Author Archives: prosperitysaskatchewan

Optimism returns to Sask. in August

30 Aug 2014
Leader-Post
LEADER-POST
Optimism returns to Sask. in August
After being in a funk for the past three months, small business owners in Saskatchewan have regained their optimism and are now on par with their counterparts in other parts of Canada, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business’s latest monthly business barometer survey.
“It is good to see small business optimism in Saskatchewan picked up in August after a three-month decline,” said Marilyn Braun-Pollon, CFIB’s vicepresident for the Prairie region and agri-business. “We know many entrepreneurs continue to be challenged with the aftermath of flooding, pressures from the shortage of labour, increasing wage costs, and high fuel and energy costs,” she said.
“Now we need Mother Nature to co-operate over the coming weeks to get the crops off the field.”
Optimism levels improved 1.5 points to an index of 65.0 in August from 63.5 in July, remaining in-line with the national index of 65.5, the report said Friday.
Other highlights of the Saskatchewan business barometer report for August: ■ 46 per cent of businesses in Saskatchewan say their overall state of business is good (versus 42 per cent nationally), while 17 per cent say it is bad (versus 10 per cent nationally);
■ 21 per cent of Saskatch- ewan businesses plan to increase full-time employment in the next three to four months (22 per cent nationally) and eight per cent plan to decrease employment (10 per cent nationally).
■ The shortage of skilled labour (cited by 53 per cent of respondents) remains the main operating challenge for Saskatchewan business owners, second-highest in Canada, after Alberta (at 54 per cent).
Nationally, Canada’s small and mid-sized business owners are feeling more upbeat in August, as the business barometer index has gained more than two points over top of July’s sluggish performance, posting its thirdbest reading so far this year after April and May.
“Increased optimism this month is fuelling better nearterm, full-time employment plans,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s chief economist and vice-president. “Additionally, 42 per cent of Canadian entrepreneurs say their businesses are in good shape, versus only 10 per cent who say the opposite — which is the most net positive result we’ve seen since the recession.”
An index level above 50 means owners expecting their businesses’ performance to be stronger in the next year outnumber those expecting weaker performance. Index levels normally range between 65 and 70 when the economy is growing at its potential.
The August 2014 findings are based on 957 responses to a random sample of CFIB members up to Aug. 18. Findings are statistically accurate to plus or minus 3.2 per cent 19 times in 20.

Sask. homes more affordable in Q2

30 Aug 2014
Leader-Post
Sask. homes more affordable in Q2
Sales jump over the same period
Saskatchewan’s housing affordability improved in the second quarter of 2014, thanks to a rebound in the housing market following poor weather that stifled activity this past winter, according to RBC Economics Research’s latest housing affordability report issued Thursday.
“Saskatchewan’s housing market had a convincing snapback in the second quarter from the winter slowdown, with resales jumping to a new recordhigh of 4,500 units for this period of the year,” said Craig Wright, senior vicepresident and chief economist for RBC.
“Strong activity more than made up for a sluggish first quarter.”
Year-to-date statistics suggest that the housing market is on pace to match 2012, which logged the strongest annual number of units sold on record at 13,900. Much of the gain in the second-quarter took place in Saskatoon, a market that has been flying high since 2011, RBC said.
“At this point, homebuyers in the province face little undue affordability pressure as measures remain close to long-term averages,” added Wright.
The RBC housing affordability measures, which capture the proportion of pre-tax household income needed to service the costs of owning a home, fell across all housing categories in the second quarter. RBC’s affordability measures for Saskatchewan declined by 1.3 percentage points to 38.9 per cent for two-storey homes, by 1.0 percentage point to 35.1 per cent for bungalows and by 0.8 percentage points to 24.4 per cent for condominiums.
RBC’s housing affordability measure for the benchmark detached bungalow in Canada’s largest cities in the second quarter is as follows: Vancouver 81.8 (down 0.3 percentage points from the previous quarter); Toronto 55.9 (down 0.2 percentage points); Montreal 37.3 (down 1.6 percentage points); Ottawa 36.0 (down 0.4 percentage points); Calgary 33.6 (down 0.8 percentage points); Edmonton 31.7 (down 1.1 percentage points).
The RBC housing affordability measure, which has been compiled since 1985, is based on the costs of owning a detached bungalow at market value. The higher the reading, the more difficult it is to afford a home at market values.
For example, an affordability reading of 50 per cent means that home ownership costs, including mortgage payments, utilities and property taxes, would take up 50 per cent of a typical household’s monthly pre-tax income.

