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The CETA debate in Newfoundland’s House of Assembly

The Telegram’s editorial today takes aim at the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.

It states that at the House of Assembly “was taken up (last Wednesday afternoon) with the following government private member’s motion: ‘Be it resolved that this honourable House acknowledges the tremendous importance to Newfoundland and Labrador of the terms of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement-in-principle … for which the provincial government successfully advocated; and supports the decision of the federal and provincial governments to establish a $400-million fund to improve our fishing industry’s global competitiveness to capitalize more fully on the phenomenal opportunities that CETA will generate for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.'”

As the Canadian Press explained a couple weeks ago, “Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Kathy Dunderdale (has) announced a $400-million fishery fund as part of a move to lift rules protecting fish plant workers while securing free trade with Europe. Dunderdale said the federal government would cover $280-million of the investment for research and marketing, while the province will kick in the rest. …Dunderdale said she fought hard to speed up tariff-free EU access and is not concerned that exempting minimum processing rules, which require fish that is landed in Newfoundland and Labrador be processed in the province, will jeopardize plant workers or small industry players.”

The Telegram comments on the motion heard last week, “Brave support for a deal that no one voting in the House of Assembly has ever seen … and that the provincial government has so far — despite commitments from Premier Kathy Dunderdale — completely refused to release any information on. …The end result? As a province, we now officially support something we’re not allowed to see.”

Two additional points to make on this.

– Last May, the Globe and Mail reported, “In a speech Monday to the St. John’s Board of Trade, Dunderdale described how Stephen Harper used (former Chief of Staff Nigel) Wright as a go-between in hard-driving talks aimed at getting Newfoundland to rewrite fish-processing rules in a manner that would please the European Union (to help conclude the Canada-EU CETA negotiations). …At the 11th hour of talks on a $1-billion federal loan guarantee for Newfoundland and Labrador’s Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project, Ms. Dunderdale said, the PMO tried to make the aid conditional on the province agreeing to scrap provincial regulations that protect local fishery jobs.”

– In December 2011, the Telegram reported, “The Council of Canadians is urging the Newfoundland and Labrador government to reject a plan from Ocean Choice International, which would see only 25 per cent of the total catch of redfish and flatfish processed in the company’s plant in Fortune, and the rest sold whole to markets in Europe and Asia.” In that article, Maude Barlow, Ken Kavanagh and Leo Broderick spoke out against the concession to Ocean Choice International. Broderick stated, “Newfoundland and Labrador Government must say no Ocean Choice and no CETA.”

Further reading
NEWS: Harper loses bluff on dam-financing, fish-processing and CETA talks
NEWS: Council raises concerns about Ocean Choice International plan