The NFU and other Prince Edward Island organizations presented this brief to MP Megan Leslie.
It is with great concern to the organizations submitting this brief that in this year of celebration of the nation’s founding, provincial and national autonomy may be compromised by the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union. In Canada’s founding constitutional document (the British North America Act), first discussed on PEI in 1864, PEI and the federal government were ensured a defined set of legislative powers in the use of which they are largely autonomous. This tidy division of powers, first discussed 150 years ago, may be compromised or diminished by the CETA.
We believe that trade with other provinces and countries is essential to the economy of Prince Edward Island. However, the manner by which trade is organized and the rules which are applied to it determine not only who benefits from trade but also determine the role which public policies can play in ensuring that those benefits are shared as widely as possible.
Contrary to the impression created by the federal government, only a small part of the CETA is about trade. The vast majority of its provisions concern issues only loosely connected to trade, such as:
· investor protection
· the creation of mechanisms through which investors can enforce their rights
· the restriction of the policy tools of local governments
· locking-in privatizations.
In the context of modern-day trade and investment treaties, the corollary of investors’ rights is a decrease in the ability of democratically elected governments to govern on behalf of their voters i.e. in the public interest. Their policy flexibility is diminished.
We believe that this erosion of democracy should concern both the PEI and Canadian governments. We face an uncertain future. We face climate change, changing employment patterns and systems of production which pose challenges to our eco-systems. For all of these reasons, the future demands on public policy (regarding both local economic development and environmental sustainability) are unpredictable. Prince Edward Island is still developing its public transit system and still has a long way to go. The community is better educated than ever about the consequences of the industrial potato industry on the health of Island families and the health of our eco-systems. The lobster fishery on Prince Edward Island faces challenges connected to the price which fishers are getting at the wharf. We may be surprised what policies Islanders will be demanding of their government in 15 or 20 years time. We need to preserve a full range of policy options rather than give them up in trade and investment treaties.
The CETA is the most intrusive agreement which Canada has ever signed. For the first time municipal and provincial government services and procurement are subject to a trade agreement, stripping governments of some economic development tools.
- Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club
- Cooper Institute
- Canadian Union of Public Employees – PEI
- Canadian Union of Postal Workers
- Council of Canadians
- Citizens’ Alliance of Prince Edward Island
- Don’t Frack PEI
- ECO- PEI
- Guatemala – Maritimes Breaking the Silence Network – PEI
- Latin American Mission Program
- MacKillop Centre for Social Justice
- National Farmers’ Union – Region 1 – District 1
- PEI Federation of Labour
- PEI Food Security Network
- PEI Health Coalition
- PEI Nurses Union
- PEI Public Transit Coalition
- Save Our Shores and Seas – PEI
- PEI Union of Public Sector Employees
- United Food and Commercial Workers