Skip to content

French President Hollande told of European and Canadian opposition to CETA ahead of G8 side-meeting with Harper

G8 leaders in Maryland tuck in (Source: CBC)

G8 leaders in Maryland tuck in (Source: CBC)

Canadian and Quebec civil society groups have sent a letter to new French President François Hollande reminding him of transatlantic opposition to Canada-European Union free trade talks ahead of a G8 meeting in Maryland, U.S. this weekend where he is expected to discuss the proposed agreement with Prime Minister Steven Harper.

“Our organizations say NO to this agreement, which has been negotiated for the sole benefit of transnational corporations at the expense of people’s rights and of the protection of the environment,” says a joint declaration signed in October by over 80 Canadian, Quebec and European organizations, many of them in France. The declaration was forwarded to President Hollande’s office Friday afternoon.

“Neither the European Union nor Canada has ever informed their populations of what is really at stake in these negotiations,” says the declaration, which describes the CETA negotiating process as “a total denial of democracy.”

The joint statement was reissued and sent to the French president by the Trade Justice Network and Réseau québécois sur l’intégration continental (RQIC) before a scheduled meeting Prime Minister Harper during the weekend G8 summit to talk about the CETA negotiations. The groups note in their letter that Mr. Holland ran for office and won the presidency on a promise to reverse a wave of austerity in Europe that includes pressure on EU member states to reduce and privatize public services.

The Canadian and Quebec networks, which comprise labour, environmental, Indigenous, student, farmers and cultural organizations, consider the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) to be an austerity deal that must be fundamentally altered or rejected entirely.

The joint declaration, which the groups sent to Mr. Holland, states that “trade agreements must promote cooperation and recognize common well-being, public interest, and human and environmental rights as more important than short-term private interests which benefit only transnational corporations.” Instead, CETA “would encourage the privatization of the public sector, weaken and prevent social, health and environmental regulations, and protect investors’ rights at the expense of democratic rights.

“We therefore ask Canadian federal and provincial representatives, as well as representatives from the European Parliament and from the different national parliaments to refuse to ratify the CETA, and to act in total transparency regarding this agreement which is selling off our social rights, threatening environmental regulations and, more generally speaking, democracy itself,” concludes the declaration.

As Brent Patterson said in his campaign blog this week, Council of Canadians vice-chairperson and Charlottetown chapter activist Leo Broderick is Maryland this weekend and will attend the Peoples’ Summit at the C. Burr Artz Public Library, as well as taking part in the march and rally against the G8.

To read the statement, entitled “Free-trade agreement between the European Union and Canada: Corporations Must Not Make the Law,” see