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CETA will help a resource and public service grab, writes Marilyn Reid of Citizens Against CETA

Marilyn Reid, a founder of Citizens Against CETA and member of the St. John’s chapter of The Council of Canadians, writes in The Independent today that foreign investment protections in the Canada-EU trade deal undermine public control of resources and public services like water. 

“Foreign takeovers continue into the 21st century, but the focus is increasingly on Canada’s natural resources. Between 2005 and 2009 the mining and gas extraction sector, in particular, received an average of 32 per cent of FDI flows into Canada,” writes Reid in the second of her five-part series on CETA for The Independent.

“Five years ago the threshold [for foreign takeover reviews] was $344 million. Then, last June, it was increased to $1 billion. Under CETA, European corporations will be able to invest up to $1.5 billion in Canadian enterprises before they have to get government approval.”

The goal is, of course, to make it much easier for EU firms to buy up established or start-up Canadian resource companies, with a focus on encouraging tar sands investment. These investments will be protected by one of the strongest corporate rights chapter Canada has ever included in a trade deal. 

But private investment in public utilities and public services is also on Harper’s mind as he tries to finish up the negotiations with the European Union.

Reid argues that the P3 (private-public partnership) screen the Conservatives have put on all new infrastructure money for Canadian municipalities, and the poor job the provinces did protecting future policy flexibility on municipal services, will make it difficult for municipalities “to reverse the privatization of services, or even to insist on higher standards, if they are not satisfied with the performance of their partner. To do so brings the risk of expensive CETA lawsuits in offshore tribunals where Canadian law counts for nothing.”

Reid continues:

Do you see the doublespeak in the federal government’s position on CETA? On the one hand it says there is nothing in CETA that forces the privatization of public services. On the other hand, it takes measures that decrease funding to provinces and municipalities. Then it introduces access to funding constraints that push these lower levels of government toward partnerships with foreign corporations that have full access to corporate benefits under CETA.

To read Part 1 of Reid’s CETA series in The Independent, click here