“Throughout the process, this agreement and its devastating impacts have been kept locked away from legislators and the public, shielded from a democratic process. Finally, it comes to light, probably because people in Germany are fed up with the secrecy and fed up with being taken hostage by companies,” says Maude Barlow, Council of Canadians national chairperson.
The Harper government has celebrated the completion of the agreement this week, setting a signing date of September 26. CETA’s investor-state dispute settlement provisions have been on the radar in Germany, where there is opposition to them. They would allow corporations to sue countries for lost profit. The Vattenfall decision, where a company sued Germany for pulling out of the nuclear industry, is fresh in Germany’s mind after the Fukushima nuclear accident.
“Obviously, the Harper government is tone deaf when it comes to relations with Germany and the growing opposition to CETA. We are committed to working with the opposition in Europe to kill this ‘corporate bill of rights,’” remarked Barlow.
This text (and earlier versions of it) should have been made public to give the public the appropriate amount of time to read it, discern its contents and comment on it fully. The whole CETA negotiation process has been undemocratic, and has failed in terms of transparency.
The 25-page investor-state section appears to be a standard investor-state dispute settlement: a three-person panel that would make decisions rather than the mature court systems. This probably will not placate Germany.
The 30-page procurement section appears to give no consideration to the numerous Canadian municipalities that requested to be exempted from its provisions.
The EU language was adopted on resolution of pharmaceutical patent disputes. This will open the flood gates to pharmaceutical companies’ law suits. This will lengthen patent lengths and delay generics coming to market. In the end, this could severely increase public health care costs by $900 million to $1.7 billion.
The Council of Canadians is a major player in this battle and was the first to challenge CETA. The Council is available for further comment on this breaking story.