Dunderdale changes tone on trade talks

Andrew
Andrew Robinson
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Says discussions with Ottawa ‘back on track,’ but N.L. won’t compromise

Premier Kathy Dunderdale had a busy media day Tuesday fielding questions from reporters on everything from drug-related violence in St. John’s to offshore oil exploration to free trade with Europe. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

Premier Kathy Dunderdale said the provincial government was busy this past weekend exchanging correspondence with Ottawa about the country’s free trade discussions with Europe and the implications for Newfoundland and Labrador.

The premier recently expressed concerns that the federal government might not work in the best interests of Newfoundland and Labrador when it comes to establishing the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Europe.

But speaking in St. John’s Tuesday, Dunderdale indicated the province’s discussions with Ottawa are running more smoothly than before.

“We seem to be back on track,” said the premier, speaking with reporters after making a funding announcement at the MacMorran Community Centre. “We have alignment. This is a very big deal for Canada.”

Last week, the premier said Ottawa was looking for the province to drop minimum processing requirements for the fishery. She also claimed the federal government threatened to withhold the loan guarantee for the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric development if the province did not co-operate.

“We had to really draw a line in the sand and say that we were going to represent the best interests of our province, and we weren’t going to compromise that in any way, regardless of what the benefits might be for the rest of the country.”

Asked if an agreement has been reached on minimum processing requirements with Ottawa in relation to CETA talks, Dunderdale would only say the province has made its position clear with International Trade Minister Ed Fast. Talks on a CETA deal are taking place in Brussels, Belgium.

“There is alignment between us now, so the federal negotiator will take our position to the table in the talks over the next week or so,” the premier said.

Fish, Food and Allied Workers union president Earle McCurdy appeared open to the possibility of removing minimum processing requirements, so long as it opened up the European market to fish caught in Newfoundland and Labra­dor.

 

McCurdy told The Telegram last week that existing trade tariffs hinder efforts to get a foothold in what may be the most important seafood market worldwide.

Asked for a reaction to McCurdy’s comment, Dunderdale spoke of the need to remain flexible to all options available.

“To ask Newfoundland and Labrador to give away MPR (minimum processing requirements), then you have to see what comes back as a result of all of that. You’re talking about all kinds of gives and takes on the table, and so you do a cost-benefit analysis, you talk to the people in the industry — not just this one, others that are affected — and you see what’s in the best interests of the people of this province.”

Dunderdale said minimum processing requirements are not in place for all species harvested in Newfoundland and Labrador, offering lobster as an example.

“The greater value for us is to let the lobster go out of the province whole. So there’s always been that mix of holding firm to an MPR and being more relaxed on an MPR, and you have to have that kind of fluidity in a commercial marketplace, because you have to know what the market wants.”

Dunderdale said there is a chance a CETA deal can be made in time for this month’s G8 Summit in Northern Ireland.

“I know that is certainly the benchmark that (Ottawa has) set for themselves,” she said.

 

arobinson@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TeleAndrew

Organizations: MacMorran Community Centre, International Trade, Allied Workers union The Telegram

Geographic location: Ottawa, Newfoundland and Labrador, Europe Canada Brussels Belgium Labra Northern Ireland

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Recent comments

  • Alberta Bound
    June 05, 2013 - 13:18

    Kathy is the most pathetic premier is Newfoundland & Labrador history........NO COMPARISON. She cant do anything right.................she can speak and talk the ear off ya ABOUT NOTHING THAT MATTERS to the public and means NOTHING. I got my doubts about whether she know where Muskrat Falls is to......................but i guarantee u one thing she will know, along with every living sole of the great province, is how the MUSKRAT FALLS DEAL will sink Newfoundland and Labrador quicker than the Titanic went down.................you can be damn well sure of that. And the COMMON or AVERAGE INCOME person will suffer for ever because of that IDIOT !!!!!!! MUSKRATS FALLS WILL FAIL EVERYBODY AND THIS PROVINCE !!!!!! And we will be saying JOEY WHO ? It will Kathy that everyone will remember then and not for a good reason either. KATHY DUNDERDALE - NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR DESTROYER !!!!!!!!!!

  • tom
    June 05, 2013 - 11:56

    Dunderdale is funny. She talks all tough as if she has any real influence compared to Harper. She lost credibility with me when she got in bed with Harper, so to speak, to get the loan guarantee. Last week an article stated 'she stared down Stephen Harper and won'. Great comic relief. She is doing Muskrat Falls come hell or high water and if Harper really said do this or we won't do that - she would have.

  • Fighting Newfoundlander
    June 05, 2013 - 11:02

    Dunderdale employed an old Tory tactic, the Fighting Newfoundlander. It plays well with the Kool-Aid gang; you whip the sheep into a frenzy by turning on the Feds and tossing out a trial balloon to gauge provincial support. Peckford did and Little Man Dan perfected it; now Dunderwit is giving it a go as public support is waning fast.

  • Ben
    June 05, 2013 - 08:53

    So busy she never even had time to comb her hair !!!

  • Graham
    June 05, 2013 - 08:33

    It seems our Premier can talk on and on and on yet still manage to say very much of anything meaningful. Then again give her some credit...She seems to be very good indeed at doing it.

  • Phil E
    June 05, 2013 - 08:14

    Dunderdale is an embarassement to us all.

  • The politicians we hired need to speak up on CETA.
    June 05, 2013 - 08:06

    I am so frightened over what is to be signed away in the upcoming CETA Agreement. I attended a meeting by the Council of Canadians hosted by Paul Moyst and Maude Barlow in JUNE 2011 where the attendees were told that we Newfoundlanders and Labradorians should take note of the havoc the upcoming CETA Agreement was about to wreak on our fishery if it were signed off on. We were told that the 27 European Countries, known as the EU were seeking the right to come to our shoreline and operate in the same manner as the fishers from Newfoundland and Labrador. We were told to go forth and spread the news on what was about to happen. I called the Open Line shows on two or three occasion to spread the news but there was no responses from any of the politicians, Federal or Provincial from either the Ruling Parties or Opposition, and now the Wolf is at the door there still is no concern from them. I would like to hear from politicians like JUDY FOOTE, RYAN CLEARY, and the others on what their concerns are. The politicians need to speak up since that is the reason we hired them in the first place.

  • Politically Incorrect
    June 05, 2013 - 07:37

    Remember when NAFTA was a public issue that almost cost Mulroney the election? Since then these "free trade" deals have been relegated to back room negotiations where whatever detials not deemed confidential are of only passing interest to the media and the public. However, the social cost to us is enormous. The Liberals have been just as keen to expand these deals without any consideration for the working people, Canadian or otherwise. This is not how a democracy should operate.