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CETA Trojan Horse to crash Quebec legislative hearing on Canada-EU trade deal

On December 8, Quebec’s Canada-EU trade deal negotiator, Pierre Marc Johnson, will present to the Commission des Institutions (of the provincial legislature) on the status of the CETA negotiations. Outside, a protest is planned to call for full transparency and public debate.

The hearing with Johnson is partly the result of new pressure from Quebec legislators for more information about CETA. In early October, at a press conference organized by the Quebec Network on Continental Integration (RQIC), Quebec Solidaire said it opposed new generation trade deals designed to open up public services to more privatization. The party called for a public debate on CETA, and called out Johnson for his role on the advisory board of an economic think tank owned by private water, power and transit firm Veolia Environment.

Even after securing tomorrow’s hearing on CETA, other MLAs, including Louise Beaudoin, formerly of the Parti quebecois and now an independent from the Rosemont riding, demanded to see the full text of the CETA, along with Canada’s offers to the EU, so that questions for Mr. Johnson could be as well informed as possible. The negotiator refused.

This new interest among Quebec MLAs is entirely the result of a strong and growing anti-CETA movement in the province made up of groups like RQIC, the SCFP (CUPE Quebec), Attac-Quebec, Eau Secours! and others, who will be rallying outside the legislature tomorrow to reinforce calls for transparency. The Council of Canadians supports the mobilization and has invited its Quebec members to attend. The letter also invites Quebec residents to sign the petition before the legislature calling for open debate on CETA.


Source: Ipolitics.ca

As an added bonus to all this activity, the CETA Trojan Horse will join the action December 8 to symbolize how much there is in the agreement that has nothing to do with trade. The 14-foot wooden horse was first seen outside Parliament Hill during the last round of Canada-EU trade talks at the end of October. It left its home in Napanee earlier this week for the gallop to Quebec’s capital city.

One area of special concern to Quebec groups and MLAs is procurement, including the risk that Hydro Quebec and municipal governments could end up covered by rules restricting their ability to support provincial firms when spending public money. It’s also about the risk that covering procurement of health services or water could pose to publicly delivered systems. Provincial officials in Manitoba are claiming they have carved out Manitoba Hydro, and EU accounts of the last negotiating round suggest the provinces in general may exempt energy and transit from their CETA offers.

But a recent article in Le Devoir reports the EU Commission will not agree to a deal based on the quality of the procurement offer so far. That’s good news for us and for the growing number of municipalities in Canada asking their provincial governments to exclude them from CETA. Recently, the City of Stratford and Township of Pelee, both in Ontario, joined this group. So did the Quebec town of Baie-Comean. RQIC, SCFP and other Quebec organizations have launched a campaign to encourage more municipalities in Quebec to seek an exemption in CETA.

The Council of Canadians recently updated its action alert on municipalities and CETA. You can encourage your town or city to seek an exemption by clicking here.