The dog and pony show ministers have been engaged in across this country while promoting a Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement with the European Union is worrisome.
It could be the biggest trade deal this nation has ever had and before details of it are made public and Canadians are given a chance to weigh in on an agreement that could impact the way we do business and every product, service and natural resource we produce, we’re being told to buy it.
Harper’s public relations machine has started churning out sound bites about the benefits of such a deal and ministers have been told to promote it in their ridings.
Yet, not only has it not been presented to Parliament, but neither have any of the details contained therein (other than the leaked ones).
Canadians should know more of the facts and before negotiations are firmed up, the Feds should tell Canadians what such a trade deal will cost them.
Greater opportunity for Canadian companies and more job creation is certainly good news, what we’re concerned about is how much would the agreement protect Canada’s natural resources such as our lumber and fresh water supplies?
Will job creation related to the export of our resources be part of the trade requirement before they are exported?
How will it impact our universal health services? The cost of pharmaceuticals in Canada as well as the impact on the industry being negotiated through the agreement will be important.
Other questions include what will happen to Canadian companies and products when tendering out large contracts in-house. Will government contracts be open to foreign competition? Will research and development and economic incentives still be available? What about European migration rules? How will they be implemented?
Other than promises of greater access for Canadian products to larger markets, we have no knowledge of the details. An agreement of such magnitude should be discussed openly. While we certainly don’t prescribe to protectionism — given our experience with telecommunications in this country — labour, environmental, health and pharmaceutical as well as natural resources are some areas requiring particular attention.
We need more transparency. The fact that the Tories have started selling their plan means there’s probably a fight ahead.
Harper should make negotiations public now to allow ample opportunity for public debate.