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Who's Defending the Local Economy in EU Trade Deal?

Posted by Winnipeg Chapter on September 12, 2011 at 10:25 PM Comments comments (1)

The Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union (EU) is currently being negotiated behind closed doors by the Harper government, provincial representatives, and the EU. The European Union is demanding the inclusion of an open procurement policy across all levels of government jurisdiction. This would result in both provinces and municipalities being effectively banned from applying any preferences in public contracting or procurement. Local and provincial governments could not purchase local goods, hire local companies, or sign contracts that had any considerations other than price. Infrastructure projects would no longer be an investment in local job creation as any corporation could sue a government that hired a local company that did not offer the lowest price.


An enforced open procurement policy would severely limit the ability of governments to respond to economic downturns with stimulus spending.


In Manitoba valued public assets like Manitoba Hydro, the Winnipeg International Airport, and Winnipeg Transit have all been identified as public assets that EU corporations could outbid and takeover. Given Winnipeg’s recent deal with the notorious French Water Company, Veolia, for a 30 year contract for our waste water treatment centres and with the CETA in effect there would be tremendous pressure placed on all Manitoba municipalities to privatize their water and waste services. The CETA would force governments to make decisions where profitability would have legal precedence over local economic concerns, the needs of the community, and the human right to the public availability of water.


As it stands the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union would restrict local and provincial government and limit our ability to make democratic choices about our economy. We would lose control over our resources, our jobs, our economy, and our local government.


Stephen Harper wants the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement signed by 2012, but he needs the cooperation of the provinces. During this election talk to your MLA and local candidates and tell them about your concerns over the CETA. Make sure that the next government of Manitoba will defend our local economy and our democracy by saying NO to the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement.


Contributor: Trevor Semotok - Council of Canadians Winnipeg Chapter Member


 For more info please click here.


CETA is like NAFTA on Uber-steroids

Posted by Winnipeg Chapter on July 4, 2011 at 1:55 PM Comments comments (0)

The Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) between European and Canadian governments offers little to the people who elected those governments, even though it would have significant consequences for public interests like jobs, workers’ rights, environmental protection, and public services as well as eroding our democratic rights.


The CETA is not for the general public; it is a tool to help big business further its profit driven goals. Negotiations are attended by corporate executives and business lobbyists representing some of the wealthiest and most powerful corporations in the world, and those corporations want access to all our goods, resources and services. The European Commission is seeking full coverage of procurement on a provincial and municipal level. This includes important public services like water, waste, transit - even school lunches.


On Monday, June 27th, we were at Red River College for the “Why CETA is bad for Canada – Canadian Communities not for sale” event. Maude Barlow (Council of Canadians), Paul Moist (CUPE) and David Jacks (Canadian Federation of Students) exposed some of the most dangerous aspects of this trade agreement. The discussion was wide ranging, showing us just how far CETA will reach into our everyday lives.   


Everything that is not specifically excluded from the agreement is considered to be included – even if it’s something that doesn’t presently exist and could not have been predicted. Any goods and services above $300,000 value, or infrastructure worth more than $8 million, purchased by any level of government will automatically come under the procurement rules of CETA. There are very few goods and services or infrastructure, even in the smallest municipalities, whose value is less than these limits. Every single purchase above these limits will be wide open to bids from European corporations, and the only criteria allowed for choosing a bidder is financial. Lowest bid gets the business.


The corporate grab doesn’t stop there. Health care and pharmaceuticals are also affected by CETA. The Harper government still refuses even to meet with the premiers to discuss the future of our medical system under this profit driven agreement, and the patent protection on prescription drugs will be extended by 5 years - adding $2.8 billion more per year to the already high cost of taking our medicine.

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The goal of CETA is to open new markets to European corporate interests; one effect will be to undermine and destroy unbiased public education with privately funded colleges. University of Manitoba’s new Monsanto Canada Breeding Centre is one example of what is to come; in some corporate funded colleges we have already seen pharmaceutical companies suing students who speak out against the sale of dangerous drugs.


In the past there had been a sense that higher education in Europe was something to be emulated as a high quality, free and academically pure system, but Europe is going through a makeover. The Bologna Process of harmonizing the various European educational structures has opened the door to some US models of education – and the US has one of the most expensive systems in the world. One of the immediate effects of the Process in Europe has been soaring tuition fees, leading to student protests, and sometimes brutal police suppression.



Europe is not what it used to be. They have been moving towards public-private partnerships in everything and now have huge corporations ready to burst out of Europe and come to greener pastures. CETA is a massive grab for resources.


In agriculture, the language is so strict that farmers even suspected of allowing patented seeds to grow - seeds that blew onto their land without their permission - will have everything seized and assets frozen.


Thriving local economies and sustainable practices will be forfeited to the procurement rules that give priority to corporate profit. Recently, the Scarborough Hospital in Toronto initiated a policy of local procurement for its meal service, setting out to prove that fresh food isn’t only healthier – it is also less expensive to provide even on a large scale. Under CETA, they would not be able to make that choice. All procurement has to be open to all the big corporations, and once they are in, their rights are protected. Any attempt to get rid of them allows them to sue for damages - as we have already seen under NAFTA with the Abitibi water and timber case.


Water could be completely commodified. The biggest private water companies in the world – Suez and Veolia – are European and they see that our aging infrastructure of public water and sewage treatment is up for grabs. As soon as CETA is signed, they are ready to take over – and we will have to allow them no matter the cost to our splendid lakes, rivers and to our health. With the $130 million settlement to Abitibi, Harper set precedent that any company needing water in production of its product now has absolute rights to the water - they own that water. Once CETA goes through you can never go back.


You haven’t seen much in the paper or the news about CETA because the Harper government does not want us talking about this. They understand that if the people of Canada have a chance to study this agreement we will not stand for it.


Here in Winnipeg we are already experiencing a taste of how CETA will operate, as our city council pushes ahead with the Veolia wastewater treatment contract. Veolia is a transnational corporation that deals primarily in water and wastewater treatment. They have a history of dishonesty, poor safety practices, disregard for environmental issues and - in common with big business everywhere - an absolute profit first mentality.


Under the proposed CETA, companies like Veolia would have even more power than our city council is already handing over to them. Local sustainability, ecological concerns, regional preferences would have no representation at the bargaining table as European corporations sit down to do business with municipalities all over Canada.


Winnipeggers now have no choice but to carry the burden of our contract with Veolia, giving us even more reason to stop the CETA, force transparency and somehow try to avoid the historical damage other communities have had to endure.


Canadians still have a choice. Canadians can choose to say no to the trade agreement with the European Union. We can choose to invest in local sustainable trade, and to do business with those who value people more than money.


Please take action to stop the CETA.
Talk to your friends and coworkers. Make some noise!

Send a message to the federal government using the CUPE Action Alert.

Send a message to your provincial and federal politicians.

Text CETA to 123411 and get the latest news and actions.

Ask your city council to pass a resolution.

Like this Youtube video and share it.

Tweet CETA alerts with the hashtag #CETA and #cdnpoli

Download “CETA is a bad deal for municipalities!

 

UPDATE: August 24th, 2011

Watch Full Video
“Why CETA is bad for Canada
– Canadian Communities not for sale”

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June 27, 2011