Premier Wall poster boy for free trade

30 Aug 2014
The StarPhoenix
BRUCE JOHNSTONE
Premier Wall poster boy for free trade
“IF WE CAN’T GET IMPROVEMENT … WE ARE NOT GOING TO BE BOY SCOUTS ABOUT THAT IN SASKATCHEWAN.”
PREMIER BRAD WALL
Interprovincial free trade may not fire the popular imagination as much as the fight to keep PotashCorp headquartered in Saskatchewan, but Premier Brad Wall is well on his way to becoming Canada’s poster boy for reducing trade barriers between the provinces.
In fact, internal free trade has become Wall’s “bully pulpit,” to use Teddy Roosevelt’s famous phrase, from which he can cajole, persuade and even bully his provincial counterparts.
This week’s Council of the Federation meeting in Charlottetown provided a great platform for Wall to burnish his credentials as cheerleader-in-chief for the cause of free trade between the provinces and he took full advantage of the opportunity.
On Wednesday, Wall garnered national headlines with tough talk about “retaliating” against Ontario if the newly elected Liberal government continued to pursue protectionist policies that favour local companies in bidding for government infrastructure projects.
Specifically, Wall was taking aim at Infrastructure Ontario’s local preference rules that give companies with “local knowledge” a 10 per cent competitive advantage over out-of-province firms.
“If we can’t get improvement on that front, we are not going to be Boy Scouts about that in Saskatchewan,” Wall said. He threatened to “react” and “level the playing field for our companies” unless Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne stands down on her promise to give Ontario firms a leg up in competing for government work.
However, Wynne showed no signs of kowtowing to Wall’s threats. Her government allocated $130 billion for infrastructure spending in its July budget to boost Ontario’s faltering economy. In fact, the Liberals lobbied hard to get the “local knowledge” provision inserted in the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), the recently signed, yet-to-be ratified, free-trade deal between Canada and the European Union.
Media reports predicted a showdown between the free-tradin’ Wall and the arch-protectionist Wynne at the meetings later in the week. However, what we got at the end of the premiers’ conference was something less dramatic, but probably more constructive: The promise of a “comprehensive renewal” of Canada’s 20-year-old Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT).
Wall himself seemed much more conciliatory Thursday when he spoke of meeting with Wynne to talk about the need to reduce barriers to trade between the provinces. Perhaps the prospect of Saskatchewan, with its 1.1 million population and $58.6 billion annual GDP, taking on Ontario’s 13.5 million people and $675-billion economy, was a bit too much even for Wall to contemplate.
Wall’s less combative, more upbeat, attitude seemed more in tune with the premiers’ AIT statement, which promised to work toward “an ambitious, balanced and equitable agreement that levels the playing field for trade within Canada.”
With internal trade accounting for $366 billion, or 20 per cent of Canada’s GDP and growing by 60 per cent in 10 years, the free flow of people, goods, services and investments helps build stronger economies and strengthens Canada’s economic union, the statement added.
Wall, who now sits on the steering committee that’s leading the AIT renewal process (along with Wynne, Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger and Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil), also launched some free-trade initiatives of his own. Wall, along with his western counterparts, B.C. Premier Christy Clark and Alberta Premier Dave Hancock, announced Thursday plans to review exemptions or “exceptions” to the New West Partnership Trade Agreement (NWPTA), with the goal of paring them down even further.
Cuts both ways
And on Friday, Wall and Clark jointly announced plans to allow consumers in B.C. and Saskatchewan to order locally produced wines and spirits and have them delivered to their doorstep.
“When we ask other provinces for freer trade in Canada, we better be prepared to do it ourselves,” Wall said.
That’s the thing about free trade: It cuts both ways. It’s easy to say Ontario’s local preference policy is “protectionist.” But what if the successful bidder for the multimilliondollar Regina Bypass project has no local content? Similarly, the Sask. Party government’s love affair with public-private partnerships could be put to the test if and when the P3 bundle of nine school projects goes to an out-of-province firm.
Like free speech, free trade is easier to defend in theory than practice.

