Prof puzzled by premier's call for own EU trade deal

Rob Antle
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Politics/Diplomacy

A Memorial University political scientist says the province has little chance of successfully pursuing its own bilateral trade deal with the European Union.

"The EU doesn't negotiate trade agreements with provinces or federations," MUN's Steven Wolinetz said.

Premier Danny Williams has vowed not to sign on to Ottawa-led trade negotiations with the EU.

Instead, Williams told The Weekend Telegram, Newfoundland and Labrador could sign its own bilateral deal with the European Union.

A Memorial University political scientist says the province has little chance of successfully pursuing its own bilateral trade deal with the European Union.

"The EU doesn't negotiate trade agreements with provinces or federations," MUN's Steven Wolinetz said.

Premier Danny Williams has vowed not to sign on to Ottawa-led trade negotiations with the EU.

Instead, Williams told The Weekend Telegram, Newfoundland and Labrador could sign its own bilateral deal with the European Union.

"If that means that there's an agreement between Canada and 12 jurisdictions, and there has to be a separate agreement negotiated with Newfoundland and Labrador, then I'm fine with that," Williams said.

Wolinetz said the premier's remarks were "surprising," given that commerce and trade powers are lodged with federal governments.

"I'm puzzled by the premier's comments," the MUN professor said.

"The only thing that they can possibly achieve is somehow to call attention to Newfoundland's concern (with) the Canadian bargaining position," he said. "But whether anyone will pay attention to the province, with relations being what they are, is, to me, highly questionable."

Williams has been engaged in a years-long conflagration with Prime Minister Stephen Harper that has burned more intensely in recent weeks.

International Trade Minister Stockwell Day announced last week that Canada and the EU have agreed to launch comprehensive trade talks. All provinces and territories - except Newfoundland and Labrador - are onside with Ottawa.

Williams said last week he won't go "along with the tide of all the other provinces," and doesn't trust the federal government to negotiate in Newfoundland and Labrador's best interests. He said the province has been "shafted" in past Canadian international negotiations.

"There's some very significant issues from Newfoundland and Labrador's perspective, and we're not coming to the party," the premier said. "We're not interested in participating in a Canadian negotiation of an agreement with the EU while we have these outstanding issues."

Those issues, according to Williams, include custodial management of the fishery, shrimp tariffs and a looming vote to ban seal products.

Ottawa has stressed there is still a seat open at the table for Newfoundland and Labrador during trade talks. Day indicated to reporters that the EU understands the province's position, but is open to moving forward with discussions.

rantle@thetelegram.com

Organizations: European Union, International Trade

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Ottawa, Canada

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Recent comments

  • Darrel
    July 02, 2010 - 13:35

    This is a good move on the road to reaffirming the province's need to be treated fairly. These outstanding issues NL has with Ottawa can be either be solved or the natural path to independence unfolds as a string of events in discord of the Canadian Federation grows with NL.

  • Manny
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    The premeir is right, in that NL has not fared well with Ottawa pulling the strings on international trade negotiations. Look at what Ottwa did to your fishery. The largest supply of fish in the world, pillaged by EU countries to the point of extinction. What did NL get from this? Certainly no deals to develop industry in NL.

  • cynic
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    The Europeans fished the Grand Banks before NL existed - even as a colony.... the feds actually negotiated the 200 mile limit - do you suppose NL could have done that on its own? Iceland did okay for a while and now its bankrupt....
    Stop accusing Danny's critics of being bad Newfs... they've a right to an opinion just like ye.

  • Richard
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    Orville -I must have been asleep. I simply asked that the reporter ask the Premier to name one international trade agreement in which the province was specifically shafted. Williams says past international trade agreements have shafted us. The least he could do is name one instance where that is the case.

  • Brian
    July 02, 2010 - 13:29

    Why not sign our own agreement? It's not like Ottawa has ever put our interests in the forefront when it comes to negotiating such agreements. After all, we are not Ontario or Quebec so we have to look after our own.

