Canadian Government Refuses To Release Any Text Of CETA, While Claiming It's Mostly Finished

from the something-to-hide? dept

Back in November, we reported that the EU and Canada were claiming that “a political agreement” on the key elements of the Canada-EU trade agreement, CETA, had been reached. One of the supposed reasons why the negotiations were being conducted in secret was that it was “obviously” not possible to release texts while talks were still going on — even though that is precisely how WIPO operates. So, now that key parts of the CETA have been agreed upon, presumably the public will finally get to see at least those sections of the text, right? Apparently not, as the Council of Canadians found when it put in a freedom of information request to the Canadian government:

The federal government has denied an access to information request from the Council of Canadians for the working text of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). The grassroots public advocacy organization is accusing the Conservative government of unnecessarily depriving Canadians of the information they need to pass judgement on CETA, and of any opportunity to alter the deal before it is signed.

“It’s a new year, but we’re seeing the same old secrecy from the Harper government. How is anyone expected to say yes or no to this EU deal if Ottawa is not prepared to release it publicly before CETA is signed, sealed and delivered?” asks Stuart Trew, trade campaigner with the Council of Canadians. “The Prime Minister is misleading Canadians by claiming the CETA negotiations are the most transparent in Canadian history. A fully redacted copy of the text would be more transparent than this.”

This exposes nicely the dishonesty of governments around the world when they claim that regrettably they “have” to keep texts secret, but will release them just as soon as they can. Here, we have major parts of CETA that have been agreed upon and where there is no need to keep them secret — apart, that is, from the real reason why there is no transparency: because the governments concerned know that once the public find out how they have been let down by their representatives, there will be widespread outrage. In a blatant attempt to stifle democratic debate, it has become standard practice with these trade agreements only to release the texts after they have been passed, and there’s nothing that can be done about it.

As the Council of Canadians’ trade campaigner points out:

“It is not OK to negotiate sweeping corporate rights deals like CETA behind closed doors and then to deny the public or parliament the opportunity to change anything about them before the deals are signed and passed into law,” says Trew. “If the government is so proud of this deal they should gladly present it to Canadians for their approval before signing. Otherwise, the Conservatives could find CETA backfiring for them at election time.”

That’s certainly how it should work, but among the general public, awareness about the important knock-on consequences of agreements like CETA, TPP and TAFTA/TTIP remains low. And that’s how the governments involved aim to keep it, not least by avoiding at all stages any kind of real transparency.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

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Comments on “Canadian Government Refuses To Release Any Text Of CETA, While Claiming It's Mostly Finished”

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26 Comments
anonymouse says:

Keep it secret

People should just ignore the new laws as not being approved by the citizens, if the citizens have no say in creating laws then they do not apply to them….simple or I wish it was so simple. But just as the copyright laws are ignored by everyone even the copyright holders so should any law that has not had public input and is not clearly for the public interest..

Anonymous Coward says:

Simple as usual:

CETA would not be accepted by citizens of EU OR Canada…
And as usual, that ‘not free trade agreemant at all’ would cause some of our politicans to ATTEMPT to think liiittle farther than just for next elections.

You get the picture already?

Attempting to force Canadians to follow EU’s ‘citizen represantives’- pff, lets try again, shortsighted politicans waiting on a row for next set of reward-jobs. Or just call it Revolving Door Syndrome.

And of course there will be clause that indicates that Canucks MUST, repeat Must follow insane copyright laws/ treaties that ‘Your Southern Friends’ lobbyist want, and happily use their Embassies to corrupt Your Goverments as badly as they have done previously on EU.
Examples: Sweden, Great Britain, Finland, France, Germany.

Funny with this Internetisajusttubes-thingy is that even citizens can learn what the _UCK their represantives are ACTUALLY doing =)

Anonymous Coward says:

like stated, the extremely worrying thing is that these agreements are being done around the world under the same degrees of secrecy, with only certain corporations and industries being invited to the talks and alter them/amend them to suit their own particular way of thinking. the public, who are the biggest stake holder get no say at all. considering these are all supposed to be democratic countries with democratically elected governments, can someone please enlighten me as to the whereabouts of the democratic choice? remember where this all started folks. we have a hell of a lot to put squarely on the doorsteps of the USA entertainment industries!
if citizens do not make governments pay at election time, if nothing is done beforehand, then they deserve to be dictated to! also remember most of these governments are Conservative whose political backbone always comes from those they are trying to help the most, as usual and they are the rich, the powerful corporations and industries that do whatever it takes to keep the rich, rich and the poor paying for it!!

Guardian says:

@8

A) yes and then you could PAY to see it….
B) the public pays them to make the deal thus the copyright for the crown has been paid
C) VERY CLOSE TO TREASON this type a crap is VERY….IF YOU refuse to disclose a deal that harms me and others of my nation while gaining nothing i wold argue you are in fact deliberately committing an act of treason ….perhaps even HIGH TREASON….and i think that’s one offense in Canada you get life with no parole for and that would be if you ever make it that long

Anonymous Coward says:

“Aircraft refused to release plane to airline, while claiming it is mostly finished.”

“Bridge builders refuse to release bridge for public use, while claiming it is mostly finished.”

“TD refused to release article on WEB, while claiming it is mostly finished”

“Universal movies refuse to release movie to public, while claiming it is MOSTLY finished.”

I'm_Having_None_Of_It says:

Re: Re:

All of the above are optional items that the public can choose to use and which does not affect their statutory rights.

Sneaky trade agreements with dodgy investor-state relations clauses, however, can force a country to change its laws so polluters can get away with it. See Ecuador V Chevron for what happens when a corporation tells a sovereign state to get bent.

Try again.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

A bridge or jet, once finished, does not have serious impacts on your rights & liberty. These trade agreements do. Keeping them secret until they’re finished is just a tactic to make it more difficult for people to oppose them.

Equating trade agreement negotiations with building physical things is baloney. They are not even close to being equivalent, so using them for an analogy is incorrect.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

so you can choose to use an unfinished jet aircraft? or a bridge, that is UNFINISHED.

Dude, your analogies comparing physical objects with negotiations are lame.

If you really need some sort of analogy, try this:

You are purchasing a house, but you are not allowed know what property you are buying, the purchase price, the interest rate of the loan or the amount of closing costs until you finish signing the papers.

Not a really a smart idea, is it?

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