Lobster price debate gets personal in Legislature
Lobster prices remain below cost of production, say fishermen
The controversy over low lobster prices boiled over on the floor of the Legislature Tuesday with a shouting match between P.E.I. Fisheries Minister Ron MacKinley and fisheries critic Colin Lavie.
Lobster prices on P.E.I. are running about $4 a pound, a little lower than prices in Nova Scotia, and lower than what it costs to fish them, some are saying.
"Fishermen just want fairness," Lavie said, as he started his line of questioning.
"That's all they want. If they're getting a higher price in Nova Scotia for the same lobster, same size, same waters, [they] just want to be fair."
MacKinley responded by questioning Lavie's motives, and who it was he was looking to help by raising the issue of lobster prices.
"A lot of fishermen are phoning me and telling me that the honourable member over there is trying to save his $74,000 seat and trying to create confusion in the industry," said MacKinley.
Lavie turned the point on MacKinley, saying if there was any issue about who was earning his salary that question lay on the government side of the house.
"He makes well over $135,000, with credit card, Madame Speaker, and a car, Madame Speaker," said Lavie.
"And he does nothing for the industry. Nothing!"
LaVie asked MacKinley to show some leadership and call a meeting of the Maritime fisheries ministers. MacKinley pointed out that happened last year, and two reports on the industry resulted.
LaVie said neither report has led to better lobster prices.
Outside the Legislature, NDP Leader Mike Redmond called on government not to end the spring session, as is expected to happen Wednesday. The Legislature should continue to investigate and debate the issue until it is resolved, he said.