IN THE NEWS ~ NDP blasts AbitibiBowater settlement

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NDP blasts AbitibiBowater settlement

The federal New Democratic Party wants a hearing into the Conservative government's $130-million settlement with Abitibi Bowater.

The insolvent pulp and paper company settled its lawsuit, launched under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the federal government Aug. 24 after the province of Newfoundland and Labrador seized its assets in 2008.

"Barely six months after Abitibi Bowater filed its notice, the Harper government caved and Canadians are now on the hook for $130 million of their hard earned money," said NDP international trade critic Peter Julian, a member of Parliament in British Columbia, according to a statement released Friday by the NDP.

"This record settlement under NAFTA sets a dangerous precedent and Parliament needs to look at its ramifications."

Julian filed a motion with the International Trade Committee Friday to start hearings into the Abitibi deal and its impact on future settlements.

"Despite the fact that NAFTA tribunals do not meet the basic standards of representative justice, the prime minister stated that he will create a trade mechanism that forces provinces to pay for settlements related to disputes under international trade deals signed by Ottawa," Julian said in the news release. "Why should the provinces be held accountable for irresponsible and inappropriate payoffs made by the Harper government?"

Julian said the settlement has opened the door for "corporate opportunists" in the future.