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

All child porn charges against Chilliwack realtor dismissed

Meisner’s computers contained ‘miniscule’ amount of content normally found on offenders’ devices

B.C. Wildfire crews respond to Sts’ailes, Morris Valley fires

A fire at the First Nation and a grass fire in Mission sent smoke across the valley Wednesday

Power outages causing problems for Morris Valley Road residents

One resident argues BC Hydro ‘not fulfilling (its) mission statement’ thanks to unreliable power

Harrison retiree leaves legacy of ‘non-stop ideas’

Ruth Altendorf is remembered as a ‘“bubbly, enthusiastic, outgoing person’

Harrison musician Todd Richard gearing up for album release party in Chilliwack

Todd Richard’s third album, Live Your Life, features all ‘true-story’ songs

Harrison Hot Springs students bring ‘Twelfth Night’ to life

The adaption of Shakespeare’s classic comedy include songs and phrases from Canada’s east coast

Nowhere to grieve: How homeless people deal with loss during the opioid crisis

Abbotsford homeless advocate says grief has distinct challenges for those living on the streets

ICBC shifts to Alberta model, with higher rates, private insurers say

B.C. public insurance includes funding enforcement, driver licensing

B.C., feds accused of ‘environmental racism’ over Site C, Mount Polley

Amnesty International Canada says governments failed to recognize threats to Indigenous peoples

New Leger polls suggests federal Liberals lagging Conservatives

Overall, 31 per cent of respondents polled said they would vote for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals

Two men charged in Lower Mainland grocery store stabbing in 2018

Coquitlam RCMP say the incident is ‘believed to be targeted’

Number of homeless deaths more than doubled in B.C. as opioid crisis set in

New data shows trend between more overdose deaths and the number of people dying in the street

Most Read