Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says he will send more RCMP officers to Nova Scotia to help restore order after an outbreak of arson and violence in the last four days. Commercial fishermen and Mi’kmaq fishermen are locked in a tense dispute over the Mi’kmaq capturing lobsters out of season—a practice that was sanctioned by the Supreme Court. The escalating tensions saw an assault on Chief Sack on Wednesday and the burning of a lobster pound as well as the vandalization of vehicles. Yesterday, a Digby County, N.S., man was charged and arrested in relation to the assault.
Blair said investigative teams are currently gathering evidence “to support any additional criminal charges necessary” and said provincial authorities will release further details as they become available.
The full text of Blair’s statement follows:
The recent acts of violence in Nova Scotia are unacceptable and I strongly condemn them.
I am deeply concerned about the suspicious fire and confident that investigators will find the answers they need to hold those responsible to account.
The Nova Scotia RCMP have increased their police presence in the affected area each day.
Policing in Nova Scotia is within provincial jurisdiction. I have now approved a request from Nova Scotia’s Attorney General to enhance the presence of contracted RCMP resources as needed in that jurisdiction in order to keep the peace.
I am aware that charges have been laid in regards to earlier acts of violence and property damage—including the assault of Chief Sack—and other investigations are ongoing. Officers remain on scene and have assembled investigative teams to actively gather evidence to support any additional criminal charges necessary. More details will be released by the Nova Scotia RCMP and provincial authorities as they become available.
I am confident the unacceptable acts of violence will be thoroughly investigated, and the perpetrators will be held to account.
I want to be clear: The current tensions cannot continue. The temperature of this dispute must be lowered, now. The threats, violence, and intimidation have to stop. We all need to acknowledge that a lasting resolution to this dispute can only be concluded if it is rooted in the recognition of legitimate Mi’kmaq treaty rights.