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NEWS: Federal NDP ponders support for Canada-EU CETA

Postmedia News reports, “New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair says he’s ‘very open’ to the Harper government’s proposed Canada-European Union trade deal – as long as concerns in areas such as prescription drug prices and public sector procurement are addressed. Mulcair said the NDP will view the accord, if it is reached, through a far different lens than the Canada-China investment protection agreement that his party vehemently opposed. He said that Europe, unlike China, has laws on human rights, the environment and labour practices that are at least as advanced as Canada’s.”

That said, a Canadian Press news article from November 2012 reported, “As free trade talks with the European Union reach the endgame, Ottawa is signalling it is prepared to give the Europeans at least part of what they asked for on drug patents — a move that could cost Canadians up to $900 million a year. …NDP trade critic Don Davies said increased patent protection wouldn’t necessarily be a deal-breaker for the official Opposition. The NDP will wait to see the final agreement in its entirety and weigh the overall pros and cons before taking a position on it.”

The Postmedia News article adds, “Mulcair’s comments risk drawing the wrath of labour, environmental and left-wing nationalist groups that have vehemently opposed free trade deals. And his stand could potentially put him offside with B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix – who earlier this week openly disagreed with Mulcair on national unity. …The NDP recently broke new ground by agreeing to a trade deal with tiny Jordan, but has otherwise opposed major trade and investment pacts and especially the 1988 Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement.”

“Mulcair’s messaging on trade is part of a broader strategy, evident since he became leader last spring, to squeeze out the centrist Liberal party and give the NDP a shot at forming government in 2015. Mulcair focuses largely on economic issues in question period and has personally avoided potentially controversial ‘protest’ events, from the Quebec student protests last year to Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence’s (hunger strike).”

It’s possible these issues will emerge at the upcoming NDP convention this April 12-14 in Montreal.

The Postmedia article is at http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Mulcair+open+free+trade+with+Europe/7906864/story.html. For campaign blogs noting NDP trade critic Don Davies’ comments on CETA, please see http://canadians.org/blog/?p=17929 and http://canadians.org/blog/?p=19082. For more on the Council of Canadians campaign against the Canada-EU free trade deal, go to http://canadians.org/ceta.