Unionized Cameco workers picket at PA Airport #uranium

Unionized Cameco workers picket at PA Airport

Reported by James Bowler

First Posted: Sep 1, 2014 3:26pm | Last Updated: Sep 1, 2014 3:37pm

http://www.newstalk650.com/story/unionized-cameco-workers-picket-pa-airport/411821

 

Following the breakdown of negotiations between union reps and Cameco officials, unionized workers picketed at Prince Albert Airport on Monday.
“We’re very disappointed in Cameco and we tried to negotiate with them and effective Aug.30 they locked us out. We couldn’t reach a deal. We weren’t asking for a whole lot,” president of steel workers local 8914 Phil Morin said.
Starting Monday morning, up to 30 workers began picketing with signs that read “Locked Out by Cameco” at the entrance to Prince Albert Municipal Airport.
“We want some respect at the negotiation table, were not happy with the way talks have gone,” local union vice  president Ron Berezowski, “Things don’t get solved when you’re not talking to one another.”
On Tuesday, Cameco was notified by union reps for the United Steelworkers Local 8914 that the strike would begin on Saturday morning at 12:01 a.m.
“We made a fair and competitive offer and unfortunately the bargaining committee rejected the offer and didn’t want to present it to its membership,” Cameco spokesperson Rob Gereghty said, pointing to the presentation of the company’s final offer on Thursday.
Union rep Mike Pulak said one of the major issues in negotiations was with delayed flights.
“There’s been a number of situations over the years where there’s been delayed flights either coming in or out, or the company extending periods that you have to report into work.” Pulak said.
Pulak said workers would not be compensated for these flight delay wait times.
The strike led to two Cameco facilities, McArthur River and Key Lake, being forced to shut down, however Gereghty confirmed that all orders for 2014 would still be filled.
The strike affects 535 unionized workers and the matter started from failed negotiations for contracts that ended in November of 2013.
With files from News Talk’s Kayla Bruch, Kelly Malone and Kurtis Doering.
jbowler@panow.com
Twitter: @princealbertnow

Strike-lockout interrupts production at two Saskatchewan uranium facilities

Strike-lockout interrupts production at two Saskatchewan uranium facilities

Sun, 31 Aug, 2014 3:39 PM EDT

By The Canadian Press

 

SASKATOON – A labour dispute has interrupted work at two Saskatchewan uranium facilities.

Cameco (TSX:CCO.TO – News) shut down production at the McArthur River mine and Key Lake mill when the union’s strike deadline early Saturday morning approached.

Cameco says it issued a lockout notice earlier in the week to assure a safe and orderly shutdown of its facilities and continued protection of the environment.

The United Steelworkers Local 8914 represents the 535 affected workers at the sites.

It says issues in the dispute include pensions, benefits and compensation for working in remote regions.

The workers’ previous contract expired at the end of 2013.

“After all the efforts made to find a fair resolve to bargaining, it was incredibly disappointing that in the final hours leading up to the deadline, the company’s only concern was to demand 24 additional workers to be added to the essential services list to finish off a production raise underground over the next few weeks,” the union’s lead negotiator, Mike Pulak, said in a news release.

Cameco said the facilities will be maintained in a safe shutdown state by salaried Cameco employees and unionized personnel under an essential services agreement with the union.

Pulak noted the union will be complying with essential services under the Canada Labour Code, and will ensure there is no danger to safety or health of the public or environment as a result of the dispute.

In July, the company and union jointly applied for conciliation under the code.

Cameco said it presented its final offer to the union bargaining committee on Thursday and requested that it be submitted to the union membership for a vote.

“The union bargaining committee rejected the offer and advised Cameco that it would not present it to the membership for a vote,” the company stated in a news release.

Cameco said it began flying unionized workers to their home communities on Friday evening “in order to assure safe and orderly departure of unionized employees from the remote northern sites.”

It said the work stoppage is not expected to affect the company’s 2014 uranium delivery commitments to customers.

