CETA is not a trade deal

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I agree with my friend, Bill Hynd, in his defence of comments at the recent NDP convention with respect to CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) which were the topic of a Telegram editorial.

Yes, if this were a tariff-only agreement I would support it and the 2009 trade agreement between Canada and the European free trade association is but one example of such an agreement. But CETA isn’t!

Like so many of Harper’s new generation trade and investment treaties, CETA amounts to a bill of rights for huge, multinational corporations. As Bill rightly references, the most insidious of these rights are contained within the investor-state provisions similar to those of the infamous Chapter 11 clause of NAFTA.

Under that agreement, Canada has had twice as many claims against it (34) compared to the U.S. and Mexico. Canadian investors have won zero claims while we have paid out more than $160 million. There is some

$2.5 billion in eight outstanding claims by U.S. investors, including a $500-million challenge by Eli Lilly against Canadian court rulings on drug patents.

I would disagree with the view of the editorial that the expressions of concern about this agreement are nothing more than hyperbole. I would contend that those comments reflect real concerns about real issues of democracy, accountability and what, ultimately, is in the public interest.

I am for trade, but trade that is respectful of farmers and artisans, of sovereignty, of labour rights, of environmental sustainability and of the rights and aspirations of countries of the global south.

By the way, the editorial’s whimsical reference to “CIDA and Evil” as possible hyperbolic remarks from a Conservative convention is fundamentally flawed.  

Given Harper’s makeover of this once prestigious international development agency into one that is now tied to Canada’s military and corporate interests makes it a favourite child of the Conservative machine.

Ken Kavanagh

St. John’s chapter — Council of Canadians

Bell Island

Organizations: Eli Lilly

Geographic location: Canada, U.S., Mexico

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Recent comments

  • Morris
    May 29, 2014 - 18:37

    Mr. Kavaanagh FACT IS, I have no problem with the litigation you cited, if the rules were broken , pay up. Canada has the same appeal rights. Some would call it a level playing field. These international tribunals are not overriding our judicial system, any more than a UN tribunals such as the international court of justice, can take precedence over a Canadian court . There are dozens of UN and other international tribunals that have jurisdiction over affairs in Canada because we have signed agreement providing for this form of conflict resolution. Should we now based on your opinion withdraw from every UN CONVENTION WE HAVE SIGNED! EG Any Canadian law that violates the " international rights of a child" will be amended, or member states to UN will be asked to withdraw! HAVE I MADE MY POINT! You did ignore my simple question , PLEASE PLEASE name one Trade agreement Canada has entered into in the last 10, 20 30 or 40 years that the Council of Canadians supports!

  • Paul
    May 29, 2014 - 14:33

    You use of Canadian Cancer Society in your comment is as logical as your thought process will permit! You did however remove any lingering doubt I might have had that perhaps just perhaps the C of C was for fair trade, rather than NO TRADE BY AGREEMENTS, or international concensus! Thanks

    • Politically Incorrect
      May 30, 2014 - 07:10

      When big business and its governments are at the table, fair trade is not an issue. THAT is the point! And I'm still wating on your "facts."

  • Politically Incorrect
    May 29, 2014 - 12:16

    I don't know Paul Morris; why is the Canadian Cancer Society opposed to all forms of cancer? Perhaps, Paul Morris, the C of C is opposed to these agreements because they have a common thread: putting the interests of business ahead of the ability of elected governments to carry out their mandates to the people. Another commonality is that trade agreements have been increasingly negotiated behind closed doors while the details are few and far between. The secrecy has become much stricter since the FTA has proven a disaster to Canadian industry and Canadian sovereignty. Not accepting any trade deals as negotiated between business leaders and business politicians is not a sign of obstructiveness; it’s a recognition that such deals are, by their very nature, bad for working Canadians.

    • Morris
      May 29, 2014 - 13:40

      Wow , what an analogy! Well you have proven my point, from the Council of Canadians" perspective THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GOOD TRADE AGREEMENT" because they are done in secret,and between business and Govt! Case closed! Oops ! I forgot the fact that elected provincial governments , dozens of NGO representing federations of workers in this country support and want reductions in tariffs , including the FFAW, BECAUSE THEY SEE TANGIBLE BENEFITS FOR THEIR MEMBERSHIPS!! But that's not important because not only will employees see benefits but god forbid their evil employer, a BUSINESS , will also benefit! Oh, may I suggest that all unions and employers in future negotiate in PUBLIC and not in secret! Lets see how successful that will be. Negotiations are always in secret UNTILL membership approval is required, as is the case with CETA bringing the Provinces onboard. Unless EVERY PROVINCE IN CANADA AGREES there will be no agreement ! Secret you say, I don't think so!!!Politically Incorrect U remain, in opposition to all forms of logic! Please provide facts re your opinions AS I HAVE DONE!

  • Paul
    May 29, 2014 - 07:31

    Ken you are right, CETA is not just a trade agreement, it is a comprehensive trade, investment and services agreement " under negation ". Its interesting that you are in agreement with "tariffs only agreements" knowing full well that ALL trade agreements are much more than just about tariffs. Based on your logic you would support the construction of a swimming pool, with no water supply, or a ferry with no engine! I can not say that I am in agreement with all aspects of this agreement at this time, because I am now are of all the provisions and how it may impact NL. However, unlike your organization, which from day one, is AGAINST CETA, and all international trade agreements, I will wait for more details. From what I know , it's potentially a good deal for NL.

  • Morris
    May 29, 2014 - 06:41

    Mr. Kavanaugh , I pose the same question I asked your associate Marilyn Re her recent letter , Ken, PLEASE name one trade agreement Canada entered into that you and your organization HAS SUPPORTED, kindly restrict your answer to within 30 years! You never in all your letters cite examples of a good international trade agreement. The Council of Canadians is fundamentally opposed to all bilateral trade agreements. The Council website is AGAINT every agreement! I do not accept your statement that if this was a tariff only agreement I would accept it! You might, but the COUNCIL OF CANADIANS WOULD NOT! I am shocked to see that you might accept that the reduction of Tariffs Is good for Canadian products, now if you can only convince the COUNCIL, that would be terrific!

    • ken Kavaanagh
      May 29, 2014 - 15:36

      Well, Morris, on the topic of facts and despite of your claims, I saw none in your reply. I saw your opinions and obvious bias (and that is fine) but I did not see any facts. In the meantime, you did not respond to one of my several facts with respect to the one-sided NAFTA deal such as the fact that Canada has had twice as many claims against it as the US or Mexico. It is a fact, Morris, that there is $2.5 billion in outstanding claims by US firms against Canada. Finally, Morris, it is fact that one of those outstanding claims is $500 million claim by Elli Lilly challenging a ruling by a Canadian court on drug patents. Check those facts out Morris and tell us what you think. By the way, you might be ok with an international tribunal overriding our judicial system but I am not and will fight such an idea ....an that is a fact! Ken Kavanagh Council of Canadians Member & Supporter