Prime Min­is­ter speaks in Bay Roberts

‘Lower taxes, bal­anced bud­gets and more jobs … that’s our vi­sion’

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

Af­ter ar­riv­ing in­side Har­bour In­ter­na­tional Ltd.’s Moorfrost fa­cil­ity in Bay Roberts Satur­day evening, Prime Min­is­ter Stephen Harper main­tained he was the best man for the job head­ing into the Oct. 19 fed­eral elec­tion.

With ap­prox­i­mately 100 sup­port­ers and an event sound­track that in­cluded clas­sic rocks sta­ples from Aero­smith and Guns n’ Roses, the Prime Min­is­ter fo­cused his speech mostly on the econ­omy, taxes and bal­anc­ing the fed­eral bud­get.

He main­tained that the coun- try needed the “bud­get bal­anced now and not on the backs of fu­ture gen­er­a­tions."

“Lower taxes, bal­anced bud­gets and more jobs … that’s our vi­sion,” Harper told his sup­port­ers.

There were di­verg­ing sto­ry­lines, such as men­tions of ISIS, the war in Ukraine and Is­rael’s right to ex­ist. Oh, and Harper men­tioned some­thing that should be of in­ter­est to many peo­ple in this province and that’s his stance on min­i­mum pro­cess­ing re­quire­ments (MPRs), which were sup­posed to be part of the CETA free trade deal with Europe.

“We promised to com­pen­sate the fish­ing in­dus­try for any losses from the re­moval of min­i­mum pro­cess­ing re­quire­ments, and while we haven’t yet been able to reach a deal on specifics with the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment, we have the strong sup­port of in­dus­try for this deal, and I can tell you, one way or another, our gov­ern­ment will de­liver com­pen­sa­tion for MPRs,” Harper said.

The is­sue of MPRs has been a sticky one be­tween the province and the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. It's a pro­vin­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity, and the NL gov­ern­ment has threat­ened to back out of a trade agree­ment be­tween Canada and Europe that re­quires the province to elim­i­nate MPRs. The fed­eral gov­ern­ment was ex­pected to fund the ma­jor­ity of a com­pen­sa­tion pack­age for har­vesters who would lose in­come over the deal. Last year, Premier Paul Davis told re­porters the feds were in­tro­duc­ing new con­di­tions on the com­pen­sa­tion pack­age that the province didn't ap­pre­ci­ate.

That would im­pact many of the fish har­vesters in this province, in­clud­ing those in the Trin­ity-Conception-Pla­cen­tia re­gion. That news drew a round of rau­cous ap­plause from sup­port­ers, some of whom were har­vesters.

Any at­tempts to have the prime min­is­ter elab­o­rate on his MPR state­ment were un­suc­cess­ful, as mem­bers of the media were not per­mit­ted any ques­tions at the event.

While there was plenty of love for Harper in­side the cold stor- age fa­cil­ity, that was not the case out­side. A vo­cal group of protesters took up res­i­dence across the street from the fa­cil­ity’s en­trance shout­ing anti-Harper and anti-Con­ser­va­tive slo­gans.

They shouted things like “this is what democ­racy looks like” and other sim­i­lar chants.

Harper’s event was the only one of three vis­its from party lead­ers to be met with a protest. By all ac­counts, the vis­its of Lib­eral Leader Justin Trudeau and New Demo­crat Leader Tom Mul­cair were dras­ti­cally dif­fer­ent.

Where Harper’s event was in­vite-only, the other two were open to the public. Both lead­ers also fielded ques­tions from the media.

It was Harper’s first visit to New­found­land and Labrador since 2012.

“We promised to com­pen­sate the fish­ing in­dus­try for any losses from the re­moval of min­i­mum pro­cess­ing re­quire­ments, and while we haven’t yet been able to reach a deal on specifics with the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment, we have the strong sup­port of in­dus­try for this deal, and I can tell you, one way or another, our gov­ern­ment will de­liver com­pen­sa­tion for MPRs.”

Prime Min­is­ter Stephen Harper

PHOTO BY KEITH GOSSE/TC MEDIA

Stephen Harper spoke at a Con­ser­va­tive rally in Bay Roberts Satur­day. It was an in­vite-only au­di­ence. Re­porters were not per­mit­ted to ask ques­tions fol­low­ing his ap­pear­ance.

PHOTO BY KEITH GOSSE/TC MEDIA

Prime Min­is­ter Stephen Harper brought up min­i­mum pro­cess­ing re­quire­ments dur­ing his speech in Bay Roberts Satur­day.

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