Treaty 1 Territory, Métis Homeland, Winnipeg, MB - The Pioneer Commercial Fishers of Manitoba (PCFM) and Dougald Lamont, Manitoba Liberal Leader and MLA for St. Boniface, are calling for Ralph Eichler, the newly appointed Minister of Agriculture and Resource Development, to clean house in his department now that Blaine Pedersen has left.
The PCFM want to meet with Lamont and Eichler to talk about proper management of the freshwater fishery and about the PCs policies that have been driving fishers, especially northern Indigenous Fishers, out of business.
Not only are the PCs ignoring commercial fishers, they appear to be ignoring science and scientists. The fishers have independent scientific reports arguing there was no need for the expensive changes the PCs forced on them - and a sworn statement that the official in charge of tracking fish populations was not filing accurate reports.
"It's not just fishers who are frustrated - we're hearing complaints across the industry, and the fish need to be managed for all stakeholders for the future. We don't think the PCs are doing that, and they have to," said Lamont.
"I'm talking to fishers who say they have never been so poorly treated. People's livelihoods are at stake," said Einar Sveinson, Chair of the PCFM.
Lamont wrote a letter to Eichler last week, detailing complaints about bias, broken promises and mistreatment from department officials, including abusive texts and leaks about departmental policy changes months before they were announced publicly. PCFM had already presented the information to other PC MLAs.
At a meeting in November 2018, former Minister Rochelle Squires promised the PCFM they'd be included in any discussions about changes to their industry, which contributes $90-million to the Manitoba economy, and $270-million when spinoffs are included.
That consultation never happened. Instead, the department's agenda appears to be driven by the Manitoba Wildlife Federation (MWF), which has been openly saying they have "influence" within the department. In articles posted online, the MWF boasted of their special access to former Minister Blaine Pedersen, Rob OIson, and Kevin Casper.
Olson used to run the MWF, and prior to that worked at the Delta Waterfowl foundation with Jonathan Scarth, who is principal secretary to Premier Brian Pallister.
Lamont and the Manitoba Liberals have also filed a separate complaint with the Civil Service Commission.