Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is calling the escalating violence over First Nations fishing rights in Nova Scotia unacceptable, shameful, and criminal.
During an emergency debate in the House of Commons Monday night, Trudeau told the Commons his government will act to uphold Indigenous fishers’ inherent rights while taking lobster conservation into account.
However, the opposition parties spent much of the debate decrying the Liberals for allowing the dispute to spiral into violence.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said the government’s response to the dispute has been less than stellar.
“Indigenous leaders, commercial fishers and union leaders, they’ve all been disappointed with the response of the federal government. The Liberal premier, Premier McNeil has been disappointed with the lack of response of the Liberal government,” he said.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has also accused the government of inaction, although he also blamed past Liberal and Conservative governments for letting the problem fester for more than two decades.
Trudeau spoke with Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil on Monday to discuss the fishery dispute, saying they both “condemned the violence that has taken place, and discussed work underway by federal and provincial ministers to maintain the peace and avoid any further violence.”
On the phone yesterday, Premier @StephenMcNeil and I spoke about the situation in Nova Scotia. We both condemn the appalling violence that has taken place, and our governments will continue working together to keep people safe. More on our call: https://t.co/tepRZqmxlg
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) October 19, 2020
According to the statement, the prime minister and premier both “agreed on the need for all parties to engage in respectful dialogue aimed at upholding the Marshall Decision and the Mi’kmaq treaty right to fish while ensuring the conservation and sustainability of the fishery.”
Related stories: More RCMP resources announced for Nova Scotia lobster fishing dispute
Mounties in Nova Scotia have called in back-up from neighbouring provinces, saying they are investigating several assaults and instances of property damage targeting Mi’kmaq lobster fishers.
A lobster pound that stored the catch of Mi’kmaq fishers burned to the ground on Saturday morning.
A man described as a person of interest in the fire is in hospital with life-threatening injuries, and RCMP have made two arrests in relation to other incidents related to the dispute.
RCMP have made two arrests in relation to other incidents.
Some restaurants in Nova Scotia are cutting lobster from their menus in support of those fishers.