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CUPE Quebec is adding its voice to the growing chorus of civil society groups calling for a public debate on the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union. The coalition, along with several members of the National Assembly, held a press conference to speak out against CETA, an agreement that threatens the welfare of local communities and empowers multinational corporations. CETA would pave the way for these corporations to take control of essential public services, including water, transportation, energy and health care.

“We can’t let ourselves be fooled. Government procurement is on the table in these talks. And that means all the contracts awarded by Crown corporations and government agencies at both the municipal and the provincial level,” stated Denis Bolduc, Quebec Region secretary general of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

Our political and economic sovereignty is at stake here, and the negotiations are being held behind closed doors. That is not acceptable. We must have a public debate, now!”

CETA is the most ambitious trade deal Canada has ever negotiated. It is even more far-reaching than NAFTA. For the first time, negotiations involve entire sectors that fall under provincial and municipal jurisdictions and that, in Quebec, represent key public services.

The many civil society groups, including CUPE, the RQIC, Eau Secours!, the Council of Canadians and ATTAC-Québec, that oppose this initiative are finding allies on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

On October 13, a group of like-minded organizations from France and Quebec issued a joint statement formally rejecting the agreement and condemning the lack of transparency in the negotiations.

The Canadian government aims to wrap up discussions on CETA by the end of the year.