Saying the violence must come to an end now, the federal government has announced it is going to increase the number of RCMP officers in Nova Scotia where a dispute between Indigenous and non-Indigenous lobster fishers could blow up again.
Speaking on Monday, Indigenous Minister Marc Miller called the situation “disgraceful” and “alarming.”
“Every person in Canada, whether Indigenous or non-Indigenous, must be able to feel safe in their home communities, and be able to earn a living to support their families,” Miller said.
Over the weekend, a storage facility being used to keep lobsters caught by Mi’kmaq fishers before the delicacies went to market was torched.
Posted by NEWS 1130 on Monday, October 19, 2020
Earlier in the week, several Indigenous fishers were attacked and intimidated by non-Indigenous fishers angry their counterparts were ignoring federal regulations.
The Mi’kmaq point to a Supreme Court of Canada ruling that gives them the right to fish — which the federal government agrees is the law.
“Under the Supreme Court’s Marshall decision, the Mi’kmaq have a constitutionally protected right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood. We will continue to uphold that right and no act of violence will prevent Canada from upholding that right, nor from the Mi’kmaq people from exercising that right,” Miller said.
The federal government condemned the violence and intimidation seen in Nova Scotia, with Public Safety Minister Bill Blair making it clear Monday that criminal acts will not be tolerated.
“We are prepared to hold to account any individual who has perpetuated the acts of violence and destruction that we have seen,” he said. “Crimes will be investigated and individuals will be held to account for their actions.”
However, Blair dismissed calls to send in the military, adding it is a police operation.
“We have ensured that the appropriate resources, the right resources with the right tools are in place, not only to maintain the peace, but to undertake criminal investigations. That’s a policing responsibility,” Blair said.
The federal Liberals are calling for an emergency debate on the situation in Nova Scotia, but the Conservatives call that a waste of time.