I read this morning on The Tyee that BC Jobs Minister Pat Bell said he has been muzzled by the Harper government from talking about details surrounding the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).
When asked about recent meetings on the CETA Minister Bell said he can’t
make any comment on CETA. We are bound by a confidentiality agreement with the federal government.
Any provinces participating in those discussions are obligated not to reveal the ongoing communications. Love to do it, but you’d be talking to a new minister if I did.
Interestingly enough, in the spring of 2011 Premier Chrisy Clark said this about CETA and public consultations
There will be, I’m told, consultation on this agreement. There will be many avenues for the public’s input
She said this in response to pressure from NDP leader Adrian Dix who stated his concern that negotiations were taking place behind closed doors and that the publics interest in these negotiations were being sold out with the apparent approval of the BC government.
It certainly appears that this is the case, with Minister Bell admitting to being muzzled and seemingly unconcerned that the public is being left out of these negotiations.
As the same time, Federal trade minister Ed Fast denied the allegations.
Adrian Dix responded to this claim stating
I’m concerned…We have an agreement conducted in secret that’s going to sacrifice public health care to private interests and the government doesn’t want to defend public health care or talk about it. That’s disappointing.
Europe does seem to be getting the better end of this bargain, extending patent protection that would result in increased costs to consumer for pharmaceutical drugs. It’s also interesting to note that Premier of Manitoba Greg Selinger has been very open in his opposition to CETA telling CBC Radio
Manitoba’s position is that our Crown corporations, hydro and auto insurance, should be protected, and we should have the capacity to do regional economic development
How nice it must be to have a government that stands up for the interests of the taxpayers.
I wonder what that must be like?
You can read more on CETA from the Trade Justice Network website
You can see the Top 10 Reasons Why Ceta is Bad For Canada c/o the Council of Canadians here
You can also see The Trade Justice Networks myth busting on CETA here
UPDATE: From canada.com Environment Minister Peter Kent has defended the muzzling of Ministers as “established practice”. Apparently it’s just fine to silence those who are negotiating in our interest so they cannot report to us, the taxpayers, on what they are negotiating. Kent went on to blame the media, for which he used to be a member as a broadcaster, for asking inappropriate questions.
Inappropriate questions according to whom? The government. It’s the job of the media to get the facts on stories like this because, frankly, we know the history of this government to hide behind redacted documents and privilege to dodge legitimate questions.
It makes an article from Nature, reported here by The Toronto Star, even more telling, especially the conclusion of the article that opines hopefully
The way forward is clear: it is time for the Canadian government to set its scientists free
Something is wrong with this and I hope the MSM stay on top of this. CETA has not been reported on nearly enough and the media has a responsibility to make things like this public. Thanks to canada.com and The Tyee for staying on top of these stories.