While much fun has been had with the Conservatives putting up a phone-sex line for lobster fishermen to get information on the government's new assistance program for the beleaguered industry, more interesting to me is the reaction of the fishermen to the aid package itself.
Fisheries minister Gail Shea made the announcement recently on a maritime wharf, with a backdrop of lobster fishermen behind her to frame the photo-op for the cameras. As they listened to the minister announce the details of the program, however, the backdrops came to life and turned on their master:
Shea told the crowd that the help would only be available to fishermen who collected under $50,000 in revenue in 2009, and who also recorded a 25 per cent drop in revenue compared to last year.Quite embarrassing. Did they not consult lobster fishermen before putting together a package that many of them would have serious issues with? If they did, why use them as a backdrop when you're giving them bad news? This is a foul-up all around for Shea and the Conservatives, from both a policy and a communications perspective.
That prompted some fishermen to bellow comments that painted the aid package as a joke, an insult, and asked how they would feed their kids.
A few men stated loudly and plainly that none of the fishermen standing on that wharf would qualify for the help.
Later, and in a calmer tone, they would explain to Shea and reporters that they aren't eligible because the criteria measures gross rather than net revenues and doesn't account for the expenses that eat into those earnings.
And all the phone-sex lines in the world can't change that. Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers