Lately we have been reading and hearing a lot of noise about a particular secret trade negotiation, entitled CETA, the Canada Europe Trade Agreement. Negotiated by the Harper Regime, the public is not allowed to know the details of these discussions only that they are preceding and soon there will be a binding agreement signed, an agreement which will have been arrived at without the input of the public, without the input of labour, without the input of municipal governments, or even any meaningful provincial contribution, yet binding on all. So who did have input? Bay Street.

That’s right, Bay Street the very same greed driven, deregulated, corporate welfare clowns that helped bring us the 2009 near collapse of the world’s economy, followed by the biggest bailout of privatized industry in Canada’s history, the $40 billion bailout of our nation’s banks. This same cabal of CEOs last year called on Finance Minister Flaherty, to introduce measures to reduce the pay of Canadian workers, enact U.S.-style right-to-work legislation, reduce the size and services that government provides, move forward with two tier healthcare, and bring in more foreign workers.

In response, Conservatives both federally and provincially have gleefully danced to the CEOs demands and to surpass wages have allowed companies to flood the labour market with over 300,000 temporary foreign workers and to allow those workers to be paid 15 per cent less than the going Canadian rate. The Feds have changed unemployment rules to force working Canadians to take jobs at up to 30 per cent less pay. They are slashing 60,000 federal civil servants and legislating pay freezes. Again and again federally they have interfered in collective bargaining and imposed punishing settlements on workers. Provincially they rabidly call for ever deeper cuts to government revenue and are pushing for right to work legislation which will cost each and every working Ontarian over $1,300 each in lost income. And remember this follows changes to labour laws enacted under Harris and left in place by McGuinty that encourages the growth of temporary manpower employment, and the cheating of workers out of their right to paid overtime. Changes which have cost working families tens of thousands in lost wages. And now Canadians will have to work two years longer before retirement. Bay Street can rely on the Conservative party to deliver on their demands.   

So what are the conditions that Bay Street demanded be included in CETA, and how will those secret demands screw Main Street Canadians? Two examples, expect your drug cost to explode for one, as it is estimated that one provision alone hiding within CETA will cost Ontario over $1-billion annually in additional costs! McGuinty seems fine with that though. Or are you looking for a good job, one that pays a living wage, provides benefits so you can support a family, and a pension at the end of your working life? Conservative trade and economic policy has already destroyed well over half a million of those, CETA will add another 150,000 lost jobs to that total. Your search will be even more difficult, but don’t worry the low wage temp agencies will hire you; those are jobs Conservatives have a proven record creating. I have a friend with three!