Salmon in the spotlight as ratepayers sweat


June 20, 2018

Letter: Salmon in the spotlight as ratepayers sweat

Are you a little salmon hoping to visit the province of Newfoundland and Labrador this summer? Do you have intentions of bringing both members of your immediate family and extended family to explore our rivers?

Before you pack your bags and book that sojourn on TripAdvisor, you should know this province has the welcome mat rolled out for you and your salmon buddies.

Not only is the welcome mat out, but also there are a plethora of groups hoping your holiday stay will be an enjoyable one. Groups like SAEN (the Salmonoid Association of Eastern Newfoundland), CORA (Citizens Outdoor Rights Alliance), SPAWN (Salmon Prevention Association for the Waters of Newfoundland), ASF (Atlantic Salmon Federation) and the Bay St. George Salmon Stewardship Group (to name a few) all want to ensure a memorable swimming experience for you in our waters. Without a doubt, bring a communications team to handle all your publicity. Whether it be media in print, radio, television or digital platforms, the media will want to speak with you. Right now, all matters pertaining to salmon are in the news cycle 24/7. Letters to the editor, suppertime TV news coverage, focused reporting on NTV’s “Carter File,” VOCM’s “Nightline panel” and CBC’s “The Broadcast” — all will keep your communication specialists managing their BlackBerrys at lightning speed.

Be also prepared for our premier’s media call to a news conference in his own district (as he did May 25th to announce the price of a $5 licence to catch one of you guys). Yes, upon your arrival here you will be the darlings of the media circuit.

But little salmon, you should be aware of an important fact. While the waters you swim in here might be enjoyable, there is a not too distant storm brewing that will make the financial waters in this province unbearable for many of our residents.

You see, we have this project called Muskrat Falls ready to come on stream that will negatively impact citizens. Electricity rates associated with this project are expected to double. Many families will struggle financially to pay their electrical bills. Out of a population of about 525,000 of us, 155,500 receive government income support to the tune $65 million, and another 47,000 seniors receive $56 million in seniors’ benefits (source: provincial budget 2018).

To put it another way, approximately 39 per cent of our population relies on some form of government financial assistance. How, pray tell, will these families manage a doubling in electrical rates? To quote The Telegram’s Pam Frampton from her May 26th column (“Muskrat Falls is dead ahead and we’re headed for the brink”), “The burden on those who will have to pay for Muskrat Falls is the most pressing crisis facing this province.”

If the effort being put in to rate mitigation (a help to offset high electrical bills) only slightly mirrors the Herculean effort of the salmon prosperity plan that includes such notables as:

(1) addressing salmon issues in the media

(2) garnering public concern via public forums on catch and release or catch and retain

(3) launching the sale of salmon licences by holding a special media announcement hosted by Premier Dwight Ball in his own district, then rate-mitigation measures to help all our people will be a slam dunk.

So, enjoy your summer vacation in our beautiful province, little salmon. Always remember, we’ve got your back. Let’s just hope the powers that be have the backs of the ratepayers.

Bern Kenny

Corner Brook