Wednesday, 3 June 2015

CETA: Market Ideology Obscures Consequence

From a letter published in the Telegram  on June 3, 2015

In his letter to the editor on CETA, Derek Butler of the Association of Seafood Producers asserts that the market should determine whether or not we export our fish processed or unprocessed.   He makes a comparison with our desire and expected right as consumers to have access to fresh, unprocessed fruit. 

If it was European consumer demand for unprocessed fish that drove the elimination of minimum processing requirements, he would have a valid point.  But we didn’t give up minimum processing requirements because European consumers wanted unprocessed fish.  We gave it up so that powerful fishing corporations in European countries could do the processing. 

We’re not taking about a free market here with a level playing field.  Instead, it’s a market that will unfairly disadvantage our workers in favour of theirs, thanks to massive EU subsidies that remain untouched under CETA.

For the last couple of years the provincial government has been granting some limited or temporary exemptions to minimum processing requirements.  As an opponent of CETA, we have no problem with these decisions.  Government should have the flexibility to react to immediate market problems in the fisheries.  But CETA takes away that right.  Under this trade agreement we will never again be allowed to implement MPRs no matter how much demand there is for our fish.  That’s the real problem.  CETA is an assault on our right to govern.

We find it interesting that our provincial government still doesn’t get that point.  In last week’s announcement they asserted that CETA was, aside from the MPR debacle, a good deal for the province.  The downside, be it the straitjacketing of our regulatory capacity, the risk of offshore lawsuits, the  cost increase for drugs, the end of the right to favour local economies, the expected increase in Canada’s trade deficit, (and so much more) is never to be acknowledged.  Our ruling politicians adhere to the simplistic idea that trade with the EU has to be good,  regardless of the terms. “The Market” apparently always knows what’s best for us. 

We live in an age where Ideology increasingly trumps rational analysis.  To whose benefit is this?