Time to walk away from trade talks

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Some two years after the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) warned the provincial government about the perils of CETA, the impending Canada-Europe Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement being pushed by the Harper government, Premier Kathy Dunderdale is just now raising serious concerns about the trade pact.

The premier has announced that Newfoundland and Labrador is back in negotiations for CETA, claiming her government is staunchly defending the province’s minimum fish processing rules from demands by the European Union (EU) and bullying by Stephen Harper’s Conservative government to give them up.

It’s no secret that the EU companies are eager to process more fish offshore. Gus Etchegary, a passionate defender of the Newfoundland fishery, says the provincial government is already favouring Europeans over local processors.

When the Dunderdale government gave Ocean Choice International (OCI) permission to process redfish from plants in Newfoundland, it didn’t just open the door to offshore processing, it took the hinges off.

CUPE, the Council of Canadians and others have been saying the deck is stacked against Canada in the CETA negotiations — and not just in the deal-making on our fishery.

A United Nations report released in March warns that CETA would prohibit municipal governments from using procurement in a way that favours local or Canadian goods, services or labour.    

CETA creates a parallel legal system allowing European corporations to sue our governments over policies they claim unfairly undercut their profits.

This investor-state dispute settlement process is the same system that allowed Abitibi-Bowater to sue for the loss of its water and timber rights in Newfoundland and Labrador: the company walked away with $130 million.

With CETA, jobs will be lost in the fishery, pharmaceutical drug prices will increase, municipalities’ right to “buy local” is undercut and EU companies will have special rights to sue governments.

CUPE urges the government of Newfoundland and Labrador to stop trading away the province’s future and walk away from the CETA negotiations.


Wayne Lucas


CUPE Newfoundland Labrador

Organizations: Canadian Union of Public Employees, European Union, United Nations

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

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Recent comments

  • a business man
    June 14, 2013 - 06:57

    Actually, it is time to abandon the minimum fish processing requirements. The CETA benefits so many different economic sectors, while the fishery does not. Personally, I stand to significantly benefit from CETA, so I would give the EU anything they want. Why are we holding up the benefits of a large economic deal to protect a few uneducated fishermen? Really, most Canadians probably do not care about these fishermen. I certainly do not. care I think we should scrap the processing requriements, put the fishermen on welfare, and then enjoy the benefits of CETA. In a few years, we will forget we ever had a fishery, and that will be our high point as a society. Frankly, low skill, dirty fish processing jobs done by uneducated unskilled workers are not worth protecting. Furthermore, giving the EU a deal that will allow them to put some unskilled uneducated fishermen out of work is perfectly fine becuase the economic benefits will be greater than the loss. It is sensible to allow one sector to be destroyed if many more sectors are able to grow. CETA is more important than the fishery. CETA is more important than Newfoundland. That is my opinion as a taxpayer, citizen and voter.

  • Premier Dunderdale please wake up to the risks you will create if you sign off on the CETA Agreement.
    June 13, 2013 - 16:35

    I attended the meeting held by the Council of Canadians and the Canadian Union of Public Employees two years ago when the provincial government was warned by them about the perils of the Canada-Europe/Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement being pushed by the Harper Government. The warnings were dire by Maude Barlow, Paul Moyst and Gus Etchegary and I cannot believe that Premier Dunderdale opted to ignore the warnings completely. It appears she has given the Harper Government the right to sign off on the CETA Agreement that will cause catastrophic havoc in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador just for the sake of keeping her promise of silence to the Harper Government in return for a loan guarantee on the Muskrat Falls Project, which will add Billions of dollars of unnecessary debt to our province and will, no doubt, see that project bankrupt our province, combined with the complete loss of our fishery to the European Union with the sign off on the CETA Agreement. Our province is doomed on both levels, we have the same uncaring people ruling our province as we have had for the past 64 years. Politicians only work on behalf of their own personal economy, to Hell with the electorate who hired them in the first place. We have gained very little in our province from the wonderful natural resources that we were endowed with by Nature. Shame on them, they need to be brought to justice for what they have done to us and our province.