Federal leaders’ debate: Canada’s trade deals need independent analysis, not corporate cheerleading, says Trade Justice Network

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  • 15 Sep 2015
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Federal leaders’ debate: Canada’s trade deals need independent analysis, not corporate cheerleading, says Trade Justice Network

Ottawa — On the cusp of Thursday’s federal election debate on the economy, the Trade Justice Network, (www.tradejustice.ca), a coalition of Canadian unions, environmental groups and citizens’ groups, is calling on federal leaders to mandate the Parliamentary Budget Officer to do real fact-based analysis before they sign “free trade” deals that are destructive to Canadian jobs. In the case of CETA, the Canada-European Union trade agreement that has already been signed by the Harper government, this analysis should happen immediately.

In particular, the Trade Justice Network would like trade deals to be analyzed by the Parliamentary Budget Officer as part of a process of full accountability to Parliament, a recommendation made earlier today by Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette. Payette has asked if the PBO could do an independent analysis of CETA, the Comprehensive Trade and Economic Agreement between Canada and the EU.

“Most Canadians wouldn’t buy a new car without researching the warranty coverage, the mileage, reviews of the vehicle and so on.  Yet our government would have us agree to sweeping economic agreements like CETA and the TPP without providing us any facts at all, just empty slogans about how wonderful things will be after we sign on,” says Larry Brown, national secretary-treasurer of the National Union of Public and General Employees and co-chair of the Trade Justice Network.

Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, echoed this concern. “With CETA, Harper has been promoting dubious job figures that many economists have challenged. These deals often have nothing to do with real economic trade and with jobs but are corporate rights treaties that benefit only the few.  When we are making decision of that great importance, they cannot be negotiated in secret with no accountability to citizens and with no any real independent analysis.”

In Australia, the Productivity Commission, an independent government advisory body, analyzes trade deals before they are signed and has recently expressed concerns about the Trans-Pacific Partnership currently under negotiation.

“We completely support the Senator’s request to the PBO for some research into the real impacts of CETA or the TPP, and we wouldn’t want this research to wait until we’ve already signed on to the deals, we should be given the facts about the TPP long before our Government commits us to the deal, and certainly deserve the facts about CETA before it is ratified,” concluded Brown.

The Trade Justice Network is comprised of environmental, civil society, student, Indigenous, cultural, farming, labour and social justice organizations that have come together to challenge the scope and secret negotiating process of most free trade agreements. It emphasizes the need for a more sustainable, equitable and socially just international trade regime.

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Contact: Sujata Dey, (613) 796-7724