CETA and Water Services Update (COC)
Here is a very good overview by Council of Canadians' Campaign and
Communications Director, Brent Patterson on what has been written so far
about Water Services and the CETA agreement.
Brent Patterson's The Campaign Blog
NEWS: Water services and the Canada-EU CETA
Monday, May 3rd, 2010
What are some of the connecting points between water services and the
Canada-European Union comprehensive economic and trade agreement?
It´s important to answer this question because Prime Minister Stephen
Harper will be in Brussels on Wednesday to attend a Canada-European Union
summit to promote this deal now being negotiated between Canada and the
Here are some of the pieces of the puzzle:
1- The Toronto Star reported on April 30 that CETA "could mean big
changes in how... Toronto buys equipment to upgrade the water system.
Indeed, the EU´s initial `market access´ request cites by name... Toronto
water and emergency services as among the agencies whose contracts they
want to ensure are open to European bidders."
2- The Canadian Press reported on April 30 that, "(Trade minister
Peter) Van Loan dismissed critics such as the Council of Canadians as
being `on the fringe´, saying previous protections such as losing control
of the country´s water under other free trade agreements simply haven´t
3- On page 13 of Scott Sinclair´s `Negotiating from Weakness´ report on
CETA (released on April 22), he writes: "Another controversial demand is
the EU´s insistence that CETA rules cover water, including drinking water.
The demand seeks coverage of: `All entities which provide or operate fixed
networks intended to provide a service to the public in connection with
the production, transport or distribution of drinking water, or supply
drinking water to such networks.´ The European Commission has been much
criticized in both Europe and developing countries for its aggressive
positions around covering water under trade treaties. As a result of this
criticism, it retreated somewhat from this stance in negotiations with
developing countries and at the WTO, claiming that water for human use
should not be covered under trade treaties. But the aggressive demands for
Canada to cover water for human use demonstrate that the Commission has
given short shrift to such sensitivities in its negotiations with Canada
and that its negotiators are still working in the interests of
European-based multinational corporations."
4- In his March 2010 opinion on the vulnerabity of P3s to
restrictions under the Canada-United States Procurement Agreement,
trade lawyer Steven Shrybman identified a number of risks for the
then-proposed Capital Regional District (Victoria) wastewater plant
if it were a P3 - including being prohibited from specifying some
portion of local or even Canadian goods, services and labour and from
supporting a market for innovative Canadian environmental or energy design
or Canadian green technologies. He also cautioned that the Canada-US
agreement creates a litigation risk arising from the rights US companies
have under the agreement to challenge both the method and the terms of
certain CRD procurements. Similar risks could be faced by water services
under CETA. The 20-page legal opinion can be found at
5- Canada may be moving toward a harmonization with EU wastewater
regulations in preparation for the CETA.
6- In our November 2009 `ACTION ALERT: Release the Canada-EU trade
deal text!´, we noted, "European negotiators are eyeing Canada´s
public services - including water treatment and distribution.
`Really what the (Europeans) want to see are the removal of whatever
protections exist at the municipal level on keeping water services
public,´ said Stuart Trew, Council of Canadians trade campaigner, in a
recent Canadian Press article. `Creating an agreement would actually
encourage the privatization of water delivery and water treatment at the
7- After the first round of CETA talks in October 2009, Canada´s
chief negotiator Steve Verheul told us during a one-hour conference
call that, "there has been no discussion and no draft text on water, but
that may come up with the requests" and that "water is sensitive for us
and we would approach that with caution".
8- In March 2009, I noted in a campaign blog that, a new report from
Corporate Europe Observatory notes that, "Judging from all available
sources, the European Union appears in fact to be pushing for including
water in trade agreements whenever possible." That´s at
9- The Canwest News Service reported as far back as October 2008
that, "Quebec Premier Jean Charest has led the push for a Canada-EU
Stuart Trew and Claude Vaillancourt highlighted in a rabble.ca op-ed that
Quebec billionaire Paul Desmarais Jr. would like to see market access in
Canada for Power Corp.´s European holdings, including French private water
giant Suez, which would profit from increased access to public water
Gerard Mestrallet, the president of Suez, is a signatory to the
Canada Europe Roundtable for Business `Declaration in support of a
Canada-EU Trade and Investment Agreement´ along with more than 100
Canadian and European chief executives.
Desmarais is a Director on the Suez Board. The Canwest article noted that
he and French President Nicolas Sarkozy formed a friendship in 1995.
We will be further developing our analysis on this question, tracking Mr.
Harper´s words in Brussels, and raising this issue at key moments
including at the last two rounds of talks on this deal in July (in
Brussels) and October (in Ottawa on the eve of our annual general meeting