Quebec Solidaire Asks European Lawmakers for Alliance Against CETA

By Drew Wilson

Battle lines are already beginning to form as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Late last month, the word was that CETA was weeks away from completion. Now, reports are surfacing that social democratic group Quebec Solidaire has sent a letter to European lawmakers urging them to join the resistance against the impending agreement.

We’re continuing out extensive coverage of the developments revolving around the various trade agreements that are presenting a real threat to Internet freedom. We reviewed known provisions in the secretive agreement and they included extension of the terms of copyright and possibly a three strikes law which has been draining money out of both the New Zealand and French economies with no real measurable results for the long term.

Now, a recent Rabble report is pointing to a letter (French) sent by social democratic group Quebec Solidaire. We found this posting which says that the group is concerned with the closed-door nature of the agreement and that the agreement presents a real threat to Quebec sovereignty. Rabble also notes that the concerns for this agreement contain the following:

– endanger our sovereignty and our democratic institutions by placing business interests first. The CETA chapter on investments would be a copy of NAFTA’s controversial Chapter 11, which enables companies to sue governments for entirely legitimate measures such as environmental protection;

– allow large corporations to circumvent or challenge regulations regarding the environment and job protection, such as buy-local policies;

– attack all cultural protection policies, because notwithstanding the UNESCO negotiated agreement, there will be no guarantee of exclusion of cultural goods and services. Once negotiated chapter by chapter, this exclusion will be virtually toothless;

– provide unreasonable protection of intellectual property rights that would, among other examples: i) increase the cost of prescription drugs by close to 3 billion dollars a year to the benefit of multinational pharmaceuticals; ii) undermine individual freedoms by forcing Internet providers to reveal to rights holders the contact information of persons suspected of downloading. It should be kept in mind that this regulatory measure contained in ACTA has hereby surfaced again in CETA, even though it had been rejected in Europe;

– facilitate the privatization of drinking water and waste water management services.

It’s too early to say whether or not this is the start of a global movement to stop CETA, but it’s easy to find common ground for a lot of people judging by what CETA is reportedly proposing. Indeed, it was widespread opposition that brought down ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) which proposed things like anti-circumvention and even criminal provisions on some forms of copyright provisions. So, along with what happened to SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) in the US where opposition caused lawmakers to shelve the legislation, there is a history where opposition has actually stalled or stopped such proposed laws in the past. Whether or not that will happen this time remains to be seen. One things for sure, if CETA is finalized on time, we’ll be hearing a lot more about it in the months ahead.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85

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