From the equality of rights springs identity of our highest interests; you cannot subvert your neighbor's rights without striking a dangerous blow at your own. Carl Schurz

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement - A Primer

If you think NAFTA is bad, just wait until you see what is being proposed in negotiations for The Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). CETA is a far-reaching trade deal that could touch on nearly every aspect of Canadian society.

The CETA aims to remove government regulations over such things as public purchasing, environmental standards, public services, domestic-content rules and so on.

With the CETA,  a trade agreement would for the first time apply directly to Provinces, and cities,crown corporations,  school boards, and hospitals,binding them to it's provisions in some extremely dangerous ways. For instance CETA would contain a section similar to NAFTA's chapter 11,exposing them to potentially bankrupting lawsuits for making policy decisions that benefit their constituents but may harm the profitability of some EU corporation.

Another proposal on the table is a provision that says anything not listed as exempt from the free trade agreement would be automatically covered. Which means that if a city or province fails to list any of the thousands of programs they deliver,that program is covered by the deal and open to privatisation.

The CETA would prohibit governments at all levels from spending tax dollars to encourage local development.  Bids would have to be open to EU companies with the cost of the bid the only consideration allowed. 

The EU is demanding access to our Crown corporations, such as electric and water utilities. Big Pharma is at the table demanding extended patent rights which will lead to massive increases in the cost of drugs, placing enormous strain on our healthcare budgets, potentially further increasing the threat of privatisation. Pharma isn't the only industry at the table,in fact big business are the only ones being consulted and briefed on CETA by the Harper government.

Of course we are told that this abomination will lead to increased employment and standards of living for all Canadians,which is exactly what they said about NAFTA  and we all know how that turned out. Studies to the contrary suggest that a free trade deal with the EU would cost us somewhere between 28,000 and 150,000 jobs.

This video offers an introductory glimpse into the CETA and what's at stake for us if this deal is signed.


  1. What is really concerning is that CETA is being dealt with in secrecy. I asked a number of journalists in EU about CETA yesterday: they had no idea. After I sent them all the relevant links, they too now believe this is an agreement that needs to involve the public. I speak to people all over Europe and not one person knows about this.

    How can our government keep such trade agreements secret.

  2. They must because they know that there is little support for these types of trade deals among the public. Especially when you break this deal down into it's individual components.

    Not surprised about Europe as we are considered quite insignificant on the world stage and not only in terms of trade.

    It is issues such as this that highlight the dangers of corporate control of the media, their conflicts of interest on issues of trade are glaring,helping to explain their silence on the CETA on both sides of the pond.

  3. At a public forum during the election, the Green Party candidate spoke a bit about CETA (though focused on water privatization). I forget the position of the NDP candidate.

    The Liberal candidate didn't know about it and didn't believe his party had a position on it. Sadly untrue, since Bob Rae says they must be vigilant to ensure Canada's interests are met, but support the pursuit of CETA, with predicted GDP increases of $13 billion annually.

    The Conservative candidate didn't know anything about CETA either, but basically stated that he's in favour of free trade and that agreements like NAFTA were 100% good things.

    With Elizabeth May in the house, there's at least a chance that MPs will start thinking about CETA before it becomes a done deal.

  4. Anonymous, Thanks for the link to the Liberal position on CETA They certain seem supportive with few concerns On an unrelated topic of sorts Rae's contention that science proves GMO's as safe is at best inaccurate