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The federal government says it has cancelled plans to issue a controversial clam fishing licence to a First Nations company with ties to the Liberal party and several sitting Liberal MPs — including the former fisheries minister.

A news release from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans says the process to issue a fourth licence to harvest arctic surf clam off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador as well as Nova Scotia was cancelled in early July, and that it won’t be issued this year at all.

That multi-million-dollar licence was supposed to go to the Five Nations Clam Co., a company court documents suggest did not initially meet key eligibility requirements spelled out in the government’s tender process.

The deal, which would have ended a 19-year monopoly on the Arctic clam fishery held by Clearwater Seafoods, was supposed to offer 25 per cent of the catch to local Indigenous communities as a way of promoting reconciliation and economic growth.

On Feb. 21, Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc announced the deal had been awarded to Five Nations, which he said was composed of “First Nations from Quebec, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.”

In fact, the company only had two Indigenous partners at the time: the Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick and the Nutashkuan Innu in Quebec.

The Canadian Press