Madam Speaker, it is another sad day for democracy. There is a sad day and a sad situation unfolding in the town of Canso.
I just spoke with the mayor of Canso, Frank Fraser. I am advised that he has now been contacted by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans by a letter advising him that the redfish proposal the people of Canso had so desperately hung their hopes on and were clinging to for the past number of months has been rejected by that minister. That minister, currently in Boston, at the same time was issuing press releases, pathetic self-congratulatory notices about what a record year it has been for Canada's seafood exports. It is nauseating to think he would be out of the country at the same time as sending this message which by all estimations will literally drive people from the town of Canso. There will be an exodus.
The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, who is from the province of Nova Scotia and also from a fishing community, has let Canso go through a hole in the ice. This callous and cold hearted act will drive the town to extinction. By refusing to give it an allotment of redfish or access to the resource in any way displays one thing to me, that the minister either has no cabinet clout or is completely callous to the situation that exists for the people of Canso. There is no hope.
There was hope there would be at least a bridge to get them through to the next rotation so they could access their shrimp and crab quota to stay alive, to make a living in the town. If the plant closes, it is game over. Suggesting somehow that there will be other programs that will come into play that will offer assistance to these people is foolhardy and completely insulting.
The reality is that despair is setting in. Schools will close. Businesses have already closed. There is nothing to keep people in the town.
It is also suggested in the letter from the minister that somehow things are worse in other places. I cannot imagine a single place in the country today that has a worse circumstance than Canso has. The people of Canso had a prayer vigil the other night. They were clinging to some hope that there would be good news coming this week. That news today is devastating for the people of Canso and Guysborough county.
Mayor Frank Fraser, the council, MLA Ron Chisholm, the provincial government, the plant workers, the trawlermen's co-op, the fishermen's union, everyone wanted to negotiate some kind of a settlement. There had to be some solution that could be forthcoming but that has been completely dashed by the news that came today from the minister, from a man who comes from a fisheries community.
I do not mean to personalize it but there was great hope with the new minister. For the first time in 40 years the minister is someone who comes from the province of Nova Scotia. It was hoped there might be some compassion, some understanding of the challenges that face the people of Canso. That has completely slipped away by virtue of that letter today.
The government can somehow find $50 million here and there. It can commission reports that go missing. It can cancel programs at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. Yet somehow it cannot resolve a problem for thousands of people in a place like Canso where people have only one industry to cling to, only one hope for survival.
This callous disregard, this sending out of a letter with the news and not at least giving the people some options, some hope that there will be another solution or at least something to get them through these dark days is a new low. It hits an absolute new low.
I hope that the spokesperson for the government today will be able to give the people of Canso, Nova Scotia at least some hint as to what their next step is, as to what they might somehow--