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Newfoundland fisherman continues hunger strike protest after call from minister

Fisherman continues hunger strike after call

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — A Newfoundland fisherman is continuing his hunger strike over what he says is Ottawa’s dire mismanagement of stocks, despite getting a phone call from federal Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc, his mother says.

Linda Gillett said Friday that her son Richard Gillett spoke with LeBlanc on Thursday, but isn’t ready yet to give up his protest.

“He’s not accepting that, he wants it in writing that he (LeBlanc) will meet with him,” said Gillett.

She said her son is entering the ninth day of his protest and continues to get weaker due to his lack of nourishment. Gillett said even if her son gets a quick written commitment from LeBlanc, any potential meeting would have to wait until Richard is strong enough.

“He’s to the point where there is confusion,” she said. “He wouldn’t do a meeting justice so he needs one like in a week or so, when he’s back to himself and he can concentrate.”

A spokeswoman for LeBlanc also confirmed the call took place and said Thursday the two have agreed to speak again.

Laura Gareau said LeBlanc expressed concern for Richard Gillett’s health, and urged him to make his health and family a priority.

About three dozen protesters went to the federal fisheries office in St. John’s, N.L., on Thursday to show support for Gillett, who has been staying in a tent outside the office.

Gillett, who is vice-president of the Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL), is also known for his three seasons on the reality show “Cold Water Cowboys.”

He has accused Ottawa of dire mismanagement of stocks ranging from crab to capelin.

Gillett is also seeking an independent review of science and management for all provincial fish stocks and wants a review of the relationship between the Fish, Food and Allied Workers union, representing harvesters, and the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Gillett has said that he decided on his drastic action last week after LeBlanc refused to meet with him and FISH-NL president Ryan Cleary during their visit to Ottawa.

“There is still dialogue,” Linda Gillett said. “But until he gets that letter from Dominic, it won’t be over.”

The Canadian Press