TransCanada’s Energy East faces hurdle as U.S. oil boom swamps market

TransCanada’s Energy East faces hurdle as U.S. oil boom swamps market
Shawn McCarthy – GLOBAL ENERGY REPORTER
OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail
Published Sunday, Aug. 31 2014, 5:41 PM EDT
Last updated Sunday, Aug. 31 2014, 7:27 PM EDT
As TransCanada Corp. prepares to file for regulatory approval for its $12-billion cross-country pipeline project, booming U.S. oil imports are creating a new challenge: a domestic market saturated with low-cost crude.
The Calgary-based company expects to file its Energy East application with the National Energy Board later this month to move some 1.1 million barrels per day of western Canadian crude to eastern refineries and export terminals near Quebec City and Saint John, N.B.
The company, along with the Harper government and boosters in Alberta and New Brunswick, have draped a Maple Leaf flag around the proposed project.
Proponents say it will displace less-secure, higher-cost oil from outside North America with Canadian crude, thereby providing new markets for western producers and cheaper, more reliable supplies for refineries in Quebec and New Brunswick.
But that domestic market is quickly changing.
American crude exports to Canada soared to 387,000 barrels per day in June, according to U.S. government data.
While some one-time factors inflated those numbers, imports from the States into Canada – primarily Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes – have risen to well over 250,000 barrels per day on a sustained basis.
At the same time, Enbridge Inc. expects to start up the reversal of its Line 9B next month, which will bring 300,000 barrels per day of crude from western Canada and the United States into the province of Quebec, home to Suncor Energy Inc.’s Montreal refinery and Valero Energy Corp.’s plant at Lévis.
“The Enbridge line plus U.S. exports pretty much fills up whatever the eastern Canadian refineries need,” said Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at London-based Energy Aspects consultancy. “So, that Energy East pipeline could be used to export Canadian crude, but I don’t think eastern Canadian refineries are going to need western Canadian crude because they would have lots of supply well before that.”
Suncor, Valero and Saint John-based Irving Oil Ltd. have all expanded their ability to bring crude from the U.S. by rail, and are increasingly importing by ship from the Gulf Coast. Suncor and Valero say they will be running a full slate of North American crude by early next year. Irving’s 300,000 barrel per day refinery also has had an increasing diet of American crude, though the New Brunswick company remains a key backer of Energy East.
U.S. producers are prohibited from exporting crude except to Canada. Texas is facing a glut of light oil due to rising volumes in the Eagle Ford and Permian Basin and is eager to find new markets. Because American maritime laws limit the ability to ship to the U.S. east coast, Canada is a targeted market.
TransCanada is already facing challenges to its Energy East proposal from environmental groups in Quebec, and is keen to portray the project as a major benefit to the province to counter political opposition. The company says Quebec and New Brunswick will benefit from both the construction activity and from displacing higher-priced imports from politically unstable parts of the world.
“The Energy East national pipeline connection could push out crude oil currently imported from overseas and help ensure Canadians receive greater value for their domestically produced oil,” said TransCanada spokesman Davis Sheremata. “Eastern Canada currently refines more than 640,000 barrels a day, of which 86 per cent of its refinery feedstock is imported from countries including Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Venezuela and Algeria.”
But a growing source of those imports is the United States, while OPEC’s market share is falling sharply. And it will fall even further when Line 9B starts up.
Mr. Sheremata noted that shippers have committed to enter into long-term contracts for 90 per cent of the 1.1 million per day capacity, and that the pipeline could displace rail traffic. The three refiners in Montreal, Lévis and Saint John can now bring roughly 100,000 barrels per day of crude by rail to their plants.
Energy economist Jackie Forrest, of ARC Financial Corp., said shippers will continue to see value in the pipeline.
“By the time Energy East happens in 2017, or 2018 to Saint John, it won’t be about replacing offshore crude, but it will be about delivering North American crude more efficiently to eastern Canadian refiners,” she said. “There is an economic benefit by having them access lower cost crude than would be the case if they were relying on rail or tanker from the Gulf Coast.”

Premiers conclude annual meeting, agree to move forward on energy strategy

Premiers conclude annual meeting, agree to move forward on energy strategy
Reported by The Canadian Press
Posted Aug 29, 2014 12:40pm
CHARLOTTETOWN – Canada’s premiers agreed to move forward on a national energy strategy Friday after years of trying to reach a consensus on the plan.
Premier Robert Ghiz of Prince Edward Island said all provinces are now on board with the idea as he concluded three days of meetings in Charlottetown as chairman of their annual conference.
The provinces have been talking about a national energy strategy for years, with Alberta leading the way. Quebec and British Columbia have resisted signing on.
But those barriers were overcome with a switch to a federalist Liberal government in Quebec in April and B.C. Premier Christy Clark dropping her objections last November.
“I am extremely happy that our government is joining,” said Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard after the meeting.
“We want Canadians to have access to energy of all kinds from the West Coast to the East Coast to the North.”
Couillard said his concerns about jurisdiction and the link between energy and climate change were put at ease after discussions with his provincial counterparts.
Clark also announced earlier that Saskatchewan had agreed to drop trade barriers that kept B.C. wine and craft spirits from being sold in that province. B.C. already allows other provinces to sell wine in the province.
Clark said she expects Ontario to open its borders to B.C. wine as well.
“Premier (Kathleen) Wynne is talking about making this happen and I think we could probably do it in a few months,” she said.
“I’m hopeful that by the next meeting of Canada’s premiers, Canada’s borders will be open for wine right across this country.”
British Columbia’s deal with Saskatchewan will allow consumers in both provinces to order B.C. or Saskatchewan wines and craft spirits directly from producers and have them delivered to their homes.
Clark said she hopes to see the agreement implemented next June.
British Columbia has already struck similar deals with Manitoba and Nova Scotia.

