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German Minister’s CETA visit is desperate spin, says Council of Canadians

CETA march

Montréal — Germany’s Minister of Economic Affairs Sigmar Gabriel will be in Montreal Thursday to do damage control on CETA (the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement), says the Council of Canadians, which is available for comment on his visit.

Minister Gabriel will be presenting Thursday at the corporate-sponsored Global Progress summit, organized by Canada 2020, on the cusp of a key vote within his own German Social Democratic Party (SPD), with German elections in coming up 2017.

“Mr. Gabriel, a proponent of the deal, is facing a very tight vote, with the young faction and the Left group of his party taking positions against CETA. The SPD is at historically low popularity levels — the lowest since 1890 — at least in part because of support for controversial policies like CETA, which is incredibly unpopular in Germany,” says Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, which has lobbied extensively against CETA for years in Europe and in Canada. “This effort to come to Canada just before the vote sounds like a clumsy last-ditch attempt to spin the deal. But, Mr. Gabriel will find that like in Germany, many unions, civil society organizations and municipalities are also concerned about CETA.”

In Germany, TTIP (the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), the EU-U.S. deal and CETA have been very unpopular. In Berlin in October 2015, 250,000 people protested the deals. Over 125,000 people recently filed a challenge in German constitutional court against CETA, the biggest-ever public complaint in Germany’s history.

On Saturday, there will be mass demonstrations against CETA in seven cities across Germany, as well as Austria. Maude Barlow will be speaking at the rally in Stuttgart, Germany. Other rallies are planned in other countries over the next few months.