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French Prime Minister Ayrault told of opposition to CETA on eve of official visit to Canada

The Trade Justice Network and Réseau québécois sur l’intégration continentale (RQIC) sent a letter this week to French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, urging the French government to insist “that the EU and Canada cease negotiating investor rights and an investor-state dispute settlement process into the CETA.” Ayrault travels to Canada today for his first official visit as Prime Minister. He will meet Prime Minister Harper, Quebec Premier Marois and Ontario Premier Wynne.

According to a Canadian government press release, “The visit will provide an opportunity for both leaders to discuss matters of shared interest, including the global economy, trade and investment, progress towards a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union, and international matters such as the situation in Mali.”

The TJN and RQIC letter to Mr. Ayrault pointed out that in 1998, French and Canadian opposition put an end to a proposed Multilateral Investment Agreement (MAI), which would have extended NAFTA-like investment rules and an investor-state dispute settlement process to the entire OECD region. In 2011, the European Parliament expressed its preference to include only a state-to-state dispute process in CETA and a Sustainability Impact Assessment of the deal recommended against investor-state arbitration.

“We will vigorously oppose any transatlantic agreement that compromises our democracies, human and Indigenous rights, and our right to protect our health and the planet,” says a February 5 transatlantic statement, endorsed by more than 70 organizations, which was included in the letter to the French Prime Minister. “We urge the EU and Canadian governments to follow the lead of the Australian government by stopping the practice of including investor-state dispute settlement in their trade and investment agreements, and to open the door to a broad re-writing of trade and investment policy to balance out corporate interests against the greater public interest.”