Dou­ble stan­dard

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - This ed­i­to­rial orig­i­nally ap­peared in The Tele­gram

Farm­ers, be­ware. In this province, Stephen Harper’s prom­ises are as about as re­li­able as a seven-day forecast in May. On Satur­day, Oct. 3, the Con­ser­va­tive leader re­peated a fed­eral prom­ise to com­pen­sate this province’s fish­ing in­dus­try for giv­ing up min­i­mum pro­cess­ing re­quire­ments (MPRs).

The only prob­lem? That wasn’t the orig­i­nal prom­ise.

Speak­ing in Bay Roberts on a quick stopover, Harper said that “one way or another,” a Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment will ful­fill its obli­ga­tion to con­trib­ute $270 mil­lion to a fish­eries fund in the wake of the Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic and Trade Agree­ment (CETA) with Europe.

It was sup­posed to be part of a deal worked out be­tween the province and the fed­eral gov­ern­ment lead­ing up to the CETA deal. But that deal in­volved fund­ing for in­dus­try im­prove­ments and mar­ket­ing for the fish­ery.

When the dust set­tled, Ot­tawa said the money would only be used to com­pen­sate for proven losses.

It’s not what they promised, so Premier Paul Davis went on a rampage and re­tracted the province’s endorsement of CETA.

In fact, then, Harper said noth­ing new on Satur­day. It wasn’t a change of heart. It was the sta­tus quo — the same bro­ken prom­ise.

At least we think it is. Be­cause Harper wouldn’t take any ques­tions from re­porters. Not one — on his only visit to the province in years.

Now Harper is in the cross-hairs of another sec­tor of food pro­duc­ers: dairy farm­ers. Not happy with CETA, farm­ers are now hav­ing a cow over the just-an­nounced Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship (TPP).

The TPP may be the largest multi­na­tional trade deal in decades, if not in history. En­com­pass­ing about 40 per cent of the world econ­omy, it in­cludes just about ev­ery player in the Pa­cific Rim ex­cept China — although that may change. Here’s the real thigh-slap­per, though. As part of this deal, Ot­tawa has promised $4.3 bil­lion to dairy, chicken and egg farm­ers to keep them com­pet­i­tive over the next 15 years.

And guess what? They don’t need to prove losses.

Not only that, but Trade Min­is­ter Ed Fast said Canada will en­sure for­eign coun­tries don’t try to get around tar­iffs that pro­tect Canada’s sup­ply­man­aged farm prod­ucts.

So, money for farm­ers: no strings at­tached, tar­iffs re­main.

Money for fish­er­men: strings at­tached, MPRs and tar­iffs gone.

It’s ei­ther another empty prom­ise, or a con­temptible dis­play of dou­ble stan­dards.

So, money for farm­ers: no strings at­tached, tar­iffs re­main. Money for fish­er­men: strings at­tached, MPRs and tar­iffs gone.

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