NDP Supports Fishers in Fight to Save Livelihoods from Pallister Government's Reckless Attack on Industry

The NDP today joined forces with hundreds of fishers who will lose their livelihoods if the Pallister government refuses to reverse its ideologically driven decision to leave the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation.

“Fishing is an integral part of the culture and local economy of many indigenous communities, but the Pallister government is ignoring their concerns,” said Rob Altemeyer, the MLA for Wolseley. “If the Pallister government continues on its present course, these communities will lose their livelihoods and the fishing industry will end up in the hands of a few large outfits.”

“The fishing industry is going to collapse if the government continues with its headlong pursuit of pulling out of the single desk,” said Langford Saunders, president of Norway House Fishermen’s Co-operative. “We can’t survive if we have no way to market our fish.”

“The Pallister government pretends it’s following the will of fishers as it proceeds with its plan to pull out of the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation,” said Niki Ashton, MP for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski. “But this government is only listening to a small number of loud voices. The vast majority of fishers want to keep the single-desk marketing system. Pallister is ignoring their concerns.”

Amanda Lathlin, MLA for The Pas, noted the Pallister government is likely violating the rights of Indigenous people by making the decision to pull out of the marketing corporation before consulting with fishers. And the province has not explained how it will protect small fishers and isolated communities if the corporation folds, she added.

“The premier’s chosen consultation group has admitted that their mission is a sham because the government had already made up its mind about leaving the corporation (Free Press, 12/2/2016),” Lathlin said. “And while the premier claims he only wants to offer fishers more choices, that too, is a sham. We saw what happened to small grain growers when their marketing board was killed and to the small hog producers when theirs was killed. They went out of business.”

Since 1969, the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation has purchased and marketed freshwater fish across Canada, providing a fair price and a stable market for fishers no matter how small their operation. Prior to the involvement of the commission, fishers were subject to the whims of cartels, wildly shifting prices and challenges in shipping their catch to market, especially from remote communities.