In Canada, the Canada–European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) passed its second reading in the House of Commons in December. However, the negotiation and approval process for the controversial agreement has not been smooth. While Canada and Europe produced a Joint Interpretive Declaration (later tweaked and called the Joint Interpretive Instrument) to save CETA in October 2016, legal experts have noted that the instrument does not change the text of CETA, is not enforceable, and is not likely to be taken seriously as evidence in an investor-state arbitration court. Rather, this “political statement” was designed to alleviate European concerns about CETA.
This wasn’t the first time the Canadian government was trying to sell the public on the “myths” of CETA. Five years ago, the Harper government also tried to explain to Canadians what it hoped to achieve through its free trade negotiations with the European Union. In 2012, former prime minister Stephen Harper dispatched 18 of his ministers to press conferences across the country, enlisted marketing support from several big business lobby groups, and created a new webpage to try to “demystify” the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).
The Council of Canadians debunked the government’s statements in the 2012 report, entitled ‘The CETA Deception - How the Harper government’s public relations campaign misrepresents the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.’
Following Stephen Harper’s strategy, the Trudeau government is now giving its own spin on CETA. It is important to examine these “Myths and Realities” and debunk their inaccuracies in order to fully understand CETA’s implications on the right to regulate, the protection of public services and policies that affect nearly all areas of life, including food safety and health care.
The Joint Interpretive Instrument, as well as government rhetoric on both sides of the Atlantic, are deeply misleading. While several progressive organizations and legal experts have provided insightful analyses and debunked myths in the Joint Interpretive Instrument, we must also explicitly address Canada’s own set of myths, which we will continue to see repeated in Parliament as CETA is debated.
This document will help you better understand and refute what the Canadian government is saying about CETA in order to push it through Parliament. Each of the 10 statements below was taken directly from the Canadian government’s “Myths and Realities” document.