- Stuart Trew comments on the Cons' utterly implausible claims to try to impose the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the EU without the slightest bit of public scrutiny:
CETA will also most certainly give European firms the power to challenge and even overturn government measures, just as NAFTA gave this right to U.S. and Mexican firms.- But then, it's becoming more and more clear which constituency the Cons are serving while in office - as Geoff Dembicki reports on their efforts to fully coordinate government messaging with the interests of the tar sands.
Canada very recently lost a NAFTA investment case to Exxon Mobil and Murphy Oil. A three-person arbitration panel decided the province of Newfoundland and Labrador should either get rid of its profit-sharing requirements on offshore oil and gas projects or else compensate the firms for as much as $65 million for the inconvenience. Apparently the measures are an illegal “performance requirement” on the oil firms, one of which was the richest company in the world in 2011.
What chance does any Canadian province have to develop their resources sustainably and to the greatest public benefit when agreements like NAFTA and CETA take away all their policy options?
The most egregious Conservative claim is that CETA has been one of the most “transparent trade negotiations in Canadian history.” Meanwhile the text for the agreement is off limits to the public, and Canadians will have no say in what the deal looks like before it is signed. We know from past experience that Parliament also has little to no authority to make any changes to the text. Efforts at committee by the opposition to amend the Colombia, Peru and Jordan free trade agreements were shot down.
This is the antithesis of transparency. If CETA and agreements like it are supposed to be 21st century or “next-generation” free trade deals, they should be negotiated in 21st century ways — openly, transparently, and with broad public input. Failure to do so in the ACTA negotiations led to that agreement’s demise in the European Parliament. The same fate could easily await CETA on both sides of the Atlantic.
- Meanwhile, Heather Scoffield reports on how China's planned takeover of Nexen should combine with the handling of a Gateway pipeline which is now being opposed by the province most affected to test the Cons' determination to sell off all they can to oil interests.
- Finally, Kendra Milne makes a compelling case to exempt child support payments from social assistance benefits.