Opposition Leader Gerry Reid is questioning what governmentís next steps
will be coming out of the fisheries summit held in St. Johnís yesterday.
Reid raised several questions regarding the issue in the House of Assembly
"The premier seemed upset by my questions this afternoon
and decided to resort to personal attacks instead of addressing the issues,"
said Mr. Reid. "At the summit yesterday there appeared to be a consensus
that the fishing industry needed to be rationalized or downsized, but there
were no suggestions or consensus as to which plants and communities should
close. When asked if government would make that decision, the premier became
defensive and deflected the issue by attacking me personally.
"I also questioned the premier whether the federal government was
committed to an early retirement and licence buy back program. Everyone at
the summit agreed that if there is to be a rationalization of the industry,
there would have to be this type of program. From the comments I heard from
Minister Hearn yesterday, the federal government is anything but committed
to this type of program.
"There also needs to be a focus on short-term solutions that will help us
get through this tough period in our fishing industry. I asked the premier
to elaborate on what income support programs might be put in place to help
the industry, and once again the premier would not answer the question and
retorted with personal attacks.
"The premier especially disliked my comments when I pointed out how
ironic it was that he is now touting FPIís American marketing division as
the solution to the woes in our marketing sector. Ironically, it was almost
a year ago to the day that this government amended the FPI Act to allow the
Board of Directors to sell off their marketing arm in the United States,
despite the objections of members of the Opposition.
"My biggest hesitation about this summit was that we would hear the same
recommendations for our fishing industry, but only receive lip service from
government. We all know that there needs to be changes, but the solutions
that were offered, such as an early retirement and licence buy back program,
have already been negatively received by the federal government.
Unfortunately, the premier still seems willing to sit back and allow the
federal government to do nothing, while our industry crumbles.
"It is time for the premier to realize that he has done a miserable job
in managing the fishery. He should also understand that he is going to be
challenged about his idea to call a summit at the last minute once the
industry was in crisis, and what the next steps will be coming out of the
summit. I know the premier doesnít like being held accountable for his
actions, but if he is serious about finding solutions, I suggest he begin
answering questions and addressing the issues directly instead of lashing
out or assassinating the character of those who want information."