How this MLA balances his lobster boat with the legislature

Colin LaVie is a fishing politician: the MLA for Souris-Elmira and a lobster fisherman.

'When you love both jobs and when you enjoy what you're doing on both sides, you make it work'

In the spring it's mornings on the water and afternoons on the floor of the legislature for Colin LaVie. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

Colin LaVie is a fishing politician: the MLA for Souris-Elmira and a lobster fisherman.

"I was brought up on the water," said LaVie, who is 55.

He has been fishing professionally out of the eastern P.E.I. port of Souris Harbour for 24 years now, but his passion for it began as a young boy when he started fishing with his father.

"He got me into the fishing, and I just fell in love with it.... There's just no life like it on the water."

He said he loves it so much that it makes balancing his fishing work with his political work worthwhile, even in the busiest of times, like when the house is sitting. 

'A juggling act for sure'

Over the weekend, he loaded up his boat — Souris Light II — with traps, ready to set them Monday for the official start to the Island's spring lobster fishing season. 

I enjoy fishing and I enjoy being an MLA. So, I make sure that the fishing is looked after, and the people are looked after.- Colin LaVie

"It's a juggling act for sure. It's hard to balance. But when you love both jobs and when you enjoy what you're doing on both sides, you make it work," he said.

LaVie isn't the only MLA doing this. Sidney MacEwen has also been fishing for years, and just bought his own fleet.

During the lobster season, LaVie said, the average day is a busy one. It usually starts at 3:30 a.m. wake-up time to go fishing before heading to Charlottetown and the legislature.

"As soon as I tie up the boat, I rush home, and of course I've got to get my suit and stuff on for Charlottetown. So then I go to Charlottetown, and some nights I get home at 10 o'clock and the routine starts all over again the next day," he said.

It's difficult, but worth it.

"I enjoy fishing and I enjoy being an MLA. So, I make sure that the fishing is looked after, and the people are looked after," he said.

The last generation

LaVie doesn't anticipate that his son will move back to Souris to take over the fishing business.

LaVie has been fishing out of Souris Harbour for 24 years. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

"I'm probably the last generation that's going to be fishing in my family," he said.

"That crosses my mind every once in a while. Like, 'I'm the last generation.' That's hard to believe. But you know, I'm glad that I was able to do it, and it makes me proud that I am a fourth generation. It makes me proud."

LaVie does fish with his niece, but she is still learning.

"I'll make a fisher out of her," he said.

A dream come true

Lavie said he looks forward to fishing and working in politics for as long as he's able.

"If I can get up and go to work today and go to bed tonight and do it the next day, that's what I'm happy with. As long as my body'll take it, I'll keep working with the people," he said.

After a quick cleanup and change of clothes, Colin LaVie is in the legislature after a morning of fishing. (P.E.I. Legislative Assembly)

"The MLA is something I always wanted to do. I always wanted to try it. And the fishing I always wanted to do on my own. So yes, it's a dream come true. It took longer than expected but it happened.

"And that was my dream. And if you work toward it, it'll happen," he said.

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About the Author

Katerina Georgieva

Katerina Georgieva is a multi-platform journalist with CBC Windsor. She has also worked for CBC in Charlottetown, Toronto and Winnipeg.