MHA admits spreading false information on New Ferolle plant

James McLeod
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Liberal fisheries critic Jim Bennett

Liberal fisheries critic Jim Bennett is sticking to his guns, demanding that the government do more to save the New Ferolle fish plant, but he also admitted to the Telegram that he may have made false statements in a news release on the issue last week.

On Wednesday afternoon, Fisheries Minister Derrick Dalley sent out a news release blasting Bennett, calling his comments about the New Ferolle plant “irresponsible and misleading.”

In recent months, the government has been criticized for increasingly partisan, vicious news releases written by ostensibly non-political public service communications staff in government, and distributed using the government apparatus.

In this case, though, Dalley said he just wanted to correct information that was flatly dishonest.

A June 10 Liberal news release said, “the minister has agreed to a move which will see the community lose its whelk license at the whim of the operator.”

Dalley said that’s simply not true. “I guess my release was in response to Mr. Bennett’s release, because quite frankly he indicated in his release that the minister has agreed to move a whelk licence from a community,” Dalley said. “It was absolutely misleading, false, wrong, lie, call it what you will.”

Bennett admitted to The Telegram the information in his news release may not be accurate. He said he approves releases, but doesn’t actually write them, and he’d have to go back and read what he actually said.

“I might be wrong on that,” he said. “If I’m wrong on that, I’m simply wrong. I need to go back and read what I actually said. I don’t know if transfer is imminent or if it said it has been transferred out.”

Apparently there was a newspaper ad in the local paper for New Ferolle advertising that the owner is looking at moving it out, but Dalley said there’s no application before the licensing board, and a request hasn’t made it to the minister’s desk.

Bennett said his core point, though, is still solid; the government should be doing more for New Ferolle, and he said he thinks it’s funny that the minister is going after him.

“I find it amusing when the minister attacks the critic — and they do it regularly,” he said. “I think the critic is the one that’s attacking the minister, and the minister should be saying exactly what the facts are, but instead of that, this government has a tendency to attack the messenger when they don’t like the messenger.”

The government sold the New Ferolle plant to Deep Atlantic Sea Products for a dollar in 2009. Since then, Bennett said the owner has been failing to pay fishermen and “riding roughshod” over the community. He said the company has been moving equipment from the plant.

“To add insult to injury, his trucks show up, and they’re trucking the product to his plant in St. Mary’s. So the fishermen are slow getting paid, the product is being shipped out, people are screaming blue murder,” Bennett said.

Dalley said Bennett seems to believe there’s more that can be done, but he’s just playing politics.

“Ultimately, it’s a private company,” Dalley said.

“I can’t go in and tell them they have to operate, nor can I go in and kick them out.”

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: Deep Atlantic Sea Products

Geographic location: New Ferolle

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Recent comments

  • JStrickland
    June 17, 2013 - 15:13

    Comments like those made by Bennett do absolutely nothing for the cause of the Liberals. Both the government and opposition have lied to us. This is the proof.

  • Robb
    June 17, 2013 - 14:03

    Well, I wondered how the liberals could put this back on the govt......but you jokers continue to try........what we have here is a plain example of what the liberals AND the ndp are and have been doing for months...years really....they will put anything out there to get another jab at the govt, and some of the little sheep actually believe this crap.......hey, I think I will buy up some swamp land in FLA, cause you people will believe just about anything...I will tell you the land is great, and you will pay top dollar as I lead you by the nose........well, that is exactly what the opposition would want you to do.....luckily the intelligent ones know what is going on........

  • Greg
    June 17, 2013 - 13:55

    So the choices are between this guy and that Danny Dumeresque? God help them.

  • John Smith
    June 17, 2013 - 13:19

    The Liberal party is in a shambles...they have no leader, no money, no vision, and now they have been, once again, exposed as the nit wits they really are. Keep it up Jim, we are all having a good laugh...

  • Greg
    June 17, 2013 - 13:14

    Mr Bennett...My question to you...For the longest time...YOU were telling the PEOPLE of N & L...The Liberal had a plans concerning the fishery...Maybe this is why you didn't have time to write your ARTICLE...CONCERNING this problem...The liberal are still working on there

    • skipper
      June 17, 2013 - 13:54

      Oh my god a an MHA lied wow whats next car salesmen are not honest..

  • Mikey
    June 17, 2013 - 13:04

    So, things are being released by the Liberal communications people that Bennett didn't see the final version of/ Seriously, where did he get his Law degree, in a box of Corn Flakes?

  • wto
    June 17, 2013 - 12:51

    Sure sounds like a good leader for the Liberal Party of NL to me. Then again he has already been Leader and why was it that he had to step aside.???

  • Dianne
    June 17, 2013 - 12:45


  • Rick
    June 17, 2013 - 12:36

    What a farce. Jim Bennett is right. Staffers write their releases. Imagine giving the green light to something with your name all over it and you "haven't read it"? What? And people are looking to this crowd to govern again???

  • Maggy Carter
    June 17, 2013 - 12:29

    "In recent months, the government has been criticized for increasingly partisan, vicious news releases written by ostensibly non-political public service communications staff in government, and distributed using the government apparatus." - Congratulations to James McLeod and the Telegram for having the guts to put this story in its proper context. It's time the PC party realized there are consequences of hijacking government's communication system for its own partisan purposes. This growing tendency to blur the lines between what is government and what is partisan undermines the integrity of government information policies and raises the question of whether the taxpayer is being saddled with the costs of party propaganda. Ms. Michaels and Mr. Ball need to get together on a challenge to this behaviour. They could start with a complaint to the Auditor General and to the Information and Privacy Commissioner. If that doesn't work, they should consider seeking an injunction from the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador. At the very least, the opposition leaders need to make clear to incumbents of these communications positions that their behaviour compromises their independence and their obligation to remain non-partisan. If it persists, they should not be surprised when they get their walking papers immediately on the next change of government.

    • Missed It
      June 17, 2013 - 14:23

      Uh huh. The article is about a politician admitting that he lied and all you see is government misuse of it's communications. At least we know your opinion is biased.

  • rotten fish
    June 17, 2013 - 12:06

    Let me see here! This company got a plant, a gift from taxpayers no doubt, for $1 & it's now " private interests". The operators can take anything they want from this plant & the townspeople with no questions asked, leave them with no work or very little work, all on our dime? Seems to me this company got a sweet deal, & of course, on the backs of our own citizens. Sounds about right for the current powers that be. P.S. Sam, I'm sick of our elected governments giving to private interests, with the 'do whatever you want cause we don't care" attitude. All the while leaving our own citizens holding the bag!

  • Sam
    June 17, 2013 - 10:29

    Jim Bennett...'I need to go back and read what I actually said.'...WHAT??? He doesnt know what he said or he doesnt know what someone else said for him? This is a crowd to be talking about government! And why should the government be helping out these fish plants? Millions have already been pumped into them with no return! Give them licenses and let them sink or swim!