Westco Group Inc. intends to oppose the retrograde bill deposited by the New Brunswick government

    SAINT-FRANCOIS-DE-MADAWASKA, NB, June 4 /CNW Telbec/ - Westco Group's
CEO, Mr. Thomas Soucy is completely flabbergasted by the Liberal government's
decision, without any consultation whatsoever of Westco, in regards to poultry
processing in New Brunswick.
    "We were only informed of the government's bill yesterday morning. My
board of directors, made up entirely by New Brunswick shareholders, is
outraged by the fact that the government wishes to oblige us to sell our
production to the province's only slaughterhouse, which happens to be owned by
an Ontarian company" declared Mr. Soucy. "This decision is the equivalent of
the nationalisation of New Brunswick's poultry industry in order to protect
the province's only slaughterhouse, to the detriment of all agricultural
labourers. We will not let them get away with this" added Mr. Soucy.
    Westco Group Inc. has given its attorneys the mandate to analyse the bill
deposited by Minister Ronald Ouellette, which constitutes a very worrisome
precedent. This new law will allow the Minister to put a stop to the exchanges
between provinces, although they are protected by pan Canadian agreements,
which exceed provincial jurisdiction. This law brings up many serious doubts,
notably on the constitutional level, concerning the North American Free Trade
Agreement (NAFTA), the Agreement on Internal Trade and principles established
by the Competition Act. Furthermore, according to our first analyses, this law
could stop Westco from delivering its production to its very own
slaughterhouse once it is built in New Brunswick.
    "This bill does not seem valid to us. We have asked our lawyers to
analyse it and to propose any and every possible legal solutions possible in
order to counter it. Each week, for many years now, millions of kilos of
poultry go between provinces with the federal government's approval, and
today, New Brunswick wants to put an end to it. Let it be known that we are
continuing to prepare our new slaughterhouse's construction. If the government
wants to stop us from delivering our production to our New Brunswick
slaughterhouse, we will build it in Quebec and the government will not,
according to our first analyses, be able to stop us from delivering there,
because it exceeds its jurisdiction. In doing so, however, the government
would be taking away about 250 jobs from our region" reported Mr. Soucy.
    The bill, according to Westco, constitutes a dangerous precedent that
aims to reinforce the monopoly that exists in the poultry slaughtering
business in the province and that goes against competition rules. This
manoeuvre by the New Brunswick government completely ignores the reciprocity
commanded by inter-provincial commerce and tarnishes the image of openness
toward new investors, here and abroad. This attitude also goes against the
founding principles of the Competition Act and tends to agree with detractors
from the demand system, who advocate the system's disappearance and total
liberty for the market, to the detriment of revenue stability for agricultural
labourers. "We no longer are in the nationalisation era. The decision taken by
the government is completely irresponsible and does not measure all the
consequences of this measure, and exceeds, by far, the conflict between our
company and the Maple Lodge slaughterhouse" declared Mr. Soucy.
    Last March 19th, Westco Group Inc. announced a partnership with Olymel.
According to this agreement, Westco Group will transfer its production to
Quebec from next July 20th, and this, until its slaughterhouse is built. "By
adopting this bill, the government is stopping us from respecting out contract
with Olymel, which will cost us immensely financially. We have the right to
ask the government if it intends to compensate us for our losses, which we
have very conservatively evaluated at half a million dollars per month"
concluded Mr. Soucy.
    Let us remind you that Westco Group wishes to begin the construction of
its own slaughterhouse in the North of New Brunswick shortly. The construction
of this slaughterhouse will generate revenues of more than seven million
dollars in salaries only, the equivalent of 200 jobs at $ 35,000 per year. The
functioning of this slaughterhouse will require the hiring of between 200 and
250 workers.

    About Westco

    Westco Group Inc. is a New Brunswick company, which headquarters are
located in St-François-de-Madawaska. Stemming from many poultry producers
common vision of the expansion, the company has become an example of success
and profitability. Westco owns its own hatcheries, reproduction farms and
transport companies and is also one of the biggest poultry producing companies
in Canada. Strongly committed socially, the company sponsors many social
programs and contributes to many fund raisers in the community.

For further information:

For further information: Martin Daraiche, Senior Advisor, NATIONAL
Public Relations, (418) 648-1233 extension 230, Mobile: (418) 571-8528;
Source: Westco Group Inc.

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