The recent Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) negotiations between Canada and the European Union (EU) omitted two areas of trade that are important to Canadians from all provinces and territories: EU importation of seal products and genetically modified (GM) grain products.
As a result, existing bans against these products stand.
In the case of GM grains, Canada has fought the EU bans — based on “moral objections” and driven by single-issue groups — for decades, yet despite this, the Canadian delegation agreed to “defer” discussions (defer is EU-speak for ensuring the question disappears into the depths of their bureaucracy, never to see the light of day).
They did this even though, in 1994, Canada did about $400 million with EU countries in these products and today does zero dollars in the same products.
In the case of seals, the question never even got into the discussions, presumably because the Canadian negotiators bowed to the wishes of their EU counterparts and agreed to pretend the issue did not exist.
If the issue does not exist then there is no need to discuss it. Right?
The CETA agreement is being touted to Canadians as being the best thing since sliced bread.
Given the above, the question is for which Canadians?
If you are a grain farmer or a fisherman, you would be entitled to ask why your products were not included.
Is it because rural enterprises are too small to save, too small to worry about, while urban manufacturing, urban financial institutions and urban high-tech industries are too big to fail?
Given that the general public knows very, very little about the details of the CETA, it is difficult to say — but one thing we do know is that both these issues, seals and genetically modified grains, were not on the table, and that alone should cause rural peoples some serious concern.
They should be asking their MPs why this has happened and demanding that their MPs not accept CETA as it stands and ensure that the government does not sign it without serious modifications that ensure they, Canadian farmers and fishermen, have an equal playing field to market their products.