Toronto – August 19, 2014 – After several years of speculation, Canadians are finally getting a glimpse of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), the free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union that was negotiated in secrecy and leaked by German Public Television. It is unfortunate that Canadians had to learn details of the agreement from German television and not from the Harper government, which seems to be doing everything in its power to keep the details of CETA from the Canadian public.
Prior to seeing the text of the agreement, CETA has been subject to criticism by a wide range of groups. While most opponents do not outright denounce free trade, they do raise questions about other aspects of the deal such as the power of investor rights as opposed to those of local and national governments. Will special investor rights undermine democracy and undermine the power of governments? This is a very valid concern and one that has been an issue with the German government.
No doubt there will be some sectors of our economy that will benefit, such as the agricultural sector where beef and pork producers will have European markets opened up to them. But CETA may negatively impact the dairy sector as European cheese producers will have greater access to Canadian markets.
Currently, only 521 pages of the 1500-page agreement have been leaked. Our politicians should not be rushing to rash determinations of the benefits or drawbacks of CETA. It is incumbent upon our leaders to review and debate the entire document. Only then can they make a rational decision as to whether CETA will benefit or hurt Canadians.