"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Pandora and her box

The Great Lawyer is suddenly worried about the NAFTA implications of something.

From the blooze of the Bow-Wow Parliament:
MS JONES: Yesterday, I questioned the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture about the impasse that was occurring within the fishing industry, in the crab industry in the Province. At that time, Mr. Speaker, he said he was on the way to meet with processors and harvesters, and we know from media reports that that was a fruitless meeting yesterday that derived very little result at this stage.

My question, Mr. Speaker, today is for the Premier, and I ask: Is the government prepared to commit funds to try and get past this situation we have in the crab fishery today to ensure that we have an industry that works in Newfoundland and Labrador for the 2010 fishing season?

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, future questions I will direct to the minister on this, but I just wanted to let hon. members know that the minister and his department have been very, very close to these issues. It has been commendable the way that the minister has documented everything –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: – has documented every single thing he has done. He has made sure that meetings that were called were held when they could be held. At any time there was a request for a meeting, he has even gone out into the field. He has talked to individuals who are involved in the industry, whether they happen to be harvesters, whether they happen to be processors, whether they happen to be fish plant workers.

We are doing everything we can, and he is doing everything he can as a minister and as a department to try and resolve this issue. As he said yesterday, it is up to the parties, first of all, to try and bring this together. Government has a role here, but it is a limited role. I think it is important that – and the members of the House I think already know and the people of the Province know and the people in the industry know that we are restricted by countervail issues, we are restricted by issues with NAFTA and we have to be very careful what our involvement is in resolving this process. The problem is by attempting to resolve the process - an interjection of money in some areas is fine, it is within the rules, but if we go too far as a government and we inject a significant amount of money, that is deemed to be in violation of free trade or a countervail issue, then we open up Pandora’s box. That can create huge problems in an awful lot of areas, in an area where we do not want to go. Now we all know that across the country, whether it happens to be the pulp and paper industry or other industries, cross border industries, that there are subsidies that go on, but it is a very, very delicate area.

So I have certainly been involved as Premier. Cabinet has been involved and fully informed. We have a Cabinet meeting tomorrow. It will be a matter of discussion, but I have full confidence in the minister and his department and I will direct future questions to the minister.



At 9:32 AM, April 22, 2010 , Blogger Jerry Bannister said...


For those keeping political score, the official reasons for government inaction last year were first the shibboleth of subsidies, followed by the manstra of Ottawa must step up. Then, of course, the entire problem was solved by the now-forgotten MOU.

That NAFTA thing must be something new, passed in the last 10 months. Or perhaps it applies only to crab.



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