Provincial 'grievances' could pose roadblock for CETA, says expert
Jeff Lagerquist, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, October 30, 2016 5:35PM EDT
Canada’s newly minted trade pact with the European Union could face significant hurdles at home long before its potential economic benefits are fully realized.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and European leaders signed the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement known as CETA on Sunday after seven years of arduous negotiations and a prolonged deadlock with the Belgian region of Wallonia.
While Canadian and European officials are reveling in the signing, the road to full ratification could prove to be an uphill climb, said one expert.
International relations Professor Elliot Tepper said provincial governments have quietly gained powerful leverage over Ottawa now that the deal has been signed -- the question is will they choose to use it.
“You can take your pick which of our provinces might have some grievances they’d like to have looked at prior to signing on,” Tepper told CTV News Channel. “There is a lot of room for slippage on this one.”
The massive 1,600-page pact and its strategic partnership agreement still needs to be formally accepted by the provinces and territories.
“It has to go through several processes,” he said. “It’s such an important deal over all to Canada that a province (that didn’t ratify) would look pretty churlish.”
According to a CETA overview provided by the Canadian government, the agreement would eliminate 98 per cent of all tariffs on goods traded between Canada and the 28 EU member states.
A joint Canada-EU study concluded that CETA could increase bilateral trade by 20 per cent annually and boost Canada's income by $12 billion per year. The study also suggested the economic benefit would equate to creating almost 80,000 new jobs, or increasing the average Canadian household's annual income by $1,000.
“The implication is that there are a lot of new opportunities opening up that would not otherwise have been there, and that is undoubtedly true if we seize those opportunities,” said Tepper.
He also noted that CETA could get a cold reception in Canada if new jobs are slow to materialize. The agreement has become a target for anti-globalization activists wary of increasing ties to vast foreign markets.
“We have to do what we can to see that we have a new form of globalization. I’m not convinced that this pact will lead to that,” said Tepper. “This may be the last of the old type of trade pacts rather than the beginning of new.”