TORONTO, Oct. 22, 2013 /CNW/ - The Conservative government must come
clean on reports that the European Union trade deal will remove
foreign-ownership limits from Canada's uranium industry, says the
United Steelworkers (USW), Canada's largest union of uranium miners.
"We ask the federal government to clarify how this trade deal will
affect foreign ownership of Canadian uranium mines," said Ken Neumann,
USW's National Director for Canada.
"The lack of transparency about this important issue begs the question
of what other controversial policy changes are hidden in this
agreement. Canadians need to see the full text before our governments
sign onto it," Neumann said.
Last Thursday the federal government released a 44-page summary of the
Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) that features the
word "transparent" 15 times, but does not mention the word "uranium."
However, the Saskatchewan government issued a press release Friday that
stated: "The new agreement will also ease Canadian restrictions on EU
investment, including in the uranium mining sector."
The Canadian Press then quoted the Saskatchewan premier as saying, "My
understanding is that simply the provisions will be gone for these
companies … they'll be able to own a mine outright."
Current rules cap foreign ownership of Canadian uranium mines at 49 per
cent. This compromise has allowed substantial foreign investment in
Canada's uranium mines, but has required foreign investors to partner
with Canadian companies.
"Ensuring majority Canadian ownership safeguards national security and
protects against foreign electric utilities that may have an incentive
to buy mines in Canada to extract our uranium at discounted prices,"
"Rio Tinto is publicly applauding the reported removal of
foreign-ownership limits from Canadian uranium," he said.
"After taking over Alcan, Rio Tinto demanded vast concessions from
Canadian workers and locked out 800 employees for six months at Alma,
Quebec, last year. Governments should be reluctant to allow this
EU-based company to take full control of other Canadian facilities."
Neumann also noted that Saskatchewan's last provincial budget slashed
uranium royalty rates. Under CETA, EU-based companies may be the main
recipients of that gift, he added.
"Why are the federal and Saskatchewan governments so keen to give away
our natural resources to foreign corporations?"
USW is also very concerned about CETA's investor-state dispute
resolution provisions and its extension of pharmaceutical patents.
CETA's aggressive investor-state provisions will allow multinational
corporations to sue democratically elected governments at all levels in
Canada and to challenge laws and policies adopted in the public
Appointed and unaccountable tribunals, operating outside of the
traditional legal system, will rule on such claims. Canadian taxpayers
will be on the hook for damages awarded to corporations for claims of
potential losses arising from our democratic laws.
"It is unclear why corporations and investors need this special,
unaccountable process, given the rule of law and effective judicial
systems in both Canada and Europe," Neumann said.
CETA's extension of pharmaceutical patents will substantially increase
drug prices, making it more expensive for governments to provide public
healthcare and more difficult for employees to negotiate workplace drug
plans, he said.
"Canada should not sign CETA if the final deal gives foreign investors a
special, unaccountable process to challenge public policy and extends
patent protection for medicines."
SOURCE: United Steelworkers (USW)
For further information:
Ken Neumann, USW National Director for Canada, 416-544-5951
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, firstname.lastname@example.org