Prince Edward Island legislature should stay open: NDP

Teresa Wright
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NDP Leader Mike Redmond says more work needs to be done on solutions for low lobster prices

Prince Edward Island legislative assembly

The P.E.I. legislature will likely close today, but NDP Leader Mike Redmond believes it should remain open to allow lawmakers to try and work out a solution on low lobster prices.

With prices only marginally better than last year and fishermen voicing serious concerns, Redmond says more work must be done to come up with solutions.

“We’re in the exact same place we were a year ago, there’s still no equality in terms of our price points for our lobster fishermen, and moreover this year there’s less of a catch because of the cold water,” Redmond said.

He believes the MLAs need to get to the bottom of the low prices problem with more meaningful dialogue and debate.

“It’s really a difficult time for the lobster fishermen, we’re getting the calls and the frustration is obvious … we would hope at some point there would be good dialogue and debate and that’s obviously not happened.”

The issue of lobster prices has been a common one throughout this session of the legislature, raised often by Opposition fisheries critic Colin LaVie.

It was raised once again Tuesday when LaVie raised the concerns of fishermen about how Nova Scotia lobster fishers are getting $1 per pound more for their catches than P.E.I. fishermen.

He questioned Fisheries Minister Ron MacKinley’s credibility on the whole file.

“Fishers say that this minister is a disgrace because he is doing nothing to help the fishing industry on P.E.I.,” LaVie said.

“Minister, why can’t you understand that the vital industry needs a minister who is prepared to do some hard work for the fishery on P.E.I.?”

As he has many times throughout the session, MacKinley stated the issue is one that must be resolved among the fishers, buyers and processors.

He continues to point to the Natural Products Marketing Act, which could allow fishermen to set their own price for lobsters.

“The minister of fisheries for the province of P.E.I. doesn’t set the price for lobsters, same as you don’t set the price for any other commodity,” MacKinley said.

“We can’t tell the fishers what they’ve got to sell it for as minister, and we can’t tell the processors what they got to pay. It’s under supply and demand.”

But Redmond said he is growing increasingly frustrated by these answers from MacKinley.

“He puts his hands up and he talks about it being a capitalist system,” Redmond said.

“If he says there’s nothing he can do, then I question why he is even minister of fisheries of why we even have a minister of fisheries? Because it seems to be an awful waste of money for something that he says there’s nothing he can do about prices.”

Redmond said he wants MacKinley to show leadership on the file, get the players around the table and get the issue sorted out.

But he also had some harsh words for the Opposition Tories.

“We really feel there has been no leadership by this minister, but we also think that the Opposition has a responsibility to ask the right questions. It’s easy to point fingers and lay blame, but let’s try and find some real solutions so our fishermen can actually have a livelihood.”

Organizations: Natural Products

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia

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Recent comments

  • Yea Right
    May 14, 2014 - 14:04

    Why is it every lobster story brings out a stream of low information morons who think they know something about fisheries? Stick to your cartoons and dancing with the stars and let adults discuss issue that affect PEI kids.

  • Ya Right
    May 14, 2014 - 12:02

    So the Tories and NDP think McKinnley should tell the processor to pay the fisherman say $ 5 per pound,when they can only pay pay $ 4 dollars,then lets say they give the processors the extra dollar with no doubt from the public funds ??The fisherman all ready get low government interest loans plus tax free fuel.Time to trade the 250 k boat for a little wood boat with a 6 cylinder engine which will catch the same amout of fish.Lets hope none of the boys blow their 600 hp plus engine this year and get a 35 k re-build cost. The average small business owner gets none of the above help. Sorry no sympathy here for the fisherman.

  • Turning out to be
    May 14, 2014 - 07:54

    NDP Leader Mike Redmond is starting to show his real colors . Reading this article just proves to me that this NDP is no better than the other two parties we now have . What business does the government have in sticking its nose in private business and that is just what the fishing industry is . They will sort it out themselves & the strong will survive & make a good living . The others that want totally out of proportion size & style boats &* make a full years living in 9 weeks will fall by the wayside & get a regular job . We all would be better off if government just does what it's suppose to . Health - policing - highways - education . Just think how much better off we all would be , less need of being the highest taxed people in Canada .

    • Knee Jerk Wrong
      May 14, 2014 - 09:02

      No you are jumping to conclusions without knowing what you are talking about. Fishing is a regulated industry by law. The feds control the harvesting licenses, the provinces the processing licenses. The provincial fisheries act gives the minister the power to collect any information he requires from processors and buyers. McKinley must know that by now and LaVie should be pushing specifically on that point. McKinley has the legislative powers to prepare and submit an accurate statistical picture on pricing. This would show whether or not buyers are undercutting or not. Either way the proper information should be made very clear. If the buyers are being legit then good info may help fishers organize for an annual shore price in the future. Redmond is asking for all of the information. McKinley is not doing his job. Nor are the PCs. And you do not know what you are talking about. Knee jerk fantasies about " private" business do not apply to the economics of a highly regulated public resource, the fish within Canada's international boundaries. The law is there for a purpose. It is time to use it.