Cullen grills Fisheries Minister on neglect of B.C. fisheries
February 3rd, 2009 - 12:00pm
Last week’s Conservative-Liberal budget fails to answer the needs of Northwest fishing communities and instead pours money into Atlantic Canada for crass political gain, charges Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen.
“In a time of economic hardship this kind of partisan spending is unacceptable,” Cullen said in Parliament last Wednesday as he took the fisheries minister to task for her government’s unbalanced spending.
“I was looking through the budget document and found that there is actually one small craft harbour in Atlantic Canada that is getting more funding than all of British Columbia combined,” Cullen said.
“Why is that?”
The 300 page budget, tabled in the House last Tuesday, is full of missed opportunities and suggests the government remains out of touch with the needs of the Northwest.
“The hatchery program on the West Coast has been decimated by this budget, the one before it, and the one before that. That is mostly volunteer work the government seeds with a small amount of money to allow for the restoration of the West Coast stocks that have been so decimated.”
Cullen also asked why the Minister has failed on her promise to visit Skeena-Bulkley Valley to hear directly from fishery workers.
“These workers have watched as the number of commercial boats dropped from 750 down to 150. The employment insurance adjustments that they have been calling for within the fishery industry for years are absent from the budget.”
Fisheries Minister Gail Shea replied that a recent four-day visit to BC was spent in pre-budget consultations. Under continued pressure from Cullen, she agreed once again to visit the riding to meet personally with the fishing industry. – 30 –
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