Skip to content

NEWS: Quebec and BC provincial elections signal trouble for Harper’s CETA agenda

With less than a week until the provincial election in Quebec, it looks like the Parti Québécois might win a minority government. The Globe and Mail reports, “Pauline Marois, the PQ leader, and front-runner to take power in next Tuesday’s Quebec election, …has signalled foreign policy is an area where she can make political hay by making Prime Minister Stephen Harper a target. In an immediate sense, Mr. Harper has to worry that Ms. Marois might oppose a free-trade agreement with the European Union that’s being negotiated now.”

In early-August, the Globe and Mail reported, “The Quebec election is a tough fight for Liberal Leader Jean Charest, a key instigator of free-trade talks with the European Union. Marois has raised qualms about those negotiations. And she’s signalling a more prickly approach to trade talks all round, demanding a direct role in any future negotiations. (And) on the West Coast, …B.C.’s Liberal Premier Christy Clark, in danger of losing the next election (on May 13, 2013) to the NDP, (and NDP Leader Adrian) Dix isn’t very hot, either, on the prospect of a cross-Atlantic trade deal, with the EU. …What makes free trade with Canada worthwhile for the Europeans is access to government procurement contracts at the provincial and municipal levels – tenders for subway systems, power plants and so on. But Ms. Marois has said a PQ government wants to favour Quebec companies in public tendering, and since that strikes at the heart of the deal, it could be a big obstacle. …The Europeans have always been leery of the fact that the provinces won’t formally sign the deal – and the EU wants them to declare their approval and back it politically. …’If he doesn’t get this deal (the Canada-EU CETA) done, he can say goodbye to the rest of his (trade) agenda (including the Trans Pacific Partnership). It just won’t happen,’ said Jason Langrish, executive director of the Canada Europe Round Table for Business. …A big chunk of Harper’s international plans will turn on provincial votes.”