Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his new cabinet, including his choice to replace Bernadette Jordan (the previous Minister of Fisheries, Oceans & the Canadian Coast Guard) who was defeated in Canada’s 2021 federal election.
Trudeau tapped long standing BC Liberal MP Joyce Murray. She has represented Vancouver Quadra since 2008 when Liberal MP Stephen Owen resigned.
Murray becomes the sixth Minister to hold this portfolio in the last 6 years. This department has gained a reputation as a Ministry with a revolving door when it comes to the top job; and as a portfolio that is one of the hardest to manage because it attracts so many conflicting interests and agendas.
Murray is an experienced politician with a long background in business in both national and international arenas. In 1970, she won one of the first BC tree planting contracts, which led to the creation of Brinkman and Associates Reforestation. By 2012, they had planted one billion trees, were active in six countries, and had diversified corporate interests to ecosystem and urban restoration.
Prior to entering federal politics Murray was elected provincially, as a Gordon Campbell Liberal, where she served in two cabinet positions as Minister of Air, Land & Water, and as Minister of Management Services. In federal politics she was in Cabinet as the Minister for Digital Government, and Treasury Board President. While in opposition, she was the critic for National Defense, and also Western Diversification.
During her career she has advocated for “creating sustainable communities” and comprehensive, coordinated Canadian climate initiatives. While running for the Federal Liberal leadership she promoted the concept of the Liberals, NDP and Greens uniting, by putting a single candidate forward in some ridings, to run against the Progressive Conservatives.
She opposes pipelines crossing BC, and offshore oil shipments, while supporting more oil refining in Canada. Murray currently opposes salmon farming and has called for a complete ban on open net cage salmon farms in BC.
What does her appointment mean for public fishery access and angling’s business interests? At this stage no one knows. There is very little in her record that reflects what she does or does not know about the public fishery, and the very valuable economic contribution it makes to the BC and Canadian economy.
When British Columbians have been appointed to this position it has always been seen as a positive. However, long time watchers of fishery issues clearly understand that where Ministers come from is no assurance of competence. This is what’s needed to make progress towards resource recovery, and re-invigorate dependent industries and fishing lifestyles. Time will tell if Joyce Murray can move these important needs in a positive direction.