Democracy and civil rights took a crushing blow today. Shortly after news surfaced that Wallonia folded under the pressure, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) has been signed.
One of the many secret trade deals floating around is known as CETA. While proponents say these trade agreements are simply about trade, the details suggest that such agreements are much more about pushing laws than actual trade.
Last year, we dug into some of these details and found a number of provisions that adversely affects digital rights. This includes censorship through site blocking, account termination through a three strikes law, unlimited damages for copyright infringement, and provisions that allow border patrols to seize your cell phone at the border.
Other concerns raised revolve around ISDS (Inter-State Dispute Settlement) that sets up an international tribunal for major multi-national corporations. The purpose is to allow corporations to sue governments if laws are passed that get in the way of profits and future potential profits. Examples raised in the past revolve around warning labels on cigarette packages, regulations on price for pharmaceuticals, and rulings against oil extraction and pipelines.
Earlier, it seemed that Wallonia was the last state to be holding off on accepting this agreement. Unfortunately, two days ago, the government folded under the pressure and accepted the agreement. From the report:
BRUSSELS – Lawmakers in the Belgian region holding up an important new trade pact between the European Union and Canada have officially given their approval for the deal to go through.
The parliamentarians in the French-speaking region of Wallonia voted Friday by 58 votes for to 5 against, with no abstentions, to support the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.
Politicians in Wallonia had argued that the proposed deal would undermine labor, environment and consumer standards and allow multinationals to crush local companies.
Now, barely two days later, the agreement has been signed off:
International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland couldn’t contain herself any longer.
“We did it!” she said, hugging colleagues after posing behind the massive, foot-high legal document Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and European Union leaders had just signed.
Canada’s trade agreement with the 28 member states of the European Union can now proceed for ratification.
While the deal isn’t technically done yet, it is one critical step closer to reality. The deal still needs to be ratified by the countries who signed off on it. With the staunch support of the Liberal party, and the fact that the Liberals hold a majority, it may not be a matter of if, but when it becomes law at this point.