Nfld. & Labrador

NDP MP's fisheries inquiry bill debated

A New Democratic MP had little success Friday persuading Conservatives to launch an inquiry into why cod stocks collapsed two decades ago.
St. John's South-Mount Pearl MP Ryan Cleary speaks in the House of Commons on Friday. (CBC)

A New Democratic MP had little success Friday persuading the Conservative government to launch an inquiry into why cod stocks collapsed off Newfoundland and Labrador two decades ago.

"The Newfoundland and Labrador Rebuilding Act proposes that today, 20 years after the shutdown of the commercial groundfish fisheries, we begin the process of rebuilding," said Ryan Cleary, the NDP MP for St. John's South-Mount Pearl, who introduced a private member's bill in the House of Commons.

"Unfortunately, the Conservative government appears to be sailing in the opposite direction. Will the minister do the right thing and agree to an inquiry to restore to once-great stocks that were our dowry with Confederation?"

A call for an inquiry was one of the promises Cleary first made during the federal election campaign last spring. His name was among the top drawn in July for a lottery of private members' bills.

But Conservative MPs, who control a majority of seats in the House of Commons, said Friday that they don’t support Cleary’s bill.

"While some may prefer to live in the past, our government has no intention of conducting a formal review into the collapse of the cod fishery," said Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield.

"In fact, Mr. Speaker, in some areas for example on the eastern shelf, we have seen some positive indicators that our efforts are starting to pay off."

Cleary wants all aspects of the fishery examined, including the role of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, which oversees fishing outside Canada's 200-mile limit.

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