loss to deal with this critical issue is still
not clear. I suspect it is the latter, coupled with the fact that he is
investing so much time and energy into big energy projects, the fishery
appears to be the last thing on his mind despite his claim to the contrary.
It is all too obvious that the fisheries minister, who is also the deputy
premier, is not on top of the fishery crisis in the province. He refuses to
take the bold action that is needed to right this industry and put stability
and growth back into it.
"The entire fishing industry in this province is suffering while the
government waits for it to sort itself out. Instead of doing everything it
can so the industry can continue to exist for the maximum benefit of
hundreds of people and their communities, it is being pushed to the side by
a government that is rurally challenged. Clearly, this government does not
like the smell of fish, or they would be waist deep in doing its part to
help revitalize an industry that has been, and can continue to be, the
mainstay of the economy of this province. "