Charlottetown – March 4, 2014
A coalition of 22 local groups has come together to raise concerns about the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and to request that the government of Prince Edward Island consult fully with Islanders on the effects of the proposed deal.
At a news conference held in Charlottetown this morning, the groups called the CETA agreement “the most intrusive that Canada has ever signed” and maintained that it will have serious consequences for many aspects of life on P.E.I. Among those areas cited as being threatened by CETA are the province’s agricultural industry and its health care system. They also believe the deal will limit or remove the government’s ability to create jobs, support local businesses and negotiate benefits for Islanders from companies investing in the province’s resources.
While noting that these weren’t the only areas of concern, speakers at the news conference addressed topics such CETA’s negative effects on:
- the dairy industry, supply management and local food;
- the ability of investors and multinational companies to over-ride decisions made by democratically-elected governments;
- the costs of drugs and the operation of the health care system more generally;
- local economic development and government purchasing decisions; and
- the fishing industry.
The coalition also emphasized that it was not against trade but expressed grave concerns about the nature of so-called free trade agreements such as CETA. It noted that, despite its name, CETA is not primarily about tariff reduction and pointed out that current tariffs on Canadian exports to Europe average only 2.2%.
Instead, they stated that the greater part of the agreement is about expanding the rights of multinational companies, while reducing the ability of provincial and municipal governments to pursue policies that benefit local communities and everyday citizens.
Focusing particularly on the secrecy surrounding the negotiation of the deal, the coalition explained that it had delivered a formal letter to Premier Robert Ghiz asking that his government:
- Champion the idea of a democratic review of CETA;
- Release the text of the CETA agreement to the public of Prince Edward Island;
- Hold extensive public hearings across the province on CETA;
- Introduce the CETA deal for debate and vote in the P.E.I. legislature; and
- Establish a committee of the P.E.I. Legislative Assembly to receive public input and to examine the impact CETA would have on Prince Edward Island and Canada.
They’ve also asked the provincial government to outline what exemptions (or “reservations”, as they’re called in CETA) it has designated as a means of protecting important areas – such as renewable energy, public transit and fisheries policies related to owner/operator requirements and fleet separation – from the effects of CETA.
Islanders have the right to see the final CETA text, discuss its merits and decide for themselves whether they agree with it or not, the coalition concluded.
The groups collaborating as part of the coalition include:
Council of Canadians
P.E.I. Union of Public Sector Employees
Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island
Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club of Canada
Breaking the Silence
National Farmers Union, Region 1, District 1
Canadian Union of Public Employees (P.E.I. Division)
P.E.I. Federation of Labour
Prince Edward Island Public Transit Coalition
McKillop Center for Social Justice
P.E.I. Health Coalition
Citizens’ Alliance of P.E.I.
Latin American Mission Program
Don’t Frack P.E.I.
Prince Edward Island Food Security Network
P.E.I. Nurses Union
CUPW Charlottetown Local 030
United Food and Commercial Workers
Public Services Alliance of Canada
Save Our Seas and Shores, P.E.I. Chapter