Fisheries minister did not fulfill her mandate with Discovery Islands’ decision


When elected politicians make decisions, I don’t expect to always like the decision but I do expect them to make the decision in accordance with the mandate that has been bestowed to them and that due process be followed.

If the elected official fails to follow her mandate and proper due process then all affected parties are fully entitled to have a judicial review of the decision.

When Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan made her decision to close the Discovery Islands fish farms, she chose to ignore the ministerial direction that was given her by Prime Minister Trudeau. Minister Jordan in a post announcement interview with SeaWestNews agreed that science took a back seat to “social licence” when she made her decision on the Discovery Islands fish farms.

The ministerial direction that was given to Minister Jordan was a Mandate Letter that she received on Dec. 13, 2019 and it highlighted objectives and how she was to conduct her ministry. (This Mandate Letter can be easily found online by searching for “Bernadette Jordan Mandate Letter”) You will find no reference to “social licence” in this Mandate Letter.

The following are some exact quotes from Minister Jordan’s Mandate Letter: “It is also your responsibility to substantively engage with Canadians, civil society and stakeholders, including businesses of all sizes, organized labour, the broader public sector and the not-for-profit and charitable sectors. You must be proactive in ensuring that a broad array of voices provides you with advice, in both official languages, from every region of the country.”

“We are committed to evidence-based decision-making that takes into consideration the impacts of policies on all Canadians and fully defends the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. You will apply Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) in the decisions that you make.”

“Use good scientific evidence and traditional Indigenous knowledge when making decisions affecting fish stocks and ecosystem management.”

“Work with the province of British Columbia and Indigenous communities to create a responsible plan to transition from open net-pen salmon farming in coastal British Columbia waters by 2025 and begin work to introduce Canada’s first-ever Aquaculture Act.”

In making her decision, Minister Jordan did not conduct her ministry in accordance with her mandated instructions. She did not follow due process. There was not even an attempt at due process. She did not substantively engage or use evidence-based decision making or ensure a broad array of voices provided her with advice. Nor did she use good scientific evidence or have a responsible plan to transition. She chose to ignore all of these ministerial requirements.

It appears that she feels the rules do not apply to her. Instead she chose to invoke some “social licence.” I expect better from our government and so do all the hard working tax paying people affected by this uninformed decision.

Given that Minister Jordan obviously did not follow the requirements of her mandate and that she admitted that science took a back seat to social licence then yes, a judicial review of this decision is definitely warranted.

It appears to me that her “social licence” was a purely political decision.

Dale Van Male

Campbell River