The Telegram, St Johns, Canada
Trade activists encourage N.L. fight CETA - Board of Trade does not.
By Ashley Fitzpatrick
20 January 2015
Council of Canadians suggests consultations on deal
The St. John’s Board of Trade does not agree with the hard line the provincial government is taking on the Comprehensive European Trade Agreement (CETA) with the federal government and that it is refusing to take part in negotiations with them.
“The CETA agreement provides significant opportunity for our members to do business with the affluent 500 million consumers in Europe,” Sharon Horan, Chair of the St. John’s Board of Trade, said in a news release Tuesday. “CETA is one of the most significant trade deals ever negotiated for Canadian business, including businesses right here in St. John’s.”
The release goes on to say that the Board of Trade encourages both the provincial and federal governments to return to the negotiating table to sort out the terms of payment of the fisheries investment fund, an argument over which resulted in the ongoing CETA feud.
Meanwhile, the Council of Canadians is supporting the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s hard-line stance on funding from the federal government tied to negotiations for the Canada-European free trade agreement.
According to a statement issued this Tuesday morning, the council — lobbying against CETA — wants the province to go even further.
“Whether it is France, or Germany, there is momentum against this deal. Newfoundland would be in good company if it withdrew its support for the CETA,” said Maude Barlow, national chair of the Council of Canadians.
“Whether it is France, or Germany, there is momentum against this deal. Newfoundland would be in good company if it withdrew its support for the CETA,” said Maude Barlow, national chair of the Council of Canadians. “CETA is not just bad for Newfoundland and Labrador, it is a disaster for all Canadians. It gives a huge amount of power to corporations to sue governments. It is no wonder that Newfoundlanders and their government are upset.”
The provincial government announced Monday it is pulling back from negotiations for international free trade deals and will be rejecting CETA altogether if the federal government does not pony up $280 million for the province’s fishing industry as part of a joint fund to compensate for the province’s giving up minimum processing requirements on fish destined for Europe.
The federal government says losses as a result of the change will have to be demonstrated before money is paid out, while the province says those losses cannot be demonstrated and the “demonstrated losses” restriction was not part of the funding deal, agreed to in principle and announced in 2013.
Provincial representatives have clearly said they fundamentally support the free trade agreement, but will not have Newfoundland and Labrador as a participant unless the dispute over the $400 million in fisheries funding (the province was to kick in $120 million) is resolved.
The Council of Canadians is calling for the province to reconsider its thinking on CETA and hold public consultations on the trade deal.
“Once again, Newfoundland could be a game changer in this deal, the one province that is looking after the jobs and the interests of their citizens,” said Ken Kavanagh, a local Council of Canadians board members.
“CETA and the broader free trade agenda is harmful to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. We ask that the government go further by holding public consultations on the CETA. Newfoundland could be the first brave province to stand up for Canadians and reject this deal.”