  • KL
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    Maybe our Premier realises the EU will not enter an Agreement with this province and it is not about getting the EU to negotiate with NL....and more about getting the Federal Gov't and the EU to listen...there are legitimate issues being voiced that need to be addressed

  • Keith
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    While I agree with Danny that NL constantly gets the shaft, and while I can't stand nor trust Steve-o, I think Danny is out to lunch this time.

    The EU simply WILL NOT negotiate with a province; we don't have the power to sign such agreements. So if NL isn't at the table, we simply surrender to Steve the right to operate as the sole voice at the table for NL.

    Are the Feds going to listen to us? Probably not; as long as Steve is PM, he will likely continue to do his petty best to destroy NL. But if NL is not at the table BY ITS OWN CHOICE - what real right will the province then have to question or criticize the outcome?

  • keith
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    I agree with Danny, we can't trust the feds, they haven't given us any reason to do so

  • Ches
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    Yet again another mainland Mun Pol. Sci. prof having a go at Williams. Yawn.

  • Rich
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    Its unfortunate to see so much negativity here. Its the first time we had a premier truly sick of seeing us being skinned by the feds, and most here are ready to hang him. We have to try some other methods to get ahead. All we've ever been to the federal govt. is a piggy bank full of resources.

  • Tim
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    Dave and steve must be two of those Ottawa-funded, pro-Stevie folks for sure.

    Danny is bringing attention to a sour subject since Confederation - Canada's bartering of NL resources for the benefit upper Canada. Anybody who can't see that has happened doesn't have a clue.

    We have/had one of the richest resource pools in Canada, with our minerals, fish, oil, and culture, yet we remain the poorest cousin with twice the per-capita dept. Sure, we joined (or forced to join) Canada and benefited from some social programs, but after 50 years of Confederation we haven't progressed much, mainly because Ottawa continues to hold us back, for lack of a better word and the avenue to expand on that thought.

    Dave and steve. You must be proud of your paycheque. Too bad you don't have pride in your province. Danny may do/say some questionable things, but at least we know who's side he's on and that he's a proud NL'er.

  • John
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    Quebec -- the province that aspires to nationhood -- has all kinds of deals with sovereign states. SO WHY NOT NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR?

    Go for it, Danny. Always remember (when dealing with all these Newfoundland-haters up-along) DON T LET THE B%&#@!?S GRIND YOU DOWN!

  • steve
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    Smoke and mirrors once again. Attack upper Canada to throw the media off the Cameron Report. Quick...get out your pin white and green dresses and suits..it's the Danny gong show!

  • Graham
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    steve you're wrong, people don't vote for a candidate just because there's no one else running. There's always other candidates, or abstaining which has been the Canadian trend the past decade. You're making up your own facts. You're losing touch of reality man. But you're welcome to continue to insult since you have no logic to follow, if it makes you feel good ;)


    Actually, les was bang on, and low and behold did you see the latest headline ...Williams, PCs still soaring...


    BAAAHAHAHAHA !!!!

  • Ben
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    Go Danny!!!! It's time for some Newfoundlanders to wake up and realise that Newfoundland will never have a chance of becoming any more that what we are now in a system that keeps us down trodden for the benifit of upper canada. You can send who you like to Parliment, but it doesn't change the fact that we only have 7 seats and our voice is never heard. Yes we do get a few crumbs from time to time to keep us quiet, but we deserve far more and far better. Does anyone really think that if Quebec needed to run power lines accross Newfoundland, that the Federal government wouldn't ensure that it would happen. So I say Go Danny!!!! beacuse he is the only with the voice and determination to ensure Newfoundland is heard.

  • Mark
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    The ability of provinces to negotiate international agreements is murky because of the nature of the Canadian constitution and international law. But I don't think it is a cut-and-dry a Federal responsibility.

