May 24, 1996
It’s the Robin Hood story, a thousand years old, that’s unfolding these days on the Acadian Peninsula, says John Crosbie, the tart-tongued Newfoundlander who served in the early 1990s as federal minister of fisheries.
Crab fishermen who often haul in six-figure incomes during their three-week season are the landed gentry in Mr. Crosbie’s version of the tale. Idled cod fishermen who can’t even qualify for pogey are the impoverished masses. And “Admiral Robin Hood Mifflin” is the leader of a merry band of bureaucrats determined to save the day. Robin’s plan is straightforward and righteous: to seize a fair share of the vast undersea wealth that the rich control and distribute it to the needy.
“But you have to remember,” says Mr. Crosbie in the wry, dry way that won him a thousand clips on nightly newscasts, “Robin Hood has never been a popular story among those who have the money. And it never will be.”
Mr.Crosbie’s simple tale misses some of the nuance of the crab war that threatens to scuttle a whole season for fishermen and fish-plant workers on New Brunswick’s northeast coast, but it cuts to the nub of the dispute.