BURIN PENINSULA, N.L. - Progressive Conservative leader Ches Crosbie spent a few days on the Burin Peninsula this week before turning his focus on his run to represent the District of Windsor Lake.
Liberal MHA Cathy Bennett is vacating the seat and will be resigning from political life later this month.
Crosbie told The Southern Gazette on Tuesday, Aug. 7, that during his time in the area he hoped to get an understanding of the local issues and concerns of the residents of the Burin Peninsula.
“…to get to know people,” he said. “I’ve discovered in my travels that around that you learn a whole hell of a lot just by talking to people in different areas.”
Crosbie said some issues people raise have more direct impact on local areas.
“I think in an overall sense employment and industrial development — the economy,” he listed as some of the key areas of concern. “If you look around Marystown, basically, it’s a market town and a service town for an area of 18,000 or 20,000 people on the whole peninsula.”
He added that Marystown also has “a bright economic light on the horizon” in the proposed aquaculture project for Placenta Bay by Grieg NL.
Crosbie also shared his thoughts on the decision by former federal fisheries minister Dominic LeBlanc to issue another license for Arctic surf clam that saw 25 per cent of the existing total allowable catch to go to the new entrant.
Up until the Feb. 21 announcement by the federal government that the license had been awarded to the Five Nations Clam Company, Clearwater Seafoods had held the only three licenses for the species, with production at the company's plant in Grand Bank.
“I think it was one of the worst decisions by a (federal) fisheries minister in modern memory,” he said. “I can’t think of a way in which they could have bungled it worse than if they set out deliberately to bungle it.
“That quota, 25 per cent, should not have been interfered with in the first place and if it were it should have stayed in the area and not been shipped out to another province (for production). It amounts to expropriation.”
Crosbie added there are other issues affecting the people of the province ranging from concerns with the management of the fishery by the federal government, to questions about the economic future of the province.
“The dominate provincial issue is if this province has a future, that’s how I’d put it,” said Crosbie. “In view of our slippery grip on the overall financial situation of the province and then on-top of that the question of Muskrat Falls rates there’s the two big issues that we have to wrestle to the ground, or it’s hard to find reasons to give to our young people to have them stay here.”
During his time in the region, Crosbie planned to stop in Burin, St. Lawrence, Lord's Cove and Grand Bank. He was also planning to tour Kiewit Offshore Services' facility in Marystown, Ocean Choice International's plant and Canada Flourspar Inc.'s mine in St. Lawrence, as well as Clearwater's Grand Bank facility.