31 March 2006

Multi-billion dollar oil project in slings but...

Danny Williams has time to issue a lengthy news release condemning Costco for delisting a local product, namely Omega-3 capsules containing seal oil.

Love the seal hunt. Hate it. That doesn't matter.

Consider the implications of this demonstration of Danny Williams' priorities.
"I find it incredible that an international company of Costco's reputation would make such a serious decision without giving us the courtesy of hearing our views, or those of the industry," the Premier said. "I urge the company to reconsider this decision that has such serious implications for the sealing industry and the communities and individuals who depend on it, or at least put the decision on pause until we have an opportunity to inform them about the seal fishery."
I find it incredible Danny is stating that he finds this incredible.

But wait.

Danny's comms people will highlight this as an example of Danny's ongoing efforts to stand up for Newfoundland and Labrador and promote the province. They'll tell you this also fits with the new communications strategy (backed by $100K of new tax dollars) Danny will implement to defend the seal hunt.

But wait again.

Turns out the seal oil capsules Costco pulled from its shelves are manufactured by the Barry Group. For those of you who don't know, Bill Barry (left) is an old friend of Danny's. The Barry Group is the same company that got millions of dollars in loan guarantees last August to support its aquaculture operations in the province. It's also the company that has floated a possible commitment to buy the fishplant in Harbour Breton. The commitment is possible because it hinges on a fish quota which Barry doesn't have and in fact hasn't even applied for yet.

Considering all that, one can easily conclude that the Premier had more reason to get involved in this issue than just to stick up for the poor downtrodden Newfoundlanders and their annual seal hunt. One of the guys Danny really likes is involved and that probably makes it a bit more important.

Having gotten this far in our little exploration of the Premier's big news release, you might be interested to see that on the anti-seal hunt site maintained by Paul Watson's Sea Shepherd Conservation Society , the Barry Group is identified as one of the largest seal processors.

The site is promoting the anti-Canada boycott the Humane Society of the United States has been reminding us of in radio ads lately. Supposedly the boycott is costing us hundreds of millions of dollars annually. There's even mention that two of Barry's big customers for other ocean products are Red Lobster and Long John Silvers, encouraging people to hurt all of Bill's business to stop the seal hunt.

Now all of this put together and the news release starts to make more sense.

Go back to the release though and you'll notice that not once is mention made of the fact that the seal oil capsules in question are produced by Bill Barry's company. I wonder why.

What you will find, though, is a Canadian first minister calling for a boycott of companies that don't support Newfoundland and Labrador.

This isn't like fighting apartheid and it damn well doesn't make any sense to fight a boycott with another boycott. Like most boycotts the one organized by the anti-sealing crew is largely ineffective anyway. It's just another theatrical device to rally the hordes to give more cash to keep up the fight against the seal hunt.

Now Danny Williams wants to use a tactic against a pack of loons that the pack of loons is using against a local industry, and Danny wants to spend taxpayer cash to do it.

Oh yeah.

That makes a lot of sense.

But if we are going to do it, maybe Bill Barry could throw a couple of hundred thousand bucks into the kitty as well. After all, it seems like the Premier is doing as much work for Bill on this file so far as he is for the guys who actually go out risking their lives to harvest the seals in the first place.