Recently I read what was essentially a public memo to me from David Boyd of Twillingate (“What do you say, Bill Barry?” Feb. 3), basically saying if I answered his questions in his favour that he would vote for me.
I am not in the habit of trying to bribe anyone for a vote, but for sure, David’s thoughtful letter to the editor and his interest in rural Newfoundland and Labrador deserve a response.
• First, on the “open border policy” to give fishers the opportunity to sell their products outside of the province: I am 100 per cent in favour of no restrictions, provided there is a level playing field which allows our processing sector to compete.
In other words, our province under such a scenario should not have a cost structure for our fish processors that makes them uncompetitive with Nova Scotia or New Brunswick.
In another respect, I would support the current policy which would provide exemptions in cases where there is insufficient local demand for fishers to have a successful harvest.
• With regard to increasing processing capacity by allowing anyone to spend their own money to do small volumes of local species: there have been endless independent studies which have all concluded that our province has excess capacity and return on investment for the industry is poor.
If I was premier, I would seriously consider an exemption for you, David, to set up your own small community operation with your own money.
Views can change
I am willing to bet that after a short time your views on the viability of small local processing would change.
There is a big difference in signing the front of the cheque versus the back.
I wish you well; vote or no vote, you’re a passionate Newfoundlander and I respect you for that.