St. John’s – With a Canada-European Union trade and investment negotiations only weeks away from concluding, the Newfoundland and Labrador government must promise to give the public a chance to see, discuss and make changes to the deal before it is eventually signed, says the Council of Canadians.
“From what we’ve seen of it, the Canada-EU trade deal offers very little economic benefit to Newfoundland but a long list of dangers,” says Stuart Trew, trade campaigner with the Council of Canadians, who is in St. John’s this week for a public event on the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). “CETA is more like one of Prime Minister Harper’s omnibus budgets than a trade deal. There’s so much in it that doesn’t have to do with trade that the public absolutely must have an opportunity to change or even to reject the deal if it’s not in our best interests.”
The Canada-EU trade deal has become controversial in the past year for how it will increase the cost of drugs and public health plans through longer patents, undermine sustainable fisheries policies, eliminate the ability of municipal governments and provincial energy or transit agencies from preferring local goods or services, weaken Canada’s financial and banking rules, and give European corporations NAFTA-like rights to sue Canada for policies that they feel undermine their profits – even if those policies are meant to protect the environment and public health.
“We’re not asking for much – just that the government make the Canada-EU trade deal public as soon as negotiations conclude, and to hold hearings in the province so we can all decide whether or not to sign CETA,” says Bill Kavanagh, spokesperson for the St. John’s chapter of the Council of Canadians. “The Harper government has been misleading Canadians about the benefits of this trade deal, which are few and far between. We demand better from the Dunderdale government.”
Trew will be speaking at a free public event in St. John’s on Thursday, April 4 (7-9pm) at The Lantern, 35 Barnes Road.