Trudeau's trade minister says CETA "gold standard of trade agreements"

Trojan horse

The federal minister of international trade Chrystia Freeland is praising the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

Freeland says, "I think CETA will be really the gold standard of trade agreements. I’m working hard on it and I’m confident we will get a deal soon."

Radio Canada International reports, "Freeland said the complexity of the [Trans-Pacific Partnership] hasn’t dampened the government’s enthusiasm for ratifying a trade deal with the European Union ... pointing out that the ratification was one the priorities set our for her in the mandate letters she received from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau."

In his mandate letter to Freeland, Trudeau wrote:"In particular, I will expect you to work with your colleagues and through established legislative, regulatory, and Cabinet processes to deliver on your top priorities:
– Develop strategies to implement [CETA] and consult on Canada’s potential participation in the [TPP]. This will include working with relevant ministers and provinces and territories to support adjustment in sectors including agriculture, the auto sector, and compensation for incremental cost increases to public drug plans arising from CETA."

This coming week (Jan. 20-23), both Trudeau and Freeland will be at the elite World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Another Radio Canada International article notes, "Trudeau is also expected to use the opportunity to talk to Canada’s European partners, particularly, the Germans, about speeding up the finalization of [CETA], which was officially presented in September 2014 by then Prime Minister Stephen Harper and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso in Toronto, [says Ferry de Kerckhove, a former high-ranking Canadian diplomat]."

The Canadian Press reports though that Freeland refuses to say if approval of CETA will come before approval of the TPP. In Nov. 2015, leaders from the twelve TPP countries agreed on a two-year period for each country's parliament to approve the deal. As for CETA, it is now believed that deal could go before the European Parliament for ratification votes sometime between the last quarter of this year and early 2017. As such, it is expected that CETA could be ratified sometime between October 2016 and March 2017, whereas the TPP ratification deadline is November 2017.

Nor has the trade minister explained why there will be no consultations on CETA, despite it containing the same controversial provisions as the TPP, including the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism that allows corporations to sue democratically-elected governments through special arbitration tribunals for lost future profits resulting from public interest measures.

Freeland has confirmed that the TPP will require parliamentary ratification in Canada and presumably this extends to CETA as well. Radio Canada International notes that the Liberal government hasn't set a date for a final vote on the TPP, and again presumably neither has it set a final date for a House of Commons ratification vote on CETA.

Corporations have had their say throughout the CETA negotiating process, but the public has not been heard. That's not fair. To send a letter to the prime minister to demand a full, meaningful, and democratic consultation process before CETA is ratified, please go to our Time for a real debate on CETA action alert.

For more on our campaign against CETA, please click here.