13 October 2006
by Susan Esposito
The MLA for Charlotte-The Isles is heading the new Department of Fisheries for New Brunswick.
Liberal Rick Doucet of St. George was sworn in on Tuesday, October 3, as the Minister of Fisheries. One of the first actions by new Premier Shawn Graham and his cabinet was to separate the Department of Fisheries and the Department of Agriculture and Aquaculture to underline the distinct importance of these resource industries to the province's economy.
Doucet says it is very humbling to be appointed Minister of Fisheries, and he is "really looking forward to having this new department stand alone. The Department of Fisheries is very important to this province. I'm going to do anything I can to promote New Brunswick."
"I was prepared to take anything the premier offered me, but there couldn't have been a better [position] for me," he adds. "And to be in the inner circles and part of a new team is very exciting."
"There is a lot of diversification in this portfolio," Doucet points out. "A big part will be to establish relationships and build bridges north and south [with fisheries-related groups] in New Brunswick. I'll be on the ground meeting with groups and establishing my presence. I want to be their partner and improve the marketing of our product."
Doucet promises to keep an eye on how the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans' policies affect New Brunswickers. "What is the impact of their decisions on us? Please recognize the cause and effect on communities here."
Doucet, who represents the St. George area and the islands of Grand Manan and Deer Island, says the Canadian and New Brunswick governments are firmly opposed to the LNG projects planned on the Maine border, and, if necessary, he will position himself in front of any approaching tankers.
"The federal and provincial governments are working in unison to stop the LNG project," stresses Doucet. "There was a definite 'no' from the prime minister and a 'no' from [Shawn Graham]. We have to stop it."
In the wake of the September 18 election in which his party overthrew the Tories, the St. George Liberal says he is feeling very good about being elected to a second term in the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly. "The first time around, it was very, very hard. I was the new kid on the block, and I stepped into the shoes of a veteran, Sheldon Lee. But obviously, I met [my constituents'] expectations. Being re-elected leaves you awestruck."
Doucet is the first MLA to represent the new riding of Charlotte-The Isles, and longtime MLA Eric Allaby of Grand Manan stepped aside so Doucet could run for that combined seat. "Eric has been a tremendous supporter. I value his opinion, and he's a great person to bounce ideas off of. He is playing an integral role in the new government. He has wisdom and experience as a legislator, and I'll definitely rely on his wisdom."
Doucet says a priority is to procure a new ferry for Grand Manan, and he wants Allaby's assistance in achieving that goal. "Now it's at a fairly critical stage. We need his expertise so we can have a proper consultation process."
The Charlotte-The Isles MLA also is worried about what he perceives to be an exodus of residents leaving New Brunswick for jobs elsewhere. "I want to stop the flow. People have lost confidence in our economy, and we need to make dynamic decisions to restore that 'can do' and have New Brunswickers hold their heads up high."
© 2006 The Quoddy Tides
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.