Premier rejects joining EU talks

Rob Antle
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Commerce/Politics

Premier Danny Williams has flatly rejected joining Ottawa-led trade talks with the European Union.

"Absolutely not," Williams told the legislature Monday. "We will not be joining the federal government in these negotiations."

Williams was responding to questions from Opposition Leader Yvonne Jones during question period in the House of Assembly.

Premier Danny Williams has flatly rejected joining Ottawa-led trade talks with the European Union.

"Absolutely not," Williams told the legislature Monday. "We will not be joining the federal government in these negotiations."

Williams was responding to questions from Opposition Leader Yvonne Jones during question period in the House of Assembly.

The premier linked the issue to a recent European Parliament vote to ban Canadian commercial seal products, saying the decision is proof the federal government "will not be there to safeguard our interests."

Williams called the Europeans "hypocrites" for voting in favour of the ban.

"There are also a lot of very big, multinational, European companies that want to do business in Newfoundland and Labrador, because of our minerals, because of our oil and gas, because of our fishery, and we have to take the abuse from these hypocrites basically saying that we act in an inhumane and a barbarian manner, when they chase bulls through the streets in Spain, and matadors pierce bulls in a Roman-type atmosphere, and we are out trying to earn a living," the premier said.

As reported in Monday's Telegram, the European Union won't directly negotiate with Newfoundland and Labrador.

Jones referenced that story in the House. She asked Williams how the province plans to protect the interests of the local business community, given the fact that Newfoundland and Labrador has opted out of a seat at the table with the feds.

Williams replied that the days of "kowtowing to the federal government" are over.

Corrosive comments

An EU diplomat told The Telegram earlier this week that the premier's previous comments about Canada-EU trade talks "nearly derailed" the entire process.

All other provinces and territories support the Ottawa-EU negotiations, which formally kicked off last week in Prague.

"The Government of Canada is the only government with the authority to conclude international treaties under the Canadian constitution, so our interlocutor and negotiating partner will be the government of Canada," Anya Oram, charge d'affaires for the European Commission delegation in Ottawa, told The Telegram.

Oram said the EU won't negotiate directly with Newfoundland and Labrador, or sign a separate bilateral deal with the province. Williams had mused about those possibilities in March.

According to the federal government, the Canada-EU partnership has the potential to bring a $12-billion boost to the Canadian economy.

rantle@thetelegram.com

Organizations: European Union, European Parliament, The Telegram Canada-EU European Commission

Geographic location: Ottawa, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada Spain Prague

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Recent comments

  • tony
    July 02, 2010 - 13:35

    my understanding is nl refusual to join the talk mean the federal gov't may not enter into any agreement that will bestow any rights or obligations on nl with regard to areas of soveriegn provinical justiction. For instance any agreement to elimate local preference in goverment purchases would specific exclude nl. Personally, I disdain these bilateral talks and think we should be concentrating on global talks( GATT). I have no reason to believe these talks will work out better then the NAFTA talks ( I.E Canada must follow the rules but the US will do so if it is political expedient to do so.)

  • Lloyd
    July 02, 2010 - 13:35

    Quote: The premier linked the issue to a recent European Parliament vote to ban Canadian commercial seal products, saying the decision is proof the federal government will not be there to safeguard our interests.
    unquote.

    Who, then, will safeguard 'our' interests if the premier refuses to have his government take part? Seems fairly obvious that if you don't trust anyone else to 'safeguard' your interest then you must take part yourself. Why would you not do that?

  • Lloyd
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    Atilla Da Hun from NL writes: Don't mind these pro-Ottawa-mainlanders sissies Danny! Stay strong on this issue. Let Canada be bullied but not us!

    Atilla, whether you like it, or whether you don't, you ARE Canadian.

    And if you think, or fear, that Canada will be bullied - why not have the leaders in this province be there to help make sure that doesn't happen?

  • John W.
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    Our premier, Danny Williams has once again made the appropriate decision. And the Europeans are hypocrites . You betcha. And as for performing in a manner you deem to be felicitous, you do so in whatever way you deem necessary. You can stomp, jump up and down, ring your bells, grumble, do most anything and I will support you. Why? Because I firmly believe that you have our interests at heart.

    THAT IS MY OPINION, AND I'M STICKING TO IT.

