15 December 2011

The Newfoundland Spring #nlpoli

Pay attention to some of the comments about the fishery the past couple of weeks and you’ll here talk about how we need to change the model. 

For example, labour federation boss Lana Payne has talked about the failure of what she called the “corporate model”.  When OCI boss Martin Sullivan says the fishery is broken, he’s basically talking about the “model”, too. 

What they both are referring to is how the government deals with the fishery.  The current “model” is not corporate as Payne claims so much as it is corporatist:  heavy state control irrespective of  economic rationality or public morality.

What frightens Payne and McCurdy more than anything else is that the change they and their predecessors have fought against relentlessly is finally here. What they have been able to rely on for so long is the threat of political catastrophe for any politician who dared to think about cutting the number of fish plants and fish plant workers down to a level where the workers could make a decent wage from their hard work alone.

Don’t believe it?

In a stint Wednesday on the province’s morning radio call-in show, McCurdy stated flatly that given his druthers he’d rather see people in Marystown and Port Union squeeze out enough work to qualify for employment insurance rather than have the plants close.  He tossed in full-time work for the plant in Fortune knowing that it isn’t really possible to do the two things together.

But just look at the front end of that.  It’s the essence of McCurdy’s position:  keep everything the way it is, even if  - as everyone including McCurdy knows – that idea isn’t really viable any more.  Keeping a few hundred people stamped up, collecting employment insurance for most of the year and bringing home poverty wages is better than any realistic alternative.

McCurdy wants to keep a system that promoted the overfishing that decimated the industry in the first place.

The people McCurdy expects to pick up the tab for his little scam are the taxpayers of Newfoundland and Labrador.

One can hardly imagine a more morally bankrupt position.

Thankfully, it seems like some politicians are finally getting the message. Sure you have guys like noob Liberal member of the House of Assembly Jim Bennett who is pushing another pile of outmoded, outdated ideas.  Bennett needs to stop hanging out with Jim Morgan and his buddies.

But another gang of politicians is finally standing up to the union shakedown and the bullshit conspiracy theories from people like Gus Etchegary.

Give the guy his full due: fisheries minister Darin King maybe be looking stressed but he is sounding tough. Maybe he is heartened by the people in Fortune who turned up on the news Wednesday night attacking McCurdy for undermining their chance at full-time work. Chainsaw Earle is apparently discovering that chainsaws buck when they hit a knot.

A couple of weeks ago, Ocean Choice International decided to close two fish plants.  They change the company started is long overdue.  The union and the provincial government have had plenty of time to come up with a workable plan to deal with fisheries reform.  They failed.

Expect the change that OCI has started to sweep the province.  This could wind up being the most significant political transformation in the province’s history.  The fishery, after all, is tied inextricably to the political and social fabric of the province.

The only real losers in the changes that are coming will be the people who profited from the old order.  You can tell because they are fighting so savagely against change.

- srbp -