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Ontario activist wants her community to speak out against CETA

In a letter to the editor this week, Northumberland Council of Canadians chapter member Elma Parker asks residents to speak out against CETA or risk losing even more jobs to bad trade deals.

“Doesn’t Northumberland already have one of the highest unemployment rates in Ontario?” she asks in her letter to Northumberland Today. “Buckle your seat belts, folks, the worst is yet to come if the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) is finalized as proposed.”

Elma describes what EU big business lobbies hope to get out of CETA.

Business Europe is similar to our Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE), only a lot bigger. Business Europe claims to represent 20 million companies from 34 countries. Its main task is to ensure that these companies’ interests are defended and strengthened…

Business Europe president Jurgen R. Thurman called for “ambitious regulatory cooperation” and “advancing co-operation on raw materials.” The EU should consider giving your (Canadian) industry a bigger say in EU regulations that may affect exports to Europe, Thurman said before fingering the world famous Hydro Quebec and Manitoba Hydro as public entities whose spending powers should be constrained in order to create profitable opportunities for EU-based energy giants. How is that for telling it like it is?

Elma explains how European services companies are calling for the full liberalization of Canadian postal services, “a weakening of Canada’s banking rules, the opening of news and advertising agencies to EU investors, and legally guaranteed access to public procurement ‘at all levels.'” She also talks of European private water firms hoping CETA includes water services in the investment chapter and municipal utilities in the procurement chapter, which would encourage water privatization in Canada.

“From what we’ve seen of the CETA text, these EU companies may get most of what they’re looking for,” writes Elma. “The result would be weakened Canadian and provincial/territorial governments and deregulated service industries and an upper hand for powerful European services companies operating in Canada.”

She concludes that we can either speak out against CETA now or “sit on your butt and do nothing.”

The Northumberland chapter hasn’t had time to sit down. This week alone they’ve spoken to municipal councils in Trent Hills, Brighton, Cramahe and Northumberland County, all of them in Ontario. A presentation to Alnwick Haldimand Township about a month ago led to a resolution requesting a municipal exemption from CETA. Elma’s letter being published in the middle of all this helps keep it in the public eye. I look forward to more updates from the chapter.