October 4, 2017
For Immediate Release
With CETA Now in Place, What Did NL Get for Giving Up MPRs?
With the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) now in place, Keith Hutchings, Intergovernmental Affairs Critic for the Official Opposition, is asking what Newfoundland and Labrador got for giving up minimum processing requirements (MPRs) in the fishery as part of CETA.
“Our negotiated return for the move would certainly not be the Atlantic Fisheries Fund as that fund goes to all Atlantic provinces (and falls far short of $400 million for Newfoundland and Labrador), not just our own. Surely, the current Liberal government was not negotiating a fund for the Atlantic provinces as part of bilateral CETA talks? Let’s remember the only Atlantic province that had MPRs to relinquish during negotiations of the trade deal was Newfoundland and Labrador – and why would you negotiate a fund for all provinces for something only one province gives up? That is a program of general application, not a program to recognize what Newfoundland and Labrador alone negotiated for the benefits of a $400 million fishery innovation fund, much needed today,” said Hutchings.
“So that leaves the question: What did Premier Ball get for giving up MPRs?”
“After negotiating the fishery fund with the support of industry players, and following the Harper government’s backtracking on an agreement, our government’s position was clear, as communicated to many of the EU embassies in Ottawa: no fund, no relinquishment of MPRs in CETA. We advised the federal government that, without the full $400 million fund, we would not relinquish MPRs; that was our leverage in negotiations. We were prepared to give them up for the EU only on the condition that Newfoundland and Labrador would receive a fisheries investment fund valued at $400 million. Otherwise, we were prepared to pull them off the table. That was our line in the sand,” said Hutchings.
“Enter the Ball Liberals and all went silent. They repeatedly said they were negotiating leading up to the signing of the agreement by Prime Minister Trudeau and with Dwight Ball as Premier. We never understood the need for a negotiation: the elements were set.”
“The irony is that Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau wrote our government prior to the 2015 election to say that he agreed with the agreement we made. But after the government changed in 2015, Premier Ball did not hold Prime Minister Trudeau to that agreement. He let MPRs go for absolutely nothing.”
Hutchings said, “Ottawa insisted that we give up MPRs for EU countries under CETA and our government saw an opportunity to build a fishery looking forward using technology, research capacity, innovation and infrastructure made possible by the negotiated fund which would make us competitive with competing interests including the EU. The only Atlantic province with MPRs was Newfoundland and Labrador. So we were right to demand something exceptional in return – not simply our fair share of a fisheries funding for the entire Atlantic region, which really has nothing to do with CETA negotiations. We have even heard rumours of other Atlantic Liberal Premiers lobbying against the fund our government negotiated. I guess they were successful.”
“CETA was signed by Justin Trudeau against what our government said was unacceptable for Newfoundland and Labrador, while Premier Ball and his government were silent and relinquished MPRs in this province for free. It’s too late now for him to start negotiating because CETA is now in effect and the MPRs have already been given away,” said Hutchings.
Heather MacLean, Director of Operations and Communications
Office of the Official Opposition
(709) 729 6105, firstname.lastname@example.org