24 November 2011

Suck it up, buttercup #nlpoli

Ocean Choice international is a local fishing company.  The key players in the company are from the Sullivan family.

You will recall one member of the family -  Loyola  - was a key cabinet minister in the Tory administration that started in office in 2003.  He is now used to be a federal fisheries ambassador.

Another offshoot of the family served as chief of staff to Tom Rideout – right, exactly as illustrated -  for the 43 days the fellow was premier.

Ocean Choice International, as a company, profited hugely while Tom was fisheries minister under Danny Williams.  The provincial government interfered left, right and centre in the fishing industry.  Rideout seemed to have it as a personal mission to torture one company - Fishery Products International  - to death. 

Rideout ranted about the company in every venue he could find .  Danny Williams joined in the assault.  Rideout started a prosecution against the company for supposed illegal export of fish from its Marystown plant for processing overseas. 

Williams and Rideout pushed changes to the law governing FPI through the House of Assembly to make running the company much more difficult than it already was given the unwarranted political attacks Williams, Rideout and the rest of the Tory administration waged against the locally-based international fishing company.

Ultimately, Rideout and Williams succeeded in smashing FPI to bits.

The profitable stuff, like the FPI brands, the marketing arm and an overseas subsidiary wound up going to fishing companies outside the province.

OCI scooped up a bunch of fish plants, some other odds and ends and the FPI headquarters Building in St. John’s with its large, beautiful boardroom.  OCI sold the building very shortly afterward. 

As the Telegram reported at the time:

According to a conveyance filed at the registry, OCI got $3.335 million for the building, located at 70 O'Leary Ave. in St. John's.

The buyer is Deacon Investments Ltd., whose sole director is local businessman Dean MacDonald.

OCI’s Martin Sullivan spoke to a board of trade luncheon on Tuesday.  Sullivan whined and moaned about the state of the province’s fisheries.  He bawled especially big tears over the heavy hand of government interference.

According to the Telegram’s account of the speech, “Sullivan pointed to yellowtail as an example” of the problems with government interference in processing and marketing.

This is an especially rich moment.  processing yellowtail flounder in China was a key part of Rideout’s ongoing persecution of FPI.  Ocean Choice and the Sullivans swooped in to take up the bits of FPI Rideout shook loose. 

A couple of years later Sullivan and OCI found themselves in exactly the same place FPI was. The provincial government is shagging around with the company over the exports yet again. 

No one should shed any tears over OCI’s current predicament.   They who live by the unholy sword of government interference can’t really expect sympathy when they start getting the same shaft right up to the hilt.

People like Sullivan who represent the fishery of the past ought not to have any say in determining the fishery of the future.  That is, not unless Martin and his friends are willing to compensate the public treasury for the occasions when they profited from the interference he now bitches about.

Otherwise, Sullivan and his compatriots and just suck it up and leave the future of the fishery to other people who have an ounce of credibility.

- srbp -

Related:  Liberal fisheries critic Jim Bennett wants equal time at the board of trade to rebut Sullivan largely with a dose of the same thinking that helped create the current mess.

What the crowd at the board of trade – proponents of the Maximum Government Interference school of free enterprise thinking – have already heard it all before.

What the board of trade could use is a dose of some original ideas, even if they wouldn’t like them.  That’s the only way we might build a successful fishery of the future.