CETA update from LeadNow

Some bad news, and some good news.

The bad news is that, this week, both the European Parliament and the Canadian House of Commons ignored public opposition by passing CETA – a risky and extreme trade and investment deal that will cost thousands of jobs, drive up the cost of pharmaceutical drugs, and allow multinationals to sue us for millions when our laws affect their profits.

What’s worse, Canada’s Trade Minister called CETA “a deal for the people” — when we know it’s anything but. [1] The Trudeau Liberals can feel the weight of our people-powered pressure, and they are using this “flip of the script” in order justify their bad decisions.

But the fight is far from over.

As the agreement moves on to the Senate in Canada, legal challenges, referendums, and other people-powered obstacles still stand in the way of CETA becoming fully enforced. Opposition to CETA is strong. There’s a powerful network of organizations and people-powered movements — in Europe and Canada — who are not giving up on this fight.

Here’s a snapshot of the road ahead:

Although CETA passed the European Parliament, it now has to be ratified by the national and regional legislatures in every EU member state. CETA opponents only need one parliament to vote no, and there’s good reason to believe this will happen.[2] Keep on reading to find out why!

Paul Magnette, the leader of Wallonia (the Belgian region that derailed the deal last October) has reiterated its promise to vote against CETA unless the conditions it laid out for ratification are met.[3]

One of the conditions includes changes to CETA’s dangerous investor rights chapter, which would give multinationals special rights to sue entire countries when laws or policies get in the way of corporate profits. Wallonia will reject this mechanism unless it substantive changes are made to it.

If Wallonia votes no, Belgium cannot vote yes.[4]

Belgium is also sending CETA to the European Court of Justice, to get a ruling on whether the investment court is in compliance with EU law.[5] If the court rules it doesn’t comply with EU,  then it cannot move forward.

In Germany, our sister organizations are confident they can push politicians to defeat CETA in Germany’s upper chamber, the Bundesrat.

Here in Canada, a constitutional lawyer has launched a challenge to CETA on the grounds that it’s unconstitutional. The lawyer who launched the claim has a history of successfully challenging Ottawa.[6]


Activists in the Netherlands have gathered almost two-thirds of the 300,000 signatures it needs to trigger a national referendum on CETA, which is likely to produce a strong ‘no to CETA’ vote. [7] There is talk of a referendum in Ireland and other EU member states.

In sum, there are still plenty of opportunities to stop CETA for good. This is not the end.  Trade agreements like CETA are big, complex issues that take a long time to defeat — and for every setback, we grow stronger as a movement. This is the message I want to leave you today.

With hope and respect,

Brittany and Katelynn, on behalf of the entire Leadnow team

P.S. Thank you again to the 726 donors who pitched in to get your hard-hitting CETA ad in the Hill Times on Monday.  Even though the Liberals ultimately passed it, this ad on top of all the other actions we’ve taken together will make it more difficult for the government to do this next time. They’ve spent political capital on approving CETA this week — and it will cost them in the future. Here’s your CETA ad:


[1] CETA approved Wednesday, http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/ceta-approved-wednesday-1.3983494

[2] European Parliament votes 408-254 in favour of CETA, but major obstacles remain, https://canadians.org/blog/european-parliament-votes-408-254-favour-ceta-major-obstacles-remain

[3] https://twitter.com/PaulMagnette/status/831840600638885888

[4] Trudeau signs CETA in Brussels, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/prime-minister-trudeau-signs-canada-eu-trade-deal-in-brussels/article32586423/

[5] European Parliament votes 408-254 in favour of CETA, but major obstacles remain, https://canadians.org/blog/european-parliament-votes-408-254-favour-ceta-major-obstacles-remain

[6] Rocco Galati files constitutional challenge against Canada-EU trade deal,, http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/rocco-galati-ceta-court-challenge-1.3819516

[7] Dutch campaigners gather signatures to derail EU-Canada trade deal, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/04/dutch-campaigners-eu-canada-trade-deal-referendum

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