Federal NDP leader, Jagmeet Singh, was in Prince Rupert during his tour of northern B.C. to learn more about the issues affecting the area.
He met with Prince Rupert city council, the Indo Canadian Sikh Association, and toured the harbour with Shaun Stevenson, president and CEO of the Port of Prince Rupert, First Nations hereditary chief Alex Campbell, MP Nathan Cullen, MLA Jennifer Rice and Mayor Lee Brain.
In an exclusive interview with the Northern View, Singh spoke on what a NDP government would do for industry in the north, and his views on bringing the owner-operator policy to fisheries on the West Coast of B.C.
Owner-operator licences in B.C.
Federal policymakers are currently reviewing the Fisheries Act. One of the possible amendments to the act would be on the licencing system and enforcing the owner-operator policy on the West Coast, which is enforced on the East Coast.
“That’s something that’s proven to have worked on the East Coast, giving an emphasis on community enterprises in fishing as opposed to people who then hold the licences but don’t actually fish on those licences. That’s a discourse about giving power and agency back to the people who live in the land and want to fish in their own communities, I think that makes a lot of sense, something we should definitely look at,” Singh said.
What an NDP government would do for projects on the North Coast
The current model has the federal government funding the provinces to distribute to municipalities in need. Singh said he wants to shake that up. He believes in having a stronger partnership between the federal government and municipalities.
“It’s something that would create an opportunity to invest directly in projects that would help build up the economy of a riding or a particular municipality. It would create opportunities economically, and I think it’s a more effective way to work directly with cities and that’s something I’d like to see happen,” he said.
High-tech startups on the North Coast
Singh highlighted fishing, tourism and the port, but he introduced a new idea that could be introduced to rural areas across Canada.
He said with the housing crisis impacting larger urban centres, it’s difficult for emerging high-tech companies to succeed.
“If we invest in high speed internet access across rural communities and remote communities, we can create an incentive for startups to actually base in a smaller community where there’s affordable housing, more so than the urban centres, and when you need access to internet you can set up anywhere,” Singh said.
“I’ve seen this model in Quebec in some of the rural and remote communities there and I’d love to see that as a potential way for us to grow the economic base in rural communities like Prince Rupert.”