Ministerial roulette

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Maybe, more often than not, things happen in government that can only be construed by the common mind as pure madness.

Consider this for example: every so often an individual is appointed, for argument’s sake, to the position of minister in the Fisheries portfolio. Commonly the person selected, whether as federal or provincial minister, is a well-educated person who can probably name every capital city in the U.S. of A, give you the square root of 63 to seven decimal places, or name how many goals Rocket Richard scored in overtime.

However, as far as the ins and outs of the commercial fishery is concerned, their mind is like an empty slate, ready to be filled by the opinions and agendas of various interest groups.

Over the course of a year or two, the taxpayers of the province or country will invest perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars on trips around the world to familiarize the new minister with the structure of the industry in various countries, supposedly in an attempt to garner new insight into improving the fishery in Newfoundland, or the country in general.

Much of the new minister’s time will be spent meeting with and garnering the opinion of the different interest groups in the fishery, from the speedboat fisherman to the corporate managers of the major fish companies.

The learning curve

Over the course of a year or two, the minister, if a fair-minded individual, will have gained a rare and valuable insight into the industry and a knowledge which could be considered as a basis for change that might be beneficial to all interest groups, particularly the harvesters, who have been traditionally denied the benefit of a free market.

So,  just as a family might spend thousands educating a son or daughter to make a valuable contribution to society, the taxpayers have made their sacrifice to educate, in this case, the minister of Fisheries, so that the individual in question can make proposals for change based on knowledge gained from world travel and extensive consultation with various industry participants.

Lo and behold, our of the blue, and at the most inopportune time, a cabinet shuffle moves the now-apprised minister to a new unfamiliar cabinet post and replaces him with another whose knowledge of fishing issues may equate with that of a Saskatchewan wheat farmer.

That is the madness!

The method to the madness is that the bureaucrats and the lobbyists who really control the fishery don’t want a minister to develop a mind of his own on fishery matters, as, perish the thought, decisions may be made based on justice and fairness for the small players in the game.


David Boyd


Geographic location: U.S., Newfoundland, Saskatchewan

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