Now, a knowledgable source with impressive credentials is sounding the latest cautionary note about "CETA," the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement which Prime Minister Harper and the European Union signed, in principle last year.
Bachelor of Civil Law (1982): McGill University.
- For example, as long ago as the 1990s, an American company, Ethyl Corp. sued Canada under a clause in "NAFTA," the North American Free Trade Agreement. Canada had banned its fuel additive, MMT due to concerns that it was a poisonous neurotoxin. The ban stuck, but Canada had to pay the company (the same one which brought leaded gasoline to Canada back in the 20s), $17 million in compensation.
- Fast forward to today, and the stakes are much higher.
- The US-based pharmaceutical giant, Eli Lilly and Company is currently suing Canada, also under NAFTA, for $500 million. The move comes after Canadian courts struck down the company’s patents on two of its drugs. Those rulings removed Lilly's monopoly and allowed another company to replicate the medications, in a cheaper, generic form. (Ironically, the drugs in question, both antipsychotics, are suspected of causing a number of mental patients, both young and old, to take their own lives. However, those adverse reactions played little or no part in the court decisions.)
- Another, similar case has been launched by LonePine Resources, a Texas-based oil company. LonePine is suing Canada for $250 million because Quebec refused to allow it to "frack" beneath the St. Lawrence River, at least until better regulations could be put into place. "Fracking," or hydraulic fracturing, involves the controversial practise of pumping chemicals under pressure into underground shale formations, to force out the oil or gas. In documents filed under NAFTA, LonePine calls Quebec's actions, "an arbitrary, capricious, and illegal revocation of the Enterprise’s valuable right to mine for oil and gas..."
- Some three years ago, the global tobacco company, Philip Morris, sued the Australian government for passing a law requiring it to market its product in plain packages. The company claims the move breaches Australia’s bilateral investment treaty (FTA) with Hong Kong. Phillip Morris says it will seek billions of dollars in damages.
It wants $100 million dollars from the small nation for saying "no" to a company plan to build a "cyanide-leach" gold mine in one of its pristine rain forests (PinP photo - r.). Costa Rica depends for much of its revenue, on tourists coming to enjoy the nation's natural beauty.
And, in a recent column, British journalist George Monbiot writes, "In El Salvador, an Australian company is now suing the government before a closed tribunal of corporate lawyers for $300 million (nearly half the country's annual budget) in potential profits foregone. Why? Because El Salvador has refused permission for a gold mine that would poison people's drinking water."
are becoming "the new normal?"
In an interview with PinP later, Mann suggests, we haven't seen anything yet, in terms of the number of lawsuits which Corporations will be launching against Canada once CETA becomes law.
PinP: “Is there a risk that CETA, once ratified, will lead to more lawsuits by investors against Canada?"
Mann: “No, there is a certainty! There have been over 600 such arbitrations commenced globally in the past 20 years, about half by EU-based companies. There is no reason to think they will not be equally aggressive using the mechanism against Canada. The creativity of industry in using the investor-state arbitration process to fend off any and every kind of government measure continues to amaze me, even after 18 years working in this field. From challenging anti-smoking measures, to protecting against side-effects of medications, fracking under the St. Lawrence River, protecting water basins in fragile environments, there is no area of decision-making that is outside the scope of these agreements.”
In the United Kingdom, MPs from all parties have called for a halt to talks on a very similar treaty with the U.S. Why? According to the newspaper, The Independent, they fear it may put “British sovereignty ‘at risk’ by surrendering judicial independence to multinational corporations.”
A redacted document on early CETA talks, which leaked onto the internet.
“The EU-US investment negotiations have been put on hold in order to have a full-scale three month public consultation.
No such opportunity has ever been had in Canada on the CETA. We have to depend on leaks because our government will not issue an official draft.”
But, given Mann’s impressive credentials and experience, and, as all the cumulative evidence piles up, will Ottawa finally pay attention, or ignore it as its peril?