Harper Government Trading Away Democracy through CETA

(November 20, 2014 ) - The National Farmers Union (NFU) says that the investment protections and investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism in the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) will impede the implementation of agricultural policy that is in the public interest.
 
The report Trading Away Democracy: How CETA's investment protection rules threaten public good in Canada and the EU released this week by a dozen social justice and environmental groups in Canada and Europe, draws attention to the Investor State Dispute Settlements (ISDS) mechanism, which is similar to NAFTA's Chapter 11, in the Canada-EU trade agreement. The ISDS mechanism in CETA would be used to force federal or provincial governments to financially compensate investors or corporations for profits “lost” when policy created in the public interest is deemed to reduce market opportunities for the companies involved.
 
“We need governments in Canada to be able to create policies and regulations that protect our food sovereignty and our environment. The fear of being sued by foreign companies may prevent our government from taking action to, for example, limit the use of neonicotinoids or other insecticides, mitigate climate change or support local food initiatives,” said Ann Slater, NFU Vice President Policy.
 
CETA also gives multinational corporations additional rights in a broad range of areas beyond ISDS mechanisms, including tools to enforce intellectual property rights. With the changes in Canada's Plant Breeders' Rights Act in Bill C-18, the Agricultural Growth Act, seed companies are already being given additional control over seed in Canada. Under CETA, a farmer using his or her farm-saved seed could have their assets seized or frozen for alleged infringement of an intellectual property right before the case comes to the courts, according to the NFU. “To give a foreign investor the possibility to lock up assets of a Canadian farmer is absurd,” said Terry Boehm, Chair of NFU Seed and Trade Committee.
 
Jan Slomp, NFU President said, “CETA is clearly a ‘bill of rights’ for corporations. It fundamentally undermines our democracy and stands in the way of setting public policy for the health of our environment and Canadians.”
 
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For more information:
 
Jan Slomp, NFU President (403) 843-2068 cell: (403) 704-4364
Ann Slater , NFU Vice President (Policy) (519) 349-2448 email: aslater@quadro.net
Terry Boehm, Chair, NFU Seed and Trade Committee, (306) 255-2880 cell: (306) 255-7638