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NEWS: Provincial concerns stalling CETA

Globe and Mail columnist Doug Saunders writes critically that the concerns of one or two provincial governments could scuttle the signing of the Canada-European Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

He writes that, “(CETA) was expected to be signed in December, when Canada’s trade minister came to Europe; or in February, when the EU’s trade minister came to Canada.” But then quotes a prominent member of the German government who says, “It is hard to believe, after all these years, that the obstacle between us comes down to the minor concerns of one or two provincial governments in Canada, and yet nothing can seem to be resolved because of this.”

Saunders writes, “According to Canadians and Europeans involved with the negotiations, it has been held up all year by three seemingly irreconcilable issues. One is Alberta’s beef industry, which is seeking quotas and restrictions. A second is Quebec’s municipal contracting system – specifically, some say, a desire to keep the building of Montreal Metro trains a local monopoly, effectively dominated by Bombardier. The third issue is Germany’s desire to have full access to Canada’s financial-services markets.”

He notes, “The last attempt at a Canada-EU agreement died, almost a decade ago (due to provincial concerns). After winning broad approval from both sides, that deal ran aground on Ontario’s desire to monopolize municipal contracting and Quebec’s dairy supply-management system. The Europeans walked away, bewildered.”

Saunders adds, “The deal is not close to being signed. It could be weeks away, as the Canadians insist, or a year away, as the Europeans fear. Or it might never happen.”

For more, please read:

NEWS: Wynne government raises concerns about drug prices under CETA
NEWS: Harper’s trade minister to talk with Quebec’s new minister of international relations on CETA
NEWS: Where are the provinces on CETA?
NEWS: European Union says Ontario the biggest obstacle to CETA