Opposition on P.E.I. wants more than colourful memories of India trip

Steve Sharratt comment@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on February 3, 2016

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Premier Wade MacLauchlan meet Monday with Nirmala Sitharaman, India's minister of commerce and industry.

©Twitter - Government of Canada in India, Nepal and Bhutan

Premier Wade MacLauchlan better have a nice, fat list of new opportunities says Jamie Fox

Premier Wade MacLauchlan better have a nice, fat list of new opportunities upon returning from India or Opposition Leader Jamie Fox is going to dissect the current trade junket.

Fox used a recent standing committee hearing to question government trade and food officials on why the premier was on the trade mission and whether his attendance was going to bring home anything more than colourful memories.

“Why is it necessary for the premier to make this trip?” asked Fox.

MacLauchlan is leading a trade delegation with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to uncover business opportunities and will visit New Delhi and Mumbai, India, until Feb. 6.

“Someone has to be there pounding the pavement and making some inroads," responded Scott Ferris, director of Global Trade Services for the Department of Innovation. “When it’s the premier attending as well, he can kick in at a higher level, and we fully expect a list of things to tap into when he returns. Every jurisdiction does this.”

But Fox asked if it wasn’t more advantageous to send a representative from the tourism association, the fishing association or the potato board.

“These people are the people who sell the product…wouldn’t that be better?”

Ferris said trade officials look for opportunities for all sectors and must be a “jack of all trades” when it comes to targeting new ventures. He suggested the premier would be able to work the trade angles and the political angles.

Liberal MLA and committee member Kathleen Casey offered another explanation.

“Why is the premier going to India? It’s a cultural thing, and by his appearance, it warrants a stronger level of respect," she said.

Fox says he’ll be scrutinizing the results of the trip, which included delegates such as Aspin Kemp Associates, Coles Associates, Portsmouth Atlantic, Economic Development Minister Heath MacDonald and officials from UPEI.

ssharratt@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com@Guardiansteve