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WATCH: “We won’t suffer for lack of a free trade deal with Europe,” says CAW economist Jim Stanford

Getting an EU deal has become an “optics exercise” for the Harper government that “won’t affect Canada an iota,” according to Jim Stanford (pictured) on CBC’s Power and Politics yesterday. The CAW economist and CETA critic discussed Harper’s failure to secure a deal in Europe with host Evan Solomon and fellow guest Ian Lee of Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business. While discounting Harper’s inflated estimates of the potential gains from an EU deal, Stanford says he’s worried the pressure to finish the negotiations can only lead to more concessions on the Canadian side.

Lee protests that what Stanford calls concessions are actually good things for most Canadians — even paying more money for prescription drugs, because it will bring Canada’s intellectual property rights regime to the same level as the United States and Europe, and “we shouldn’t be ripping off the drug companies.” Stanford shoots back that this will be news to patients and provincial finance ministers across the country. “I think most Canadians probably feel the ripping off goes in the other direction,” he says. “[CETA] will hurt provincial budgets.”

You can watch the whole thing here.