M998.48.62 | Poisson d'Avril

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Creative Commons License
Drawing, cartoon
Poisson d'Avril
Aislin (alias Terry Mosher)
1995, 20th century
Felt pen and ink on paper
26.4 x 25.5 cm
Gift of Mr. Terry Mosher
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Cartoon (19139) , Drawing (18637) , drawing (18379) , politics (general) (2228)
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Keys to History

"In 1995, Brian Tobin, the premier of Newfoundland, had a Spanish trawler seized in response to that country's overfishing of Canada's already-depleted turbot stocks. As a result, there were massive anti-Canadian demonstrations in Spain. What a zany situation! Would Canada and Spain actually go to war over the lowly, ugly turbot, a fish with two eyes on one side of its head? Here is my response to the situation. I really like the drawing's swirling layout and wonky rendering of the fish. I was drawing well that day."

Terry Mosher (alias Aislin)

  • What

    The turbot, a fish found in the deep waters off Newfoundland, was at the centre of a conflict dubbed the Turbot Wars in which the Canadian government, out to protect its fishing zone, confronted foreign vessels that were overfishing along the boundary of Canada's territorial waters. The crisis came to a head on March 9, 1995, when Canada seized the Estai, a ship flying the Spanish flag. The move, which was authorized by Brian Tobin, Canada's minister of fisheries, surprised and angered several European Union governments, but elevated Tobin to stardom at home... where he became known as Captain Canada.

  • Where

    Newfoundland is the poorest province in Canada. It is economically dependant on fishing and oil exploration and drilling in the waters off its coast.

  • When

    Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949. Workers there often have no choice but to take seasonal jobs, and thus unemployment rates are high. When the federal government closes or restricts certain fisheries to protect fish stocks, Newfoundlanders are hit hard. The province's economy has long been dependent on federal transfer payments.

  • Who

    Brian Tobin was born in 1954. As federal minister of fisheries and oceans, he took a hard line against foreign trawlers fishing in Canadian waters. Tobin became premier of Newfoundland in 1996, a post he held until 2000.