Nfld. & Labrador

Judy Foote says new fisheries minister will be 'best friend' to N.L.

Newfoundland Minister Judy Foote gave her first public speech since being appointed to cabinet, speaking to the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union on Monday.
Minister of Public Services and Procurement Judy Foote told members of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers union she has the utmost confidence in new fisheries minister, Hunter Tootoo. (CBC)

Judy Foote gave her first public speech since being appointed to the federal cabinet, speaking to the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union in St. John's on Monday.

Foote said she has had a busy first few weeks as Minister of Public Services and Procurement, although joked that she would rather have had the fisheries portfolio.

"When the prime minister asked me to be the minister of Public Services and Procurement Canada, I looked at him and said, I thought you liked me," she said, laughing.

However, Foote said she had the utmost confidence that new Fisheries and Oceans Minister Hunter Tootoo will work well with Newfoundland and Labrador.

"He's going to become our best friend, how's that," she told reporters.

"From the preliminary chats that we've had of how important the fishery is to Newfoundland and Labrador, it's become very obvious that he wants to work with us, and will work with us."

Shortening E.I. wait times a priority

Foote reiterated several of the new government's promises in her speech, including reviewing Canada Post, which is part of her portfolio.

The audience applauded when Foote promised to repeal Bills C-377 and C-525, which changes union certification and decertification laws.

Foote also said she was invested in shortening employment insurance wait times.

"I know as an MP how difficult it is when you don't get a response in that 28-day period. Rarely does it happen," she said.

New Minister of Public Services and Procurement Judy Foote addressed members of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union on Monday in St. John's. (CBC)

"We need to do everything we can to give back to people who need our help. You don't want to be on E.I. You don't have a choice."

Foote also said she wants to employ more people in Service Canada to speed up the process.

"There's a reason for backlog, and a lot of that has to do with people who were cut from the service," she said.

Foote 'looking forward' to provincial Liberal government

When asked about a potential Liberal government in Newfoundland and Labrador, Foote, a former provincial cabinet minister, said she was hopeful.

"The fact that we have a Liberal government federally and that we could possibly have a Liberal government here in Newfoundland and Labrador, I think bodes well for the future of our province," she said.

"I'm looking forward to an opportunity to work with a Liberal government in Newfoundland and Labrador."

Foote has been a member of the House of Commons since 2008. 

She was in provincial politics between 1996 and 2007, and before that had served as communications director for former Liberal premier Clyde Wells. 

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