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.
St. John’s chapter — Council of Canadians