  • Howie
    July 02, 2010 - 13:29

    If anyone thinks leaving that huge amount of money on the table, to pretend that this province is better and deserves more than the others is plain and simply irrational.
    SO lets review the issue here. the Euros do not want our seal products, and for that we should act like little children and refuse to participate in anything else.
    The I'm taking my ball and going home mentality, benifts no one, it never has.
    Thinking we have not be treated fair inside the dominion of Canada is age old rhetoric. It is time to move forward, and if Sir Danny thinks his motives of acting like the spoiled brat of Canada is winning any kudos outside of the rah rah attitude of sticking it to the rest of OUR country, then this day I am ashamed to say I am a Newfoundlander, the last straw, equal to the removing of the Canadian flags.
    We have more to offer the Euros than a few thousand seal pelts people.
    It is a dying hunt that has been in decline for decades, and to be truthful most of which we have brought onto ourselves, through the demented show boating of a handful of cruel sealers.
    HANDFUL not ALL.
    Hangs head in shame,
    Howie

  • Atilla
    July 02, 2010 - 13:28

    Don't mind these pro-Ottawa-mainlanders sissies Danny! Stay strong on this issue. Let Canada be bullied but not us!

  • Mark
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    If the Premier were serious, he'd take European products of the shelves at the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation. Afterall, it is completely run and regulated by his own government. But he doesn't. Because he isn't serious. This is all bluster and all for show.
    On a side note, how does sitting at a meeting with Europeans equal kowtowing to Ottawa?

  • Manny
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    NL has lost enough by kowtowing to Ottawa's agenda. The feds care about vote rich Ontario and Quebec. To bad there are not more politicians like William's who can see the big picture and stand up for their own people.

  • bob
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    I guess Danny can sit home and stomp his feet...and then down the road he'll be able to blame big bad Steve for all our problems. It'd be tough to blame others if we we're at the table 'doin a deal'.

  • Maurice E.
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    If you sit at the table, then you need to do so as an equal and RESPECTED participant.

    NL has never been treated as an equal and respected member of this confederation.

    The federal government cannot be trusted to do what is best for NL --- period.

    So --- way to go Danny.

    Stand up for Newfoundland and Labrador.

    Yes we will pay the price, but what is the alternative --- and still keep our self respect as a people, and as a nation?

    Be part of another Churchill Falls type theft, another fisheries giveaway, an offshore resource giveaway (where Ottawa is the principal beneficiary )?

    NL will have its day in the sun --- but not by kowtowing to the federal government's agenda.

    adamsmauricee@netscape.net

  • Steve
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    It wasn't long ago that people were calling Danny's crucifixition outside the Provincial parliment building over his decision to hold out on the Hebron deal.

    I need not remind you what happened with that, okay I will - the province benefitted!

    Look, the province has resources the europeans want it.

    Give it time, they will come knocking on our door.

  • tony
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    not withstanding my earlier comments. If danny changes his mind I would like to volunteer to be our representitive. Spring vacation in the Paris of Eastern Europe, count me in for that.

  • Ainsley
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    Why is participation equated with capitulation here? And defiance by itself is some sort of progress? I am so incredibly disheartened by Premier Williams stand here, Im not sure I know where to start. What are we gaining by deciding not to go to these talks? We may succeed in having the federal government look awkward and uncomfortable in trying to explain the absence of a rogue element in an otherwise accommodating Canadian delegation. Is that to be considered an accomplishment of some kind? Becasue it wont hold up a deal. A deal that will be made by everyone else but us. The rhetoric, spin, bicker and row will keep going on in the meantime. But all of it boils down to eight words.

    Decisions are made by those who show up.

  • tony
    July 01, 2010 - 20:25

    my understanding is nl refusual to join the talk mean the federal gov't may not enter into any agreement that will bestow any rights or obligations on nl with regard to areas of soveriegn provinical justiction. For instance any agreement to elimate local preference in goverment purchases would specific exclude nl. Personally, I disdain these bilateral talks and think we should be concentrating on global talks( GATT). I have no reason to believe these talks will work out better then the NAFTA talks ( I.E Canada must follow the rules but the US will do so if it is political expedient to do so.)

  • Lloyd
    July 01, 2010 - 20:25

    Quote: The premier linked the issue to a recent European Parliament vote to ban Canadian commercial seal products, saying the decision is proof the federal government will not be there to safeguard our interests.
    unquote.

    Who, then, will safeguard 'our' interests if the premier refuses to have his government take part? Seems fairly obvious that if you don't trust anyone else to 'safeguard' your interest then you must take part yourself. Why would you not do that?

