All Out to Oppose Neo-Liberal
Free Trade and Monopoly Right!
Demand a Self-Reliant Human-Centred
Economy for Canada
On September 26, the Harper government will receive a visit from Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, and José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission. The two will travel to Ottawa and Toronto on September 26 to take part in a Canada-European Union (EU) Summit. The visit will include a ceremony in Ottawa to officially announce that the negotiations have concluded and the text has been finalized for the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the EU.
Canadians do not support neo-liberal trade that wreaks destruction on the social and natural environment. Actions to oppose CETA are being held in Ottawa, on Friday, September 26 with a march beginning at Transport Canada Building, 330 Sparks St. and a noon hour rally on Parliament Hill (the main event), and in London on Thursday, September 25 at 4:30 at City Hall. Activists in Canada and Europe point out that the deal still must be ratified by individual provinces and EU member states before it can come into effect. A European Day of Action to oppose CETA will take place on Saturday, October 11.
The Harper government’s attempts to cover up its sellout of the nation and defence of monopoly right over public right have not succeeded. Across the country there is widespread and ongoing opposition to CETA and how it permits monopolies to usurp public authority and decision-making power. As the organizers of the London action point out, “Together we will mark the historic resistance to the CETA trade pact by city councils from Victoria to Thunder Bay to Toronto. These municipal governments, along with dozens of others, including London, represent the first ever cross-country resistance to a corporate trade pact. The CETA gives corporations the right to directly sue governments if new laws or regulations impact their profits. It also removes the right of municipalities to govern local assets publicly, in favour of privatization and foreign corporate management.” Amongst other things, these monopolies will seek to make a fortune by replacing unionized municipal jobs with low-paying jobs with lower working conditions, that will result in lower quality and/or reduced services to the public. Already such European monopolies are operating in health care, in housekeeping and food services, with dire consequences for the workers and patients.
This summit between Canada and the EU comes amidst municipal election campaigns across Ontario, with election day on October 27. Candidates should be elected who take a stand against CETA and monopoly right, and who fight to defend the public interest.
Farmers are another sector that is opposed to CETA for how it will undermine their ability to control the sale of their goods and protect their livelihoods and the important role farming plays in Canada’s economy. In its leaflet entitled, “Why We Don’t Want CETA,” the National Farmers Union (NFU) writes, “CETA adds precautionary seizure provisions to intellectual property rights’ enforcement. This means that farmers accused of having a patented gene in their crops or seed could lose their farms, crops, equipment and cash — simply for alleged infringement. The Agreement would extend precautionary seizure provisions to third parties. For example, the owner of a seed cleaning operation whose customer is accused of patent infringement could also have his/her property seized. These expanded intellectual property rights enforcement tools would increase corporate control of our farms, increase seed costs, and destroy farmers’ autonomy.” The NFU also explains how CETA will undermine farmers’ cooperative marketing boards/supply management systems that provide them with a stable income: “CETA signatories would agree to co-operate at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to reduce agriculture safety net measures. These negotiations also lay the groundwork and justification for dismantling our supply management system in the future.”
Even some corporations oppose CETA because it does not serve their particular interests. Amongst those expressing opposition to CETA are members of the Canadian Shipowners Association (CSA) who are concerned that CETA may hurt Canada’s short sea shipping industry, its workers and suppliers and shippers. A press statement says:
“The CSA is concerned about the lack of transparency in the CETA negotiations and the fact that access to trades between Canadian ports may be given to EU carriers who employ international labour at much lower rates, do not pay Canadian taxes or employ Canadian workers and are not regulated to rigorous Transport Canada safety and operating standards for Canadian flag vessels. Canadian flag short sea shipping vessels are specially designed for Canada’s inland and coastal waters and to meet Canadian requirements. Unable to leave Canada and compete against cheaper international competition, the Canadian crewed, Canadian owned and regulated Canadian flagged domestic fleet will be hurt if Canadian cabotage rules are reduced to allow any international vessels access to Canadian markets.”
“Our mariners possess unique local knowledge that ensures that Canadian waters are safely transited, respected and protected,” said CSA President Robert Lewis-Manning. “We need to ensure that these jobs remain in Canada,” he said. The CSA expressed these views before the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade in February 2014, the press release says.
TML calls on everyone to go all out to participate in the actions to oppose CETA and spread the word about its dangers and the need to oppose it. It is by organizing with one’s peers to participate in such actions and inform others that people gain confidence and can negate the disempowering attacks of the ruling elite and defeat sellout trade deals like CETA and their traitorous proponents like the Harper government. Canadians must demand and work out how to set a new direction for the economy that upholds rights and sovereignty and restricts monopoly right.
See also these recent articles from TML Weekly, September 6, 2014 – No. 31:
Together We Can Stop CETA!
On September 26, officials from Canada and the European Union will meet at a ceremony in Ottawa to officially announce that negotiations for the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) are finished and the text has been finalized.
While CETA negotiations have been ongoing since 2009, no official texts of the agreement have ever been released to the public, and there has been no opportunity for public scrutiny of CETA.
But after September 26, there will be no way to make changes to the agreement.
While the Harper government and the European Union have ignored calls for transparency and democracy by finalizing the deal behind closed doors, the fight to stop CETA is far from over. Come hear from activists from Canada and Europe about the CETA threat, and how we can make sure CETA is never ratified.
Leaks of the text have revealed that CETA will have far-reaching impacts on both sides of the Atlantic, including:
– Giving corporations the right to directly sue governments in unaccountable international tribunals for compensation if new laws or regulations impact their profits
– Increasing the cost of pharmaceuticals in our health care system by a $1 billion or more per year
– Putting thousands of Canadian jobs at risk by opening up key parts of maritime shipping to European corporations
– Putting our public services at risk and making it harder to reverse failed privatizations or expand public services in the future
– Removing the rights of provinces, municipalities, schools and hospitals to get the most out of their procurement dollars by favouring local goods and services
Getting to Ottawa: The Seafarers International Union is organizing buses to Ottawa to participate in the rally, leaving from Montreal, Quebec City, Thorold, and Toronto the morning of September 26. To reserve a seat on the bus, email Verena at vgarofalo[at]seafarers.ca.