25 May 2006

Status quo not an option: Williams

Predictably, Premier Danny Williams thinks huge progress was made at yesterday's summit/town hall/audience on the fishery.

This sort of meeting usually ends a process, capping off months if not years of private discussion, wrangling and hopefully agreement. If you're the guy calling the meeting at the start of the process, then you are usually either trying to pull a fast one or setting yourself up for a huge fall.

So what is the consensus coming from the meetings? Why that there is plenty of agreement on things that amount to PIFOs: penetrating insights into the obvious.

Take a gander at the CBC News story on the Big Meeting:
Premier Danny Williams says there was a consensus at Wednesday's fisheries summit that the industry is not in a complete crisis, but it does need major restructuring.
Knock me over with a feather. We need to restructure the fishery? Geez, these guys accomplished a lot in 11 hours of meetings at taxpayer expense.

"We have acknowledged collectively that status quo in the fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador is not an option," said Williams.
Yet more rocket scientist conclusions. This is like acknowledging that the sun came up this morning.
The premier said there was an agreement among participants that everyone has to do a better job of selling fish product on the international market and the size of the industry needs to be concentrated, with fewer plants and workers.
Now tell me you heard that conclusion somewhere before: fewer people need to be involved in the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery. This is pure gold. No one said anything like this before.

Yesterday's meeting did produce what some might consider an odd meeting of the minds. Earle McCurdy, head of the hunter-gatherers' guild, and Danny Williams, local corporatist political supremo, are in complete agreement on the need to take control of Fishery Product's marketing arm, possibly as a Crown corporation. The two guys who bitch about other people wanting to break up FPI are in fact the guys wanting to pull off the smash and grab.
Meanwhile, Fish, Food and Allied Workers union president Earle McCurdy said he is supportive of the premier's idea to create an industry co-op to take over the profitable marketing division of Fishery Products International.
There didn't appear to be much support for this sort of idea from anyone actually involved in marketing seafood, but that doesn't matter.

What matters is that the Big Giant Meeting with the Big Giant Head of Newfoundland and Labrador produced amazing results never before seen on the planet.

The official news release said so, in pre-approved, vacuous terms of bureaucrats and dissembling politicians.

Loyola Hearn trumpeted his government's capital gains tax break for fishermen as a way of helping with the crisis. Earle McCurdy wanted to see government money spent on his members. Ditto fish processors looking for cash to bail them out.

Yep all remarkably new and special and splendiferous.

And if you want to know how much wasn't accomplished yesterday?

Look at how hard the Premier and all his posse are trying to convince you that they split the fisheries atom over the course of 11 hours at a ritzy hotel. It's sadly very much the norm for Danny Williams: big flash; no delivery.

Too bad that status quo was not an option.