Saturday, January 29, 2011

Gail Shea and When a Fisheries Minister is Not a Fisheries Minister

In a normal situation, when cabinet ministers are chosen, the selection is based on who has the right education and experience, to best carry out their mandate.

Therefore, you might expect that someone chosen to head up fisheries and oceans, would at least have a scientific background, so that they can speak the language and understand the concerns of stakeholders.

But Gail Shea has none of these qualifications nor does she appear to have much interest. Her primary function is to attend trade shows and entertain lobbyists, who have been working to tear down Canadian safeguards to protect our waterways and marine life.

In 2008, she ordered the slaughter of 560 Narwhal whales who had been trapped in the ice around Baffin Island. The American humane society had hired Inuit to keep the blowholes open, while they arranged to have an icebreaker rescue the whales.

But before they could do that, Shea instead ordered that they all be shot. These are not the actions of someone who takes her job of protecting these sea mammals seriously. It was one of the worst acts of brutality in the history of our country, and she offered no apologies. Instead she launched a personal attack on the sea captain who tried in vain to rescue them, attempting to have him fired.
"A government that refuses to abide by democratic principles and closes the door of Parliament rather than to submit to the rule of the majority is hardly in a position to demand my resignation. The Canadian government has no power or authority over us and we have no cause to respect any demands from the Canadian government, especially the ridiculous Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Gail Shea remains Minister only because the honourable members of Parliament have been denied the floor from which to fire her," said Captain Paul Watson.
Shea is also promoting the shrimp farming industry, which erodes coastlines and is damaging to the eco system. And instead of addressing the concerns of marine biologists troubled by the devastating results of salmon farming, she was in Norway schmoozing with the people who are causing the destruction.

And under her watch mining companies are being allowed to dump toxic waste into our lakes and rivers.

So I found it rather interesting, that she is now in Summerside, apparently on the campaign trail, touting the accomplishments of her government and selling the notion of giving corporations more tax cuts. She should be doing her job as a public servant.

Canada is a beautiful country, and we have always taken pride in our shorelines, clean water and wildlife. When salmon become infected, they are not only unfit for human consumption, but also for other animals in the food chain, like the grizzly.

And when waterways become toxic, complete eco systems are destroyed.

Shea defends her actions by suggesting that she is protecting and creating jobs. But shrimp and salmon farming is mostly seasonal work, often performed by migrant workers. And green jobs could be created without harming the environment, but protecting it.

If Shea wants to work for multinationals, she should do so. But not when she's on our payroll.

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