From Letters to the Editor, Globe and Mail, June 22, 2012
So far we know CETA, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, will give European corporations new rights and powers. Faced with a decision or regulation they see interfering with their bottom line, EU investors will be able to sue the Canadian government in a closed-door tribunal. As recent NAFTA cases brought by AbitibiBowater, Exxon Mobil, and Murphy Oil show, these investor rights pose a threat to public policy-making. It’s telling that Australia refuses to sign a TPP that includes investor-state dispute resolution.
Equally disturbing, CETA’s protections for Canadian public services are weak and uneven, while EU protections are strong across the board. Drinking water systems, health care, and other vital public services aren’t protected from European corporations seeking to force their way into what they see as a lucrative and untapped market. Ed Fast (Minister for International Trade) glibly assures us that CETA is good for jobs, the economy, and Canadians. If he’s so sure, he should lift the cone of silence and let Canadians judge for themselves – before any deal gets inked.
Paul Moist, National President, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Ottawa
If CETA is to be considered a model for anticipating and for interpreting future trade negotiations between Canada and the TransPacific Partnership, for example, not only the secrecy but also the precise clauses should be cause for public alarm once again about both the motives and the methods of the Harper government.
"It’s telling that Australia refuses to sign a TPP that includes investor-state dispute resolution."
So why is Canada playing "lap-dog" or "poodle" to the European Union in these negotiations?
There is clearly a sign of some desperation on the part of the Canadian government, if the investor-state resolution favours the EU and could conceivably cost Canadians enormously.
Chanting the mantra, "good for jobs, the economy and Canadians" is no assurance that CETA will serve the long-term interests of Canadians, individually or collectively. It is a mantra that every member of the current Canadian government literally chants whenever they are asked a question, no matter the topic. The other mantra behind which they hide is "we received a majority mandate to govern in the interests of all Canadians"...as if that also somehow warranted whatever it is they are trying to do at the time.
Imagine the debates when our children and grandchildren are in parliament, when Canadian water has been siphoned off by both American and European enterprises to quench insatiable thirsts on both continents. And that is just one of the many potential dangers in any trade negotiation between Canada and the rest of the world.
Leaders strutting around the world, underwriting bridges between Windsor and Detroit, or lecturing the EU on how to fix the debt/deficit crisis, or publicly agreeing to work with the PQ in Quebec, should the separatist party win the next provincial election, (as seems quite possible), ought rather to be paying attention to the details under the headlines of their public positions, because that is where the real dangers lie, and in keeping those details secret, this government is setting themselves, but more importantly the country, up for serious problems long after they have been deposed.