The Herald reports:
Trade Minister Tim Groser says he is not bothered that his name has apparently become a byword for undiplomatic behaviour.
The Labour Party today accused him in Parliament of insulting Canadian diplomats by comparing the country’s dairy industry to the Soviet Union.
Are the Soviets upset?
The description, while harsh, is not inaccurate. The Government limits the amount of domestic dairy production and has huge tariffs on imports. Farms have quotas and a single dairy cow quota is worth around $30,000. Tariffs are around 300% and they also have import quotas so that only say 1% of yoghurt can be imported.
I’d say it is an apt comparison.
The article said the Canadian Embassy in Washington was “privately bristling” at the minister’s “counter-productive, undiplomatic sledging”.
Oh no, the Canadian Embassy in Washington is upset. This could form an episode of Southpark!
He said that Canada’s dairy interests had been “diametrically opposed” to New Zealand’s interests for 30 years, and it took “just a little bit of spine to stand up to it”.
Mr Parker said Mr Groser’s comments were “abrasive and arrogant”.
“How does he think slagging off the Canadians using derogatory terms is going to result in a good outcome for those negotiations?” Mr Parker asked.
Mr Groser stood firm: “It’s called a negotiation. And to use one of Tana Umaga’s memorable phrases, ‘We ain’t here to play tiddlywinks’.”
So Labour is attacking the Minister for criticizing the Canadian Government’s dairy policy. Nice to know they’re focusing on the big issues.