Mulcair to Harper: Are you 'embarrassed' by delayed EU trade deal?
Andrea Janus, CTVNews.ca
Published Monday, June 2, 2014 4:38PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, June 2, 2014 7:36PM EDT
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair asked if the prime minister is “the least-bit embarrassed” by reports that negotiations to finalize a Canada-EU trade deal have stalled.
A news report said Monday that the final stage of talks, meant to nail down the specifics of the deal that was introduced with much fanfare last fall, have “run into trouble” over a variety of issues, from financial services to beef and cheese quotas.
Negotiators, diplomats and other stakeholders are complaining of long delays and contentious talks, Reuters said, with one unnamed source saying it was “premature” for the deal to have been announced.
"There is a sense of embarrassment in many quarters,” the source said.
During question period in the House of Commons Monday, Mulcair read out that quote, and asked: “Is the prime minister the least-bit embarrassed that he’s botched a trade deal with the world’s largest economy?”
Harper replied by accusing the NDP of being unsure of whether it supports the deal, which was projected to generate $12 billion in economic activity in Canada and create some 80,000 new Canadian jobs.
“We’ve obviously announced the biggest trade deal in Canadian history,” Harper said. “Technical negotiations will be completed very soon and I look forward to seeing if there’s any trade deal on the face of the earth that the ideologues over there can possibly support.”
The NDP would “never announce a trade deal that has yet to be negotiated,” Mulcair said, adding that, “unlike the Liberal leader, we would never stand up and applaud a trade deal we’ve never read.”
When the deal announced, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau said his party is “broadly supportive” of the deal, noting it has yet to see the details but looked forward to further discussion of its contents.
Mulcair asked why Harper would announce a deal that was not finalized, to which the prime minister replied that he would “be happy after question period -- if the leader of the NDP hasn’t seen any of the documents -- to send them over to him so he can finally read them.”
When Harper and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso announced the deal last October, Harper said he hoped to see it fully ratified by the 2015 election.
At the time, however, officials noted that the deal was “an agreement in principle” and that full details still had to be worked out.
International Trade Minister Ed Fast said in February that he expected the final legal text of the deal to be issued within a month or two.
Early last month, an EU briefing note said a number of obstacles remained in the way of a final deal, including protection of intellectual property rights in the pharmaceutical sector.
With files from The Canadian Press