CETA, Bill C-30, smoke and mirrors?

 

Bill C-30 – an act of destruction concerning Canada’s Sovereignty

In the first reading of the first part of this Bill there are so many contradictions, discrepancies or even sections that no longer apply that I have to wonder just who wrote this Bill and if it has been seen by the Attorney General of Canada who is supposed to vet all Bills.  I started this as a serious attempt to present a brief to both the House and Senate committees when they get ready to look at this but:

 Just as a few examples we find:

 Under the Bill Summary:

 (a) the Export and Import Permits Act to, among other things,

(i) authorize the Minister designated for the purposes of that Act to issue export permits for goods added to the Export Control List and subject to origin quotas in a country or territory to which the Agreement applies,

(ii) authorize that Minister, with respect to goods subject to origin quotas in another country that are added to the Export Control List for certain purposes, to determine the quantities of goods subject to such quotas and to issue export allocations for such goods, and

(iii) require that Minister to issue an export permit to any person who has been issued such an export allocation;

 

So if indeed this is a Free Trade agreement why are there quotas, export and import permits, and export control lists. Either it is free trade or it is not and these indicate that this is not a free trade agreement at all.

 

Interpretation consistent with Agreement

3 For greater certainty, this Act and any federal law that implements a provision of the Agreement or fulfils an obligation of the Government of Canada under the Agreement is to be interpreted in a manner consistent with the Agreement.

Does anyone else see that this means we now have to manufacture our laws (and presumably regulations to those laws) to conform to this “trade” agreement?

Non-application of Act and Agreement to water

4 For greater certainty, nothing in this Act or the Agreement, except Chapters Twenty-Two and Twenty-Four of the Agreement, applies to natural surface or ground water in liquid, gaseous or solid state.

Well that would be a relief if only we knew what Chapters 22 and 24 are now.  Does this mean that Nestles for instance can no longer draw free water from the Hope Lake in BC and export it?

Construction

5 For greater certainty, nothing in this Act, by specific mention or omission, is to be construed to affect in any manner the right of Parliament to enact legislation to implement any provision of the Agreement or fulfil any of the obligations of the Government of Canada under the Agreement.

Would I be correct in assuming that all the European countries are offering similarly vague construction?  “For greater certainty, by specific mention or omission,” seems to offer nothing about anything, or maybe anything about nothing.   Did this really pass the legal sniff test?

 

 

Purpose

Purpose

7 The purpose of this Act is to implement the Agreement, the objectives of which, as elaborated more specifically through its provisions, are to

(a) establish a free trade area in accordance with the Agreement;

Tariffs, quotas, limitations of quantities, subsidiary payments to compensate for lost home markets (on an annual basis or just a onetime payment?) paid for by taxpayers in all the countries or just in Canada?  This is “free” trade?

(b) promote, through the expansion of reciprocal trade, the harmonious development of the economic relations between Canada and the European Union in order to create opportunities for economic development;

This is what it is all about, hidden away in a small subsection. Corporate profit disguised as “free” trade.

(c) promote conditions of fair competition affecting trade between Canada and the European Union;

So why all the tariffs and quotas?  Just let trade happen naturally.   Where do all our GMO grain products fit in this as generally Europeans do not like GMO produce?

(d) substantially increase investment opportunities in Canada and the European Union, while preserving the right of each of the parties to the Agreement to regulate to achieve legitimate policy goals;

Yeah, right!

(e) eliminate barriers to trade in goods and services in order to contribute to the harmonious development and expansion of world and regional trade;

Here is the number two killer of sovereignty, services.  This is why all the provinces had to agree with CETA because services include provincial and municipal procurements. Any municipality which does not grant their water, sewage or even electrical or recycling services to an applicant private enterprise European company can cause Canada to be attacked by a tribunal.  Except that Walloon has vetoed the tribunal so why is it even mentioned so prominently in this Bill C-30, and even the Minister has promoted the concept of a European court deciding upon our laws. 

(f) provide adequate and effective protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in the territory where the Agreement applies;

This will apply to any company purchased by European investors and then moved to Europe?  Under NAFTA we have seen so much of our intellectual property move south, now we can expect it to move east as well? Can we really trust this anymore?

(g) protect, enhance and enforce basic workers’ rights, strengthen cooperation on labour matters, and build on the respective international commitments of Canada and the European Union on labour matters;

Interesting idea as in Europe they have free transfer of workers from one country to another, here in Canada only basic labourers can move from one province to another.  So how will that work under CETA?  Any qualified professional from Europe can move freely among provinces but Canadians cannot?

