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Montreal chapter protests CETA conference, celebrates collapse of the deal

The Council of Canadians Montreal chapter joined a protest today outside the Ritz-Carlton hotel against the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

A conference was taking place inside called, “The Canada-EU agreement: a new momentum for Quebec”, with speakers including former Quebec premier Jean Charest, Quebec’s minister of international relations, their chief negotiator for CETA, various business leaders, and the European Union’s ambassador to Canada.

The protest was also an occasion to celebrate the collapse of CETA talks in Brussels.

Canada’s trade minister Chrystia Freeland commented this morning, “During the last few months we have worked very hard with the European Commission and member states. But it seems evident that the EU is now not capable of having an international deal, even with a country which has values as European as Canada, even with a country as kind, as patient. Canada is disappointed, I am personally very disappointed, I have worked very, very hard. We have decided to go back home. I am very, very sad, really. Tomorrow morning, I will be at home with my three children.”

NDP trade critic Tracey Ramsey has responded, “The Minister’s comments are over the top- Walloons deserve Canada’s respect and many Canadians share these same concerns. Trade with Europe is too important to get wrong- the Minister should be talking to Canadians about fixing this deal instead of making it personal with Wallonia.”

The Council of Canadians first began campaigning against CETA in October 2008.

We have highlighted that its “investment protection” provisions unfairly give transnational corporations the right to sue democratically-elected governments in special  tribunals over public policy measures that affect their future profits, that its patent provisions would add up to $1.65 billion a year to the costs of pharmaceutical drugs, that its regulatory harmonization provisions would make it harder to restrict genetically modified foods and enhance food safety standards, and that those same regulatory provisions would also make it difficult to restrict tar sands exports to Europe and put measures into place to limit climate change.

The Council of Canadians celebrates Wallonia’s resistance to CETA.

We would also highlight that 3.5 million Europeans have signed a petition against CETA, that 320,000 people marched against CETA in cities across Germany last month, that 88 per cent of Austrians oppose CETA because it shifts power to transnational corporations, that 81 per cent of people in France said they believed CETA would undermine French standards protecting health, food quality, the environment and the climate, and that several other EU member state governments had concerns about CETA but were unwilling to block the deal.

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow stated today, “There is no way to meet the demands of the millions in Europe opposed to CETA without opening the deal itself. Wallonia’s courageous stand will send our governments back to the drawing board, hopefully to think about a very different kind of trade agreement based on the values of sustainability and justice.”

The Council of Canadians calls on the Trudeau government to respect popular opposition to CETA and walk away from this corporate rights deal.

Please also see WIN! Wallonia holds firm on CETA, Oct. 27 signing ceremony now improbable