Submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade regarding a Possible Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union

Posted: Friday, 2 March 2012


On behalf of the 3.3 million members of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), we would like to present our views. The CLC brings together Canada’s national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial Federations of Labour and 130 district Labour Councils whose members work in virtually all sectors of the Canadian economy, in all occupations, in all parts of Canada.

The Canadian Labour Congress would support a new economic relationship between Canada and the EU embodying the most positive features of the European social model, including higher labour and social standards and protective regulation. We would support an agreement which would seek to promote economic equality, encourage the creation of good jobs, support the interests of working people, and ensure ecological sustainability as its central goals, but this is not on offer. Instead, by all accounts, the CETA will constrain the ability of the governments in Canada at all levels to meet their democratic responsibilities to citizens and residents. Both sides are trying to achieve the most “ambitious” and “comprehensive” agreement possible in order to set a new standard for free trade and push the World Trade Organization’s Doha multilateral negotiations toward a similar end.

Over the past 30 years, so-called “free trade” and investment agreements have increased the downward pressure on wages, contributed to concessionary demands, and justified the curtailment of workers’ rights instead of raising standards. As the promises of free trade are betrayed, we are, understandably, vigilant about the ever-expanding trade and investment agenda as it continues to be rolled out. Rather than express a new vision of international economic relations which would promote good jobs and sustainable development, we are concerned the CETA will repeat the mistakes of the NAFTA model. We cannot afford another agreement giving priority to investor rights over the rights of workers and their aspirations to decent work and decent lives.

Download the full submission here

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