PM Stephen Harper talks EU trade deal in Montreal

A group of fewer than 100 protesters greeted Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s appearance at the Montreal Board of Trade on Friday with chants against the Conservative government.

He was in town to speak to the Montreal Board of Trade about the Canada-EU trade deal

Well-known Montreal activist Jaggi Singh helped to assemble a small group of protesters outside the Palais des Congrès, where Prime Minister Stephen Harper was speaking to the Montreal Board of Trade. (CBC)

A group of fewer than 100 protesters gathered outside Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s appearance at the Montreal Board of Trade on Friday with chants against the Conservative government.

Harper was in town to participate in a question-and-answer session with Board of Trade President and CEO Michel Leblanc about the Canada-EU trade deal.

Harper was accompanied by Denis Lebel, the Quebec Conservative minister responsible for infrastructure, intergovernmental affairs and the economic development agency of Canada.

“Quebec, particularly Montreal, and all Quebecers have played a crucial role in reaching this historic agreement,” Harper told members of the business community who were in attendance at Montreal’s Palais des Congrès.

Activist Jaggi Singh gathered the small group of protesters beside the convention centre despite a heavy police presence. The group used Harper’s presence in Montreal to protest against a number of the Conservative government’s policies.

Montreal police said no arrests were made and the demonstration went smoothly.

When the Canada-EU trade deal was announced in October, Quebec cheese producers said new allowances in the importing of tariff-free European cheese would hurt their bottom lines.

The Parti Québécois government said at the time that they would make sure dairy farmers would be compensated for any losses. Quebec Finance Minister Nicolas Marceau added that the trade deal would actually benefit Quebecers.

“It’s an opportunity for growth, for jobs for Quebec. I think that’s what we need in the context where we have seen our exports to the U.S. decline over the last 10 years,” Marceau said last month. “I think it’s a very big deal. It’s an access to a large number of customers and markets.”

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