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Election favours fish farmers

Canada: Despite anti-salmon farming campaigns, British Columbia elects to put most of its members for the federal government from the one party that has demonstrated support for the aquaculture industry

Odd Grydeland

The 2011 federal election- the fourth in some seven years in Canada- is over. And the results weren’t the basically same make-up of the Parliament that most early predictions would have it. The Conservative Party, which had been in power in a minority government as a result of the past two elections, came out on top with a majority of 167 members in the 308-member Parliament, setting the stage for a four year period of political stability. Of National importance was the literal obliteration of the Liberal Party as well as the separatist Bloc Québécois Party from their previous standings. Besides the gains in seats obtained by the Conservatives, the leftist New Democratic Party saw its numbers skyrocket to some 102 members- many of those taken from incumbent members in the Province of Québéc.

Only five of the 20 some federal political parties elected members, which means that the Animal Alliance/Environment Party didn’t get in, and neither did the Communist, the Marxist-Leninist, the Pirate Party or the Radical Marijuana Party. The Rhinoceros Party only received 3,819 votes- not enough to get in. But the leader of the Green Party was elected- a first for this party, and of course- it had to be a candidate from British Columbia.

A campaign aimed at candidates from B.C. and organized by the regular anti-salmon farming suspects in the Province failed to materialize or attract much public participation. Less than ten people were reported to come out for a “rally” in Campbell River, where the incumbent member of the Parliament- Mr. John Duncan from the Conservative Party- was the only candidate to publicly express his support for both conventional fish (salmon) farming as well as for the conservation of wild salmon. All of the candidates from the other parties of any significance insisted on fish farms being moved into some form of yet-to-be developed or proven cost effective “closed containment” fish rearing system. The Green Party candidate even suggested that all of the farms should be taken out of the ocean and put on land.

For the riding of Vancouver Island North, which includes Campbell River and all areas north, a very tight race ensued between Mr. Duncan, who also held the portfolio of Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs in the previous government, and the candidate for the New Democratic Party, which enjoyed a surge in elected candidates this time around. Just over 66% of the 89,150 eligible voters in the riding turned out to vote, about 5% over the national average. When all was said and done, John Duncan and the Conservatives had won over the NDP by some 1,799 votes.

With the federal government having just taken over the management and regulatory regime for aquaculture in British Columbia, and with the Conservative Party having identified economic development and prosperity for Canadians as its chief election objective, there is hope that the otherwise stagnant aquaculture business can see a surge in production so it can meet some of the penned-up demand for farm fresh salmon and other fish in North America.

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