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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

March 2, 2016

 

For Immediate Release

 

Why Silence Instead of Answers:

 

Negotiations are Done on CETA Fisheries Investment Fund?

 

Keith Hutchings, Official Opposition Critic for Intergovernmental Affairs, said with the Government of Canada moving closer to finalizing the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), it’s time for the Ball government to clearly state its demand that the Fisheries Investment Fund that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised while in opposition will be delivered on now.

 

In December 2014, Mr. Trudeau wrote to Premier Paul Davis, stating: “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 CETA 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.”

 

That promise included a Fisheries Investment Fund that “addressed industry development and renewal as well as worker displacement", including a 70 per cent contribution of $280 million from the Federal Government.

 

Yet, the province's federal Liberal Cabinet representative, Judy Foote, when asked on March 1 if the province will have to prove fisheries losses before funds are paid, said “we haven’t had that discussion.”

 

What is there to discuss? Is the federal Liberal Government going to honour the agreement or not? There is nothing to negotiate, only to determine the execution of the fund in the province and how the fund's structure will flow.

 

Hutchings is urging the Ball government to be forceful in demanding what we were promised. Yesterday, the comments from provincial Trade Minister Mitchelmore stating they will start a negotiating process and he has nothing more to say, is bewildering. Does he expect the agreed-upon fund to be honoured or not, and when will funds flow? What is there to negotiate? CETA has been approved in principle. Is the Minister suggesting Newfoundland and Labrador wants to reopen the chapters in CETA and reconvene new negotiations?

 

Through Access to Information, we have received documents with the majority of information redacted. The documents indicated officials in BTCRD were updated on the CETA Fund in December, including input from Chief Canadian negotiator Steve Verheul. Yet, we have heard nothing about this from Minister Mitchelmore, who is the province’s lead minister and should be safeguarding our best interests in the area of trade. Is he making clear that a precondition for agreeing to remove minimum processing requirements for fish must be a fisheries investment fund that addresses "industry development and renewal as well as worker displacement"? Is he holding Mr. Trudeau to the promise that he made to the province in writing?

 

Hutchings is calling on Minister Mitchelmore to provide an update on the status of discussions about CETA and the Fisheries Investment Fund, if and when we will receive funds, and the state of the CETA deal, as he keeps referencing "negotiations".

 

Hutchings said the minister should be up to speed in light of the recent briefing of provinces and territories by the country’s chief CETA negotiator, Steve Verheul, so it’s time for the minister to inform our own people about the status of the talks.

 

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Media Contact:

 

Heather MacLean,

 

Director of Communications,

 

Office of the Official Opposition

 

(709) 729 6105,

 

heathermaclean@gov.nl.ca

 

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