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Council of Canadians participates in International Day Against Free Trade Agreements

The Council of Canadians is warning members of the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade that transnational corporations based in Canada would not hesitate to use the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provision in the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) to challenge European measures that protect the environment, food safety and the general public interest.

On April 18, an International Day Against Free Trade Agreements, we posted this action alert calling on people to send a message to Members of the European Parliament.

That message says, “I am extremely concerned that CETA will permanently undermine our societies and the strength of our democracies on both sides of the Atlantic. Nowhere is this truer than in CETA’s planned investment protection chapter, which will give Canadian and European companies the power to sue our countries when completely reasonable environmental, public health, resource conservation and other policies indirectly interfere with their ‘right’ to profit.”

In November 2014, the Council of Canadians and numerous organizations in Canada, Quebec and Europe released a report titled Trading Away Democracy: How CETA’s Investor Protection Rules Threaten the Public Good in Canada and the EU. That paper found that CETA would increase the risk to the EU and its member states of challenges by Canadian investors in the mining and oil and gas extraction sectors, that Canadian subsidiaries of US-headquartered multinationals would also be able to use CETA to sue European governments and that ‘reforms’ to the provision proposed by the European Commission will not prevent abuse by investors and arbitrators.

While civil society within Canada, Quebec and First Nations continue to raise the alarm about CETA, our action alert notes, “Prime Minister Stephen Harper refuses to listen — he is completely ignoring the valid and heartfelt concerns of those he claims to lead.” Justin Trudeau and his Liberal party also support CETA, while the Thomas Mulcair and the NDP continue to study the deal.

That’s why we are asking people to contact European politicians.

There is a very good chance that the European Parliament could vote to reject CETA next year. In August 2014, Reuters reported, “Together with the Socialists’ 191 members, the political groups opposing the agreement could count on 341 votes, just 35 short of a majority.” That article highlights opposition to CETA from MEPs Claude Turmes (Luxembourg – Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance), Bas Eickhout (Netherlands – Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance), Tiziana Beghin (Italy – Europe of freedom and direct democracy Group), and Marine Le Pen (France – NI, non-attached member). It is also expected that MEPs with the Confederal Group of the European United Left-Nordic Green Left will vote to oppose CETA.

To send your message to Europe, please click here.