27 May 2015

Conservatives abandon ridiculous position on European trade… again #nlpoli

In January, trade minister Darin King wrote a letter to his federal counterpart about the European trade deal.
King said the provincial government would:
  1. withdraw from any trade talks OTHER than the one about the European trade deal, and,
  2. should “the federal government fail to honour the terms of the June 2013 agreement to establish a fisheries fund, you will appreciate that the Province will reconsider its support for CETA.”
On Tuesday, King announced the provincial government would:
  1. resume participation in all the ongoing trade talks, and,
  2. accept the European trade deal, but not the bit on minimum processing requirements.
That last one will leave Canada open to a challenge by Europeans if - and only if - the provincial government ever invokes minimum processing requirements in dealing with a European company. There’s not much danger of that since the provincial government has been granting more and more exemptions from the out-dated policy.

Besides, the federal government is already working on a mechanism to pass the cost of any damages from a trade dispute on to the province that caused them. They started work on that little gem after the current Conservative administration in this province violated the North American free trade deal and seized hydro-electric assets belonging to three companies under an entirely false pretense.

When Darin King said the government would “let the chips fall where they may” he knew full well that the provincial government would take it in the neck if it ever used the minimum processing requirements provisions of current legislation.

What you have here is a climb down. The provincial government position was always a transparent pile of nonsense. As CBC’s access to information research confirmed last week, the provincial government has been granting more and more exemptions from the minimum processing regulations. In practical terms, that means they have already abandoned MPRs and won’t use them to trigger any CETA problems.

What local media still haven’t reported is that the heart of this dispute has been a political fraud by the provincial government. It tried to radically alter the deal in 2014. The federal government rebuffed the provincial government’s effort to rejig the deal. Faced with no prospect of success in its scam, the provincial government abandoned its ludicrous position.

Both the Liberal and NDP criticised the government for submitting to federal perfidy. Nothing could be further from the truth, of course, but the truth never stopped a politician in this province from opening his mouth before. Tuesday was no exception.

Incidentally, the letter from King to his federal counterpart as well as the news release that King issued on Tuesday are both pretty vague about what the provincial government is actually doing. King explained the details to reporters.

This is the second time the provincial Conservatives have abandoned a stupid position on the European trade talks. The first was Danny Williams’ refusal to take part in the talks in the first place Williams claimed he needed to protect the seal hunt.