Like many people, I have watched the escalating dispute between commercial fishers and Indigenous ones in Nova Scotia with growing concern.
The increased attention from Ottawa comes after a lobster pound that stored the catch of Mi'kmaq fishers burned to the ground on Saturday morning. "That made it very hard for us to get close to extinguish it".
"They only serve to divide us", said Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, adding that RCMP are reviewing a variety of video evidence of violence and that people will be held accountable. He said he was dumbfounded a few weeks ago when he saw Indigenous fishers trying to board a non-Indigenous boat in St. Marys Bay while an RCMP tactical squad observed.
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil issued a statement on Twitter Sunday saying the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans needs to answer the question of what a "moderate livelihood" looks like before the province can examine its own rules for fish buyers.
"I think collectively our voice could be pretty loud", he said. "We'll go after everyone", he said, adding that his First Nation is considering calling in Indigenous warriors from across the country. "We're working hard to resolve them".
But the ruling left many grey areas - including the practical definition of "moderate livelihood" - leading Mi'kmaq fishermen to begin catching lobster outside the federally-mandated fishing season and raising the ire of local commercial lobster fishers. The building's contents were lost - including catch belonging to members of the Sipekne'katik First Nation.
Indigenous peoples have the right to a moderate livelihood which includes fishing.
Sproul said they support the right of Indigenous people to fish, but they have to respect regulations.
RCMP officers investigate the remains of a lobster pound that was destroyed by a fire in Nova Scotia
"This is, in a bigger context, more than just lobster and access to it".
Jordan also confirmed that a "ministerial representative" would soon be named to facilitate discussions with non-Indigenous commercial fishermen. "Lobster stocks are healthy, DFO will continue to monitor stocks and we will never move forward with a plan that threatens the health of those species", she said. "We buy a lot of fish, we buy a lot of lobster so we can make a difference".
"It has to be sustainable but it has to be peaceful".
Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan said in a recent CBC interview that it is not appropriate to have commercial fishers involved in "nation to nation" talks between the federal government and Mi'kMaw, adding that she has however ongoing conversations with the non native fishers. Some fishermen and women were unable to sell lobsters, others were blocked from obtaining traps or fuel.
Describing the events as a hate crime, Sack asked Trudeau to send additional law enforcement personnel to the area to ensure the violence is contained. "Quitting is not in our blood". A later SCC decision said the government could pose restrictions on that right, such as for conservation reasons, but should justify it.
"This isn't a military operation, it is a peacekeeping operation", he said. "Leadership means acting before people get hurt".
"We all need to acknowledge that a lasting resolution to this dispute can only be concluded if it is rooted in the recognition of legitimate Mi'kmaq treaty rights", he said.