In Europe, resistance to CETA -- the Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement -- is growing. The reason? The Investor Dispute Settlement Mechanism. Linda McQuaig writes:
The Harper government insisted that the IDSM be part of the agreement. The Trudeau government has altered that mechanism slightly. But special privileges for investors are still at the heart of the deal:
Investors will still be able to bring lawsuits over government policies they don’t like, and their lawsuits will still be decided by special tribunals where they will enjoy stronger legal protections than are available to any other group in domestic or international law.
Thus, despite the revisions, CETA will undermine Canadian democracy, handing foreign corporations a powerful lever for pressuring our governments to, for instance, abandon environmental, health or financial regulations, while leaving Canadian taxpayers potentially on the hook to pay billions of dollars in compensation to some of the wealthiest interests on earth.
Gus Van Harten, who teaches law at Osgoode Hall, has been warning about the IDSM for years:
The absurdity of that special privilege is highlighted by Van Harten. He notes that, under CETA, a foreigner tortured by Canadian authorities wouldn’t be able to bring a lawsuit against Canada – unless he was also an investor with assets in Canada, and the torture negatively affected his assets.
But the Trudeau government is not inclined to take on corporate interests. It's more of the same.