For immediate release
Nov. 8, 2019
NDP Caucus calls for resignation of Minister Gerry Byrne
NDP Leader Alison Coffin is calling on Gerry Byrne, Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources, to resign from cabinet. This call comes after two months of mishandling the massive farmed salmon die-off and, most recently, inexcusable conduct in the House of Assembly that included making unfounded accusations against opposition MHAs in Question Period and in subsequent media interviews, and aggressive behaviour that was deliberately intended to intimidate.
“The NDP Caucus has been seeking answers from government on the death of 2.6 million farmed salmon for six weeks,” said Coffin. “We’ve called for an independent review of aquaculture regulations and enforceable legislation. We’ve written the Minister calling for an independent investigation. We’ve stated the Minister isn’t showing leadership and called for the Premier to step in. We’ve raised concerns about the Minister’s claim that privacy legislation prevented communication about this environmental disaster.”
“Minister Byrne has shown no interest in cooperating with the requests and recommendations put forth from the NDP Caucus,” Coffin said.
Coffin says beyond Byrne’s mismanagement of these serious aquaculture issues for two months, Byrne has become completely out of control, firing accusations at both PC MHA Jim Lester and NDP MHA Jim Dinn. Coffin says Byrne has made vague, unfounded, and defamatory accusations against Dinn to try to deflect from answering questions and make a feeble attempt to change the channel from his mishandling of aquaculture.
“Minister Byrne’s aggressive behaviour during Question Period on Nov. 6, leaning forward over his desk and staring down the opposite side of the House instead of addressing his answers to the Speaker, followed by his attempts to defame and raise suspicion about MHA Dinn, constitute completely unacceptable conduct for a Member of the House of Assembly and a Minister,” said Coffin.
“If the Minister won’t do the right thing and resign, I call on the Premier to remove Gerry Byrne from cabinet,” said Coffin.
Timeline of NDP action on salmon die-off
The NDP Caucus has been holding government accountable on the aquaculture disaster since we found out about the event on Sept. 23.
- On Sept. 25, the NDP Caucus called for an independent review of aquaculture regulations and for legislation to enforce them in order to protect the marine environment in the wake of the massive die-off. NDP Fisheries Critic Jim Dinn took issue with Minister Byrne’s dismissive attitude and comments he made in which he compared the decaying salmon in sea cages to decaying cabbages in a field.
- On Oct. 3, the NDP Caucus called on the provincial government to transition to closed-containment, land-based aquaculture for finfish. Dinn says government should suspend future open-net sea pen finfish aquaculture licences and develop a plan to phase out current projects.
- On Oct. 9, Dinn wrote a letter to Minister Byrne asking him to immediately launch an independent investigation into the massive salmon die-off. The NDP Caucus issued a release and said “It’s time for Minister Byrne to show real leadership…recent comments by the Minister and a willingness to invite BC aquaculture to NL has caused a loss of trust.” The Minister has not responded.
- On Oct. 11, Dinn issued a statement that said the Minister is not demonstrating the leadership required to handle this debacle. Dinn’s statement called for the Premier step in, take action, and restore public trust in government’s ability to protect the marine environment and regulate a sustainable aquaculture industry. The NDP Caucus stated that the Marine Institute is not independent enough to investigate the salmon die-off.
- On. Oct. 24, Dinn wrote a letter to Privacy Commissioner Michael Harvey asking him for clarification on whether or not “privacy legislation” truly prevented the Minister from releasing information to the public about the die-off.
- On Oct. 25, Dinn wrote a follow-up letter to the Premier asking for him to work with Minister Byrne and discuss our concerns and recommendations. The Premier has not responded.
- On Nov. 4, 5, 6, and 7, Dinn asked questions in the House of Assembly on aquaculture and says the company’s licence application actually required them to have a plan for warm water temperatures, yet the documents released under ATIPP were redacted to conceal any details about the company’s plan for a warm water event.
For further information, contact Zaren Healey White, Director of Communications, NDP Caucus at 729-2137 (o), 693-9172 (c), or firstname.lastname@example.org.