Some two years after the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) warned the provincial government about the perils of CETA, the impending Canada-Europe Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement being pushed by the Harper government, Premier Kathy Dunderdale is just now raising serious concerns about the trade pact.
The premier has announced that Newfoundland and Labrador is back in negotiations for CETA, claiming her government is staunchly defending the province’s minimum fish processing rules from demands by the European Union (EU) and bullying by Stephen Harper’s Conservative government to give them up.
It’s no secret that the EU companies are eager to process more fish offshore. Gus Etchegary, a passionate defender of the Newfoundland fishery, says the provincial government is already favouring Europeans over local processors.
When the Dunderdale government gave Ocean Choice International (OCI) permission to process redfish from plants in Newfoundland, it didn’t just open the door to offshore processing, it took the hinges off.
CUPE, the Council of Canadians and others have been saying the deck is stacked against Canada in the CETA negotiations — and not just in the deal-making on our fishery.
A United Nations report released in March warns that CETA would prohibit municipal governments from using procurement in a way that favours local or Canadian goods, services or labour.
CETA creates a parallel legal system allowing European corporations to sue our governments over policies they claim unfairly undercut their profits.
This investor-state dispute settlement process is the same system that allowed Abitibi-Bowater to sue for the loss of its water and timber rights in Newfoundland and Labrador: the company walked away with $130 million.
With CETA, jobs will be lost in the fishery, pharmaceutical drug prices will increase, municipalities’ right to “buy local” is undercut and EU companies will have special rights to sue governments.
CUPE urges the government of Newfoundland and Labrador to stop trading away the province’s future and walk away from the CETA negotiations.
CUPE Newfoundland Labrador