July 17, 2019 10:11 am
Updated: July 17, 2019 10:06 pm

Canadian politicians urge France to vote against ratification of CETA in open letter

WATCH: Trudeau wants CETA ratified before fall federal election


In an open letter published Monday, members of Canada’s parliament and a member of the Quebec National Assembly called on French politicians not to ratify the Canadian-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

The deal abolishes customs duties on 98 per cent of the products that Canada trades with the European Union.

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CETA was signed in October of 2016, and is in force provisionally, with more than 90 per cent of it now in effect. However, ratification by individual countries is needed to bring it into full force.

French parliamentarians are expected to vote on ratifying the agreement on Wednesday.

READ MORE: Top NATO, EU officials meeting with Trudeau on visit to Canada

The letter has been signed by Leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP) Jagmeet Singh, Deputy Leader of the NDP Alexandre Boulerice, NDP MP Tracey Ramsey, NDP MP Brigitte Sansoucy, Leader of the Green Party of Canada Elizabeth May, Green Party MP Paul Manly and Member of the National Assembly Catherine Dorion.

The letter’s authors are critical of the agreement.

“During the ratification of the agreement, the political parties in the Canadian Parliament — the New Democratic Party, the Green Party and the Bloc Quebecois with the support of the Quebec solidaire — voted against CETA’s implementation,” the letter reads.

WATCH: Theresa May praises CETA deal as having ‘signifigant potential’ (Sept. 2017)

The authors say the debate in the House of Commons regarding the agreement was limited, lasting only three days. They argue it did not involve civil society actors along the way.

“This is why we are urging you, as French Parliamentarians, to do the better in this matter, and to not ratify this deal,” the letter reads.

The letter’s signatories say CETA is based on “a blueprint for trade that gives incredible rights to corporations — in the areas of protection, patents, public services, regulatory harmonization, and food and agriculture.”

READ MORE: CETA: EU approves trade deal with Canada

They say it does not extend comparable rights to people, communities and the environment, and fails to create strong labour and environmental provisions that are binding.

The authors say that the agreement will threaten Canada and Quebec farmers’ supply management system, and European farmers will face pressure from big agribusiness.

“In Canada, our patent rules have already been changed, thereby raising costs of medicines for the population,” the letter reads. “In both parties, our abilities to support local economies and implement buy-local policies will be hampered by this deal.”

The letter also raises concerns about investment dispute settlement provisions within the agreement.

WATCH: Trudeau talks CETA, security, environment during meeting with Merkel (Feb. 2017)

“We were heartened when this first element did not make it into the new NAFTA agreement,” the letter says. “We believe that it doesn’t belong in CETA either.”

Critics say the provisions will allow large corporations to challenge public policies.

“We agree that trade between our countries and continents is important,” the letter says. “However, we believe in a type of trading relationship very different from this one.

“We strive for a trading relationship that addresses the fundamental issues of inequality, human rights and climate change.”

READ MORE: Canada-EU trade enters new era as CETA comes into force

In a letter of their own, International Trade Minister Jim Carr and Infrastructure Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said they were “disappointed” critics of the trade deal had “taken steps to lobby parliamentarians from another country to vote against ratification” of the agreement.

“We are ensuring that our trading relationships achieve the highest standards for workers, for the environment, for governments to regulate in their domestic interest and most importantly for more people to reap the benefits that trade can bring,” the letter reads. “CETA does just that.”

The deal is expected to be discussed this week as Trudeau hosts EU leaders for a Canada-EU summit.

The EU’s Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker are to be in Montreal for the summit. Tusk, a former prime minister of Poland, represents the leaders of the European Union’s member states as president of the European Council; Juncker leads the EU’s administration as president of the European Commission.

The Prime Minister’s Office says Trudeau will talk to them about economic growth, climate change, gender equality and, again, “defending the rules-based international order.”

WATCH: Canada-EU CETA deal impact on Canadian businesses and consumers (Feb. 2017)

They’ll also talk about CETA. EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstom will also be at the summit.

— With files from the Canadian Press.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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