Free Trade: does CETA have it right?

 Canada-European Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)

The Globe and Mail article “At the gates of Europe: Canada’s top negotiator on EU free-trade” set off some warning bells for me. I have not looked into CETA nearly as closely as I have Bill C-32, but I’ve been hearing disturbing rumblings over the last months… or years, now.

Aside from the fact that previous Free Trade Agreements gave away a lot without perceptible returns, the funny thing is, a great many Canadians were disappointed with the actual lack of actual freedom in previous Free Trade Agreements. It’s very hard to see Canada’s “free trade” with the US has been beneficial when the customs duties supposedly removed still seem to exist under other names, and Canadians need passports to cross the border (not to mention having to choose between health risk or sexual assault if we choose to fly there).

Canadian Flag

Interestingly, while Canada stood mute on ACTA, the European Union very firmly put the breaks on ACTA by calling for transparency.

Who’s zooming who?

It is important for Canadian negotiators to negotiate for Canadian best interests. The following is my comment on that article:

Before Canada signs another so-called “free trade” agreement, we need both transparency and public consultation. Trade agreements made secretly are rarely in our best interest.

A disturbing trend over the last few years has been misleading “titles” of a legislation and trade agreements, with corresponding double think interwoven in the sound byte summaries that tend to run counter to the substance which are used to lull the citizens of this great land into allowing our interest to be sacrificed.

Like, for instance, ACTA. The so-called “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.” As it turned out, ACTA was really an attempt to get Hollywood’s wishlist for Global copyright laws– preferential to the USA– imposed on on the rest of the world. Yet there was not a word about copyright in the title. Serious efforts were made to at suppressing the content of the agreement, even to the point of preventing duly elected members of the supposed democratic governments from being privy to the content being negotiated.

Another egregious example would be “Bill C-32, The Copyright Modernization Act” which seeks to legislate away the freedom inherent in modern technology so it can be locked down to fill the corporate media industry business model of the last century. Whatever Bill C32 is, it is certainly not “modernized.”

I have serious reservations when Canada’s chief negotiator starts talking about the EU’s concerns with Intellectual Property, including copyrights, patents and pharmaceuticals, the warning flags go up for me. It’s even worse when he says things like:

“Our copyright laws haven’t been updated for some time.”

WikiLeaks logo

That’s one of the bits of classic propaganda stemming from south of the border as part of the American Copyright Lobby’s efforts to influence Canadian domestic copyright law (Bill C-32). That’s almost as troubling as people supposedly representing Canadian Interests citing the American 301 as ‘evidence’ of Canadian ‘IP Piracy,’ when the facts clearly show the United States (with it’s more draconian DMCA copyright law) has far more incidence of piracy than Canada does.

The fact that our copyright law hasn’t been updated in a while is not justification for change, particularly change imposed to satisfy foreign special interest groups. Canada has suffered serious inequities in the other supposed “Free Trade” agreements. The fact that the CETA chief negotiator believes that is a good reason to change our already over strong copyright law, and cites erroneous propaganda about it, undermines his credibility to negotiate in Canada’s best interest.

Before Canada signs any CETA agreement, I want to see what the WikiLeaks cables have to say on this topic. Maybe then I’ll be able to believe the people supposedly negotiating on our behalf are being honest with us.”

— Laurel L. Russwurm, comment on Globe and Mail article:
At the gates of Europe: Canada’s top negotiator on EU free-trade

To answer the title question? I’d have to say “No.”

Something so secret is very unlikely to be good for us. If it was, they’d be trumpeting it from the rooftops.

And no way should trade negotiators be writing Canada’s domestic copyright laws.

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves

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