No investigation — not by Ottawa, and not (yet) by the NL government. It's been said that when Royal Greenland bought locally-owned Quinlan Brother's last year it also took over the company's "controlling agreements" — which gave the Crown corporation owned by the Greenland government control over inshore fishing licences and quotas in this province. How many licences? How much fish? No one seems to know.
Royal Greenland bought Quinlan Brother's last year, including this plant in Bay de Verde. Wholly owned by the Government of Denmark , Royal Greenland is the largest fish processor in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Controlling agreements allow third parties to control, influence or benefit from a fishing licence — and raise alarm bells regarding food security and sovereignty.
Such agreements, which are illegal, also eliminate competition, and inflate the price of fishing licences — making them too expensive for young harvesters to buy.
Under the Investment Canada Act, when a state-owned enterprise like Royal Greenland buys a Canadian business an economic review is only triggered when the value of the deal is more than $428 million.
The Royal Greenland/Quinlan Brother's deal apparently didn't trigger a review.
Such an investigation would determine whether the deal was of net benefit to Canada.
Again, no investigation. (SEA-NL obtained the information from official requests under the province's Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.)
But all investments in Canada can also be subject to review for national security purposes — with no monetary threshold.
Last year, Canada blocked a Chinese state-owned mining company from purchasing a gold mine in Nunavut on national security grounds.
At the time, a spokesperson for Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada declined to answer questions about why the deal was blocked, but provided a statement noting that ALL foreign investments are subject to review under the Investment Canada Act.
"All" would presumably include the Royal Greenland deal, but who knows.
When the province's fish processing licensing board recommended the Royal Greenland/Quinlan Brother's deal last year the board noted that the question of foreign ownership in the fishery (which was getting "significant) is outside its mandate. (Find the decision here.)
Despite that, then-Minister Elvis Loveless said the provincial legislature will not, and should not, get involved in making decisions about fish processing licences in the province.
He ruled out a debate/vote on the deal in the provincial legislature.
So there was no parliamentary debate, and no investigation into controlling agreements by either level of government.
In the meantime, the Barry Group, Ocean Choice International (OCI) and Royal Greenland affiliated plants are the largest three processors in the province, based on a four-year average of reported processing production.
All three processing companies have been accused of being involved in controlling agreements with inshore harvesters.
SEA-NL called on Premier Andrew Furey earlier this week to launch an investigation into foreign control/corporate concentration in the province’s fish processing sector to coincide with a similar ongoing federal review of offshore fishing licences.
Federal jurisdiction over the commercial fisheries ends when the fish reaches the wharf, at which point the buying and processing of fish falls under provincial jurisdiction.
The bottom line is a foreign country is the biggest fish processor in the province today, and neither the federal nor provincial governments have a clue of how far reaching Royal Greenland's control is over the province fishery.
Not nearly good enough.
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