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VIEW: Canada-EU deal would hurt Ontario, says Walkom

January 17, 2011 – Protesting CETA in front of the European Commission (the EU body negotiating the deal) in Brussels, Belgium.

Toronto Star columnist Thomas Walkom writes, “The proposed Canada-European Union free trade agreement remains one of the most underreported stories in the media. At one level, that’s odd given (it) promises to be more far-reaching than Canada’s better known and far more controversial trade deals with the U.S. and Mexico. …So it’s refreshing when someone bothers to ask the obvious but rarely answered question: Why exactly is Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government so intent on doing this?”

“John Jacobs, a researcher with the leftish Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, …just-released study estimating the effects of such a deal on Ontario (says) the removal of tariffs on goods imported from Europe will cost (Ontario) between 13,000 and 31,000 jobs, particularly in manufacturing. …(And) as the Council of Canadians has pointed out, CETA also promises to go far beyond tariff reduction. The Europeans want to prevent provinces and municipalities from favouring local business. If as expected they get their way, this would wipe out Ontario’s remaining bus and train manufacturing capacity — and play havoc with Premier Dalton McGuinty’s green-industry strategy. As well, Europe’s demand for greater patent protection is sure to raise the price of drugs. One study cited by Jacobs calculates the annual extra cost to Ontarians at $1.2 billion.”

“Why then has Canada chosen to take this path? …A completed Canada-Europe free trade deal will…ensure Harper’s place in the history books. Maybe that’s the point.”

Walkom’s column – Canada-EU trade deal would help Harper, but hurt Ontario – can be read in full at http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1259420–walkom-canada-eu-trade-deal-would-help-harper-but-hurt-ontario.