Thursday, August 16, 2012

CETA - Trust No One - Part One

As I get older, I sometimes feel like a character from the X-Files, one of the recurring motifs of which was "Trust No One.'

I think I have lived long enough and read widely enough to know that things purported to be the truth are often the exact opposite. Such is the case, I believe, with the Harper government propaganda surrounding the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement CETA) currently being negotiated.

While much has been written about it, it has a relatively low public profile, and even lower public understanding of its implications, thanks largely, I suspect, to the kind of breathless endorsement of its 'potential' from the MSM, including The Financial Post.

Happily, as always, there are organizations that challenge this rosy depiction, not the least of which is The Council of Canadians.

While the full piece is available at the above link, I am going to post parts of it tonight and tomorrow in the belief that small amounts of information, especially when read online, are more readily digested than large ones:

In April 2012, the Harper government launched a propaganda campaign in response to growing criticism of the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). The campaign material, housed on a new DFAIT webpage , attempts to respond to several claims about CETA which the government believes to be myths. Unfortunately, in answering these claims, the Harper government introduces even more misleading and even false information about the impacts that “next generation” trade agreements like CETA will have in a number of social and public policy areas.

HARPER SAYS: Canada’s free trade agreements exclude health care, public education and other social services maintained for a public purpose.

WE SAY: Public pressure forced the Canadian government to seek better protections for health care in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) but CETA could undermine those protections. As private, for-profit activity increases in health care, education and other social services, it’s not clear a trade or investment panel would agree that these are services “maintained for a public purpose.” As proposed by Scott Sinclair , senior trade expert with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Canada should negotiate a new exemption, modeled on the cultural exemption in Canadian trade deals, which assures that nothing in CETA “shall be construed to apply to measures adopted or maintained by a party with respect to health care, public health insurance, public education and other social services.”

More to come tomorrow.

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