New Brunswick

Fish processor seethes in court over RCMP actions during Shippagan riots

The Daley Brothers' trial against the RCMP for negligence during the 2003 Shippagan crab riots continued Thursday in Moncton.

Bankrupt Daley Brothers suing force for $38 million over role in 2003 fires that destroyed Shippagan plant

Terry Daley, left, and Michel St-Pierre, lawyer for bankruptcy trustee Deloitte, outside the Moncton courthouse. (Gabrielle Fahmy/CBC)

The former owner of a Shippagan crab processing plant testified Thursday about the damage caused by rioters during the 2003 protests.

Newfoundland's Daley Brothers are suing the RCMP for $38 million, alleging the force didn't do its job during the fires that destroyed their fish plant, warehouse, several crab fishing boats and hundreds of traps.

Hundreds of angry fishermen from the Acadian Peninsula descended on Shippagan that May to protest against the federal government's move to reduce their crab quotas to recognize First Nations' right to live off fishing.

In the Court of Queen's Bench in Moncton, Terry Daley testified about the mood.

 

He said the owners of Lameque's Belle Ile Fishery were opposed to collaborating with Elsipogtog and Esgenoôpetitj First Nations, and the RCMP had to act as a mediator for the exchange of fishing traps between the two plants.

Daley previously testified he had a contract for 1.6 million tons of snow crab from First Nations, a move that didn't go over well with non-Indigenous fishermen from the Acadian Peninsula.

 

 

The day those traps were brought to his Shippagan plant, an angry mob of fishermen set them on fire, court heard. Rioters later burned down the plant.

Along with the Daley Brothers fish plant and warehouse, boats and traps were burned during the 2003 Shippagan riots. (CBC)

 

"Had I known police didn't have the resources to protect the plant I would have put 200 people on the payroll and we would have saved the plant," Daley said.

 

He also said surveillance images of the plant disappeared after he handed them over to the RCMP. 

"This is Canada, not Venezuela, not the Ivory Coast," he said in outrage.

Plant not insured

 

During cross-examination, Crown prosecutor Eric Lafrenière pointed out the Daley Brothers' Shippagan plant was not yet insured at the time of the fires.

The company had just purchased the plant the year before, and it had not yet begun operations.

Daley began testifying Wednesday, the first witness for the defence in what is expected to be a six-week civil trial.

The Daley Brothers was described as a lucrative seafood-processing company, with 12 plants across Atlantic Canada and Quebec. Shippagan was their "jewel," according to the former owner.

Daley Brothers declared bankruptcy after the fires and sold all its companies.

It also sued the Town of Shippagan for negligence but settled out of court last year for less than $5 million. That lawsuit was originally worth $50 million.

The trial will resume Monday with the rest of Daley's cross-examination. It is scheduled to hear between 15 and 20 witnesses, including RCMP.

With files from Gabrielle Fahmy

now