Friday, June 26, 2009

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

If the loggers are the canary in the Tories' coal mine, then the fishery is the albatross.

The point is not that there are problems in the industry. Everyone knows that there are problems, some of which can be solved locally and some of which are beyond the government's control. The point is that fishermen are publicly criticizing the Williams government for being out of touch.

As happened with mill workers and loggers, the provincial government has been remarkably slow to respond to local grievances. Their pattern has been to procrastinate until negative media attention finally forces them to act:

The most significant part of today's CBC story is this section:
"Of a total population on the Northern Peninsula in the vicinity of 10,000 people, there's a thousand who work directly in the shrimp fishery," McCurdy said. "That's been closed down solid for [the] better part of a month, and there hasn't been a squeak," he said, referring to the Newfoundland and Labrador government's interest in the issue.

McCurdy said he wants to know why the government is not providing the fishery with the kind of assistance it has been giving to the forestry sector. He said he has been asking for a meeting with Premier Danny Williams since December, but instead has been fobbed off to Fisheries Minister Tom Hedderson.

McCurdy said half-hearted and stop-gap measures will not be enough to solve problems in the fishery, which has long been troubled by too many people chasing too few fish. "Do they think no more highly of people in the outports than that to say that make-work projects are good enough for you?" McCurdy told CBC News.

For his part, Hedderson accused both the FFAW and seafood processors of not doing enough to turn things around. "I don't believe that they've done the due diligence that they need in order to get the price that's required to get that fishery going," Hedderson said Thursday."

Politics is about managing expectations. Since he came into office, Danny Williams has been going for broke, raising expectations as high as he can, to the point that he's willing to embarrass himself on VOCM to protect his optimistic dystopia.

Yesterday the Telegram ran a reasonable editorial on the shrimp fishery, which offered a clear picture of a byzantine industry:

The economics of the fishery may be one thing, but the politics is quite another. Fishermen, like everyone else in NL, hear the loud beat of the optimism drum from the "Tubble," i.e., the Townie Bubble. They hear all about how the sun has shone and have not is no more. They read about the success of the ABC campaign and the endless government spending on the ever growing bureaucracy in the Tubble. And they draw their own conclusions and make their own political calculations. Hedderson's effort to deny responsibility and throw all of the blame back on the FFAW and the processors will be about as successful as Joan Burke's effort to deny responsibility for the debacle at MUN.

Back in the halcyon days of March, the Speech from the Throne boasted that the good ship Williams had navigated a bold and brilliant course to the tropical paradise of Have Status, where everyone was so happy and optimistic that they didn't need a federal government:

But as Coleridge understood, sailors are fickle and they will turn on their captain quickly if they think they are being misled by a mariner who carelessly shoots things.

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