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New Legal Opinion Warns of EU Trade Impacts on Tar Sands
OTTAWA, Ontario - November 5 - A legal opinion released today and handed to visiting European Union
members of parliament argues the proposed Canada-EU Comprehensive
Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) has considerable potential to
"constrain policy, program and regulatory initiatives needed to address
pressing ecological priorities, including those relating to the impacts
of oil sands development."
"It's clear the Canadian government views the CETA negotiations as another way to defeat efforts in the EU to address climate change. The Harper government has already threatened to use existing trade rules to the same end in the United States. We can now start to see how the proposed Canada-EU trade agreement would put unrestricted trade and investment protections above the much more pressing need to reduce the carbon content of our economies," says Andrea Harden-Donahue, energy and climate campaigner with the Council of Canadians.
The legal opinion by Steven Shrybman of Sack Goldblatt Mitchell, commissioned for the Council of Canadians and The Indigenous Environmental Network, was released today following a meeting in Ottawa with EU members of parliament. The MEPs, who sit on a committee dedicated to EU-Canada relations, were in Canada to visit the tar sands at the request of the Alberta government. They then flew to Ottawa to meet with Canadian trade negotiators and business interests campaigning in support of CETA.
The federal and Alberta governments continue to lobby against efforts in Europe to categorize tar sands-derived oil differently than conventional oil because of its heavy carbon footprint. The so-called Fuel Quality Directive is supported in the EU and Canada by First Nations communities and environmental groups as a positive step towards discouraging tar sands production.
The legal opinion released today and handed to EU politicians in Ottawa explains that not only would CETA make such policies vulnerable to trade challenges, it would "seriously exacerbate current problems by providing EU based oil companies with new rights to challenge efforts to contain the pace or character of oil sands development."
“The debate over the tar sands extraction needs to come down to the fundamental human rights of First Nations to exist and have a future with a safe, clean and healthy environment,” says Clayton Thomas-Muller, Tar Sands Campaigner with the IEN. “First Nations access to basic human necessities is protected by domestic and international law but CETA, by encouraging more extraction and giving that kind of investment strong new protections, threatens First Nations access to clean drinking water, land and sustenance."
The Council of Canadians and IEN state that climate change and other severe ecological stresses are the most immediate threat to the Canadian and European economies, but through CETA, Canada and the EU would prioritize trade liberalization at the expense of Indigenous rights and effective environmental regulation.
Download the legal opinion at www.canadians.org/trade/