Council of Canadians Protest Against CETA, FIPA, and the Omnibus Budget Bill
Sunday, November 11, 20120 Comments
Peter Mackay, the Defense Minister in the Federal Government, was set to come to Guelph on Monday November 5 to receive a leadership award at Lourdes High-School. When community organizations heard about this they quickly organized to protest against Peter Mackay and the Federal Government.
However, Mackay cancelled the event to be in Ottawa for a vote that ended up not happening. Even though this occurred, a crowd gathered together last Monday at 1:30 pm outside of MP Frank Valerliote’s office to protest against Omnibus Budget Bill C-45, CETA – The Canada-European Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, and FIPA- The Foreign Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement. The Council of Canadians organized the protest.
Canada and the European Union have been negotiating this agreement since 2009. The Harper Conservatives wants to sign CETA by the end of 2012. If CETA is signed it will be used to further privatize the Canadian Economy.
According to the Council of Canadians, our government has not asked to keep our drinking water and our public water systems protected in the agreement. This means that under CETA private water companies from the EU will be able to claim their investment opportunities are being undermined by local monopolies. As a result, our water could become increasingly privatized.
At the same time CETA would increase drug and health care costs for Canadians. The agreement is estimated to add 3.5 yeas to the time it usually takes for cheaper, generic drugs to be allowed on the Canadian Market. As a result, drug plans, both private and public will be paying more: Nearly $3 billion annually to drug costs in Canada.
The Harper Conservatives claim that CETA excluded health care, public education and other social services. However, with the increased privatization in these services that has occurred over the years, a trade panel may allow these services to be privatized by the trade agreement because of the ambiguousness of whether these services are private or public goods.
Meanwhile CETA will give the Federal Government and the EU the ability to inhibit the implementation of new standards and regulations that may get in the way of a corporation’s ability to increase profits. Even regulations are for public health or the environment can be denied because of the agreement.
There is worry that CETA will open up opportunities for corporations to sue Canadian, municipal, provincial, and territorial governments if laws and regulations from these governments interfere with profits. Under NAFTA, Canada has paid $200 million to investors in settlements.
According to the Council of Canadians, this trade agreement with China will allow Chinese Energy Companies to threaten governments “Against imposing environmental rules on tar sands production, pipeline construction and other projects.” If there are denials or even delays on energy investments, corporations will be able to sue Canadian federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments. Instead of the decisions on these lawsuits being made in Canadian courts, private arbitrators will have the final say.
In stark contrast, a recent Canadian Film Board Documentary titled “The Hole Story,” advocates for the Nationalization of the resource sector in Canada, allowing minerals and oil wealth to be publically controlled. The idea is that Canadian people would hold publically controlled resource industry accountable.
Omnibus Budget Bill C- 45
This 457 page budget bill was introduced by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty on October 18. The last omnibus bill included Employment Insurance cuts, and an extension in the age to collect pensions, along with cuts to the government’s ability to make environmental assessments.
The next omnibus bill includes many changes to Canadian Policy. Toronto Star Columnist Tim Harper pointed out in a recent column that the changes in Bill C-45 “cannot be properly scrutinized (by MPs) to hold the government to account” because the changes are being pushed through so quickly.
One of the many changes includes amending the Navigable Waters Act to eliminate impediments to pipelines, power lines or forestry equipment.
According to Emmui Lui from Rabble.ca, “Bill C-45 strips protections from 99% of lakes and rivers under the Navigable Waters Protections Act.” Many of these bodies of water are on First Nations Land. Not only is this bill against Native Treaty Rights, but it also will allow it to be easier for companies to put pipelines across bodies of water.
Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois recently went on a tour in Canada to talk about the importance of building a mass movement to block austerity and privatization measures like the ones mentioned above. On November 22 at 7 pm the Council of Canadians will be having an event at 10 Carden Street where community members can attend to discuss how to build a movement against the recent trade deals, as well as the Omnibus Bill.