Liberals want Tories to release trade information

Liberal trade critic wants the federal Tories to release trade agreement information

To the editor:

This is an open letter to International Trade Minister Ed Fast.

As the international trade critic for the Liberal Party, I am concerned with the manner in which the federal government has been conducting the Canada-European Trade Agreement (CETA) negotiations.

The Liberal Party strongly supports free trade and expanding new markets, but we need to ensure it is in the best interests of Canadians.

Unfortunately, these negotiations have been conducted behind closed doors and Canadians have been left guessing what is on the table. This has contributed to a loss of confidence among Canadians that the agreement will result in any domestic net benefits.

We know intellectual property rights, specifically pharmaceutical patent protection, are on the negotiating table, but we simply do not know to what extent.

In June, the premiers voiced their fear the CETA agreement could result in increased pharmaceutical costs. As a result, a number of provinces requested the federal government compensate for any such increase as a consequence of this agreement.

However, this is not the only issue that has been raised over the past number of months regarding these negotiations.

We do not know the impact the CETA will have on government procurement. We do not know the impact the CETA will have on the future of agricultural supply management. On Oct. 6, 2011, you provided the International Trade Committee with a statement in which you informed the committee the government completed a number of sectoral analyses with respect to the CETA. However, your refusal to provide the committee with those reports has certainly contributed to the increased uncertainty surrounding the CETA.

I am requesting you provide to the committee the most recent sectoral analyses, including any regarding the issue of intellectual property as relating to pharmaceuticals.

Canadians deserve to know how the agreement is proceeding and what compromises are on the negotiating table. Without transparency, confidence that any such arrangement will result in net benefits to Canada will continue to wane.

 

Wayne Easter

Liberal trade critic