If you’ve been following Brent Patterson’s blogs from Brussels you’ll know we’ve just returned from a very successful trip to the political heart of Europe. We were there, with others from the Trade Justice Network, to explain our concerns about CETA to members of the European parliament, to hear what they have to say about the Canada-EU trade negotiations, and to build relationships with other groups in Europe fighting unfair trade deals. I’m happy to announce that the network has compiled a lot of those concerns — what’s a stake for Canada in CETA — into a new comic book you can download from the Council of Canadians website in French and English.
As you’ll see in the comic, which was created with the help and endorsement of over two dozen organizations, when the Harper government says the European free trade talks are ‘comprehensive’ it isn’t kidding. That’s why everyone from the arts community, to environmental groups to postal workers, farmers, city councillors and those in between are worried the deal goes too far. Canada is facing EU pressure in a number of areas like how our cities spend public money, how we protect the already generous intellectual property rights of big pharma companies, how we regulate natural resources and fisheries, and even how our banking system works.
At heart, CETA is about the right to regulate on both sides of the Atlantic — it’s about removing legal and political rights to collectively protect our communities from unwanted or unsustainable corporate activity. A major concern of the Council is the EU’s insistence that water services be included in CETA, which would open the door widely to privatization of Canada’s public water utilities.
There are very few Canadian demands in these talks and almost no chance of what any of us would consider a fair deal. Mostly, we are facing a shopping list of policies EU trade negotiators would like to see changed in exchange for insecure access to the EU market for Canadian raw materials.
If you were at the Council’s Shout Out for Global Justice during the G20 in Toronto last month, chances are you saw the Toronto chapter handing out copies of the comic book. If you’re a Council of Canadians chapter that would like to order copies, hold tight and we’ll be in touch soon about how to place an order. In the meantime, feel free to download the PDFs and share them by email with your friends, local decision makers, and whoever else you think needs to hear about CETA and its impacts on Canadian public policy.