Sipekne’katik Chief Mike Sack says the new fisheries minister to replace Bernadette Jordan should be from outside Atlantic Canada to avoid any partiality and to protect their political careers.
“I strongly believe the next fisheries minister should be somebody from central Canada who is not surrounded by fishermen and fisherwomen,” said Sack. “I think that’s a better way to have an unbiased decision and you are also not going to jeopardize somebody’s career by it.”
Liberal and former minister of Fisheries and Oceans Bernadette Jordan lost her South Shore-St. Margaret’s seat to Conservative challenger Rick Perkins, who finished in second place behind Jordan in the 2019 federal election.
Cape Breton University political scientist Tom Urbaniak said a cabinet minister will often have an advantage as the incumbent in a political race. But, he said Jordan was hindered given her portfolio as fisheries minister and the ongoing criticism that has been launched towards the Liberals’ handling of the fisheries dispute between Indigenous and non-Indigenous fishers in Nova Scotia.
“This wasn’t just a Bernadette Jordan problem, this was her predecessors as well,” said Urbaniak. “It was a liability for her that she was a cabinet minister, especially that she was minister of fisheries.”
It’s a major loss for the Liberal party, who lost another cabinet minister in the Peterborough-Kawartha riding after candidate Maryan Monsef who most recently served as minister of rural economic development, lost her seat to Conservative candidate and former TV host Michelle Ferreri.
Urbaniak says Jordan’s defeat in Nova Scotia should serve as an eye-opener for the Liberal party and speak to the Liberals’ lack of leadership and action around the lobster dispute which turned violent and made international headlines last year.
“A message has been sent and I think a message has been read,” said Urbaniak. “This is not something that can simply (be) delegated to the minister or fisheries, there are other ministers with a direct interest in this and this has to be a cross-government approach and frankly at some point the prime minister is going to have to intervene.”
Urbaniak agrees with Sack and says the new fisheries minister should come from outside Nova Scotia as the issue is has become a lightning rod in many Nova Scotian communities.
“The fisheries concerns and controversy played this largest role in the defeat of Bernadette Jordan,” said Urbaniak. “I think there will be more controversy and more difficulty on the road to an agreement and probably the political calculation here will be that it’s best handled and fronted by a minister who is not a Nova Scotian.”
Sack said he wasn’t surprised by Jordan’s election defeat and says the department of fisheries and ocean’s inability to push the issue forward and find a resolution hurt Jordan’s re-election bid.
“I definitely do think she had time to act and she didn’t, so hopefully the next one will,” said Sac who is hopeful for an opportunity to have a fresh start with a new minister and get negotiations back on track.
“I’m hoping that there is somebody new with an open mind and the willingness to get this resolved, as opposed to somebody being steered all over the map,” said Sack.
“I’d like to have a sit down as soon as one’s named and try to move forward right away.”
Global News reached out to Bernadette Jordan for comment but did not receive a response by the time the article was published.