Fishing dispute campaign issue for Alliance

Tuesday, November 7, 2000
CBC News Online

TABUSINTAC, N.B. – The Canadian Alliance fisheries critic is using the native lobster fishing dispute to convince non-native fishermen to vote for the party’s candidate in Miramichi. 


“The fault of it lies clearly at the feet of the minister” 

Commercial fishermen want one set of fishing rights for everybody and that’s what they were promised Monday night in Tabusintac. 

Close to 40 people, mostly non-native fishers, gathered in the community hall in Tabusintac. 

The community is just a few kilometres up the road from Burnt Church, where natives took a stand and fished lobster out of the legal season this fall. 

The memory of the tension is still fresh in people’s minds, including that of John Cummins, the Alliance fishery critic. “The issue that I know interests most of you, or many of you, is the issue of the fishery,” he said. 

Cummins criticized the Liberal government’s handling of the dispute. “The fault of it lies clearly at the feet of the minister,” he says. “The trouble began on day one when he refused to haul the unmarked traps, which were in excess of what he legally prescribed.” 

Cummins says an Alliance government supports one set of rules for everyone. And that’s exactly what Robbie Whishart, a local fisherman, says he wanted to hear. 

“I think it’s a good thing that we got this Alliance party to protect us,” he says. 

John Cummins says he also supported commercial fishermen in their attempts to sieze native traps, saying no charges should be filed against any of them for helping to stop illegal fishing.