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Burin Peninsula MHAs defend effort on Arctic surf clam quota

<p>Burin Peninsula MHAs Mark Browne and Carol Anne Haley say they are advocating for the proposed closure of the Supreme Court in Grand Bank to be stopped.</p>
Contrary to comments made by former MHA and MP Bill Matthews, Placentia West MHA Mark Browne and Burin-Grand Bank MHA Carol Anne Haley say they are working hard on behalf of the residents of the Burin Peninsula.

Carol Anne Haley and Mark Browne take exception to comments made by Bill Matthews

Burin Peninsula Liberal MHAs Carol Anne Haley and Mark Browne are responding to comments made by former MHA and MP Bill Matthews regarding the federal government’s re-allocation of a portion of the Arctic surf clam quota held by Clearwater Seafoods Inc.

Matthews, speaking on VOCM’s Open Line call-in program on Wednesday, criticized Haley, the MHA for Burin-Grand Bank, and Browne, the MHA for Placentia West-Bellevue, suggesting the Burin Peninsula’s representation is the weakest it’s been since the province joined Canada.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) announced on Feb. 21 that 25 per cent of Clearwater’s quota, which the company processed at its plant in Grand Bank, will be given to a new entrant, the Five Nations Clam Company, an enterprise comprised of Indigenous groups that are partnering with Premium Seafoods of Nova Scotia.

Matthews, a Grand Bank native, also represented the region during his time in politics.

“When we learned last September of DFO’s intention to award 25 percent of the surf clam quota from Clearwater to a new entrant, a meeting was arranged between the Town of Grand Bank, former MP Judy Foote and myself, along with Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc. We impressed upon the minister how this decision would negatively impact the current operation,” Haley said in a news release.

“Last week I wrote Minister LeBlanc on behalf of those employed at the production facility in Grand Bank and those who crew the Clearwater vessels, stating once again the negative impact this will have on a successful industry and the people responsible for that success. In addition, Premier Dwight Ball, Fisheries and Land Resources Minister Gerry Byrne and I have been in regular contact with the Town of Grand Bank to address the situation. To say our government has been quiet on this issue is disingenuous.”

Browne, who said he and Haley take exception to the suggestion by Matthews they aren’t doing their job in representing the region, took aim at the record of the previous government.

“I remind the former MP that one of the largest, most technologically advanced primary processing facilities in this province, the Marystown fish plant, was closed and hundreds of jobs that were promised to be maintained were obliterated under the previous Progressive Conservative administration,” Browne said.

“When Fishery Products International was sold, there was a commitment for year-round jobs. This never materialized. As well, the only secondary processing plant in the province was also closed under the PC watch and hundreds of jobs gone. There were two Burin Peninsula provincial MHAs sitting in cabinet and both of whom who occupied the role of fisheries ministers.”

The two MHAs said they have worked hard on a number of initiatives to benefit the region, including helping secure a $17-million repayable loan for Canada Fluorspar Inc. to reactivate the mine in St. Lawrence, a file Haley said was left unresolved for a number of years under the previous administration.

Browne said the pair are “far from being idle” and have also been busy on the Grieg aquaculture project, as well as working with a potential buyer for the Marystown Shipyard.

They also were vocal about bringing work from Husky Energy’s West White Rose project to the Burin Peninsula, he said.

“We lobbied hard and are delighted that Kiewit Offshore Services in Marystown has been awarded the contract to fabricate the living quarters for the concrete gravity structure,” Browne said.

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