This morning the Council of Canadians joined with Canadian allies — the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the National Farmers Union, the Indigenous Environmental Network, ATTAC-Quebec, Alternatives — and European allies — Friends of the Earth Europe, the UK Tar Sands Network, La Via Campesina Europe — in front of the European Commission headquarters in Brussels to denounce the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement and the tar sands.

My message this morning:

The Council of Canadians is here today to say that you can’t address the climate crisis we face without also addressing trade deals. We cannot have climate justice and water justice without trade justice.

We are demanding that Canadian and European negotiators step back from the CETA talks, that they stop them, and that this whole enterprise go to parliaments and to public consultations for full disclosure and debate.

We know that the European Parliament voted last spring expressing concern about the carbon impact of the tar sands, as well as their impact on water and Indigenous peoples.

We know that the European Commission’s sustainability impact assessment of CETA says that the deal would promote more European investment in the tar sands, more extraction, more imports to Europe, more environmental destruction.

We also know that the European Union wants Canada to commit to deeper emission reductions to address climate change.

Already Canada’s climate policy is driven by allowing for expansion of the tar sands. So is Canada’s trade policy. And CETA, of course, is a big part of that. CETA equals more tar sands, more climate carnage.

CETA could provide an investor-state tool that allows corporations to sue over public policy for the public good. Canada has paid more than $150 million to corporations due to a similar provision in NAFTA.

CETA could be used by corporations to limit government actions to limit the tar sands, even to stop government policy limiting the enormous use of water by the corporations in the tar sands.

Canada has already broken its legally binding commitments with the Kyoto Protocol. Canada had pledged under Kyoto to a 6 per cent reduction in emissions below 1990 levels by 2012. Between 1990 and 2007 Canada’s emissions increased about 26 per cent

Canada was active at the recent Cancun climate conference in killing binding emissions in the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol.

And Canada’s so-called emission reduction targets — in lock-step with the American targets — actually equal an increase in emission to 2020. Our target of 17 perc ent below 2005 levels by 2020 — which we have no plan to implement – is really a 2.5 per cent increase over 1990 levels.

This is all related to our government’s commitment to the tar sands. The Harper government sees CETA as a tool to further this agenda.

Stop the negotiations, stop CETA, Europe out of the tar sands!

Brent Patterson, Director of Campaigns and Communications, Council of Canadians


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Brent Patterson

Brent Patterson is a political activist, writer and the executive director of Peace Brigades International-Canada. He lives in Ottawa on the traditional, unceded and unsurrendered territories of the Algonquin...