Rein in expectations, minister says

Terry Roberts
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Fishery

Fisheries Minister Clyde Jackman is doing his best to maintain the momentum on an audacious plan to rationalize the troubled fishing industry. But he seemed to suggest Friday the fisheries union and processors need to reign in their expectations.

Both the Fish, Food and Allied Workers' union and the Association of Seafood Producers have submitted restructuring proposals that are aimed at reducing the number of fishing enterprises and processing facilities.

Clyde Jackman

Fisheries Minister Clyde Jackman is doing his best to maintain the momentum on an audacious plan to rationalize the troubled fishing industry. But he seemed to suggest Friday the fisheries union and processors need to reign in their expectations.

Both the Fish, Food and Allied Workers' union and the Association of Seafood Producers have submitted restructuring proposals that are aimed at reducing the number of fishing enterprises and processing facilities.

All sides agree there is an overcapacity in each sector, and want the federal and provincial governments to open their treasuries to fix the ailing industry.

Since taking on the fisheries portfolio late last year, Jackman has been quite diplomatic in his remarks, knowing full well the rancorous debate that is so often evident in the industry.

But it was clear from the tone of a news release issued by his department last week, and subsequent remarks in an interview, that his composed ways are wearing thin.

It was this line in the release that seemed to signal a change in tone: "These proposals are seeking a high level of financial support from the provincial government and present solutions that in the past have not proven to address the long-term structural issues in the industry."

Reached later in Springdale, Jackman referenced proposals that were "unobtainable" and requests for government investments that reached well into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

He said neither level of government is likely to commit to such funding, and he is calling on all sides to be more realistic.

He plans to bring a proposal to the federal government in the coming months, but said he won't have any confidence in a successful outcome unless there is more "give and take" on all sides.

"I would be more than willing to take to Ottawa a proposal that I feel very confident in as opposed to one I think is unobtainable," he said.

"I don't think the federal government is there in terms of huge amounts of money, nor do I feel the provincial government will go there."

The process began last summer with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the province, the fisheries union and an association of seafood producers. An MOU steering committee has been put in place.

Jackman acknowledged that progress on the MOU is moving slower than he expected. He has asked the chair of the steering committee to convene a meeting this week, at which time all reports and proposals will be presented.

The steering committee is expected to develop a broad strategy in the coming weeks, based on recommendations from all sides and a financial analysis of the industry.

Jackman plans to bring that strategy to Ottawa in hopes the two levels of government can partner on the strategy.

troberts@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Allied Workers, Association of Seafood Producers

Geographic location: Springdale, Ottawa

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Recent comments

  • Maurice E.
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    Rationalization is Adam Smith/Darwinian market capitalism at its best.

    At a time when market capitalism is being replaced by collaborative/distributed capitalism , the province (at the urging of the processors and the union), instead of providing the kind of leadership that would move the province and the industry away from an out-moded market capitalist model, towards a networked/collaborative/nonhierarchical economic model, the best the province can do is look backward to what is an old, corporate pyramid, top down (exclusion rather than inclusion), proposal/solution ----- rationalization of the industry.

    Where is the vision ?

  • Maurice E.
    July 01, 2010 - 20:15

    Rationalization is Adam Smith/Darwinian market capitalism at its best.

    At a time when market capitalism is being replaced by collaborative/distributed capitalism , the province (at the urging of the processors and the union), instead of providing the kind of leadership that would move the province and the industry away from an out-moded market capitalist model, towards a networked/collaborative/nonhierarchical economic model, the best the province can do is look backward to what is an old, corporate pyramid, top down (exclusion rather than inclusion), proposal/solution ----- rationalization of the industry.

    Where is the vision ?