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HomeBusinessExclusive: Salmon farming lobbyist helped craft North Island mayors’ opposition to federal phase-out

Exclusive: Salmon farming lobbyist helped craft North Island mayors’ opposition to federal phase-out


Bob Mackin

Email obtained by under the freedom of information law shows how closely mayors of four Northern Vancouver Island municipalities worked behind-the-scenes with salmon farming lobbyist John Paul Fraser.

John Paul Fraser (BC Gov)

After Liberal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan announced Discovery Islands fish farms would be phased-out by mid-2022, North Island-Powell River NDP MP Rachel Blaney sent a letter to Campbell River Mayor Andy Adams.

“I’ve reached out to the industry to discuss next steps,” wrote Blaney on Dec. 21. “Now is the time for us to work together to make plans that will facilitate this change to protect our wild salmon but to do so in a way that doesn’t leave workers and their families struggling to make ends meet.”

“JP, have you seen this???”Adams wrote to Fraser, the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association executive director, about Blaney’s letter. “Kinda fells like being stabbed in the back, and then pulling it out and saying sorry, followed by being stabbed in the chest.”

Wrote Fraser: “Have not seen, nor do I think any of us been ‘reached out to’.”

(Blaney is married to Homalco First Nation Chief Darren Blaney, who opposes the industry.)

Adams and mayors of Port McNeill (Gaby Wickstrom), Gold River (Brad Unger) and Port Hardy (Dennis Dugas) prepared joint letters to Blaney and other federal politicians to boost the industry. Fraser helped write the letters and advised on timing, while keeping executives of fish farming companies Cermaq, Grieg and Mowi in the loop.

(via FOI/Campbell River)

Adams suggested Dec. 28 that “industry leaders and workers flood the Facebook sites on every post [Blaney] puts out. Can’t let her get away with this BS.”

Fraser replied: “Folks will definitely pile on. This will happen.”

On the same day, Adams suggested short, mid and long term strategies involving letter writing, petitions and Facebook posts in anticipation of a snap spring federal election. The best outcome, he opined, would be more Liberal MPs, especially on Northern Vancouver Island.

“I am not advocating for any particular party, but the likelihood is that it will be a Liberal majority, and an NDP and PC candidate will not be effective, and as a result we need to have a Liberal candidate that is winnable and can work from the inside in Ottawa,” Adams wrote. “This not about party politics or affiliation, it’s about having our voice heard. Just my 2 cents for thought.”

Fraser sent the mayors a revised version of the letter they planned to send Minister Jordan. “We made a few adjustments to the earlier draft given this is a co-signed letter,” Fraser said.

On Dec. 29, Adams wrote to the other mayors: “JP suggests that we get the letter to Minister Jordan out today, and the letter to [Jordan’s Parliamentary Secretary] Terry Beech tomorrow, and JP is going to make sure that industry employees start filling the Facebook in the newspapers and wherever else its needed. He is also suggesting that we call for an economic summit later next week.”

Campbell River Mayor Andy Adams (YouTube)

On the afternoon of Dec. 30, Adams sent Wickstrom’s draft of the Beech letter to Fraser, who replied: “I’ll have something back to you in the A.M., then we get it off to Terry to really make his New Year’s Eve.”

The mayors’ letters claimed Jordan’s plan would put 1,500 jobs and the $1.6 billion-a-year industry at risk. On April 5, a Federal Court judge ruled Mowi and Saltstream should be allowed to restock farms in three locations, because the economic harms would outweigh any environmental harms. Mowi claimed it would lose $26 million and lay-off 78 people without the injunction.

Fraser was the BC Liberal government’s deputy minister of communications under ex-Premier Christy Clark. He is also the son of Paul Fraser, the late the conflict of interest commissioner who never found an MLA broke the law during his more than a decade in office.

At the end of the BC Liberal dynasty in July 2017, John Paul Fraser scored a $396,000 golden parachute when the incoming NDP government replaced BC Liberal political staff.

Last September, the Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists fined John Paul Fraser $500 for failing to report that he had been the assistant deputy minister of labour, citizens’ services and open government.

Fraser is co-hosting a virtual question and answer session with the Campbell River and District Chamber of Commerce at noon April 22.

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