On Wednesday May 12, I asked the Premier in Question Period whether he will, after 45 years, finally work with the people of O-Pipon-Na-Piwin and Tataskweyak Cree Nations to address the damage to their fisheries and to their communities which have resulted from building the Churchill River Diversion.
Request for Fish Ladder at Missi Falls
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): The historically crystal-clear waters of Southern Indian Lake, Manitoba's fourth largest lake, are cloudy and turbid from extensive erosion. Whitefish, which once flourished there, are few. The sturgeon downstream are almost extinct.
These horrific changes were caused by actions of the NDP 45 years ago which were never mitigated. The whitefish fishery, which sustained 140 fishers and their families, is gone, through no fault of theirs.
I ask: Will the Premier make changes in the operation of the Churchill River diversion and put in a fish ladder at Missi Falls to help improve life for the fish and for the people of O-Pipon-Na-Piwin and Tataskweyak Cree Nation?
Hon. Brian Pallister (Premier): Well, I appreciate the member's passion if not his pronunciation, but I have to say that this is a–these are debates that have been ongoing for significant numbers of years. The member is expecting me to resolve them at this very instant. I don't think that that would be a fair assumption. I can only say to him that I think all of us should desire a process that's more transparent and that effectively protects the involved parties and that–and reaches a resolution in a reasonable period of time.
What we're trying to do, of course, with the project in the Interlake is create an outlet that will protect communities throughout that region that have suffered disproportionally for many, many years through inaction on the part of many governments from previous half-century plus.
And so I would encourage the member to get behind encouraging his colleagues federally to let us resolve this issue as Manitobans in the best interests of all Manitobans
The Figure below shows the dramatic decline in whitefish produced in the fishery on Southern Indian Lake.