    Under international law, the Federal government is recognized as speaking for Canada and negotiating treaties. But there's nothing in the Canadian constitution specifically that prevents provinces from negotiating treaties within their own constitutional areas. Still, it's questionable if they'd be recognized in international law.

    There's also a difference between making a treaty and actually implementing the treaty, wherein implementation legislation is required. The Federal government can do so for areas under its jurisdiction, but the provincial governments must do so in areas under its jurisdiction.

    This is just my understanding from Richard Simeon, Queen's University, Federlaism and Free Trade, in Ducan Cameron, ed., The Free Trade Papers (1986). Based on a presentation he made to the Ontario Legislature in 1986 during the Canada-US free trade era. It's available at Google Books.

  • steve
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    Wow Les ...or less...that was brilliant. It must have take you hours to come up with that! The majority of people voted for him because they had no alternative. When some real opposition steps forward, let's see where he stands in the polls. Let's put a name like ....Dean Macdonald or General Rick from outside the ovetrpass up against him. Where do you think that would go?

  • Richard
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    Surely, upon hearing the Premier's claim of being 'shafted' by past agreements, the reporter interviewing him asked him to provide an example, right?

  • keith
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    Keith from Brampton, ON if NL is not at the table and doesn't sign the deal we are not subject to follow it.

  • FISHERMAN
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    People have you guys read this purposed agreement & seen how it negativly affects us in Newfoundland Or are all agreements negotiated by Reformers Stockwell day & Steve Harper ok by those who are too blind to see.

  • Les
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    steve you act like more of a fool than the premier - at least he's trying to do what the majority of people (who voted for him) want. You on the other hand are a peon in a peanut gallery. So, yes, I agree with you, you must be a traitor.

  • Dave
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    Williams way or NO way thats how the dictator operates.

  • steve
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    Hey Tim, I must be a TRAITOR!!! because I think Danny is doing more damage than good. Somewhere between Danny acting like a fool and previous liberal governments giving it all away there is a fair and reasonable deal for all.

  • cynic
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    Danny's little band wagon of going it alone cause the other Premiers just aren't as smart or as determined as he is. They're all a bunch of sheep without a brain cell to share among them. You see, NL was actually really, really rich in 1949 until the feds stole all our money and resources, leaving with holes in our socks and no fish to boot.

    Yup, he's going to huff and puff and blow Harper's house down... or maybe he'll just huff and puff because he seems to have more than his share of hot air. .. The man's an embarrassment and a national joke.

  • Bruce
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    I hope the next comments are going to be on point. Lets not loose focus. For so to many years we were looking for someone to fight for whats right and in NL best interest. Now that we have that don't look for ways to bend down to uper Canada's lowhandedness. The EU will always look out for the EU's best interest so why can't we. Let's instead look for way to support standing up for NL.

  • Orville
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    WOW Richard you are truly clueless. Where have you been ? Have you watched the news the past few months ? The past few years ? Have you read any NL history ? Go back to bed out of it.

  • Darrel
    July 01, 2010 - 20:25

    This is a good move on the road to reaffirming the province's need to be treated fairly. These outstanding issues NL has with Ottawa can be either be solved or the natural path to independence unfolds as a string of events in discord of the Canadian Federation grows with NL.

  • Manny
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    The premeir is right, in that NL has not fared well with Ottawa pulling the strings on international trade negotiations. Look at what Ottwa did to your fishery. The largest supply of fish in the world, pillaged by EU countries to the point of extinction. What did NL get from this? Certainly no deals to develop industry in NL.

  • cynic
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    The Europeans fished the Grand Banks before NL existed - even as a colony.... the feds actually negotiated the 200 mile limit - do you suppose NL could have done that on its own? Iceland did okay for a while and now its bankrupt....
    Stop accusing Danny's critics of being bad Newfs... they've a right to an opinion just like ye.

