My Facebook memories told me that four years ago I had an op ed published in the Telegraph Journal. It’s basically a more cleaned up version of this blog post talking about the importance of the fishery to coastal communicates in general and mine in particular. I talked about the owner operator policy and how I had hope the Department was moving to protect inshore fisheries.
Four years later I wish I could say it’s better. It’s not.
Whether willfully or neglectfully, the Department has done none of the things it said it would. We’ve lost ground as controlling agreements become more prevalent. They will say it’s because you can’t enforce a policy, even though there was a pretty big court case that said they could:
“The authority of any federal minister to issue a licence includes the right to ensure that the person to whom a licence is granted is actually the person who is acquiring that licence and that such person is not simply acting on behalf of and for the benefit of another person who would not be eligible to obtain that licence.”
Seems pretty clear to me.
Four years later, I wish I could say that some of the other things I talked about (like foreign ownership) haven’t happened. They have and they are. The very things that should make the fishery important to Canada are what is making us vulnerable to those outside the country. The global pandemic has created precarious financial positions for many. The result is a perfect storm of no policy enforcement and rampant money from outside Canada.
You can’t (or at least you shouldn’t) tote the importance of the value of the fishery to Canada and then not care where the benefit of that value goes.
So what’s the big deal how the fish gets harvested? Why are owner operators important? The jobs are still there. True, but it’s the different between having 100 jobs in manufacturing and 100 jobs in a call centre. The jobs are still there, but the money associated with them is significantly different.
When I was a kid, there was a chicken that would come in our yard. Our dog would chase and bark at it while it stuck its head under the old barn so it couldn’t see the dog. Its whole body was exposed, but it felt like as long as it couldn’t see, it couldn’t be seen. DFO reminds me of that chicken: it has the delusion of doing something but its obvious to the rest of the world that it isn’t.
If you watched the news this spring you at some point likely heard Andrew Cuomo say “Denial is not a life strategy”. It’s not a good government strategy either.
Those are words the Department would do well to heed before it is too late.