The finer details of the controversial and highly secretive Canada-EU trade deal, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), are now available to the Canadian and global publics for much-needed scrutiny.
Germany television show Tagesschau leaked the full text of the deal earlier today.
The full text is available at: http://www.tagesschau.de/wirtschaft/ceta-dokument-101.pdf.
The leak comes just over a week after Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that Canada and EU officials had finalized the deal. The text was not made available to the public. The media speculated that it had been sent to Canadian provincial governments and EU member states for feedback, and that the final agreement would be signed here in Ottawa next month.
The Council of Canadians is one the leading critics of the CETA deal here in Canada. In a statement posted on the organization’s website earlier, the Council welcome the leak.
“Throughout the process, this agreement and its devastating impacts have been kept locked away from legislators and the public, shielded from a democratic process. Finally, it comes to light, probably because people in Germany are fed up with the secrecy and fed up with being taken hostage by companies,” said Maude Barlow, the national chairperson of the Council of Canadians.
Two weeks ago leading Germany newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported that Germany would reject the multi-billion dollar deal. The paper indicated that Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government was vexed by provisions in the deal allowing corporations to sue governments infringing upon their pursuit of profits.
Canada already faces lawsuits under another trade, the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which Canada signed with Mexico and the United States in 1994. US-based energy company Lone Pine Resources Inc. is currently suing the Canadian government for $250-million after Quebec intervened in its environmentally destructive fracking business activities.
“Obviously, the Harper government is tone deaf when it comes to relations with Germany and the growing opposition to CETA,” said Barlow. “We are committed to working with the opposition in Europe to kill this ‘corporate bill of rights.’”
The Council of Canadians further observed:
- This text (and earlier versions of it) should have been made public to give the public the appropriate amount of time to read it, discern its contents and comment on it fully. The whole CETA negotiation process has been undemocratic, and has failed in terms of transparency.
- The 25-page investor-state section appears to be a standard investor-state dispute settlement: a three-person panel that would make decisions rather than the mature court systems. This probably will not placate Germany.
- The 30-page procurement section appears to give no consideration to the numerous Canadian municipalities that requested to be exempted from its provisions.
- The EU language was adopted on resolution of pharmaceutical patent disputes. This will open the flood gates to pharmaceutical companies’ law suits. This will lengthen patent lengths and delay generics coming to market. In the end, this could severely increase public health care costs by $900 million to $1.7 billion.