Tory MP apologizes after accusing Halifax activist of 'shameful' disrespect toward fishermen

Todd Doherty apologizes after accusing Susanna Fuller of the Ecology Action Centre of disrespecting fishermen during a standing committee of Fisheries and Oceans.

Todd Doherty had criticized Ecology Action Centre's Susanna Fuller for 'shaking her head' during committee

Susanna Fuller, marine conservation co-ordinator for the Ecology Action Centre, says the reactions she was criticized for were aimed at the politicians, not the fishing industry. (CBC)

A Conservative MP who publicly rebuked a Halifax environmentalist at a parliamentary hearing this week has apologized.

Todd Doherty, MP for Cariboo—Prince George, accused Susanna Fuller, marine conservation co-ordinator at the Ecology Action Centre, of disrespecting fishermen appearing before the standing committee of Fisheries and Oceans.

"It's shameful," Doherty said.

Fuller, along with an official with the David Suzuki Foundation, spoke Tuesday in support of plans to increase the number of marine-protected areas in Canada.

Later, Atlantic fishing representatives outlined their concerns if the creation of protection zones results in the closure of fishing grounds.

'Shameful, Ms. Fuller'

Doherty said while the fishermen spoke he watched Fuller's reaction.

"The smiling, the shaking of the head, the contempt of some of the testimony we are hearing from these people that these decisions affect is shameful, Ms. Fuller," Doherty said.

Fellow committee member Bernadette Jordan, Liberal MP for South Shore—St. Margaret's, said Doherty was out of order.

"The MP who did single out Ms. Fuller did step across that line," she told CBC News.

Other MPs slight activists

But Doherty was not alone in slighting the activists.

"We often hear from bureaucrats and activists and people who are not actively involved in an industry, so to have industry representatives with their feet on the ground or their boats on the water is very refreshing," Conservative Robert Sopuck told the fishermen.

Liberal Robert Morrisey said the fishing representatives "presented what is the face of communities and fishery.... The preceding comments, there [were] no references [to] community well-being. There were none."

Reaction was to MP's insult 

On Thursday Fuller said she was reacting to the MPs who, she says, ignored her remarks in favour of sustainable livelihoods and community engagement. 

Fuller said it was an attempt to drive a wedge between environmentalists and fishermen.

"It's a small community in Atlantic Canada. We work together with a lot of these guys. Sometimes we don't agree on everything but we often agree to disagree and move forward," Fuller told CBC News.

Fuller says the day after the hearing Doherty called her to apologize.

"He said he did feel very badly. He realized he was out of order and he hoped [I] would accept his apology," Fuller said.

Doherty's office has not responded to a request for comment.