16 September 2016

Changes in the fishery #nlpoli

Your humble e-scribbler was on The Broadcast with Jane Adey, discussing the campaign to split the inshore fishermen from the FFAW.  Give it a listen if you missed it: CBC podcast.

Three points:

First, there are a couple of conflicts of interest inherent in the union.  One is the conflict between the interests of inshore fishermen on the one hand and the plant workers on the other.  The other is the conflict between the unions job of representing the workers' interests to the provincial and federal government versus the union's practice of taking cash from government to run projects and programs.

Both of these have been around for a while. They have been controversial.  But this is the first time anyone has raised it as a major political issue.

Second,  it's no accident that Ryan Cleary is trying to split off the inshore fishermen.  Not only are they the ones with the bigger grievance but they are also the ones with the money and with money-making potential.

That isn't a criticism of the initiative nor does it diminish the grievances some of the inshore fishermen have.  It's just a point that the populist politician is smart enough to know which group has the longer term prospects.

Third,  this is very much a political fight to watch.  The fishery is long overdue for a shake-up.  Things have been stagnant for too long despite the need for all sorts of changes in both the harvesting and the processing sector.  There are other changes coming in the next five to 10 years as a result of the changing workforce and trade patterns.  There's plenty of opportunity but the success of the provincial industry in the future depends on some changes that - thus far - no one has been willing to champion. Will this fight be the start of a series of changes in the fishing industry?

Don't forget:
  • Cleary's had a long-standing interest in the fishery.  This campaign fits with his personal history. You might hear some story about the unbroken line of political greats or a political tradition that stretches from William Coaker to Richard Cashin to Ryan Cleary.  Enjoy it as part of the show rather than as anything approaching truth.
  • The inshore fishermen will deal primarily with the federal government.  Cleary's also had a long-standing hate of for all things federal, pushing the myth that the fishery is in its current state as a result of federal mismanagement.  That's a load of crap but that fits with Cleary as well.  It makes more sense for Cleary to be blaming Canada for something than chasing after the provincial government on behalf of the processing sector folks.
  • Cleary's time with the NDP gave him some insights into both the personalities and the cleavages inside the Dippers and the unions.
  • There's never been any love to lose between Cleary and former FFAW head honcho Earle McCurdy.  Cleary also doesn't get along with Unifor's Lana Payne. Expect sparks to fly.
There's plenty of potential in this campaign by Ryan Cleary and some fishermen to create a new union for the inshore fishermen.  There's potential for controversy,  potential for some serious fireworks, and there's certainly the potential that the campaign will succeed.

Keep an eye on the first couple of meetings.  

This could be a very entertaining fall.