At the eve of the imminent signature of the deal, Québec Solidaire is asking that the population of Québec be consulted on the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union. Amir Khadir, member of the national assembly for Mercier and André Frappier, president and spokesperson of Québec Solidaire, are concerned with the fact that this agreement gives disproportionate power to big businesses to the detriment of the sovereignty of Québec and its population.
“Québec has already given up its sovereignty to a non-elected international tribunal after the signature of the North-American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The current CETA is said to include a copy of the controversial Chapter 11 from NAFTA on investments that allows companies to sue governments for completely legitimate measures such as the protection of the environment,” says André Frappier, Québec Solidaire spokesperson.
Let’s remember that it was NAFTA that recently allowed the gas company Lone Pine to sue Canada because Québec decided to prevent the exploitation of natural gas resources in the St-Lawrence estuaries. The company has qualified this sovereign decision made by an elected government of “arbitrary, capricious and illegal”.
Threats to job creation, culture and the health care system
Public markets are a major factor in the development of jobs in all regions. Due to the accord, Québec will lose its exclusive control of these markets that it uses to support its small and medium-sized businesses. “How will our small businesses survive to the competition of multinational companies? And what to say of our manufacturing sector that will be made even more fragile? If we base ourselves on the experience of NAFTA, this will increase the loss of good-paying jobs in Québec,” observes Amir Khadir, member of the national assembly for Mercier.
Québec Solidaire is concerned that culture will not be spared by CETA. The signals sent by chief negotiator for Québec, Pierre-Marc Johnson, show that the Agreement will not exclude cultural goods and services, which contravenes to the Accord negotiated at UNESCO. Also, the privatization of drinking water services would become irreversible and our health care system would be threatened.
“We just abolished the 15 year rule that benefited pharmaceutical companies in order to reduce the cost of drugs. With the Accord, the length of application for patents could become longer. We are talking about an increase of $2.8 billion per year for Canada. Once again, our sovereignty is subordinate to commercial interests,” continued the member of national assembly for Mercier.
“The opacity that surrounded the negotiations of this agreement does not meet the transparency criteria set by citizens. It is a question of democracy to consult the population on an Agreement that equals the rewriting of the economic constitution of Québec. The PQ government cannot allow a redo of the mistakes of the past when the legitimacy of our political and economic elites is so fragile”, concluded André Frapper, spokesperson for Québec Solidaire.