New Internationalist

Climate criminal Canada sets its sights on Europe

January 2011

6th round of Canada-EU trade negotiations, Brussels: 16-21 January

An item from the Agenda section of the magazine, where we look beyond the news curve with reports and comment on breaking stories.

Ruth Wajsblum
Dirty truth: protesters on the steps of Canada House, London, during a pan-European day of protest against the Canadian tar sands. Ruth Wajsblum

Attempts to expand global free markets via the World Trade Organization may have stalled, but the liberalizers are not resting on their laurels. Instead, the same pro-corporate, anti-democratic agenda is being pushed through a plethora of bilateral and regional negotiations.

One that is attracting increasing criticism is CETA – the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada. Negotiated with next-to-no public awareness or consultation, the talks are due to be concluded towards the end of 2011.

The Council of Canadians is one of a growing number of organizations expressing deep concerns about the way CETA is shaping up. Stuart Trew, their trade campaigner, explains: ‘Everything’s on the table, including public services, water, energy. The threats to Europe and Canada are very similar, though the gains will be higher for European multinationals looking to privatize Canada’s public services and increase their investment in extractive industries.’

CETA would give sweeping new rights to corporations, says Stuart. ‘Canada’s only significant request is an investor-to-state dispute process that Canadian and US oil, mining, chemical and agricultural firms will use to sue the EU for compensation from public health or environmental measures that limit corporate profits. This process has been proven to put a chill on effective government policy. Canadians and Europeans need forcefully to resist these investment protections.’

Indigenous and environmental groups are particularly worried about how CETA might boost Canada’s most destructive industry – the tar sands. It could pave the way for tar sands oil to be exported to Europe for the first time, and allow European oil companies to challenge any attempts to limit the extraction of this dirtiest of fossil fuels.

This is all part, according to Stuart, of the Canadian government’s single-minded drive to make Canada an energy superpower. ‘Tar sands projects expand in size and number with little regulatory oversight. The Northwest Passage is being opened up to offshore drilling. Canada is earning a reputation as a climate criminal with little regard for UN efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Our government is helping kill Kyoto – it’s an embarrassment.’

All in all, CETA could have a profound and negative effect on democracy. Council of Canadians are pushing for an open, inclusive and comprehensive public discussion as a first step.

Get involved:

Front cover of New Internationalist magazine, issue 439 This feature was published in the January 2011 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

Comments on Climate criminal Canada sets its sights on Europe

Leave your comment


  • Maximum characters allowed: 5000
  • Simple HTML allowed: bold, italic, and links

Registration is quick and easy. Plus you won’t have to re-type the blurry words to comment!
Register | Login

...And all is quiet.

Subscribe to Comments for this articleArticle Comment Feed RSS 2.0

Guidelines: Please be respectful of others when posting your reply.

Get our free fortnightly eNews


Videos from visionOntv’s globalviews channel.

Related articles

Recently in Agenda

All Agenda

Popular tags

All tags

This article was originally published in issue 439

New Internationalist Magazine issue 439
Issue 439

More articles from this issue

  • In the halls of shame

    January 1, 2011

    Who shapes the policies and laws that govern us? If you think the answer is ‘our elected politicians’, read on. Vanessa Baird examines the secretive but expanding power of corporate lobbying.

  • The use-by date on hippies

    January 1, 2011

    Anna Chen celebrates hippies

  • Interview with Susan George

    January 1, 2011

    The political scientist, writer and campaigner for global justice tells Rowenna Davis why the financial crisis is a moral crisis, and explains how to get our wayward leaders under control.

New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

If you would like to know something about what's actually going on, rather than what people would like you to think was going on, then read the New Internationalist.

– Emma Thompson –

A subscription to suit you

Save money with a digital subscription. Give a gift subscription that will last all year. Or get yourself a free trial to New Internationalist. See our choice of offers.