These talks are back in the news - this time in the Globe and Mail. Quebec now wants in the deal, demanding a role for the provinces in negotiations, and Newfoundland demands that the deal only go forward if the EU lifts its ban on seal products. Luckily, Harper's got his eye on the ball:
Mr. Harper said yesterday that his government is vigorously defending the sealing industry both domestically and internationally, but also said he would not allow Europe's ban on seal products to "contaminate" a potential trade deal.
"It is important that in any relationship, but particularly in a mature and complex commercial relationship like ours, that we not allow a dispute on one issue to contaminate our relations on a whole bunch of other things," he said during a news conference at the conclusion of a one-day summit between Canada and the EU.
"If we were to make our trade relations with the European Union only the sealing issue, we will never have any trading relations because as we know this is a disagreement of long standing, one of which I suspect we may never see eye to eye," he added.
It's hoped a deal, which will seek accord in areas such as labour mobility, customs procedures, food safety, sustainable development and goods, could be signed within a year.
Stockwell Day announced that a free trade agreement with the EU - Canada's second largest trading partner - would translate into an increase of $12 billion in exports and thousands of jobs. I'm not sure about the numbers, but he's right in saying that the impact of this agreement would be unambiguously positive.
I've been critical of the Harper government on a lot of issues but I've been fairly pleased with their performance on trade - or at least proliferating Canada's free trade relationships.They deserve more praise and encouragement here.
This trade agreement is something that all Canadians and EU members should look forward to... even the Newfies!
Cross posted to The Shotgun.