(h) enhance and enforce environmental laws and regulations and strengthen cooperation between Canada and the European Union on environmental matters; and

(i) promote sustainable development.

So here we then proceed to the Tribunals already rejected by Walloon and therefore Belgium, yet we are still proceeding to add into an investment Bill this whole section about them.    How can we be expected to take this Bill C 30 seriously?

 I did however persevere for a while:

 

Tribunals, Arbitration Panels and Panels of Experts

Powers of Minister

11 (1) The Minister may

(a) propose the names of individuals to serve as members of the tribunals established under Section F of Chapter Eight of the Agreement; and

(b) propose the names of individuals to be included in the sub-lists referred to in paragraph 1 of Article 29.‍8 of the Agreement.

 Can there be any serious comment to make here?

Operation of Chapter Twenty-Nine

12 The Minister is to designate an agency, division or branch of the Government of Canada to facilitate the operation of Chapter Twenty-Nine of the Agreement.

Or here?

 

 

Expenses

Payment of expenses

.

13 The Government of Canada is to pay its appropriate share of the aggregate of

(a) the expenses incurred by tribunals established under the Agreement and the remuneration and expenses payable to members of those tribunals;

(b) the expenses incurred by arbitration panels and Panels of Experts established under the Agreement and the remuneration and expenses payable to those arbitrators, panellists on those Panels of Experts and mediators; and

(c) the expenses incurred by the CETA Joint Committee and the specialized committees, bilateral dialogues, working groups and other bodies established under the Agreement and the remuneration and expenses payable to representatives on the CETA Joint Committee and those specialized committees and to members of those bilateral dialogues, working groups and other bodies.

 

We know that this government is more anxious to spend money abroad than here at home but is it not taking it a bit far to expect us to take on the expenses of tribunals which will not happen?  Will we then be expected to pay the European court costs when they rule against us in disputes which is I suppose fair, or will we have to also pay a share of a dispute between let’s say France and Poland?  Absolutely opaque here.

 

Orders

Orders re Article 29.14 of Agreement

14 (1) The Governor in Council may, for the purpose of suspending obligations in accordance with Article 29.‍14 of the Agreement, by order, do any one or more of the following:

(a) suspend rights or privileges granted by Canada to the European Union and its member states or to goods, service suppliers, investors or investments of investors of the European Union and its member states under the Agreement or any federal law;

(b) modify or suspend the application of any federal law with respect to the European Union and its member states or to goods, service suppliers, investors or investments of investors of the European Union and its member states;

(c) extend the application of any federal law to the European Union and its member states or to goods, service suppliers, investors or investments of investors of the European Union and its member states;

(d) take any other measure that the Governor in Council considers necessary.

Now this is where we step through Alice’s looking glass.  If we can do all this, including imposing our federal laws on Europe, they can also do the same, so we have all the European countries imposing their individual laws on us and we are imposing our laws on them.  

This is supposed to be a serious bill and a serious agreement?

 

Then there is this curious introduction of another entity:

 

(3) Subsection 2(1) of the Act is amended by adding the following in alphabetical order:

 

EU country or other CETA beneficiary has the same meaning as in subsection 2(1) of the Customs Tariff; (pays de l’Union européenne ou autre bénéficiaire de l’AÉCG)

 

There is no explanation I could find of a CETA beneficiary, so I imagine this means the lawyers who will simply move from the tribunal positions to the proposed European court that will “try” the cases among us all.  I mean who or what else could it be?

This is far as I could go into Bill C-30 without simply bursting out into laughter:

 

To those who wrote this Bill C-30 and those who are actively supporting it, you can certainly do much better, and we are paying you way too much money for you to allow or support such sloppy work.  The speed with which this was introduced to parliament after the October 30th signing  indicates that it was an out of date bill and certainly it appears to be that way.

 Finally, openness and transparency mean just that; so we should have the complete text of the signed agreement readily available with Bill C-30 so that references made to the agreement can be checked.   We should have the full text of the agreement available anyway, or now that the investor dispute part (the most important part of the agreement) has changed does it have to go through a multilateral legal re scrubbing?   If it does what on earth is Bill C30 doing in front of our parliament at this time anyway?

 

A second finally, can someone, anyone show me where our MPs of any stripe have been given the mandate to subject our laws and regulations to overseas courts, or tribunals controlled by foreign governments or corporations?  Or for that matter to impose our laws on foreign countries.   A majority in the House of Commons is just that; it is not a mandate to surrender our sovereignty.

 Jeremy Arney

 

 Ps. I suppose I should have read more, but this Bill is soo bad that it has to be re- written and I will go further then.  As Canadians we deserve a great deal more from our elected employees.

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