Canada-European Trade Agreement - CETA
- Over the last 20 years, the middle class, that’s families earning between $40,000 and $60,000 have lost on average about 1 week of income for each and every year since the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement was implemented. Now that means they’re working a 52 week years of course, and being paid for 51. So there’s been a significant erosion of income.
- For the low middle-class; those are families earning between $20,000 and $40,000 a year, they’ve actually lost twice as much. They’ve lost an average of 2 weeks of income for each and every year since the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement was implemented.
- And the most significant impact won’t be a surprise to you, is the poorest Canadians. Families earning less that $20,000 a year. They’ve lost on average, a month of income for each and every year since 1989. A month of income. Now just imagine trying to stretch your family income for that month. It’s like you’re being not paid for a month for every year.
- Another part of the overall income level that has changed dramatically is the wealthiest. Their income has skyrocketed. The top 20%, the wealthiest 20% of Canadian families have seen their incomes go up by 35%. And now the wealthiest take most of the Canadian income pie. They take 52% of all Canadian income.
Now the fourth myth is something you’ll hear from the International Trade
Minister often. That before each trade agreement; the Government evaluates the
positives and the negative and then makes the decision, based on what is best
The truth is, that is completely false. In none of the trade agreements that Canada has signed, had there even been a comprehensive impact study.
Now as far as CETA is concerned, the International Trade Minister waved the study, which talks about economic benefits to the country. And I’ve looked at the study. This is what is says.
- The softwood lumber sell-out. We, also in British Columbia particularly, it’s cost us so far, $1.2 Billion in penalties and fines and over 50,000 jobs.
- The ship building sell-out that was signed with EFTA, just 2 years ago, has lead to a significant job loss in the ship building sector. Again, no evaluation or impact study was ever done.
- And the ‘Buy American’ deal that you heard about in January (2011). It gave up access to $30 Billion in procurement in Canada. It basically said that American companies can come in and apply for those contracts and in return, we were supposed to have access to the American market. Except that never happened. Companies like CREW(sp?) Company applied in the United States and they said “no, we’re not going accept your application because we have a ‘Buy America Plan’. Canadian companies cannot apply.
Now on Thursday in Ottawa, the bureaucrats from Foreign Affairs and International Trade came forward and asked the question. How many cases are there where Canadian families, where Canadian companies were actually excluded from ‘Buy American’ contracts they should have been able to bid on? And how many cases did American companies get access to Canadian contracts. They had no idea. They said, “We don’t track that”.
Let’s turn now to what is in CETA. And we’re fortunate to know what is in CETA because at least one bureaucrat with a conscience, has on 2 occasions, leaked the draft text on CETA. Which is why in civil society within the NDP, the labor movement, we’ve been able to get those draft texts and actually surmise what is in this agreement (end of Part 2)
Here are the 8 sectors that I think we should all be most concerned about. And the 3 sectors that are most dangerous to Canada.
First is the Investor-State or Chapter 11 Provisions. Who has heard of those provisions? Investor-State, Chapter 11. Chapter 11 of NAFTA includes what they call the Investor-State Provisions.
Let me give you 2 examples:
- Ethyl Corporation manufactured a neurotoxin, MMT, with serious dangerous health impacts. The Canadian government fortunately acted and banned that product. Banned MMT. And Ethyl Corporation said well that’s going to have an impact on the potential of our future profits. They sued Canadian Taxpayers and Canada was obliged to cough up $15 Billion in compensation for a product that was known to be toxic and deadly. Absurd. But that’s how Investor-State Provisions work. (Ethyl Corp Sues Canada)
- Here’s another example, more contemporary. AbitibiBowater, a company in Newfoundland/Labrador. They took extensive timber rights and water rights in Newfoundland/Labrador, signed a contract to guarantee jobs in return. It was a contractual agreement. AbitibiBowater said “we’re not going to keep this contract. We’re going to shut down these mills.” Newfoundland/Labrador government, with unanimous support of the democratically elected legislature, all parties, Liberal, Conservative, NDP voted to take back the timber rights and take back water rights because they had reneged on the contract. AbitibiBowater sued. And last summer, Federal Government took money out of every taxpayer; money out of their pockets and paid $130 Million in compensation to AbitibiBowater for AbitibiBowater refusing to keep their side of the contractual arrangement with the Government.
$130 Million would take 20% of the all seniors living in poverty in this country, and lift them out of poverty. That’s a considerable amount of money. And the real kicker here is that the Chapter 11 provisions were set up to protect American companies in Canada. The idea being, that foreign companies be treated on an equal footing with Canadian companies. But AbitibiBowater is Canadian. So how did they use these Chapter 11 provisions? How did they use these Investor-State Provisions? Well they had a mail box in Delaware and they used that to attack our Canadian Government.
Now the problem with CETA is it has Investor-State Provisions on steroids, which means more companies will be able to use these provisions. And now because of the AbitibiBowater precedence, it means it’s not going to be European companies attacking our government, it can be Canadian companies, it can be American companies, or South American companies. All you need to do is open a brand in Europe or put in a mail box application and all of a sudden, you’re European and you can sue Governments for decision they’ve taken in the best interest of the people of their jurisdiction.
