|Posted by Winnipeg Chapter on February 8, 2013 at 2:40 PM|
More and more bad news on the CETA front - it's now confirmed that CETA would severely limit the way government spends tax dollars to build healthy local economies and provide public services that are truly public.
No other free trade deal has reached so far into the pockets of taxpayers, and imposed such limitations on government's ability to govern. With government purchases in Manitoba totaling $5 - $8 billion annually, there's an enormous amount of good that can be done when decision makers put that money into local economies. Gaining control (through the rules of free trade agreements and CETA in particular) over how that money is spent is an incredible boon to corporate and business interests.
"Under existing free trade agreements, public expenditure is one of the few remaining policy tools provincial and municipal governments can use to directly support regional economic development, increase productivity, promote environmental policies and support disadvantaged communities." ff
Foreign takeovers of our natural resources become much more likely - indeed inevitable - as investment restrictions are lifted in areas such as energy, agri-food, mining and natural resource extraction in particular.
"CETA could remove the ability of the provincial government to require that jobs and business opportunities are created for Manitobans as a condition for the depletion of the province’s non-renewable resources by foreign investors." ff
Because of the European demand for longer pharmaceutical patent protections, Manitobans will have to pay an additional $42 million in drug costs, and the Pharmacare program will bear the burden of an extra $38 million a year. Less expensive generic drugs will be shelved for several more years until patents run out on name brand - and expensive - drugs, so that pharmaceutical companies can increase already high profits.
When governments attempt to regulate water or air quality for the benefit of citizens, corporations can (and will, as has already happened under NAFTA Chapter 11) demand compensation for loss of profits due to new anti-pollution or green energy requirements.
"An American firm has recently launched a $250 million claim for compensation due to Quebec’s recent environmental moratorium on fracking for natural gas underneath the St. Lawrence River." ff
Public services, once turned over to a private corporation, may never become public again, even if the private business cannot provide a minimum level of service, hikes fees for essentials like water, or fails altogether. Here in Winnipeg, we are already under contract to Veolia, one of the largest water corporations in the world, known to have been found guilty of many labour and human rights violations. Once CETA is signed, there's a good chance we'll be stuck with them - and many more profit-first corporations without any interest in local economies, or local people.
"The recent leaks from the high stakes “end game” negotiations indicate that the capacity of governments in Canada to promote the interests of their citizens and communities is being traded away while Canadians are largely unaware of what is at stake." ff
Please contact your MLA and tell them that CETA would be a bad deal for Manitobans. For some easy ways to talk to your MLA please check out our blog posting from this time last year. Let's stop CETA here!
Council of Canadians Winnipeg Chapter 2012 Stop CETA Campaign
ff - CCPA Fast Facts: Canada - EU Trade Deal Bad for Manitoba
Full 42 page report: CETA: Constraining Manitoba's Economic Prospects and Policy Options
CETA - The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada