CLARENVILLE, NL — Accordion music greeted Merv Wiseman’s supporters, friends, family and local fish harvesters at the Clarenville Inn Thursday, Oct. 26, as the Liberal hopeful officially launched his nomination bid for Bonavista-Burin-Trinity.
Having been involved with advocacy and the Federation of Agriculture, he’s now ready to work as MP for this district, Wiseman told the Packet.
The North Harbour native, who owns the largest silver fox farm in North America, thanked his supporters, family and campaigners in his address to the crowd.
Fishing vessel owner and operator Peter Leonard, Wiseman’s campaign co-chair with Stella Johnson, introduced his candidate to the crowd — which also included former government members Kay Young of the provincial Liberals and Ryan Cleary, who is currently the president of FISH-NL.
As a fish harvester, Leonard said Wiseman’s work to re-establish a rescue centre in St. John’s gives him complete confidence in his ability to represent the people of the area.
Campaign manager Johanna Ryan Guy also vouched for Wiseman’s work as a search and rescue advocate, citing recent awards he has received. Ryan Guy also read a letter of support from Gus Etchegary.
Wiseman said the region has recently benefitted from oil industry and other mega-projects. He wants to encourage similar opportunities in the future, like the fabrication project recently set to take place in Marystown for the West-White Rose project in Argentia.
He also mentioned Bull Arm and Marystown shipyard as areas for continued opportunity.
“As your member of parliament, I want to assure the people of Bonavista-Burin-Trinity … I will be alert and vigilant, and I will be proactive on your behalf to get our fair share of activity in the oil industry based on what we can offer at these world-class facilities,” Wiseman told audience.
He says he is well suited to continue to fight for the needs of people employed by the fishery as well. He calls the current system for the distribution of quotas flawed at best.
“Nothing defines the role … of an MP for NL and for this riding more than the intervention necessary to ensure that we get our fair share and our fair treatment for those working in the fishing industry.”
Too many questions
One of the biggest stances Wiseman took during his speech was a disagreement with the Grieg aquaculture project on the Burin Peninsula.
“As much as I want the people of Marystown and others in Placentia Bay to have the benefits of jobs and economic spinoff from aquaculture, I cannot support the Grieg project in its current form.”
Wiseman says there are too many questions and concerns left unaddressed, even though he is a proponent of the aquaculture industry. He echoes the concerns of the harvesters who question the impact on wild stocks.
He called for a full environment assessment before any further decisions are made.
Wiseman also proposed the possibility of future land-based pilot projects, which could provide more sustainable options.
“There will be a mega multi-million-dollar pilot project somewhere on the east coast of Canada — I’m saying, Marystown is where it’ll be … There will be no loss of job opportunity.”
Finally, Wiseman referenced the immense potential in further development of the agriculture industry.
“There is no other place in the province richer in agriculture potential than a major portion of this district.”
He cited a $3-billion, five-year, federal-provincial agriculture agreement signed this summer, saying he wants to be involved in the discussion to avail of that agreement.
Wiseman is one of five individuals looking to fill the seat vacated after MP Judy Foote’s resignation this fall — including Pete Soucy, Churence Rogers, Larry Guinchard and Dale Foote.
Wiseman says he doesn’t know when the nomination date will be yet, but for the time being he’s focusing on getting out into the communities and talking to voters.
“I’m going to offering town hall meetings, (and) one-on-one meetings discussing issues … I’ll be wherever I need to be to get my message out.”
This article was edited to more accurately reflect Ryan Cleary's current position with FISH-NL.