Saskatoon—Major portions of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) are coming into force today. “This is the wrong trade deal for Canadian and European citizens,” said Terry Boehm, Chair of the National Farmers Union (NFU) Seed and Trade Committee. “It is, however, very good for major corporations that have any sort of relationship to either Canada or Europe. Indeed, it is a bill of rights for corporations, allowing them to override governments all the way down to the municipal level.”
CETA is the first trade agreement that penetrates beyond national levels to include provincial and municipal levels of government in its purview.
“This means that under CETA, when a government purchases a good or service, it cannot favour local businesses or specify local content unless the contract is below very low thresholds. Contracts above as little as $125,000 at the federal level would be subject to these conditions. So the very people who pay taxes in their country, province, or municipality could not expect to be favoured. These conditions also apply to purchases by universities, schools and hospitals or any other creature of government including crown corporations. Trying to create a buy local food program at a university, hospital or government agency will be extremely difficult under CETA,” explained Boehm.
“Under CETA, governments also lose their ability to address balance of payments issues with another country, except for a six-month emergency period only. Worst of all, any law or regulation that can be construed as tantamount to expropriation can cause a government to be sued under the extremely arbitrary Tribunal dispute settlement mechanism that is enforced under this agreement,” Boehm added. “This will result in governments not passing laws in the peoples’ interest, as they must consider what the consequences would be under CETA, including the potential for a company to sue for any future lost profits that would result from the law. This will have very negative consequences for all of our democracies,” Boehm stated.
CETA goes on and on in its clamp down on ordinary citizens. Boehm cited the shocking example of how CETA deals with alleged intellectual property rights infringement. Intellectual property rights comprise a whole gamut of mechanisms such as patents, copyrights, plant breeders rights, electronic topographies, and utility patents. He explained that an individual accused of intellectual property rights infringement can be subjected to ‘precautionary seizure’ of their moveable and immovable assets, the freezing of bank accounts, and communication of financial data before the merits of the case are heard. Any third party alleged to have assisted in the alleged infringement is to be subjected to the same ‘precautionary seizures’.
“CETA is not about trade! CETA is all about limiting the ability of governments to govern in the public interest. CETA will expand corporate interests as paramount at the expense of our democracies,” concluded Boehm. “It is all there in black and white. All you have to do is read it”
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For more information: Terry Boehm, Chair, NFU Seed and Trade Committee: (306) 255-7638