In many of these agreements that we’ve been following, transparency is a major concern. Now, CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) is on the receiving end of another call for transparency. This time, it comes from another municipality in Ontario, Canada.
One of the many problems with these agreements that we’ve been saying or years is that it causes the countries to give up certain powers to form their own laws. Instead of elected officials changing the local laws, the agreements force the politicians to simply create laws at the whims of foreign entities. That’s one of the issues being raised again with CETA.
We covered CETA last week with extensive coverage of what is in it and why people are objecting to it more recently. Municipalities from the North West territories as well as a number of provincial premiers were expressing concerns over the agreement ranging from not having access to the secretive agreement to losing control over the very cities or provinces/territories because of these agreements.
Now, another municipality has joined in the calls for the agreement to be more transparent. In the city of Amherstburg (in Ontario), city council has voted on a motion that would pressure the federal government to increase the transparency of the agreement. From the report:
The motion, brought forth by Councillor Bob Pillon, centers around the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and calls for the federal government to disclose the full content of CETA to the Canadian public, ensure that all governments including municipal bodies are able to use public money to favor local goods and services increasing support for local food schools, municipalities, hospitals and universities, protect the right of farmers to save, reuse, exchange and sell seeds and not extend corporate patent rights for drugs which, according to the motion, will drive up health care costs.
A similar motion has been passed by Essex County council.
Pillon’s motion states that “Canadian municipalities have expressed growing concerns with trade agreements and their potential impacts on municipal programs and services and local autonomy.”
The motion also states that the federal government and the European Union “refuse to disclose draft texts of the agreement to the public.” It also states that “under the covered procurement section of CETA, all governments and government entities including municipalities, schools, hospitals and universities are forbidden from favoring local goods and services, over a certain threshold, including local food, which could significantly reduce or eliminate the right to specify local priorities when public money is invested.”
The motion was apparently backed by the Canadian Autoworkers Union (CAW) which is no small and insignificant union either.
This is certainly following a familiar political narrative in Canada where the federal government is doing its own thing and not taking into consideration the regions of Canada outside of Alberta. One of the many controversies facing the government has been reforms to the Employment Insurance which has caused many maritime provinces to worry about the stability of their own economy given that a large portion of their economy is based on seasonal work. Regardless, the federal government is forging ahead with their plans whether or not the maritime provinces approve of it or not.
All this could come in to play over CETA later on as more municipalities realize just how much damage the agreement can do. The calls for transparency has gone well beyond the copyright provisions which have been rumored to contain a one strike policy at one point. That’s not to say that the copyright and patent provisions aren’t worrying, but it has been a part of a whole list of reasons for people to object to the agreement. Who knows? Maybe the movement to stop CETA in its tracks will grow to the point where all of Canada could eventually be trying to pressure the Canadian government to fully back out of the agreement altogether.
I think supporters of the secret agreement should hope that this momentum stops cold in its tracks now because the agreement could become politically toxic for the federal government later on down the road. We’ll certainly try to keep an eye on this as things develop.