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South Niagara chapter receives reply from Wallonia’s minister-president on CETA

The Council of Canadians South Niagara chapter has received an email Wallonia’s minister-president Paul Magnette about the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

On April 12, the chapter wrote, “Those of us here in Canada who are familiar with CETA and the impacts of so-called ‘free trade’ stand with you in your appraisal of CETA. Jobs will be lost, inequality will increase, the ability of governments to act in the public interest will be profoundly diminished, and the benefits will go to large corporations. There is nothing in this agreement that will benefit the working people of Canada or Europe.”

In an 1100-word reply sent on April 14, Magnette notes, “Your message of support reached me well, and I want to express how, together with very many other testimonies of confidence and sympathy, your support has helped strengthen my position and that of the Walloon government since last October.”

With respect to one key issue, he says, “Private arbitration – which is unacceptable to us – was replaced by a dispute settlement mechanism between states and public investors whose form was clarified. This will be a public court, entirely composed of independent judges – similar to those of the Court of Justice of the European Union – and appointed by the European Council, on a proposition by the Member States.”

He adds, “They will, moreover, be subject to a strict code of conduct preventing any conflict of interest before, during and after their term of office. States may further challenge the decisions of this court to an appeal court, with the same independence guarantees. A system will also be established to allow SMEs to access this mechanism.”

And Magnette says, “In order to ensure the implementation of all these elements, the provisions on the dispute settlement mechanism will not come into force as long as all the national and regional parliaments ratification procedures are not completed. Wallonia has already indicated that if this future mechanism does not match its ambitions, the Walloon Parliament will reject the CETA ratification.”

He also addresses issues relating to the right for states to legislate, regulatory cooperation, safeguarding public services, food security, and more.

Magnette concludes, “These changes, clarifications and dissipation of ambiguities, of which we know how dangerous they can be, were achieved by this ‘small’ Wallonia alone, with the unprecedented involvement of its parliament and through the vigilance and mobilization of the European civil society which did not find any other institutional relay. …One thing is certain: this movement will stand. We introduced a new chapter on how to write treaties in the future. We have de facto imposed the obligation to do so democratically, in a much earlier debate with citizens.”

On March 26, The Globe and Mail reported, “The trade deal between Canada and the European Union is facing a new challenge from the Belgium region of Wallonia which is threatening to block final ratification of the agreement. Wallonia First Minister Paul Magnette said in an interview that his government will not support the CETA trade deal when it comes up for ratification unless changes are made to how disputes are resolved. Mr. Magnette also said his government is challenging the legality of the dispute resolution mechanism in the European Court of Justice, which could take at least two years to rule.”

To send a message to Magnette and the people of Wallonia with your concerns about CETA, you can write:

Paul Magnette, Ministre-Président

Gouvernement wallon

Rue Mazy, 25-27

5100 Namur



Fax: 011-32-81-331-366 (leave out the dashes when dialing)

In recent weeks, the Hamilton, Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo and Quill Plains (Wynyard) chapters have also written Magnette.