Building Canadian-European civil society opposition to CETA

Re-posted from The Campaign Blog on the Council’s national website:

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

STRASBOURG, 8 am (2 am ET) – We are leaving Strasbourg this morning and returning to Brussels for meetings with European allies opposing CETA. We will be meeting with the European Public Services Union, Friends of the Earth Europe, Corporate Europe Observatory, Food and Water Europe, and others. Many of these European civil society groups just signed on to a statement of opposition to CETA which can be read on the front-page of http://www.S2Bnetwork.org or at http://www.s2bnetwork.org/fileadmin/dateien/downloads/EU-Canada_statement_Final.pdf. This statement represents a significant step in building trans-Atlantic opposition to this trade agreement. We will be discussing next steps, including actions in Ottawa during the seventh round of talks on April 11-15.

LIBRAMONT, 11:40 am (5:40 am ET) – We are about 90-minutes outside Brussels now just passing the snowy Belgian town of Libramont. The Guardian UK reports today on a big story here that has not yet really hit the Canadian media. Four people have now been identified as undercover Metropolitan London police officers who were engaged in the covert surveillance of eco-activists for years in groups such as Reclaim the Streets, UK Action Medics Collective, the Rising Tide Collective, and other anti-globalization and social justice groups. Shockingly, the Guardian highlights, “Three of those spies are accused of having had sexual relationships with the people they were targeting.”

OTTIGNIES, 1 pm (7 am ET) – The Guelph Mercury today published a letter to the editor by Council of Canadians chapter activist Norah Chaloner. She writes, “Thank you for highlighting concerns about the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. The second last round of negotiations take place this week in Brussels. When Maude Barlow is in Guelph Jan. 26, at War Memorial Hall, she will give us the latest information on this exclusive, anti-democratic trade agreement and its impact on ‘buy local’, water privatization, oilsands expansion and reduced public policy-setting rights. The proposed local procurement restrictions will restrict municipalities, academic institutions, school boards and the health sector. The effects on projected job losses and increased costs alone would be a burden to our communities. Since the text of the procurement agreements in the trade agreement leaves little room for the protection of municipal rights, the only real way to protect municipalities from unnecessary restrictions on their spending powers is to exclude municipalities from this trade agreement. The Council of Canadians offers its opinion on its website www.canadians.org.”

BRUSSELS, 4 pm (10 am ET) – We have just concluded our meeting at the European Public Services Union office. There we met with EPSU representatives, as well as Brussels-based Martin Pigeon of Corporate Europe Observatory and Gabriella Zanzanaini of Food and Water Watch in Europe (pictured with CUPE researcher Blair Redlin). EPSU organizes workers in the water and waste sectors, energy, health and social services and national administration in all European countries. It is comprised of 8 million public service workers from over 250 unions. In the meeting we identified a number of key areas to work together on to challenge CETA.

6 pm (12 pm ET) – I just finished meeting with Riccardo Petrella, a leading Italian water activist in the global water justice movement, and Christian Legros, the director of the Beglian Water Sector Federation. Both Riccardo and Christian want to work with the Council of Canadians to stop the water privatization threat posed by CETA. Plans are emerging for a joint statement and action on March 20, just prior to World Water Day.

7 pm (1 pm ET) – The Winnipeg Free Press reports that, “The local chapter of the Council of Canadians group is holding its annual general meeting this evening. The event is free for all to attend and will feature a discussion on a variety of political topics, ranging from the controversial Veolia wastewater contract for Winnipeg to international trade deals to climate concerns. Former mayoral candidate Judy Wasylycia-Leis will deliver the keynote address. Scott Harris, the prairie regional organizer for the COC, and the satirical music group The Raging Grannies are also on the docket.” That article is at http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/Public-meeting-tonight-will-air-Veolia-deal-114271789.html. It’s important to highlight that Veolia is one of the European corporations with an interest in having drinking water and sanitation included in the services, investment and procurement chapters of CETA. It will be important in campaigning against CETA to highlight the Winnipeg example to our European allies as we have been doing during this trip.

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