It’s a bad deal and we’re all going to pay

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I would like to compliment Marilyn Reid on her exceptionally insightful Oct. 22 letter entitled “Another deal worth watching,” on the Canadian European Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), the impending trade deal with the European Union.

In fact, the news on CETA just keeps getting worse. Unless, of course, you have shares in a European pharmaceutical company. Reports out of Ottawa earlier this month show that confidential (until now) analysis provided to the Harper government by officials at Industry Canada and Health Canada virtually confirms what CUPE, the Council of Canadians and other groups opposed to this “top secret” deal have been saying for some time now — drug prices here in Canada will rise significantly if this deal goes through.

Up by how much, you ask? Between $795 million and $1.95 billion annually.

Telegram readers may rightfully be wondering whether or not the Dunderdale government is standing up for the rights of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians as this deal comes barreling down the tracks at us. Let me quote from a letter CUPE recently received from Keith Hutchings, her former minister of Innovation, Business and Rural Development:

“For this negotiation with the European Union, provinces and territories are working with the federal government to inform their efforts and to ensure provincial and territorial interests are represented. The government of Newfoundland and Labrador is working with the federal government to ensure that the citizens of this province will benefit from a completed agreement with the European Union.”

In other words, our provincial government has bought into a massive new trade deal being negotiated behind closed doors by the Harper government lock, stock and barrel.

Is the provincial government suggesting that drug prices won’t increase, that Canada won’t lose up to 150,000 jobs or that all municipal or provincial government procurement over $300,000 will not be unconditionally opened to European corporations?

Interestingly enough, in a recent edition of the Globe and Mail, Canada’s ambassador to the World Trade Organization and chief negotiator for NAFTA says Canada should reject EU demands on pharma patents.

If CETA is half as bad as NAFTA — and there’s lots to suggest it will be worse — lawsuits from EU companies against legitimate government decisions (can you say, Abitibi Bowater?) are going to be flying over this one.

 

Wayne Lucas

President, CUPE NL

Organizations: European Union, Industry Canada, Health Canada Rural Development Globe and Mail World Trade Organization

Geographic location: Canada, Ottawa, Newfoundland and Labrador

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