Keith Hutchings, Intergovernmental Affairs Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “We welcome news that both the European Parliament and the Canadian House of Commons have approved CETA, paving the way to remove more than 98 per cent of trade barriers between Canada and the European Union, but now we expect the Government of Canada to honour Justin Trudeau’s commitment to Newfoundland and Labrador that Ottawa will provide its share of the Fisheries Investment Fund that he promised us.”
Members of the European Parliament voted on February 15 to approve the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). On February 14, the Canadian CETA implementation Bill, C-30, passed third reading in the House of Commons and was introduced in the Senate. More than 90 per cent of the agreement is expected to come into effect provisionally as early as April 1. The next steps before full ratification will include legislation at the local level.
Hutchings said, “This is the time to ensure we are ready once trade barriers fall and markets open up. When our administration negotiated with Ottawa on matters that included the removal of minimum processing requirements in our fish processing sector, Ottawa promised that it would contribute 70 per cent of a $400 million Fisheries Investment Fund – $280 million – to support new technology, innovation, science and marketing in the fishery and help our harvesting and processing sectors be ready to compete as effectively as possible in the European marketplace. We must take full advantage of the new opportunities that will open up across Europe to sell our seafood products virtually tariff-free, but to do that, we need to ensure our harvesting and processing sectors are ready.”
In December 2014, while a federal opposition leader, Justin 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.”
Hutchings said, “The Ball Liberals have been very quiet on this issue, which involves hundreds of millions of dollars that Newfoundland and Labrador was promised and needs to receive. We have a firm commitment from Mr. Trudeau. It’s time for the funds to flow. There is nothing to negotiate. It’s time to get on with it.”