That is perhaps the most egregious, the most dangerous component of all in CETA. The expanded Investor-State Protections which allow companies to then use their own special courts. Now these companies actually have a role in choosing the judges as well, so they’ll be using their own special courts to attack our governments.
Second component in CETA is Agriculture.
It provides stability in the dairy industry, in the poultry industry, in the egg sectors. Now let’s just compare for a moment what it means to have a supply-manage sector compared to the kind of free-for-all, free market in agriculture that the conservatives love to talk about.
- The average cattle farm in Canada had a net operating income of minus $15,000. They lost money.
- The average hog farm in Canada in 2010 had net operating income of minus $166,000.
What’s happened in Supply-management?
- In egg and poultry, the average net farm receipts were $87,000 for the good, in Canada.
- And for dairy farmers, it was $88,000 to the good, to the positive.
Secondly, the Conservatives as you know have been trying for a number of years to do away with the Canadian Wheat Board. They’ve attacked the Wheat Board, they tried to rig the elections and a funny thing happened. They were supposedly standing up for Canadian farmers. And Canadian farmers now, year after year after year have elected a solid majority of pro-Canadian Wheat Board Directors to the Canadian Wheat Board.
Those are the farmers speaking across the country. They’re saying they want the Wheat Board. So since the farmers want the Wheat Board, the Conservatives can’t do away with it that way. What have they done? They throw in on the table on CETA. What they have done is they have put all the loan and initial payment guarantees that farmers depend on in the Wheat Board. They put it on the table for negotiation. So what they’re doing is destroying the Wheat Board by giving it away, over to the European Union.
Thirdly on food safety: Now the agreement as we have it now would allow for no audit or inspection on food imported from the European Union. You’ve heard about these recent outbreaks such as tainted milk products from China going through the European Union? We would no longer have the right to inspect or audit that food, unless there are outbreaks and people are sick or die. Then we can move. That is the agricultural components of CETA as put on the table with CETA.
There’s one other element I’ll come back to a little later on, and that’s what they’re doing with seeds. Absolutely appalling.
Third area, Public Services.
Here’s just one example of how the European water companies actually operate.
- The company is called International Water Corporation. It took over the water supply, the water utility of Cochabamba, Bolivia. And what they did next, was jack up the prices so that the cost of water in Cochabamba having that access to water was about a fifth of the daily wage. Many people in the community couldn’t afford those rates. And the company signed a special contract with the city that actually prohibited the collection of rain water. So the company is refusing service to those who can’t pay a fifth of their daily wage and the company is saying that rain water that’s ours. You can’t collect it for your family. Understandably, the people of Cochabamba, much like the Egyptians did over the last few weeks, revolted. A number of them died. There were peaceful demonstrations that were met with violence by the State. But eventually, people of Cochabamba kicked out International Water Corporation and they restored public ownership utility in the area. This is the kind of treatment that we see form European water companies and this is something that we have to be apprehensive about.
Secondly, EU Health Care Corporations are targeting Canadian Medicare.We know what happens when that happens. In the United States they have private health care corporations and the cost of their health care system, even though millions of Americans still are not covered, even under Obamacare, is twice as much per person than it is in Canada. They have a poor system, but it costs twice as much. And the same health care corporations that have driven up costs in the United States and some parts of Europe, now want to come in and take over portions our Health Care, our Publically Funded Public Health Care system. Now the problem is as I mentioned earlier, with Investor-State, once those areas are privatized, and the health care corporations move in, if government ever sees that the folly of privatizing our health care and tries to take it back, they are going to be subject to massive compensations claims, that we the people of this country, the tax payers of this country, are going to have to pay.
Thirdly, when we talk about public services, the attack on our Public Postal Services and this has got to be concern clear across the country, particularly in rural areas of the country.Our universal public delivery service is based on the concept that the low cost, high density urban areas, subsidize in a sense, the high cost low density rural areas. That’s what it means to have universal postal services. If you start to cream that off and privatize the portions that are most interesting for profit hungry corporations, what you end up with in rural areas is either gutting service or sky-rocketing costs. And what does that mean for small businesses in those rural areas? And what does it mean for the individuals? Either scenario means that rural areas of our country will be hard hit by privatization of our public services and postal service.
Fourth Section is Public Procurement.Now we all know the multiplier affect of tax payers dollars. In the municipalities, in the province, when we take tax dollars and we purchase something locally, that means that the dollars go further. And study after study after study have proven when you purchase locally, you are making a much greater use of the tax payers dollar than you are ever, if you buy a much cheaper good, cheaper service form off shore. The big European corporations want to take on our public procurement. And so this is what the impacts will be for example, at the municipal level; the use of that fundamental principal of the use of the tax payers dollar locally to stimulate the local economy. The Columbia Institute released a study a few months ago that says this about the CETA procurement rules.
Fifth Area – Health Care Costs.
Sixth Provision of CETA is the Environment.
The fear is also in the environmental movement, that multi-national corporations can use these so-called Kangaroo courts; these special courts that are set up, where they get help name the judges, to challenge existing environmental regulations and oppose new ones.