  • Richard
    July 01, 2010 - 20:18

    Orville -I must have been asleep. I simply asked that the reporter ask the Premier to name one international trade agreement in which the province was specifically shafted. Williams says past international trade agreements have shafted us. The least he could do is name one instance where that is the case.

  • Brian
    July 01, 2010 - 20:17

    Why not sign our own agreement? It's not like Ottawa has ever put our interests in the forefront when it comes to negotiating such agreements. After all, we are not Ontario or Quebec so we have to look after our own.

  • KL
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    Maybe our Premier realises the EU will not enter an Agreement with this province and it is not about getting the EU to negotiate with NL....and more about getting the Federal Gov't and the EU to listen...there are legitimate issues being voiced that need to be addressed

  • Keith
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    While I agree with Danny that NL constantly gets the shaft, and while I can't stand nor trust Steve-o, I think Danny is out to lunch this time.

    The EU simply WILL NOT negotiate with a province; we don't have the power to sign such agreements. So if NL isn't at the table, we simply surrender to Steve the right to operate as the sole voice at the table for NL.

    Are the Feds going to listen to us? Probably not; as long as Steve is PM, he will likely continue to do his petty best to destroy NL. But if NL is not at the table BY ITS OWN CHOICE - what real right will the province then have to question or criticize the outcome?

  • keith
    July 01, 2010 - 20:11

    I agree with Danny, we can't trust the feds, they haven't given us any reason to do so

  • Ches
    July 01, 2010 - 20:08

    Yet again another mainland Mun Pol. Sci. prof having a go at Williams. Yawn.

  • Rich
    July 01, 2010 - 20:08

    Its unfortunate to see so much negativity here. Its the first time we had a premier truly sick of seeing us being skinned by the feds, and most here are ready to hang him. We have to try some other methods to get ahead. All we've ever been to the federal govt. is a piggy bank full of resources.

  • Tim
    July 01, 2010 - 20:05

    Dave and steve must be two of those Ottawa-funded, pro-Stevie folks for sure.

    Danny is bringing attention to a sour subject since Confederation - Canada's bartering of NL resources for the benefit upper Canada. Anybody who can't see that has happened doesn't have a clue.

    We have/had one of the richest resource pools in Canada, with our minerals, fish, oil, and culture, yet we remain the poorest cousin with twice the per-capita dept. Sure, we joined (or forced to join) Canada and benefited from some social programs, but after 50 years of Confederation we haven't progressed much, mainly because Ottawa continues to hold us back, for lack of a better word and the avenue to expand on that thought.

    Dave and steve. You must be proud of your paycheque. Too bad you don't have pride in your province. Danny may do/say some questionable things, but at least we know who's side he's on and that he's a proud NL'er.

  • John
    July 01, 2010 - 20:05

    Quebec -- the province that aspires to nationhood -- has all kinds of deals with sovereign states. SO WHY NOT NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR?

    Go for it, Danny. Always remember (when dealing with all these Newfoundland-haters up-along) DON T LET THE B%&#@!?S GRIND YOU DOWN!

  • steve
    July 01, 2010 - 20:04

    Smoke and mirrors once again. Attack upper Canada to throw the media off the Cameron Report. Quick...get out your pin white and green dresses and suits..it's the Danny gong show!

  • Graham
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    steve you're wrong, people don't vote for a candidate just because there's no one else running. There's always other candidates, or abstaining which has been the Canadian trend the past decade. You're making up your own facts. You're losing touch of reality man. But you're welcome to continue to insult since you have no logic to follow, if it makes you feel good ;)


    Actually, les was bang on, and low and behold did you see the latest headline ...Williams, PCs still soaring...


    BAAAHAHAHAHA !!!!

