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Germany builds its case against CETA with 70 bankers’ boxes

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    Germany builds its case against CETA with 70 bankers’ boxes

    Canada trade deal faces the lawyers: Germany builds its case against CETA with 70 bankers’ boxes

    The documents arrived at the Bundesverfassungsgericht on Wednesday: 70 bankers’ boxes containing more than 125,000 signed powers-of-attorney, passed from person to person along a human chain to the doors of the courthouse. The BVerfG, as it’s known for short, is Germany’s highest constitutional court, and the NGOs that delivered the documents to the court were filing what they claim is the largest constitutional challenge in the country’s history. Its goal is to stop the proposed free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union.

    September could prove the pivotal month for the Canada and European Union Comprehensive Economic and Free Trade Agreement (CETA), and Germany could be the key battleground as the treaty’s fate is decided.

    Wednesday’s constitutional challenge marks the latest in a series of anti-trade moves by German citizens, non-profits and politicians alike, and comes at a crucial moment for CETA. The deal is meant to be signed at the Canada-EU summit on Oct. 27. In a push to get the deal done by then, the Liberal government last week named former federal trade minister and business consultant Pierre Pettigrew its new “CETA envoy.”

    But the same sentiment growing in Germany and other European states that this week jeopardized the United States’ pending free trade deal with the EU has put CETA at risk as well, and made clear the challenge facing Pettigrew and the Canadian negotiators.

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    Linda McQuaig:
    Why is Trudeau following Harper’s lead and giving special protections to powerful corporations?

    Snip.. Stephen Harper’s right-wing government pushed to have ISDS protections included in CETA. But why is the Trudeau government going along with these corporate-friendly protections pushed by his unpopular predecessor?

    Trudeau could join forces with European social democrats, particularly in Germany, France and the Netherlands, to push for really significant changes to the ISDS section of CETA.

    For instance, along with the extensive set of rights foreign investors will receive, there could be a corresponding set of responsibilities, which would hold these foreign interests accountable if they flout international labour, environment or consumer standards, notes Osgoode Hall law professor Gus Van Harten, an expert in international investment laws.

    But no such responsibilities have been added, including in the ISDS revisions.

    Similarly, while the ISDS revisions give governments the “right to regulate,” they impose the burden of proof on governments to show that their regulations are “necessary” and aimed at achieving “legitimate” objectives.

    But this means that the “right to regulate” is limited and open to interpretation. A report by four European environmental groups and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, released in April, examined five major ISDS lawsuits – including two involving Canada – and concluded that merely affirming the “right to regulate” wouldn’t have prevented any of them.

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