Editor: Last month, the German government took a large step forward in protecting the democratic rights of its citizens and public representatives alike by rejecting a free trade deal being brokered between Canada and the European Union known as the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA). Without agreement from all 28 states in the EU, the agreement will not go forward, but this doesn’t mean it’s over yet. Canadian provinces must pay attention and listen closely to the reasons behind Germany’s actions.
The main reason for Germany’s rejection of CETA is a clause known as the "investor-state dispute settlement" that gives corporations the ability to sue the government for laws or policies that interfere with profits, such as environmental protection or local procurement policies that boost local economic growth. This stance by the German government is likely a result of a multibillion-dollar lawsuit with Swedish energy company Vatenfall who sought compensation for the government phase-out of nuclear energy following the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, Japan, in 2011. The lawsuit was eventually settled out of court for an untold sum, but it’s needless to say that the taxpayers of Germany paid dearly.
The German government rightly recognizes that CETA’s investor-state dispute settlement clause gives corporations the power to stop or reverse laws made with citizens’ interests in mind, or make governments pay through the nose for doing so. The government of P.E.I. should take stock in Germany’s rejection against CETA, and closely examine the debilitating effects on lawmakers to effectively represent the men and women who have voted them into office.
Why should we allow corporations from other countries say what laws our elected representatives can and can’t write in defense of our health, the health of our environment, and our economic interests? Our elected officials in the Ghiz government should follow in Germany’s footsteps and make their stance against this undemocratic trade agreement loud and clear to the public and the federal government of Canada.