Ottawa, 24 March 2014 – The Conservative government should immediately publish the political agreement it has reached with the European Commission on a Strategic Partnership Agreement, which Canadians know absolutely nothing about, says The Council of Canadians. The organization adds that the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the EU should also be published before it is signed, possibly later this year.
“What the heck is a strategic partnership agreement?” asks Stuart Trew, trade campaigner with the Council. “The Conservative government has been tight-lipped about its European trade deal but has said almost nothing about this political and security side deal. What’s in it, and will Parliament have any opportunity to discuss it before it’s finalized? These are important questions that today’s announcement just pushes to the side.”
Despite the lack of information about the Strategic Partnership Agreement, news broke last year that Canada was objecting to language in the agreement that would let either side (Canada or the EU) suspend trade benefits if the other was found violating human rights. The Conservative government explained at the time that this would violate Canada’s state sovereignty.
“Of all the ways international trade deals constrain government action, why would the Conservatives be most concerned about their right to violate human rights?” asks Trew. “It would be embarrassing to Europe and Canada if this language were dropped from the strategic partnership agreement, though they could easily settle it by making the political agreement public.”
The Council of Canadians has been fighting the Canada-EU free trade negotiations for five years because of the anti-democratic nature of the negotiations and corporate bias in the free trade model generally. The CETA, if it is ever concluded, will put new restrictions on government policy that will make it more difficult to address climate change and other environmental issues while entrenching an unfair economic model that has increased inequality globally.
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