April 26, 2005
Deadline Set for Receipt of Melvin Report
OTTAWA— “The Fisheries Committee has issued a formal request to the Deputy Minister of Fisheries for the Melvin Report,” said John Cummins, M.P. (Delta-Richmond East).
On April 21, 2005 the Committee passed the following motion at the request of Chair, Tom Wappel:
“That no later than 5:00 p.m. on Friday, April 29, 2005, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans present to the Clerk of the Committee, in both official languages, the report by Mr. Robert Melvin that is referred to on page 40 of the 2004 Southern Salmon Fishery Post-Season review; and that if the report is not received by this deadline, the Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Oceans or, if he is unavoidably unavailable the Assistant Deputy Minister, be summoned to appear before the Committee on Tuesday, May 3, 2005, to explain the reasons for not providing the report.”
This formal request is a follow-up to an April 14, 2005 request from Cummins that the Committee demand a copy of the Melvin Report from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
The same day that Cummins requested the Committee receive a copy of the Report from the Department the Deputy Minister of Fisheries asked Bryan Williams, chair of the inquiry into the missing Fraser River sockeye, to return his copy of the Melvin Report to the Department. Williams immediately advised the members of his Committee that they would not be receiving a copy of the report due to the demand from the Deputy Minister that the Melvin Report be returned to Department.
According to Mr. Williams the Melvin Report goes to the core of the department’s fisheries enforcement policy and is essential to an understanding of the 2004 missing Fraser River sockeye:
“The Committee finds this very troubling because the information in the report would seem to go the core of enforcement policy and practices with respect to one aspect of the Fraser River sockeye fisheries. The fact that DFO wishes to withhold this evidence from the Committee seems representative of the enforcement policies which have in part contributed to the disappearance of a substantial number of Fraser River sockeye.”
The Fisheries issued a unanimous report on the 2004 missing Fraser sockeye on March 22, 2005 that pointed to the Department’s failure to manage the aboriginal fisheries above the Mission bridge as the likely cause of the disaster. The Department has yet to respond to the Committee’s report.
“Mr. Williams failed in his efforts to get the Melvin Report. The request for the report and its receipt by the Committee is a test of the Department’s willingness to be held accountable for its stewardship of Fraser River sockeye and its respect for Parliamentary oversight,” Cummins warned.
Contact: John Cummins, M.P.
(613) 992-2957, (cell) (604) 970-0937, (604) 940-8040 or www.johncummins.ca