CETA trade deal threatens Island, says coalition of concerned groups

Dave Stewart
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Leo Broderick, right, vice-chair of the P.E.I. chapter of the Council of Canadians, was warning against CETA at a press conference on the matter, along with Toni Tracey, left, representing the P.E.I. Federation of Labour, and Lori MacKay, president of the P.E.I. chapter of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

Drug costs are going to rise, municipalities will lose the ability to procure goods and services locally and basic necessities like drinking water will fall into foreign ownership.

Those are some of the dire warnings the local chapter of the Council of Canadians issued for Islanders at a press conference in Charlottetown on Thursday.

Leo Broderick, vice-chair of the P.E.I. chapter, showed up at the event with some help: the Canadian Labour Congress, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the P.E.I. Health Coalition were all on hand to speak out against the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union.

Broderick said the federal government is spreading misinformation about CETA and how it will boost both the national and provincial economies.

"We want to take about CETA deception,'' Broderick said.

He dismissed the federal government's line that CETA would boost Canada's gross domestic product by $12 billion annually. According to Ottawa, that's the equivalent to creating nearly 80,000 new jobs or adding $1,000 to the average Canadian family's income.

"That is false information," he added before criticizing Island MP Gail Shea for going along with the message.

Broderick said the P.E.I. government is "party to this agreement'' because it has been so quiet. The Liberal government has included gambling and betting services in its list of protected items under CETA but Broderick said water services, such as drinking water and wastewater, were left out.

"That is a major cause for concern . . . the premier is betraying Islanders.''

Mary Boyd, representing the P.E.I. Health Coalition, says the trade deal threatens Medicare.

Boyd says Europe, on behalf of the big pharmaceutical companies, is pushing Canada to lengthen the period of its monopoly drug patents and delay the availability of lower-priced generic drugs. The proposed changes would add almost $3 billion annually to Canada's drug bill.

"That money should be going into sustainable health care, not going to corporations. That money will come out of provincial health budgets. We need access to affordable medication,'' Boyd said.

She added that the EU is also demanding Canada weaken NAFTA protections that shield Canada's health care system from international trade deals.

Toni Tracey, with the P.E.I. Federation of Labour, said the trade agreement will prohibit municipalities from putting 'buy local' or 'buy Canadian' preferences on contracts or requiring that bidders use some portion of local or Canadian goods, services or labour.

"It would have a massive impact,'' Tracey said.

He cited one example of a person who works at CFB Greenwood in Nova Scotia buying apples two years ago at the store that had been shipped in from Australia despite the fact they are grown in mass quantities in nearby Annapolis Valley.

Lori MacKay, representing CUPE, said the deal is eroding P.E.I. and Canada's powers.

"CETA will fundamentally reshape Canada,'' MacKay said.

dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/DveStewart

Organizations: Canadian Union of Public Employees, P.E.I. Health Coalition, EU Canadian Labour Congress P.E.I. Federation of Labour

Geographic location: Canada, P.E.I., Charlottetown Ottawa Europe Nova Scotia Australia Annapolis Valley.Lori MacKay

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Recent comments

  • Brand any dissenters garth and jamie
    November 16, 2012 - 08:26

    The global village and NAFTA have destroyed the middle class in Canada and the only one to get rich on NAFTA was Brian Mulroney a known crook who received bags of cash from jail birds much like the Montreal Inquiry. Garth Staples is a mouthpiece for anything Harper and he is joined by Jamie in branding any dissenter without any comment to the important economics which Broderick is speaking about. Political hacks comments should be discarded while Harper stokes our new two class system of haves and have nots. The bankers and the poor. Of course all the poor are sour grapes or just plain losers, right Garth? thanks eh?

  • somebody had to say it
    November 16, 2012 - 07:55

    can somebody inform these hippies that free trade agreements are a good thing? They bring consumer prices down, in this particular case it will diversify Canadian trade, and oh ya, IT WILL CREATE JOBS. These people need to give it a rest. The same thing was going on in 1988 with NAFTA and I don't many people would complain today about that agreement.

  • don
    November 15, 2012 - 21:07

    oh no i can see ghizzy selling our fresh water.

  • Garth Staples
    November 15, 2012 - 19:32

    This horde was against free trade with USA and Mexico. The agreement has created 100s of 1000 of jobs in Canada. We live in a global village but not everyone can be a small farmer or a public servant. get on with reality and life in the NEW world. Be creative rather than reactive for a new life.

  • Jamie MacKay
    November 15, 2012 - 19:30

    Well, Leo's been out of the headlines for a while. I was hoping the local media had stopped bothering with him, but I guess we're not that lucky. Chicken Little is back to tell us the sky is falling, yet again. If Leo Broderick and his "Council of Canadians" (who elected them, btw???) are against it, then I am for it just on principle. This guy has ZERO credibility! Guardian, stop wasting ink on him and his cause of the day.