NDP Leader Lorraine Michael says it's time for Premier Paul Davis to withdraw his support for the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union.
Michael says if Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the federal Conservatives cannot be trusted, as Davis stated late last week, then it's time for this province to walk away.
"If Premier Davis is convinced, as he seems to be, that there is nowhere else to go, and there is no fisheries fund that we can draw on, then I think he has no choice but to rescind his agreement for CETA," Michael says.
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There's a growing dispute between governments in this province and in Ottawa over a $400-million fishery fund linked to the deal.
The fund was created to help this province's fishing industry deal with the elimination of minimum processing requirements (MPRs) for fish products being exported to EU countries, with Ottawa picking up 70 per cent of the contributions.
The provincial government argues it signed an agreement with Ottawa that would help rebuild the fishery, while the federal government says the fund is only intended to offset the cost of getting rid of MPRs, and was "never intended to be a blank cheque."
Davis travelled to Ottawa for a meeting with the prime minister on Friday, and emerged saying the federal government was reneging on the deal by placing unacceptable conditions on the fund.
"He's going to say that the fund is there to be utilized, but on the conditions he's put on it we'll never be able to utilize that fund," Davis stated on Friday.
Davis met with his cabinet Sunday night, and is expected to make an announcement Monday.
Professor says Ottawa caved
Meanwhile, a public policy professor at Carleton University in Ottawa is siding with the province in its dispute with Ottawa.
Saul Schwartz said based on his analysis of letters between former International Trade Minister Ed Fast and Keith Hutchings, the former provincial fisheries minister, the deal is broader than what the federal government is now saying.
Schwartz said the letters show the money is meant to build a fishery of the future.
"Where minister Fast, the federal minister, is saying, 'This is only for adjustment' ... and minister Hutchings says, 'Well, no, we want it for both, for any harm that might be done — and for industry development.' So the positions were clear. But then it's minister Fast who caves in and says, 'OK, you can use it for industry development as well."
Schwartz said the federal government could not have believed the fund was to be used for displaced workers only.