27 March 2006

Backupable Tom: floundering fish minister likely to be gutted, head on

Fisheries minister Backupable Tom Rideout (left) issued a news release Friday in which he continues to point out that Fishery Products International (FPI) didn't have permission from either Rideout or his predecessor to ship fish outside the province for processing.


Just for a moment let's assume that's true.

That means that Trevor Taylor, Rideout's predecessor, is either incompetent or he's a liar. Taylor told reporters repeatedly that he gave FPI permission to ship fish in 2004 and 2005.

Ditto Rideout.

Until relatively recently he told reporters - and hence everyone else - that FPI had permission to ship fish. And that's part of the problem with Rideout's latest crusade against nothing. Until be stuck a funny hat on his head and mounted the back of a truck, Rideout was insisting FPI had permission to send undersized fish outside the province for processing.

Rideout hasn't disputed, either, that FPI has said that shipping the undersized fish outside the province actually saved FPI money that was used to subsidize it's expensive processing operations in the province.

Rideout also hasn't told anyone what would have happened to the undersize fish if it hadn't been shipped outside the province.

So basically Rideout is launching an attack...on himself and his own administration.


Real Smooth.

Sorta reminds one of this picture from the 1989 campaign (right) in which Rideout appears to be holding up a pistol.

Look closely, though, at which way the barrel appears to be pointing.

But through it all, no matter how many releases Rideout issues, he just can't duck the substantive questions about the FPI issue and about his less-than-sterling performance:

1. The most-obvious one: If what he is now saying is true, why did Rideout and his predecessor lie repeatedly about FPI's shipments of fish outside the province.

2. The next-most-obvious one: Why is Rideout hammering at this issue of whether or not FPI had permission to export undersize fish instead of dealing with the real problem - people are running out of Employment Insurance benefits and Rideout and his boss need to get an early retirement package in place for FPI workers?

3. The maybe-not-so-obvious-but-still-relevant one: What would have happened to the fish if Taylor hadn't approved its export? [Clue: It wouldn't be processed in the province, except by worms.]

4. The not-really-obvious-but-still-good one: Was there any kind of industry group - either organized by Rideout's department or existing with the full knowledge of his department - looking at the issue of how to process undersize fish profitably?

For the other questions, go back and read the posts here and here, at the Bond Papers.

Around here, we understand that some of these questions have been tossed at Rideout but he and his comms director have been ducking them.

Here's a little free advice for Backupable Tom and his comms director: a funny hat and reissuing the same release over again don't constitute a strategy.

Try following Tom's own wise words: Be the truth.

Bonus advice: Everyone can see that the export thing is a diversion. Once the real story hits in a couple of weeks time, the only difference between Backupable Tom and the small yellowtail flounder is that Tom will be filleted in the province...free of charge...and served up on the nightly news again and again and again.

Oh yeah.

One more thing.

Rest assured that the media will have permission - Danny's permission - to gut Rideout and serve him up head-on.

That's backupable.