Skip to content

Trudeau backs the unpopular & unconstitutional provisional application of CETA

Some of the constitutional complaint folders filed yesterday. Photo by Reuters.

The Trudeau government has been supporting the provisional application of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Council of Canadians allies are now in Germany’s Constitutional Court to have provisional application ruled unconstitutional.

Reuters reports, “Activists delivered what they said was Germany’s biggest-ever public complaint to the Constitutional Court on Wednesday [August 31], hoping it will scupper a trade agreement between the European Union and Canada. …The three German groups – Campact, foodwatch and More Democracy – arrived at the Karlsruhe court with a lorry containing 70 boxes of documents with 125,000 signatures. They argue the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) breaches Germany’s constitution and want the court in Karlsruhe to stop the implementation of the deal before (official) ratification by EU states.”

The article continues, “The European Commission hopes that the governments of the EU states can approve it before a planned EU-Canada summit at the end of October. The European Parliament would also need to vote to allow it to enter force provisionally next year. But national, and some regional, parliaments would still need to ratify it. …The German groups insist this process undermines democracy because citizens would be excluded from the decision-making. ‘The temporary implementation of CETA is immensely dangerous because it creates a reality’, said the groups. ‘Democratically non-legitimate committees and investor– friendly mediation courts would start work … all without the agreement of the lower house of parliament’. they added.”

The National Post further explains, “Particularly controversial are the rights granted to foreign investors under the chapter of the deal outlining the settlement of disputes between investors and member states. Though Canada amended the agreement last winter in an attempt to address the criticism, Frank Bsirske, chairman of ver.di — with 2.2 million members one of the largest trade unions in Germany — worries the deal still privileges the treatment of foreign investors over the independence of the German government, preventing politicians and policymakers from acting in the German public interest.”

Given it would take 2 to 5 years to have national and regional parliaments ratify CETA, and the Canadian government has been insisting that the agreement could be 90 per cent implemented by early 2017, it is a reasonable conclusion to suggest that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and trade minister Chrystia Freeland are backing the provisional application of CETA. We have argued this in these two blogs: Is Canada pushing for the undemocratic “provisional application” of CETA? (August 3) and Does the Canadian trade minister support the provisional application of CETA? (July 9).

In terms of key upcoming dates:

September 17 – massive protests will be taking place against CETA across Europe

September 22 – European Union trade ministers meet in Bratislava, Slovakia to discuss the provisional application of CETA

October 27 – Trudeau is scheduled to be in Brussels to sign CETA

November 29 – European Parliament International Trade Committee expected to vote on CETA

December/January – CETA could go to European Parliament for plenary ratification vote

This past June, The Council of Canadians called on the Trudeau government to support our demand for an independent assessment of CETA following the Brexit vote: CETA appears to be on hold, Council of Canadians calls for new study of the deal (June 24). We have also called on Trudeau to not attend the CETA signing ceremony in October.

This September 6-9, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow will be on a speaking tour against CETA in Stockholm, Copenhagen and Malmö. On September 17, she will be at the massive anti-CETA rally in Stuttgart, Germany. More than 30,000 people are expected to be at that protest.