10 January 2012

OCI jams provincial fisheries minister #nlpoli

The CBC online account is on the Ceeb’s website (here). That’s pretty much what everyone has been reporting, namely the impact fisheries minister Darin King’s comments on Friday had on Ocean Choice International.

Check the company’s news release and you’ll see that is also what the company started out with:

Sullivan said remarks by fisheries minister Darin King have left global customers, employees and the people of  Newfoundland and Labrador questioning the credibility of the company, something he said should never have happened.

Attacks on a private sector company that adversely affect the company’s financial position is old hat for the provincial Conservatives.  It’s the same tactic Tom Rideout, right,  used on Fishery Products International when he was fisheries minister.

To be fair, King isn’t doing the same thing.  His comments on Friday came more out of a short-term political need to make it look like he was doing something besides looking impotent.

In the end, King made a statement everyone knew rang a little hollow:  no one believed the government would issue a permanent exemption on processing anyway.  Then he took a shot at OCI that led the company to come out in an even stronger position.  Except among the usual gang of myth mongers and ignorant windbag politicians, people in Newfoundland and Labrador looking at OCI’s position will appreciate the sensible, rational tone of it:

However, when these discussions veer off to public commentary that is damaging to our reputation, we must take exception.

I respect the right of the province to make decisions on matters before them. And, I respect government’s decision to disallow permanent exemptions on flatfish and redfish.

We understand now that government is in receipt of all information requested to date, apart from minor clarifications received today. (a direct refutation of King’s claim)

In reply, King can lash out again or let the comment from OCI go by. Either way, King loses.  If he lashes out, his eventual and inevitable capitulation by granting long-term exemptions will look like he collapsed under pressure from the company.  And if he let’s the comments slide by, King will look like he is afraid of OCI.  When he inevitably grants the company long term exemptions, he will look like he collapsed in fear.

How does Darin King win? 

At this point, King can’t win.  He can only hope to limit damage. Whoever advised him to issue the news release on Friday should get the boot for being a political moron.

Arguably, the only politician in a worse position is Liberal fisheries critic Jim Bennett.  As CBC quotes Bennett:

"You can't blame a company for taking as many liberties as the government will let them take."

Anyone who thinks the current fisheries crisis is caused by slack government regulation of the industry and greedy irresponsible fishing companies running roughshod over everything and everyone is either a fool on his own or a fool taking advice from an even bigger idiot.

There’s just no polite way to put it.

- srbp -