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Corporate Canada ups its game for 8th round of Canada-EU trade talks

While supportive of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, Canadian business lobby groups have been almost absent from public dialogue on the negotiations. There have been few op-eds or letters to the editor from the Canada-Europe Roundtable for Business (CERT), for example, which is coordinating the transatlantic support campaign for free trade.

Canada’s brand name drug lobby group Rx&D on the other hand is showing signs of CETA-mania because of how badly its members want extended patent protections requested by EU negotiators (and how strong the case against patent extension is). Still, few people are paying attention. The silence from the pro-CETA camp has forced the Harper government to lobby the corporate lobbyists to sing back to the government sweet songs of free trade bliss.

The campaign appears to have worked. CERT is sending almost two dozen executives from several sectors to Brussels next week for the 8th round of CETA negotiations. They will meet with the trade committee of the EU parliament on Tuesday, July 12. Sectors represented include mining, grains and GMOs (Monsanto Canada and Bunge Canada), manufacturing (Bell Textron Helicopters and Bombardier), pork and beef, and pharmaceuticals (Rx&D, Aventis). Here’s the list we’ve seen:

– Rocco Delvecchio, Vice President, Government Affairs, Siemens
– John Dossetor, Vice President, Government Affairs, Monsanto Canada
– Stan Eby, President, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association
– Jim Everson, Vice President Corporate Affairs, Canola Council of Canada
– Mathias Hartpence, Director of International Policy, Skills & Immigration, Canadian Chamber of Commerce
– George Haynal, Vice President, Bombardier
– Selena Hui-Garreaud, Director, Global Trade Compliance, Bell Textron Helicopters
– Jason Langrish, Executive Director, CERT
– Hon. Roy MacLaren, P.C., Canadian Chairman, CERT (former Canadian Trade Minister)
– Sandra Marsden, President, Canadian Sugar Institute
– Adèle Naudy, Chambaud, European Public Affairs, ALSTOM
– Richard Phillips, Executive Director, Grain Growers of Canada
– Jacques Pomerleau, President, Canada Pork International
– Hugh Porteous, Vice President, Government Affairs, Rio Tinto Alcan
– Robert Quesnel, Vice-president, Legal Affairs & General Counsel, Sanofi-Aventis
– Matt Sawyer, Chairman, Alberta Barley Commission
– James Small, Executive Director, Canada-EU Mining Council
– Kathleen Sullivan, Executive Director, Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance
– Erick Tyssier, Senior Manager European Affairs, Sanofi-Aventis
– Roland Verstappen, Vice President, International, Arcelor Mittal
– Jean-Guy Vincent, Canadian Pork Council
– Rick Watson, Vice President, Bunge Canada
– Russell Williams, President, Rx&D (Canada’s research based pharmaceutical companies)

The group will likely get a mixed reception at EU trade committee. Last month, the EU parliament passed a resolution on Canada-EU trade negotiations which raised concerns about the effect CETA might have on EU GMO bans and labelling rules, planned restrictions on tar sands crude, and the need to protect certain key public services. There was even a clause on pharmaceuticals, which stated “the chapter on intellectual property should not negatively affect the production of generic medicines and must respect the TRIPs exceptions for public health.” Newsflash: It will if the chapter passes in its present form.

The Trade Justice Network will also be in Brussels for a third time. I’ll be going on behalf of the Council of Canadians, along with Council board member Dr. John O’Connor and Executive Director Garry Neil. We’ll be joining representatives from the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Indigenous Environmental Network, Canadian Labour Congress, National Union of Public and General Employees, UK Tar Sands Network and other allied organizations in the EU. We’ll be meeting members of the European Parliament on several occasions to talk about our many concerns with CETA.

With the UK Tar Sands network and Corporate Europe Observatory we’ll be coordinating a Tar Sands Lobbying Tour for Brussels-based environmental activists where we’ll march to several important venues of Canadian lobbying against proposed EU fuel quality rules which would essentially ban tar sands imports. Dr. O’Conner, Scott Sinclair (CCPA), Jess Worth (UK Tar Sands Network), Jasmine Thomas (IEN) and I will present at public event in the EU parliament on July 12 called “Trading Tar Sands: How the Canada-EU free trade agreement will affect social and environmental policy in the EU and Canada.” You can read about both events on our website here.

Parliament, like Brussels itself, is a small place. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the course of our events we cross paths with the executives on the CERT list above. Watch this space for more updates on the TJN delegation.

To read more about CERT and corporate lobbying related to the Canada-EU trade talks, click here.