George Lameboy is getting a laugh out of the government. “They’re funny people,” he says.

Lameboy has been told by the government that he has to get a fishing license to take tourists out fishing for Greenland cod. “They are good comedians. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans didn’t give a damn about the Greenland cod when the hydroelectric projects were built. But here I am proposing a teensy, weensy project and they cry rape,” he says. “It’s a sign of government hypocrisy.”

The amazing thing is the government wouldn’t even know about Lameboy’s tourism plans if he hadn’t told them himself.

When he started his tourism business in Chisasibi last December, he thought he’d do the government a favour. He wrote a letter offering to collect data on fish stocks because he knew the government doesn’t have much information on the James Bay area.

The government thanked Lameboy by telling him on March 29 that he has to get a license from the Northwest Territories if he wants to take non-natives out fishing. He says there’s no way he’ll apply for the license. “I have no intention, none whatsoever. The feds can take a hike. They let the Atlantic fishery be destroyed, and here they are proposing that someone who plans to catch only a few fish has to get a license.”

Lameboy says the government’s demand for a license has serious implications for all Crees. “If I were to say yes I need a permit, it means I would be bowing down to their laws and suppressing rights that existed before their laws did. It’s an infringement of my rights.”

Fisheries spokesman Gilles Chantigny told The Nation that Lameboy will not have to get a license for his own fishing, but if he wants to take non-natives fishing, they’ll have to get licenses.

Chantigny said that Lameboy can also apply for a vendor’s license to sell licenses to non-natives. But Chantigny said the government isn’t completely sure how its regulations apply to James Bay, so it’s consulting fisheries lawyers. Their legal analysis won’t be ready for months.