Ottawa — On the cusp of Thursday’s federal election debate on the economy, the Trade Justice Network (www.tradejustice.ca), a coalition of Canadian unions, environmental groups and citizen groups, is calling on federal leaders to mandate the Parliamentary Budget Officer to conduct fact-based analysis before they sign “free trade” deals that are destructive to Canadian jobs. In the case of CETA, the Canada-European Union trade agreement that has already been signed by the Harper government, this analysis should happen immediately.
In particular, the Trade Justice Network would like trade deals to be analyzed by the Parliamentary Budget Officer as part of a process of full accountability to Parliament, a recommendation made earlier today by Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette. Payette has demanded that the PBO do an independent analysis of CETA, the Comprehensive Trade and Economic Agreement between Canada and the EU.
“Most Canadians wouldn’t buy a new car without researching the warranty coverage, the mileage, reviews of the vehicle and so on. Yet our government would have us agree to sweeping economic agreements like CETA and the TPP without providing any facts at all, just empty slogans about how wonderful things will be after we sign on,” says Larry Brown, national secretary-treasurer of the National Union of Public and General Employees and co-chair of the Trade Justice Network.
Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, echoes this concern. “With CETA, Harper has been promoting dubious job figures that many economists challenge. These deals often have nothing to do with real economic trade or jobs but are corporate rights treaties that benefit only the few. When we are making decisions of that great import, they cannot be negotiated in secret with no accountability to citizens and without any real independent analysis.”
In Australia, the Productivity Commission, an independent government advisory body that analyzes trade deals before they are signed, has recently expressed concerns about the Trans-Pacific Partnership currently under negotiation.
“We completely support the Senator’s request to the PBO for some research into the real impacts of CETA or the TPP. We wouldn’t want this research to wait until we’ve already signed on to the deals. We should be given the facts about the TPP long before our government commits us to the deal, and we certainly deserve the facts about CETA before it is ratified,” concluded Brown.
The Trade Justice Network is comprised of environmental, civil society, student, Indigenous, cultural, farming, labour and social justice organizations that have come together to challenge the scope and secret negotiating process of most free trade agreements. It emphasizes the need for a more sustainable, equitable and socially just international trade regime.
Sujata Dey, (613) 796-7724