Biggest Free Trade Deal Since NAFTA, Ghost Issue of 2011 Election http://www.bilaterals.org/spip.php?article19413
There’s been little coverage of the deal, with only Parliamentary reports from last fall and leaked reports from private negotiations to go on. Yet Stephen Harper says he hopes to wrap up negotiations by the end of 2012."The first thing to know about CETA is really it’s not mainly about trade: genuine trade barriers between Canada and the European Union are already very low," says Scott Sinclair, a senior research fellow for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and a former senior trade policy advisor with the B.C. government."My concern is that the agreement’s more about limiting democratic policy options and enhancing corporate power, really, than enhancing trade."
Unlike past trade agreements, including the failed Trade and Investment Enhancement Agreement negotiated with the E.U. under the Liberal government in 2005-06, this agreement involves areas of provincial and municipal jurisdiction."The provinces are right now in the process of compiling a list of services including public services and government measures; crown corporations, including in Ontario the liquor board; and municipal governments, that they’re willing to basically put on the chopping block, that they’re willing to throw into this deal, and we haven’t seen this list," says Stuart Trew, trade campaigner with the Council of Canadians.
The main reason for opening up the provinces and municipalities, says Trew, is for procurement of public contracts, encompassing everything from constructing hospitals, to supplying bus fleets, to privatizing our water and sewer systems. Trew estimates Canada spends as much as $200 billion on such contracts a year. "The European Union is itself a highly privatized area which I think most Canadians don’t realize," he told The Tyee."If you look at transit, energy, and definitely postal services, these are highly privatized in the European Union. Water is still, like Canada, mostly in public hands. And so they see in CETA a way to one,
open up Canada’s public services to privatization, and also to kind of set a global example for where they can push other countries to include these same services and procurement rules with the E.U."But just because water is public in Europe doesn’t mean it will remain so in Canada, warns Paul Moist, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees."I know from first-hand experience they’re extremely interested in all water infrastructure in Canada: waste water treatment, water treatment, etc., because at the annual [Federation of Canadian Municipalities] convention [European corporations are] there in droves with their trade show materials," he told The Tyee.