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VIEW: Broderick and MacKay say ‘show us the CETA offers’

Leo Broderick, vice chair of the Council of Canadians, and Lori MacKay, president of CUPE P.E.I., write in The Guardian, “Canada’s provincial and territorial trade ministers were in P.E.I. this week for the annual gathering of the Committee on Internal Trade. Their agenda was interprovincial, but one very large international trade negotiation between Canada and the European Union looms large. That’s because next week federal trade negotiators will meet their EU counterparts to exchange initial offers from the provinces and territories with those of EU member states. The offers will be made up of services, government agencies, Crown corporations, municipalities, and utilities the provinces are willing to bind to the terms of an eventual Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the EU.”

Broderick and MacKay ask, “Will water delivery and sanitation be part of P.E.I.’s offer, in which case the provincial government would be agreeing to foster water privatization at home? What about health insurance or electricity generation? Will the cities of Charlottetown or Summerside be part of P.E.I.’s offer on government procurement, in which case local councils will lose the ability to ‘Buy Canadian’ or put other conditions on infrastructure projects such as local content, hiring or training requirements for wind farm developments?”

They conclude, “CETA negotiations are entering a critical stage. Canadians need to know the full scope of this ‘comprehensive’ deal with the European Union. Prime Minister Harper’s recently gained majority is not a mandate to re-write Canada’s economic and social landscape via stealthy free trade deals. Both he and the provinces should come out of hiding, and get a public mandate on how or whether CETA negotiations should continue at all. Trade ministers, who met this week in P.E.I., should start by showing us the offers. It’s the right thing to do.”

To read their full commentary, go to http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letters%20to%20editor/2011-06-17/article-2590876/Ghiz-government-must-show-us-whats-on-the-EU-negotiating-table/1.