Trade deal consultation should be done in public

The Canada-EU trade deal has been under negotiation for five years, and Conservatives have kept Canadians in the dark

Editor, The Times:

It is disappointing that last week’s “consultation” with the Minister for International Trade in Kamloops was not public and that it seemed to be open to only a select few from the business community.

The Canada-EU trade deal has been under negotiation for five years, and Conservatives have kept Canadians in the dark. Throughout negotiations, only a select group of associations were consulted by Conservatives – the vast majority of Canadians were completely shut out.

Since the draft text was released in the fall, the NDP has been consulting widely, reaching out to industry associations, trade unions, First Nations, environmental organizations, academics, civil society groups, and others. New Democrats will make a decision on the deal after the implications for Canadian society and the economy are clear.

We are a trading country and it is very important that Canada have solid economic relations with the European Union – democratic countries with some the highest environmental and labour standards in the world. But Minister Fast is promoting a deal that the public knows little about, and closing the door on people who want to learn more. The question Canadians are now asking is whether Conservatives negotiated a good deal for Canada?

New Democrats have expressed concerns about the deal that include Investor State Dispute Settlement provisions, something parliaments in several European countries oppose – that could now delay, derail or force a re-write of this deal. Several European countries agree with New Democrats that Canada and Europe have fair, impartial judicial systems that are perfectly adequate to protect investors.

It is a shame that our local Conservative MP and the Trade Minister decided to shut the public out of the consultation. When it comes to trade deals, details matter.

The Minister’s visit appears more a staged photo-op, rather than genuine and open public consultation. Secrecy has become the new norm with Harper Conservatives – an affront to democracy.

Bill Sundhu

NDP federal candidate

 

Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo