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UPDATE: Council team departs for CETA intervention in Brussels

Council of Canadians trade campaigner Stuart Trew, water campaigner Meera Karunananthan, and I have now departed for Brussels (by way of Montreal and Amsterdam) for a week-long intervention against the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

We will be joined there by Larry Brown of the National Union of Public and General Employees, Scott Sinclair of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and Claude Vaillancourt and Catherine Caron of ATTAC-Quebec.

While in Brussels we will meet with numerous Members of the European Parliament, build links with European civil society, and discuss our concerns with the Canadian negotiators working on this deal.
The Canwest News Service recently reported that, “Concerns remain (among negotiators) that the European Parliament – the same body that banned seal product imports over Canada’s objections that the politicians were misinformed – might scuttle the deal. The parliament has veto powers in the new Lisbon Treaty, and some members have questioned why Europe would cut a deal with a country with a poor climate change record.”

This is in part why it is so critical for us to be meeting with the MEPs.

Federal, provincial and territorial trade negotiators will enter a fourth round of trade talks with their European Union counterparts this week. Canadian trade minister Peter Van Loan has boasted that the negotiations are going better than expected and that the deal could be signed by December 2011.

The Canwest News Service article adds that both Canadian and European negotiators “acknowledge that only the ‘easy’ issues have been settled… Negotiators haven’t tackled some of the more politically delicate issue such as Canada’s supply management system in the agriculture sector, copyright law, and especially government procurement.”

The Council is opposed to the deal and is calling for:

  • an end to the CETA negotiations
  • the release of the draft negotiating text
  • a parliamentary debate and public consultations on ‘free trade’ with the European Union
  • striking any Chapter 11 investor-state-like dispute provision in CETA
  • a guarantee to not include water and water services in the scope of this agreement
  • exclusion of any barriers against local content requirements, such as those in Ontario’s Green Energy Act.

Yesterday, Le Devoir reported that, “Le Conseil des Canadiens craint notamment que l’accord empêche les provinces et les municipalités de favoriser l’achat et l’embauche locaux, en plus de déplorer le secret qui entoure les négociations. Selon Stuart Trew, du Conseil, un document qui fait état de l’avancement des négociations — qui en sont rendues au quatrième cycle — indique que le projet d’entente prévoit interdire aux gouvernements locaux de mettre en place des stratégies d’achat local ou éthique et ainsi favoriser les entreprises qui embauchent la main-d’oeuvre régionale ou achètent leurs matériaux à proximité.”

For Council of Canadians analysis and ways to take action against CETA, please go to http://canadians.org/CETA.