Improve the Canadian and European Union Trade Agreement to Better Protect the Environment, Says Canadian Environmental Law Association

Oct 14 2011

TORONTO – Today, the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) published a report about the negative environmental effects that could result from the Canadian and European-Union trade agreement, currently in its final stages of negotiations. The proposed trade agreement is the most comprehensive trade agreement to which Canada has ever been a party. It is set to be negotiated in Ottawa from October 17 - 21; its 9th and likely final round. According to CELA’s report, if major drafting changes are not made, the ability of government, both national and local, to enact public interest environmental measures could
be compromised.

 Theresa McClenaghan, CELA’s Executive Director, says “it is critical that trade agreements to which Canada is a party are carefully drafted so that public interest environmental laws are protected. Otherwise, economic arguments can be used against enacting or enforcing strong environmental laws.”

Some of the most controversial elements potentially proposed for the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) include the unprecedented liberalization of essential public services, such as water, and the inclusion of a controversial investor-state dispute settlement clause. The narrow definition of ‘environmental laws’ and narrow exceptions for those ‘environmental laws’ from stringent liberalization provisions are also of concern. All of these proposals would restrict national and sub-national levels of Canadian government from enacting environmental laws in the public interest.

 CETA is only the second time in Canadian history where parties to a trade agreement include provinces, and the first time that municipalities are bound. These cause CELA further concern because CETA, as presently drafted, will open up local regulations and policies of provinces and municipalities to direct competition and challenge from European corporations.

CETA’s impact on future economic, social, and environmental development in Canada and the EU will be considerable. For these reasons, the Canadian Environmental Law Association’s report insists that this agreement presents a critical opportunity for the inclusion of clear and strong environmental safeguards to ensure sustainable economic development in Canada and improve on environmental standards established in pre-existing trade agreements.

 Download the CELA analysis and drafting recommendations.

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For further information, please contact:
Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director, 416-960-2284 ext. 219, c: (416) 662-8341.