Friday, August 15, 2014

And This Is A Good Deal Because?

Despite the best efforts of the ever-secretive Harper cabal, details about the CETA deal are finally emerging thanks to leaked portions of the text. And as has been long-predicted, those details are not encouraging when it comes to Canadian sovereignty in general, and local sourcing of construction contracts, goods and services in particular.

While government websites, replete with encomiums from business entities, crow about what this deal will accomplish, more critical sources offer much to suggest the need for grave misgivings.

Take, for example, the matter of investor rights. Chapter 11, the investor-dispute mechanism under NAFTA, has resulted in numerous suits against the government from companies claiming loss of earnings due to legislation or judicial rulings. One such case involved Eli Lily suing Canada for $500 million over patent rights to two of its drugs. Another involved Lone Pine Resources, which is suing the federal government for $250 million due to Quebec’s moratorium on oil and gas fracking beneath the St. Lawrence River.

Yet the Harper government, in its apparent zeal to cede even more authority to multinational corporations, seems undaunted by these and many other ongoing suits.

With apparently almost identical provisions under CETA, perhaps the direness of the situation is best summed up by Scott Sinclair of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives:

"The outcome of the deal is that corporations win and citizens on both sides of the Atlantic lose."

Equally disturbing is the provision about procurement rights:

The main benefit for Europe is easy to name: Canada opens its public procurements to European corporations. European companies are much stronger when it comes to public tenders because there aren't as many Canadian companies willing to bid in European public procurements.

Today's Star offers more details of the public procurement provisions, and gives this bleak assessment:

The ability of provincial governments and cities like Toronto to boost their economies by favouring local companies on major goods and services contracts will be sharply curtailed under the terms of Canada’s free-trade pact with Europe, leaked details of the agreement confirm.

Specifically, provincial agencies and ministries will have to open up bidding to businesses from EU countries on goods and services contracts worth approximately $300,000 or more.

The threshold is higher for construction contracts: about $7.9 million.

Essentially, the same rules will apply to school boards, [p]ublic agencies or utilities that operate airports, rail or bus transport, marine ports, electricity distribution, drinking water provision or the production of gas and heat.

Once more, Canadian citizens must sit on the sidelines in government-imposed ignorance, thanks in large part to the most secretive government that has ever existed in Canada, Tony Clement's recent hilarious declarations about government transparency notwithstanding.

While it is highly unlikely the CETA deal will be finalized before the next election, given the millimeters of difference that exist between the major parties on most issues, holding an unsanctioned 'faint-hope' clause in our collective psyche may be all we can realistically aspire to.


  1. I wonder how much taxpayer's money has been spent on free trade lawsuits in the last 20 years?

    1. An excellent question, Karen, one I am not certain this cabal would deign to share with Canadians.

  2. Making the world safe for capital. That's the prime directive.

    1. And everyone lives happily ever after except the people, eh, Owen?

  3. Lorne, Harper sold Tar Sands to China and now he sold out remaining major sectors of the economy to Europe. If Liberals or New Democrats form the next government I am not sure they will make any changes in CETA. Good that you pointed out drawbacks of CETA as public is not aware of the details of the CETA other than Harper's propaganda.

    1. I share the same doubts you have about the other two parties, LD. I suspect that a change in style, not substance, is the most likely outcome of a government led by either the Liberals or the NDP. That being said, I would love to be proven wrong.