Nfld. & Labrador

Fishery fund 'biggest sellout': Paul Davis says Ball government gave up $300M

A $100-million fund announced Friday led to a raucous question period in the House of Assembly Tuesday, with accusations that the Liberal government had given up too much.

Dwight Ball says Liberals committed to fishery, 'more to come'

Paul Davis says the province gave up on compensation for the loss of minimum processing requirements in the fishing industry. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

The Progressive Conservatives are calling an Atlantic fisheries fund that will direct $100-million to Newfoundland and Labrador a sellout.

"It's the biggest sellout in the history of the fishery," said Opposition Leader Paul Davis who went on the attack in question period in the House of Assembly Tuesday.

"This is nothing but a sellout to the federal government."

Davis complained that, in the fund announced Friday, the province settled for a fraction of what was contemplated under a trade agreement between Canada and Europe [CETA].

That $400-million dollar fund would have included $280 million from Ottawa, with the rest coming from the province.

"Why would you give up $300 million?" Davis asked. "It doesn't make sense."

Ottawa and the province were all smiles as a $100-million fishery fund was announced Friday, but the PCs are calling it a "sellout." (CBC)

The money was demanded by the province as the CETA took shape in 2013 to compensate for giving up minimum processing requirements.

The issue became a source of conflict while Stephen Harper was prime minister

"Prime Minister Trudeau committed to the fund when he was campaigning," Davis said Tuesday. "In a letter to me, the prime minister said we had earned it." 

'More to come'

Premier Dwight Ball shot back, saying the Tories under Davis's leadership couldn't deliver on what they promised while in power.

"He delivered a goose egg to the fishery of this province. He went up and he told his prime minister that he couldn't trust him," said Ball during a heated exchange.

The premier also said that "100 million is just a start, there is more to come" from Ottawa.

Ball said the money is needed to help steer the fishery through hard times expected due to declining shrimp and crab stocks.

Davis said the lack of detail surrounding the Atlantic Fisheries Fund, and whether the province will have to chip in any money, is a concern. 

"They don't know when the money is going to flow and they don't know how it's going to be applied or what it's going to be used for," he said.

"So far, we've heard no details, we've heard no timelines, we've heard no plan — we're getting used to that with this government — and we've heard lots of spin."