Bob Jackson: Standing Up For Salmon

The following is re-posted from Headwinds, a blog written by the PSAC Alliance Executive Committee - the National President, National Executive Vice-President and seven Regional Executive Vice-Presidents. Read more of their thoughts on the issues that affect PSAC members and all Canadians at aec-cea.ca and watch for more from Bob - we plan to make this a regular feature here at the regional website.

As we enter the last week of BC's provincial election campaign, much has been written about the BC NDP's election platform.

There's a lot to be said, all of it good - the NDP are committing to expanding skills training, reducing poverty and inequality, improving healthcare, protecting the environment, improving protections for workers, and a whole lot more - and I'm sure we'll be hearing a lot more as the campaign winds into its last days.

But something that has attracted little media attention is the BC NDP's commitment to protect wild salmon stocks by working with the federal government to implement the recommendations made by the Cohen Commission.

The Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River (as it is officially known) was created in 2009 and presided over by the Honorable Bruce Cohen of the BC Supreme Court. It was tasked by the federal government with investigating the cause of the disappearance of millions of salmon from the Fraser River, reporting back, and making recommendations on the related economic and environmental issues.

PSAC BC and the Union of Environment Workers were joint participants at the Commission's hearings, representing workers at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

It took a while but Justice Cohen submitted his final report in 2012. The report was very well received by all interested parties, particularly the PSAC.

The report contained 75 recommendations and clearly stated that one of the DFO's primary mandates, as outlined by government policy, is to conserve and protect wild salmon in BC.

In order to do this the Commission recommended that the Department be given more authority over fisheries conservation and management and that DFO funding in the Fraser River area be restored to pre-2010 levels or even increased in some cases.

Of course, that's the exact opposite of what the Conservative government is doing at DFO. Fisheries' spending was cut by $80 million in 2012 and the 2013 budget cuts another $100 million over three years.

As anyone from the West Coast will tell you, salmon occupy a huge place in the cultural, economic, and environmental landscape of our province.

I'm happy to see the NDP recognize that and I know Adrian Dix will hold Harper's feet to the fire when it comes to the health of our salmon.