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Mulcair, Trudeau back CETA in Newfoundland fisheries fund dispute

While Newfoundland and Labrador premier Paul Davis has threatened to “withdraw our support for CETA” over the fisheries fund dispute, two federal opposition leaders will only go as far as to say that they would respect the federal funding promises made to the province to conclude the Canada-European Union ‘free trade’ agreement.

Today, the Canadian Press reports, “Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says he supports Newfoundland and Labrador’s bid to get the federal government to spell out its financial commitment for a special fisheries fund. …In a letter to Davis, released Monday, Trudeau says while the Liberal party supports free trade with the European Union, it also believes that the Conservative government has failed to adequately address the concerns of the province’s fish processors.”

Trudeau’s letter says, “The abolition of minimum processing requirements is clearly of great concern to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and your government’s support of the (free trade deal) was earned, in part, by a promise from the government of Canada to help the industry adjust to the new reality. That promise should be honoured.” The letter also notes, “The Harper government has negotiated [CETA] without proper public debate. As a result, the government has failed to adequately address the concerns of Canadian sectors that may be negatively affected by CETA, including Newfoundland and Labrador’s fish processors.”

And in mid-December, the Telegram reported, “Premier Paul Davis has an ally in federal New Democrat Leader Tom Mulcair when it comes to the ongoing fight over CETA. In a letter to Davis, provided to The Telegram, Mulcair says in no uncertain terms that a New Democratic government would make good on a $400-million deal struck in 2013 as part of the Canada-Europe free trade deal known as CETA.”

Mulcair’s letter says, “For my part, I have made a firm commitment that, as Prime Minister, I would convene two annual First Ministers meetings to work together in the interests of all Canadians. I will also respect the Fisheries Investment Fund agreement as negotiated.” And while his party has not taken a formal position in support of CETA, Mulcair highlights, “Like you, Canada’s New Democrats feel that, properly negotiated, a comprehensive trade agreement with Europe could be of great overall benefit to all Canadians.”

The Council of Canadians encourages the NDP and Liberals to do more and in fact reject the ratification of CETA, notably because of its investor-state dispute settlement mechanism, its extended patent protection for pharmaceutical corporations, and other controversial provisions. It is believed that key votes in the ratification process for CETA in Europe could take place in early 2016, just months after the October 19 federal election in Canada. For more on our campaign in opposition to CETA, please click here.

Further reading
Newfoundland to take CETA dispute to European Union (January 2015 blog)
Kavanagh calls for provincial hearings on CETA in Newfoundland & Labrador (December 2014 blog)
If Harper can’t be trusted on the fisheries fund, what about pharmaceutical drugs? (December 2014 blog)