  • Lloyd
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    Atilla Da Hun from NL writes: Don't mind these pro-Ottawa-mainlanders sissies Danny! Stay strong on this issue. Let Canada be bullied but not us!

    Atilla, whether you like it, or whether you don't, you ARE Canadian.

    And if you think, or fear, that Canada will be bullied - why not have the leaders in this province be there to help make sure that doesn't happen?

  • John W.
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    Our premier, Danny Williams has once again made the appropriate decision. And the Europeans are hypocrites . You betcha. And as for performing in a manner you deem to be felicitous, you do so in whatever way you deem necessary. You can stomp, jump up and down, ring your bells, grumble, do most anything and I will support you. Why? Because I firmly believe that you have our interests at heart.

    THAT IS MY OPINION, AND I'M STICKING TO IT.

  • Howie
    July 01, 2010 - 20:17

    If anyone thinks leaving that huge amount of money on the table, to pretend that this province is better and deserves more than the others is plain and simply irrational.
    SO lets review the issue here. the Euros do not want our seal products, and for that we should act like little children and refuse to participate in anything else.
    The I'm taking my ball and going home mentality, benifts no one, it never has.
    Thinking we have not be treated fair inside the dominion of Canada is age old rhetoric. It is time to move forward, and if Sir Danny thinks his motives of acting like the spoiled brat of Canada is winning any kudos outside of the rah rah attitude of sticking it to the rest of OUR country, then this day I am ashamed to say I am a Newfoundlander, the last straw, equal to the removing of the Canadian flags.
    We have more to offer the Euros than a few thousand seal pelts people.
    It is a dying hunt that has been in decline for decades, and to be truthful most of which we have brought onto ourselves, through the demented show boating of a handful of cruel sealers.
    HANDFUL not ALL.
    Hangs head in shame,
    Howie

  • Atilla
    July 01, 2010 - 20:15

    Don't mind these pro-Ottawa-mainlanders sissies Danny! Stay strong on this issue. Let Canada be bullied but not us!

  • Mark
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    If the Premier were serious, he'd take European products of the shelves at the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation. Afterall, it is completely run and regulated by his own government. But he doesn't. Because he isn't serious. This is all bluster and all for show.
    On a side note, how does sitting at a meeting with Europeans equal kowtowing to Ottawa?

  • Manny
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    NL has lost enough by kowtowing to Ottawa's agenda. The feds care about vote rich Ontario and Quebec. To bad there are not more politicians like William's who can see the big picture and stand up for their own people.

  • bob
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    I guess Danny can sit home and stomp his feet...and then down the road he'll be able to blame big bad Steve for all our problems. It'd be tough to blame others if we we're at the table 'doin a deal'.

  • Maurice E.
    July 01, 2010 - 20:07

    If you sit at the table, then you need to do so as an equal and RESPECTED participant.

    NL has never been treated as an equal and respected member of this confederation.

    The federal government cannot be trusted to do what is best for NL --- period.

    So --- way to go Danny.

    Stand up for Newfoundland and Labrador.

    Yes we will pay the price, but what is the alternative --- and still keep our self respect as a people, and as a nation?

    Be part of another Churchill Falls type theft, another fisheries giveaway, an offshore resource giveaway (where Ottawa is the principal beneficiary )?

    NL will have its day in the sun --- but not by kowtowing to the federal government's agenda.

    adamsmauricee@netscape.net

  • Steve
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    It wasn't long ago that people were calling Danny's crucifixition outside the Provincial parliment building over his decision to hold out on the Hebron deal.

    I need not remind you what happened with that, okay I will - the province benefitted!

    Look, the province has resources the europeans want it.

    Give it time, they will come knocking on our door.

  • tony
    July 01, 2010 - 19:53

    not withstanding my earlier comments. If danny changes his mind I would like to volunteer to be our representitive. Spring vacation in the Paris of Eastern Europe, count me in for that.

  • Ainsley
    July 01, 2010 - 19:50

    Why is participation equated with capitulation here? And defiance by itself is some sort of progress? I am so incredibly disheartened by Premier Williams stand here, Im not sure I know where to start. What are we gaining by deciding not to go to these talks? We may succeed in having the federal government look awkward and uncomfortable in trying to explain the absence of a rogue element in an otherwise accommodating Canadian delegation. Is that to be considered an accomplishment of some kind? Becasue it wont hold up a deal. A deal that will be made by everyone else but us. The rhetoric, spin, bicker and row will keep going on in the meantime. But all of it boils down to eight words.

    Decisions are made by those who show up.