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Newfoundland to take CETA dispute to European Union

Davis and HarperThe provincial government of Newfoundland and Labrador says in the “coming weeks” it will be taking its dispute with the Harper government over the terms of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) to EU representatives. Last month, VOCM reported, “[Premier Paul Davis] isn’t ruling out a trip to Europe as a way to put pressure on Ottawa to live up to its $280-million commitment.”

A media release issued on Friday by the provincial government states, “Over the coming weeks, the provincial government plans to take its message directly to representatives of the European Union as well as to Canadian industry and exporter groups.”

As we have noted in previous blogs here and here, the province says Harper promised $280 million for a fisheries fund in exchange for the province giving up minimum processing requirements as a concession to Europe to complete the negotiations for CETA. But the Prime Minister’s Office says the fund will only be made available for direct losses and was “never intended to be a blank cheque”. This disagreement first emerged about three weeks ago and appears set to escalate early this new year.

Today, the Telegram also reports, “The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is on the hunt for like-minded members of parliament, senators and European Union leaders as it continues to demand $280 million from the federal government.” And in a media release, Keith Hutchings, the provincial government’s minister of intergovernmental affairs and lead in the talks on CETA, says, “We are calling on federal politicians, particularly the Conservative senators from Newfoundland and Labrador, business leaders, industry associations and stakeholders to pressure the federal government to honour its commitment to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.”

Hutchings warns, “CETA and the fisheries investment fund were a package deal.” And Davis has previously stated, “When the time comes, if we have to withdraw our support for CETA, we’ll withdraw our support for CETA. Our support is contingent on Prime Minister Harper providing that fund. That’s the agreement that we have.”

Further reading
Kavanagh calls for provincial hearings on CETA in Newfoundland & Labrador (December 18, 2014 blog)