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ChréTien Rejects Call For Talks On Constitution

Posted on Monday, May 12 at 00:05 by polemarch1

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The resolution directs the provincial government to seek a formal constitutional amendment that would give the province shared and equal management of the ocean fishery, which is under federal control.
Federal officials say a constitutional change regarding fisheries would require the approval of seven provinces representing 50% of Canada's population. Mr. Grimes said he has already started making calls to other premiers, and found a supportive ally in Ralph Klein, the Alberta Premier.
Mr. Klein, who has threatened a constitutional challenge over Canada's implementation of the Kyoto Protocol and is pursuing changes allowing for an elected Senate, said yesterday he had "philosophical support" for Mr. Grimes's frustrations.

"This will take some period of time," Mr. Grimes said yesterday of his bid to convince other provinces of the constitutional changes.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Grimes said he will address the issue publicly on Monday, after taking the weekend to ponder the Prime Minister's rejection.
Mr. Chrétien said he dismissed the idea because Ottawa has a duty to protect the fishery for the future.
"I understand it's a very difficult problem when you have to cut the quota because these people make a living from it," he said. "But we have a responsibility to preserve the stocks, otherwise eventually they will have nothing to do."
Stéphane Dion, the federal Intergovernmental Affairs Minister, repeated his claim yesterday that the East Coast fishery problem does not require a constitutional amendment.

"This has nothing to do with the Constitution of Canada and everything to do with the necessity to follow what science is telling us to do and to help on the ground the communities affected," he said.
But John Reynolds, the Canadian Alliance House leader, said the time is right for constitutional talks to address the concerns of several provinces, not only the fishery.

Mr. Reynolds suggested splitting the department of Fisheries and Oceans into two, with offices on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. He questioned whether Canadians are getting value from the current Ottawa-based system.
"I would suggest that all the research and work they do doesn't pay very well. All the damn fish are gone," he said. "I mean, give me a break. You've got a whole bunch of bureaucrats sitting in an office in Ottawa and there's no fish left. What have they been doing? There's no fish in the Rideau canal."
Brian Peckford, a former Newfoundland premier who fought Ottawa for increased power to manage the fisheries, said yesterday Mr. Grimes has taken on a valid issue, but is likely to fail because the timing is seen as suspicious.

"It's viewed in Newfoundland, from the people I talk to, as being a desperation move on Roger's part," Mr. Peckford said from his home in Qualicum Beach, B.C.
"It's too tainted with politics. He's only got a few months before an election. And this comes along and he grabs it."
Mr. Peckford, Tory premier in Newfoundland from 1979 to 1989, retired to British Columbia after leaving politics. He works as a consultant and, in 1998, wrote a report for B.C.'s NDP government that called for the provinces, the federal government and local communities to co-manage the fisheries.

Such unity, said Mr. Peckford, would allow all sides to work smoothly in dealing with downturns in the fishery.
Gordon Campbell, the B.C. Premier, said he shared Mr. Grimes's frustrations about federal control of fisheries, but said changing constitutional agreements might be too drastic. "Frankly, we can do lots of institutional improvements before we look to constitutional change," he said.



Note: Source: The National Post



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