Editor: Last week George Webster, minister for Agriculture, expressed concern over the impact of the CETA (the Canada European Union trade deal) on ADL. Indeed the CETA will almost double the quota of European cheese entering Canada and it won’t only be ADL, but also other local cheese producers who could feel the pinch.
On Nov. 22, Mr. Webster announced in the legislature the trade deal would create fantastic opportunities for exporters of frozen blueberries. A quick look at the federal government’s “Technical Summary of Final Negotiated Outcomes” shows that tariffs on frozen blueberries entering the EU have been suspended since December 2011. So what new opportunities is Mr. Webster referring to exactly?
Our government came out of the gate several months ago trumpeting the benefits of the CETA for Islanders. Mr. Webster’s comments make you wonder how much our cabinet ministers understood of the scope of the deal before embracing it.
The public should not to be fooled. There are many reasons to oppose the CETA. These go beyond the erosion of supply management in the dairy industry. Canada gave in to EU demands on extended patent protection for brand name drugs. According to a recent study, this will cost Islanders between $3 million and $6 million annually.
The CETA is the most intrusive trade agreement Canada has ever negotiated. Both provincial and municipal governments will lose all kinds of policy options. They will be prohibited from using government purchases and contracts of any significant size as a way to create jobs on P.E.I. We will no longer be able to require that companies hire locally, source locally or provide any other benefit to the community as we saw in the development of wind energy and in the construction of the fixed link.
And even though the elimination of tariffs may help fish exporters, there is no assurance that fishers will share in the returns through better prices.
Let’s hope our government sees fit to have public consultations once the still secret CETA text is released to give us a say in the future of our province.