  • Ben
    July 01, 2010 - 20:00

    Go Danny!!!! It's time for some Newfoundlanders to wake up and realise that Newfoundland will never have a chance of becoming any more that what we are now in a system that keeps us down trodden for the benifit of upper canada. You can send who you like to Parliment, but it doesn't change the fact that we only have 7 seats and our voice is never heard. Yes we do get a few crumbs from time to time to keep us quiet, but we deserve far more and far better. Does anyone really think that if Quebec needed to run power lines accross Newfoundland, that the Federal government wouldn't ensure that it would happen. So I say Go Danny!!!! beacuse he is the only with the voice and determination to ensure Newfoundland is heard.

  • Mark
    July 01, 2010 - 20:00

    The ability of provinces to negotiate international agreements is murky because of the nature of the Canadian constitution and international law. But I don't think it is a cut-and-dry a Federal responsibility.

    Under international law, the Federal government is recognized as speaking for Canada and negotiating treaties. But there's nothing in the Canadian constitution specifically that prevents provinces from negotiating treaties within their own constitutional areas. Still, it's questionable if they'd be recognized in international law.

    There's also a difference between making a treaty and actually implementing the treaty, wherein implementation legislation is required. The Federal government can do so for areas under its jurisdiction, but the provincial governments must do so in areas under its jurisdiction.

    This is just my understanding from Richard Simeon, Queen's University, Federlaism and Free Trade, in Ducan Cameron, ed., The Free Trade Papers (1986). Based on a presentation he made to the Ontario Legislature in 1986 during the Canada-US free trade era. It's available at Google Books.

  • steve
    July 01, 2010 - 20:00

    Wow Les ...or less...that was brilliant. It must have take you hours to come up with that! The majority of people voted for him because they had no alternative. When some real opposition steps forward, let's see where he stands in the polls. Let's put a name like ....Dean Macdonald or General Rick from outside the ovetrpass up against him. Where do you think that would go?

  • Richard
    July 01, 2010 - 19:59

    Surely, upon hearing the Premier's claim of being 'shafted' by past agreements, the reporter interviewing him asked him to provide an example, right?

  • keith
    July 01, 2010 - 19:59

    Keith from Brampton, ON if NL is not at the table and doesn't sign the deal we are not subject to follow it.

  • FISHERMAN
    July 01, 2010 - 19:56

    People have you guys read this purposed agreement & seen how it negativly affects us in Newfoundland Or are all agreements negotiated by Reformers Stockwell day & Steve Harper ok by those who are too blind to see.

  • Les
    July 01, 2010 - 19:53

    steve you act like more of a fool than the premier - at least he's trying to do what the majority of people (who voted for him) want. You on the other hand are a peon in a peanut gallery. So, yes, I agree with you, you must be a traitor.

  • Dave
    July 01, 2010 - 19:52

    Williams way or NO way thats how the dictator operates.

  • steve
    July 01, 2010 - 19:52

    Hey Tim, I must be a TRAITOR!!! because I think Danny is doing more damage than good. Somewhere between Danny acting like a fool and previous liberal governments giving it all away there is a fair and reasonable deal for all.

  • cynic
    July 01, 2010 - 19:50

    Danny's little band wagon of going it alone cause the other Premiers just aren't as smart or as determined as he is. They're all a bunch of sheep without a brain cell to share among them. You see, NL was actually really, really rich in 1949 until the feds stole all our money and resources, leaving with holes in our socks and no fish to boot.

    Yup, he's going to huff and puff and blow Harper's house down... or maybe he'll just huff and puff because he seems to have more than his share of hot air. .. The man's an embarrassment and a national joke.

  • Bruce
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    I hope the next comments are going to be on point. Lets not loose focus. For so to many years we were looking for someone to fight for whats right and in NL best interest. Now that we have that don't look for ways to bend down to uper Canada's lowhandedness. The EU will always look out for the EU's best interest so why can't we. Let's instead look for way to support standing up for NL.

  • Orville
    July 01, 2010 - 19:46

    WOW Richard you are truly clueless. Where have you been ? Have you watched the news the past few months ? The past few years ? Have you read any NL history ? Go back to bed out of it.