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'My area is not by default racist': West Nova MP pleads for calm, and honest discussion about lobster dispute

West Nova Conservative MP Chris d'Entremont pleaded with DFO Minister Bernadette Jordan to come down in person to southwest Nova Scotia and not just talk at commercial fishermen, but listen to them, and their concerns about providing for their families
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(Meghan Groff/HalifaxToday.ca)

At last night's emergency debate in the House of Commons, the Liberals, and NDP together said there is no basis at all for commercial fishermen's accusations that lobster stocks in southwestern Nova Scotia are under threat from an independent Indigenous fishery.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says conservation will remain a priority in any decisions they make.

Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bernadette Jordan says there are people out there committing criminal acts, and that is utterly deplorable, and that kind of behaviour must stop. She says everyone needs to participate in this discussion, because this is something that affects everybody.

"It's about how we can all be part of the solution and work to help support a sustainable and productive fishery for all harvesters, First Nations, and commercial fishers alike," says Jordan. "I truly believe that a fully realized, fully implemented right to fish for a moderate livelihood will only serve to strengthen our fishery."

Meanwhile, West Nova Conservative MP Chris d'Entremont made a plea to Canadians watching this situation unfold, asking them to please not paint his riding as full of racists.

"There's probably a few as in many of our ridings, systemic racism is true in Canada, but my area is not by default racist," explains d'Entremont. "It does not represent the majority of my citizens."

d'Entremont pleaded with Minister Jordan to come down in person to southwest Nova Scotia and not just talk at commercial fishermen, but listen to them, and their concerns about providing for their families.

"But I need the Minister to step up, I need her to be here on the ground, I need her to meet with fishermen, both Indigenous, and non-Indigenous as well," says d'Entremont. "As a matter of fact, I've got a truck, I'd be more than happy to drive up and pick her up, and drive her down and keep her safe while we have these discussions as well."

Jordan adds she and her colleagues have regularly met with Indigenous leadership, and the fishing industry and she pledges to continue those meetings even when this crisis has passed.

"During these discussions we've heard from all parties frustrations that negotiations are taking too long, and that there's a lack of real progress to implement this right," says Jordan. "And from non-Indigenous harvesters we've heard their concerns about the future of the fishery and their livelihood."

d'Entremont also condemned the violence, saying the vast majority of commercial fisherman and organizations in West Nova accept, and support Indigenous treaty rights, but what they want now is clarity, and a definition for what the Marshall decision "moderate livelihood" means in practice.

He adds he's fielding calls all day now from upset commercial lobster fishermen, and he's telling them to stand down while these negotiations are ongoing, but he adds he is getting tired of doing so, and is insisting DFO, and Minister Jordan take action to resolve this longstanding issue.




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