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NEWS: Fast calls provinces to Ottawa for CETA talks tomorrow

The Canadian Press reports, “Trade Minister Ed Fast will be attempting to get the provinces on side with his ambitious international trade agenda this week. The federal minister is getting his provincial and territorial counterparts for a one-day meeting in Ottawa on Tuesday to discuss Canada’s trade priorities going forward. …Topping on the agenda is the free trade negotiations with the European Union — the first such agreement that included the provinces directly in the talks and requires their approval.”

Council of Canadians trade campaigner Stuart Trew has:
-noted British Columbia’s NDP opposition to the drug patent provisions in CETA, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=8077
-called on Alberta to withhold its support for CETA, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=12975
-asked Saskatchewan not to participate in trade talks with the EU, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=11140
-raised CETA during the Ontario provincial election, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=10831
-also raised EU opposition to Ontario’s Green Energy Act in the Toronto Star, http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/1116574–ontario-should-call-europe-s-bluff-on-green-energy-act
-highlighted concerns expressed about CETA in Quebec’s national assembly, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=12676
-travelled to Prince Edward Island to raise concerns about CETA, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=4366
-met with provincial negotiators from Ontario, Manitoba and Nova Scotia in Brussels, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=5148

Atlantic organizer Angela Giles has called on Newfoundland and Labrador to raise concerns about CETA, http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=6311. In addition, our Winnipeg chapter has had an ongoing postcard campaign and a number of creative actions calling on the Manitoba government to reject CETA, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=12631. And, of course, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow has spoken in every province along with CUPE representatives calling for a stop to the CETA talks, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=12667.

Late last year, Le Devoir reported, “Europeans wanted nothing to do with a free trade agreement with the Canadians. Too complex to negotiate because of the power of the provinces, the European Union did not see significant benefits. …To convince Brussels, Ottawa decided to stimulate the appetite of European companies with the help of Quebec Premier Jean Charest. On the menu: the attractive public contracts across the country (worth about $127 billion annually), also known as procurement. …Much of this spending is done by provinces, cities and other entities outside of Ottawa…”

While CETA is reportedly to be signed by this summer, “Le Devoir has learned (in December 2011) that the negotiating team of the European Commission says sufficient gains have not been made for a deal to be completed. And Europe will not be content with a partial opening of public procurement, the heart of negotiations.” In 2005, when a Canada-EU free trade deal was last attempted, the lack of a unified position among the federal government and the provinces led to the Europeans walking away from the talks.

The Canadian Press article also notes about tomorrow’s meeting that, “(Trade minister Ed) Fast also wants to hear provincial views on Canadian trade initiatives in Asia, where Ottawa is seeking to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership process in a new, lucrative trading block. Analysts believe the sticking point on TPP is Canada’s protectionist supply management regime on eggs, dairy and poultry products, which would likely require backing from Quebec and Ontario to amend.”