Harper’s dazzling and distracting Canada-EU trade promotion tour fails to answer tough questions about the deal, says Council of Canadians


Ottawa, Ontario – The Council of Canadians is responding to the Harper government’s light and magic show across Canada today to promote the Canada-EU free trade agreement with the following difficult questions that neither the federal nor provincial governments have answered:

  • Why do Conservative ministers keep insisting that CETA (the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the EU) will create 80,000 jobs when there is no factual basis for this in any government documentation.

  • Why do the Conservatives insist CETA will lead to $12 billion in new GDP growth when a subsequent, more thorough assessment of the deal for the European Commission suggests the value is half that?1

  • How can Harper square that number with the reality, acknowledged in a joint Canada-EU economic assessment of CETA, that Canada’s trade deficit will grow by at least $8 billion the deal? (See the joint assessment).

  • What does the government say about independent assessments showing that an $8 billion deficit is more likely to lose us jobs than create them, in the order of between 23,000 and 150,000, according to one study? (See report)

  • What do the Conservative ministers say about the growing number of municipalities that want to be excluded from CETA because of procurement and policy restrictions that will undermine their local autonomy and spending powers? The inclusion of cities and towns in Canada’s procurement commitments in CETA is purely a European Union request. Why cave into it so easily when so many cities want to be kept out of the deal?

  • Does the Harper government dispute that intellectual property changes to Canada’s pharmaceutical regime proposed by the EU will increase the cost of drugs by nearly $3 billion annually, as one influential study has shown? (See study)

  • Why won’t the Conservatives listen to their own Heritage Committee, which a year ago recommended that copyright issues should not even be broached in the CETA or any other trade negotiation because they are too controversial and must be dealt with openly and democratically by legislators? (See report)

  • Why is the EU protecting its municipally delivered services including water but Canada is not? We’ve seen the initial offers from both sides and the Europeans want to protect the right of cities to expand or create new municipal services where Harper and the provinces will only protect existing serviced (new or expanded transit, recycling or water monopolies would be vulnerable to trade and investment challenges in Canada under CETA). (See tradejustice.ca for leaked copies of the CETA text).

“The Conservative trade tour is just smoke and mirrors. We’ve looked over Harper’s provincial CETA fact sheets and none of them address the fundamental imbalances in this EU deal between municipal rights and corporate rights, between the many jobs we can expect to lose in manufacturing and construction versus the few Canadian companies will pick up in Europe,” says Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “Harper’s strategy seems to be to blind us with numbers that just don’t add up then leave the stage without truly debating with uncomfortable challenges to his free trade ideology.”


For media inquiries:

Dylan Penner, Media Officer, Council of Canadians, (613) 795-8685, dpenner@canadians.org
Twitter: @CouncilOfCDNs, Facebook

  1. The original Canada-EU joint assessment of the economic benefits of CETA says: “The annual real income gain by the year 2014, compared to the baseline scenario, would be approximately €11.6 billion for the EU (representing 0.08% of EU GDP3), and approximately €8.2 billion for Canada (representing 0.77% of Canadian GDP).” But the more recent Sustainability Impact Assessment says: “Specifically, the modelling estimates that the EU will experience increases in its real GDP of 0.02% to 0.03% over the long-term, while Canada is estimated to see increases ranging from 0.18% to 0.36%.” If €8.2 billion, or about $12 billion CDN (as the Harper government uses) is 0.77% of GDP but CETA would only see increases of between 0.18 and 0.36% of GDP, the Harper government is exaggerating the benefits by at least 100% and likely more.

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