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.