Native and non-native fishermen calling for new fisheries minister

CBC News
Thursday, December 7, 2000

MONCTON, N.B. – People involved in the Burnt Church fishing dispute are urging the Prime Minister to find a new minister of fisheries. 


“We need someone with some status and some vision” 

Native people and commercial fishermen feel it’s time to replace Herb Dhaliwal. 

Dhaliwal has few friends among native people on the East Coast or among commercial fishermen. 

Last summer RCMP and Department of Fisheries and Oceans officers were involved in several clashes with people from the Burnt Church reserve. 

Brian Bartibog, a band councillor at Burnt Church, says he thinks any minister that supports acts of violence should be replaced. Bartibog says the Prime Minister might be able to win back the trust of native people by appointing one of his aboriginal MPs as minister of fisheries. 

For their part, commercial fishermen are upset about the continuing uncertainty over native fishing rights. 

Mike Belliveau, a spokesperson for the Maritime Fishermen’s Union, says he thinks it’s time for a new approach. 

“The problem in the fishery as we have it right now is that nothing was resolved in the year 2000 around native rights issues,” he says. 

Belliveau says the last two fisheries ministers came from British Columbia. He says it’s time for someone from the East Coast. 

More importantly, Belliveau says he is looking for someone who can influence the Prime Minister. “Just because they are from the Maritimes is not sufficient,” he says. “We need someone with some status and some vision. Status in cabinet and vision overall.” 

Belliveau and Bartibog say the Marshall decision goes beyond fisheries. They both say the federal government must show strong political leadership.