Former Ministers Fraser, Anderson Should be Listened to on Gutting Fisheries Act…Siddon, Not So Much


This short blog is a result of a call from John Fraser.
This from the CBC, a news story across the land this week:
Four former federal fisheries ministers are questioning the government’s motives behind the inclusion of environmental protection changes to the Fisheries Act in the Budget Implementation Act.”

Mulroney-era Conservatives Tom Siddon and John Fraser, and Liberals Herb Dhaliwal and David Anderson, who both served under Jean Chretien, say in an open letter they don’t believe federal ministers have given plausible explanations for why so much environmental legislation has been included in a money bill.

Former fisheries ministers have sent an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, questioning his government’s decision to include major changes to the Fisheries Act in the omnibus budget bill. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

“Quite frankly, Canadians are entitled to know whether these changes were written, or insisted upon, by the minister of fisheries or by interest groups outside the government. If the latter is true, exactly who are they?” ask the four in an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

I find it interesting that Siddon has found religion, considering that when he was minister, the Kemano Completion Plan was authorized – a project that would have seen two major sockeye runs imperilled. I wonder if he’s now prepared to apologize to me and pay the insurer back over the conflict regarding my coverage of the issue at CKNW?

The fact that all four former federal fisheries ministers have taken a strong position on an omnibus bill that will not imperil but most surely devastate fisheries, fresh and salt water, across the land, should be taken seriously by the Prime Minister and his loyal lickspittles.

The two important voices are those of John Fraser and David Anderson,  both lifetime environmentalists who had, while in cabinet, the clout to protect fish and unhesitatingly risked their portfolios – something the present minister, Keith Ashfield, hasn’t the guts to do.

It’s not easy laying your ministry on the line, I can tell you from experience – but if you won’t, what the hell are you there for?

An omnibus bill is as it sounds – one bill to cover various areas of legislation. It’s traditional role has been one of housekeeping – fixing bad grammar, bad draughtsmanship and that sort of thing. Recent governments have taken it as vehicle where several unrelated, politically touchy areas are put into one bill to restrict the Opposition’s ability to oppose the individual issues.

It is a mark of an arrogant government that cares not for the spirit of parliamentary democracy and couldn’t care less for any who are not their supporters or, in Ashfield’s case, flunkies.

Scarcely a minor matter, the stripping away of protection of fish habitat is the death knell for an already badly wounded animal. The reason for it is to satisfy developers who traditionally pay big money into party bank accounts – I wonder if Tom Siddon is saying this now, since my saying it brought a lawsuit from him.

Canadians across the country must understand what this means and unite their voices against the Harper Herd no matter what their personal politics. This appallingly arrogant Prime Minister must be stopped before our Pacific salmon becomes a curiosity found only in occasional rivers to satisfy rich fishermen, as has become the case in Europe.

When John Fraser and David Anderson speak out on the subject of fisheries in this country they should be listened to.


About Rafe Mair

Rafe Mair, LL.B, LL.D (Hon) a B.C. MLA 1975 to 1981, was Minister of Environment from late 1978 through 1979. In 1981 he left politics for Talk Radio becoming recognized as one of B.C.'s pre-eminent journalists. An avid fly fisherman, he took a special interest in Atlantic salmon farms and private power projects as environmental calamities and became a powerful voice in opposition to them. Rafe is the co-founder of The Common Sense Canadian and writes a regular blog at

3 thoughts on “Former Ministers Fraser, Anderson Should be Listened to on Gutting Fisheries Act…Siddon, Not So Much

  1. You know its serious when 4 former cabinet ministers from different parties agree on something. People should sit up & notice.

    Unfortunately this will not change Stevie slime & the slimers minds. They don’t care about the enviornment. They care about corporate profits. They care about keeping the Chinese government happy & the multi national corporations.

    When Stevie said we wouldn’t recognize Canada, he wasn’t kidding but most people didn’t pay much attention. He always said he would revoke the gun registry when he had a majority & he did. He didn’t care about public safety. it was what he wanted. So as to all the changes which will harm our enviornment & cause Canadians to become ill or die at sea; Stevie doesn’t care and he will push them through with his majority. We can only hope either some of his m.p.s cross the floor, he is struck by lightening, some of the elections are declared “illegal” & have to be redone, or we can survive the next 4 yrs.

    I can understand why all those people are marching in Quebec.

  2. Anyone that dosen’t believe all of the cuts to services in B.C….E.I. Coast guard fisheries etc etc.has nothing to do with telling Harper where to shove his pipeline,has rocks in thier head

  3. Thanks again, Rafe.
    There are
    many whippersnappers out there who could take some lessons in integrity and straight talk from you.
    That Harper feller for one.

    Thank you most sincerely for recognizing what is at stake and walkin’ the talk.
    These blow-hard ‘crats left to their own devices and sense of self-entitlement in ascertaining ‘facts’ to fit their limited lucre vision would leave not a tree standing or a natural creature living if voices like yours were not heard to spank them.
    The squeals of their hubris are keeping the sentient people up at nights.
    Let alone the fish and animals so rightfully in terror.
    Again, thank you for all you do.

    DaveO del Norte

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