In March 1995, Canadian Fisheries minister Brian Tobin stood on a barge along New York City's East River and displayed an illegal net from the Spanish trawler Estai, seized at gunpoint by Canadian Coast Guard vessels. To international journalists, Tobin denounced such practices and declared that the fishery would soon be reduced to "the last, lonely, unloved, unattractive little turbot clinging by its fingernails to the Grand Banks of Newfoundland."
Few Canadian politicians boast a more colourful career than Brian Tobin, the kid from the Rock who, at age 25, became the youngest MP of his era. A member of the infamous Liberal Rat Pack, he harassed the Tory government of Brian Mulroney through the 1980s and, on the eve of the 1995 Quebec Referendum, almost single-handedly sparked the appearance of 100,000 flag-waving Canadians in Montreal's Place du Canada. This outpouring of support for the "No" side helped defeat the sovereignist vote, which had appeared to be unstoppable just a few weeks earlier. Besides changing the course of Canadian history, it won Tobin the nickname "Captain Canada."