Phil Eidsvik (left) and then-MP John Cummins (now BC Conservative leader) were among the fishermen who were fined for participating in illegal protest fisheries in 2001 or 2002.

Fines upheld for illegal protest of native fishery

BC Conservative leader John Cummins among defendants in failed appeal

B.C.’s high court has upheld a $300 fine for illegal fishing against BC Conservative leader John Cummins for his participation in a decade-old protest fishery on the Fraser River.

The former commercial fisherman was a Canadian Alliance MP for Richmond-Delta East at the time and one of 47 fishermen fined for fishing at closed times in 2001 or 2002.

Their goal was to shine a spotlight on what they felt was rampant illegal selling of salmon by First Nations and lax policing of the aboriginal fishery by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).

“The appellants broke the law as a protest, but as any person who carries out ‘civil disobedience’ is aware, that is no defence,” the B.C. Court of Appeal ruled. “A court cannot condone a breach of the law by reason of the non-prosecution of another offender.”

Another defendant, B.C. Fisheries Survival Coalition spokesman Phil Eidsvik, said the group is considering an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

“We’re disappointed the court held race-based law enforcement is appropriate in Canada in 2012,” he said, adding the new ruling does advance some of the group’s legal arguments.

Commercial fishermen were incensed in 2001 and 2002 that they were barred from fishing because of poor sockeye returns while First Nations – who fish ahead of other users for food, social or ceremonial reasons only – hauled in big catches that were widely suspected of ending up on the black market.

The Cohen Inquiry last year heard testimony from DFO investigators that aboriginal food fisheries on the lower Fraser were “out of control” and the vast majority of salmon caught was being illegally sold.

Eivsik said DFO continues to “turn a blind eye” to the problem.

A series of legal challenges over the years by commercial fishermen have failed to force DFO to apply equal legal treatment to aboriginal fisheries and several rulings have strengthened First Nations right to fish ahead of other users for traditional purposes.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 2008 DFO could authorize aboriginal fisheries for sale and found different treatment before the law can be justified because First Nations are a disadvantaged group.

Just Posted

Sts’ailes First Nation to vote on land code

Land Code would remove nation from 34 sections of Indian Act

Water upgrade work starts in Harrison

Participation compulsory for impacted properties

Woman charged in Abbotsford mall stabbing served time for 2001 killing

Victim in Edmonton killing was stabbed eight times with kitchen knife

Trial date scheduled for man charged with killing Abbotsford officer

Oscar Arfmann slated to go to trial in New Westminster in January 2019

Union files human rights complaint over Chilliwack school trustee’s LGBTQ comments

Board and trustee Barry Neufeld facing $50,000 tribunal charge over alleged ‘unsafe work environment’

Find Your Fit tour comes to Agassiz

Gives students hands-on experience with career-planning tools

Body discovered in burnt out car near Trail

Police report a body was found in the burnt out trunk of a 1999 Honda Civic

UPDATE: Friends mourn boy, 15, killed in Vancouver shooting

John Horgan: ‘No stone is to be left unturned until we find the perpetrator of this heinous crime’

VIDEO: B.C. Lions sign defensive back T.J. Lee to contract for upcoming season

The four-year veteran had a team-high four interceptions and 49 tackles last season with B.C.

How an immigrant to Canada helped Donald Trump prove his mental health

Test that cleared Trump was developed by doctor associated with McGill and Sherbrooke universities

Premier touches on multiple topics ahead of Asia trade trip

Housing and childcare are expected to be the focus of the BC NDP’s first budget in February.

VIDEO: Explorers uncover Canada’s deepest cave in Fernie

The cave, named Bisaro Anima, was confirmed to have broken the record on New Year’s Day

Vernon to host largest Special Olympics B.C. Winter Games in 2019

Games to be held Feb. 21-23, with more than 800 athletes expected to take part

Ex-BC Liberal staffer focused on ‘favourable’ ethnic communities in scandal: lawyer

Former communications director Brian Bonney’s sentencing hearing for breach of trust is underway

Most Read