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MPs quarrel over First Nations fishing

<p>Federal Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn yesterday announced a $175-million program that will integrate B.C.’s commercial and aboriginal fisheries. But Delta-Richmond East Tory MP John Cummins called his claim “outrageous.”</p>

Federal program called ‘segregation’



Jared Ferrie/metro Vancouver


Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn, centre, speaks with First Nations leaders Ed John, left, and Shawn Atleo yesterday in Vancouver.





“I don’t know anyone in the fishing industry that was consulted on this issue — any real people anyway. They talk to their pet rocks.”






Federal Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn yesterday announced a $175-million program that will integrate B.C.’s commercial and aboriginal fisheries. But Delta-Richmond East Tory MP John Cummins called his claim “outrageous.”





“Integration is when race doesn’t matter and in this instanced it does, because we’re going to take non-aboriginals out of the fishery and we’re going to replace them with aboriginals,” said Cummins. “So that sounds to me like segregation.”





The government plans to buy licences from commercial fishermen in order to allow more First Nations’ participation.





“This was not a ‘made in Ottawa’ solution,” said Agriculture Minister and Fraser Valley MP Chuck Strahl. “Consultations took place here in British Columbia with both First Nations and commercial fishing stakeholders.”





Cummins took issue with that statement.





“I don’t know anyone in the fishing industry that was consulted on this issue — any real people anyway,” he said. “They talk to their pet rocks.”





He also accused Prime Minister Stephen Harper of failing to fulfil election promises to end a “race-based fishery” and launch a judicial inquiry into mismanagement of B.C.’s salmon fishery.





It isn’t the first time Cummins has refused to toe the Conservative Party line. Last week he accused Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice of trying to manipulate the Tswwassen treaty referendum, calling him “unfit for office.”





Shawn Atleo, head of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations, called the plan an “important step.”


 
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