Trade program poses problems

Recent articles in the Advocate and elsewhere about the Comprehensive Economic and trade Agreement between Canada and Europe reported federal government promotion material of its benefits. There are some CETA costs and problems for Canada.

Recent articles in the Advocate and elsewhere about the Comprehensive Economic and trade Agreement between Canada and Europe reported federal government promotion material of its benefits. There are some CETA costs and problems for Canada.

CETA disallows provincial and municipal governments from using preferential contracts for local goods and workers. The Trade Justice Network reports “Canadian governments would lose a powerful tool for spurring job creation and economic development.” An Oct. 9 Advocate article outlined how Canada objected to human rights rules in CETA, and similar points were raised in one of the civic election forums Oct. 18.

Canada would extend brand name drug patent protection, delaying entry of generics up to two years. Patients or their health plans would have to pay an estimated $1 billion to $2 billion extra per year.

Privatization of Canadian water services gets opened up. Research data from the Council of Canadians: “Private water operators charge far higher rates than public operators and cut corners when it comes to source protection.”

Then there is the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism (political appointees, not elected.) NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) has a similar tribunal, used more than 30 times, costing more than $160 million, paid by Canadian taxpayers to American corporations for lost profits.

CETA favours privatization and public-private partnerships (P3s). European firms hope to build and operate public transport, utilities and health and social services across Canada. Many European communities cancelled unsatisfactory service contracts there, but discovered it is very costly to take back public control.

Corporations had to be compensated for infrastructure, equipment and loss of profits.

CETA is yet to be ratified by 24 EU countries and by all Canadian provinces and territories. Parliament hasn’t seen, debated or voted on it.

Few provincial and no municipal governments have seen it, leading to more than 40 municipalities, including the City of Red Deer, expressing concerns about CETA procurement regulations.

Ken Collier

Treasurer

Council of Canadians

Red Deer