The Canada-E.U. Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement negotiations are based on commitments to place corporate rights before social and economic justice, democratic control, and ecological sustainability. Negotiations are progressing quickly and with little public scrutiny until now.
Especially during economic hard times, citizens expect their governments to take best advantage of tax dollars to create jobs and business opportunities in local communities. They also want government to purchase ethically and in a manner which reduces environmental impact.
All of that is at risk in the negotiations for a new trade agreement between Canada and the European Union. The E.U. has made clear one of its top priorities is to gain unrestricted access to purchasing by provincial and municipal governments. At stake is government purchasing in Canada worth more than $100 billion per year.
Why is the E.U. making this demand? One big reason is pressure from transnational corporations, such as European based water companies, which have set their sights on the huge government procurement market in Canada. The Canada Europe Round Table for Business (representing the largest corporations in both Canada and Europe) has urged full “…opening of capital and procurement markets…”.
The Canadian government has supported the E.U. demand. In anticipation of the Canada/E.U. deal, the Harper government has been pushing provinces and municipalities to give up the right to use tax dollars to develop local economies. In the recent temporary procurement agreement with the U.S., the Canadian government signed away the right for provinces and municipalities to give priority to local Canadian businesses, even though U.S. states and municipalities continue to retain that right and rightly refuse to give it up.
Many think the agreement with the U.S. is meant to “soften up” provinces and municipalities for the bigger and more permanent prohibitions of the Canada/E.U. deal.
If the Canadian government gives in to the European demand, local communities will not only be stripped of the right to support local employment, but will also be restricted in their ability to implement ethical buying policies, to reduce their carbon footprint by buying locally or to use purchasing for other goals like minority hiring. The right for democratically elected governments to make policy for local citizens will be seriously compromised.
Canadian municipalities have not been consulted about what is on the table. Municipalities and citizens need to let the Harper government know they want their tax dollars to create local benefits.
What should we do?
Call your municipal councillors, provincial politicians and your Member of Parliament. Find out if they are in favour of this deal. If so, ask them how it would affect your community. Ask how it would strengthen Canada’s social, economic and environmental policies.
Tell us about your conversations. Link to the website. Share the materials. Learn more at tradejustice.ca.
Get your organization to sign the Civil Society Declaration on the Canada-E.U. trade agreement and become a member of the Trade Justice Network. firstname.lastname@example.org