Coalition demonstrates against Canada-EU trade agreement

Around 400 people protested on 26 September in Ottawa against the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), as officials met in the city to announce they had concluded the trade negotiations.

The demonstration was organised by the Seafarers’ International Union (SIU) of Canada and the newly-formed Canadian Maritime & Supply Chain Coalition to protest against the harmful impact the CETA agreement will have on maritime trade on both sides of the Atlantic.

The five years of negotiations were conducted in secrecy, denying any opportunity for public scrutiny.

Despite the official announcement, however, it seems that there is a power struggle between the EU and some member states over the controversial proposal to introduce a so-called ‘investor-state dispute settlement’ procedure.

This would enable foreign corporations to sue governments in a private and powerful legal system, bypassing the public courts.

Leaks of the text have revealed that CETA will have other far-reaching impacts.

For example, it will put thousands of Canadian jobs at risk by opening up key parts of maritime shipping to European corporations, and remove the rights of provinces, municipalities, schools and hospitals to get the most out of their procurement budgets by favouring local goods and services.

ITF seafarers’ section secretary Jon Whitlow said: “I witnessed real anger at the secrecy of the CETA negotiations and the threat the agreement poses to maritime trade.

In my speech, I stressed that the ITF and ETF fully endorse the importance of national cabotage, the need to retain Canadian cabotage and the necessity of further entrenching it in law.

It is now unclear whether the agreement text has been finalised but the coalition will continue to campaign for the chapter on international maritime services to be deleted.”

Once finalised, the agreement has to be adopted by the European Council, the European Parliament and national parliaments.

The ITF, ETF and several unions are members of the coalition.

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