CETA and Telecommunications

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.

Our telecommunications system is both part of our everyday lives and an essential part of our infrastructure. We use it to keep in touch with friends and family, but also to reach emergency services.

Businesses need communications as much as they need roads and electricity. Without telecommunications, government and government services, including security services, they cannot function. Recognizing this critical role, the Telecommunications Act requires that telecom companies be majority owned and controlled by Canadians. Foreign investment is allowed up to 46.7 per cent, but not foreign control.

The CETA negotiations are poised to remove Canadian control of telecommunications. In the trade agreement under discussion, the Harper government has proposed that E.U. companies be allowed access to all Canadian telecommunications networks and services.

What will we lose if we give away Canadian ownership and control of telecom?

1. Culture – Because telecom and broadcasting services are provided by the same companies with the same technology, foreign control threatens Canadian content and our cultural identity. We must keep the ability to tell our own stories, listen to our own music and get our own point of view on the world.

2. Privacy – There will be less control over privacy rules with foreign owned telecom companies. Our personal information laws must be followed inside the country, but Canada’s Privacy Commissioner has already ruled that once data leaves Canada, its control is in the hands of other countries and the legislation of those authorities.

3. Security – If communications were knocked out by a natural disaster, such as floods or another ice storm, foreign owned companies are less likely to make Canadian needs the first priority.

4. Sovereignty – The Telecommunications Act gives Canadians input into our communications system and has ensured that basic telecom services are provided to everyone. This includes Canadians living in rural and remote regions, where it’s not profitable to provide service. Under foreign control of telecom companies, how will we ensure that all Canadians receive services?

For these reasons, many other countries protect their telecommunications from foreign control, including the U.S., Japan, Australia and China.

We don’t want or need foreign control of Canadian telecom services.

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. info@tradejustice.ca