Saskatchewan: An emerging P3 leader

From supplement to National Post
29 Aug 2014
National Post – (Latest Edition)
PATRICK BISSETT editorial@mediaplanet.com
Saskatchewan: An emerging P3 leader
While the conversation around economic excellence in Canada tends to focus on Alberta, other provinces are applying new ideas and funding models to fuel economic success. Saskatchewan, once considered as an economic bit-part player is now surging ahead with massive spikes in employment, inward migration, and economic growth. Public-private partnerships are increasingly becoming a key driver in enabling this success. Saskatchewan is currently in the grip of an economic transformation. The province, now considered an exciting emerging market, has experienced huge population, employment, and economic growth. However, there is a downside: Saskatchewan is experiencing a drain on resources. In order to meet its growth requirements, innovative funding solutions are needed — the solution of choice being P3s.
Not a new model
While the P3 model is not a new concept in Canada (both Infrastructure Ontario and Partners hips BC use this model), it has only recently come to the fore in Saskatchewan. There are numerous P3 projects in progress including hospitals, roads, schools, correctional facilities, and care homes. The projects though, are not without controversy. Regina MLA and critic for Education Trent Wotherspoon has described the government’s decision to fund school construction using P3s as a “private rent-a-school approach.”
Those directly involved in the process, however, see things di erently.
Rupen Pandya is president of Saskbuilds, the Government of Saskatchewan’s agency that plans and manages major infrastructure projects in the province using P3s. According to Rupen, traditional financing simply will not suce. “The Government has said it isn’t possible to meet the demands of growth through traditional means alone. It is necessary to explore alternative financing options like public-private partnerships to ensure… infrastructure is built in a timely and cost-e ective manner.”
Increased growth, increased needs
Steve McLellan, CEO of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, echoes Rupen’s sentiments. “Our growth in the past seven, eight years has been amazing. I stand in awe at the growth of our province and the emergence of new businesses. But… we have more people on the roads now, more sewer and water needs because of the increased number of people living here. Our population has grown at a rate that is almost unheard of in the history of the province.So there is a massive need for more infrastructure but we’re still very cognizant of the value for money factor.We need the best work done for the best price,” says Steve.
Indeed, value for money is a defining constant in conversations surrounding P3 financing. According to Steve McLellan, the construction of the Regina Bypass (the largest infrastructure project in Saskatchewan’s history) would absorb approximately 18 percent of the overall provincial budget. Without P3s, this means that an essential infrastructure project would remain unfulfilled — a prospect at odds with not only Saskatchewan’s economic progress, but also its burgeoning aspirations.

Potash: Come back Vlad, all is forgiven #potash

Potash: Come back Vlad, all is forgiven
Frik Els
August 28, 2014
In July last year Uralkali CEO Vladislav Baumgertner blasted the global potash market wide open sending stock prices in the sector tumbling and projects back to the drawing board.
Baumgertner’s breakup of the Belarus-Russia potash bloc – which cost him his job and some jail time – was supposed to move potash from a clubby system of tightly controlled global supply and set prices to an open market where volume and cost-based pricing is key.
Baumgertner, who is still under house arrest and the subject of a criminal investigation, forecast at the time the price of potash would fall 25% to below $300 a tonne in short order.
Fast forward 12 months and while Belaruskali and Uralkali may still patch things up, it seems Baumgertner’s big move is playing out more or less as predicted.
According to the latest commodity price index from Canada’s Scotiabank global shipments of the soil nutrient rebounded significantly this year.
Better still, after the swift drop on the Baumgertner bomb, prices are also creeping back up.
According to Scotiabank economist Patricia Mohr buyers have been making the most of lower prices and global potash deliveries could be on the high side of expectations, surging 7% to 58 million tonnes.
Shipments have been boosted by strong sales in North America, record fertilizer application in Brazil — linked to higher soybean plantings and robust coffee prices — and a modest pick-up in demand from palm oil growers in Malaysia and Indonesia.
At the same time spot potash prices (FOB Vancouver) edged up from $302.50 in June to $310 per tonne in July, after bottoming at $295 in January.
Granular potash — preferred in Brazil — is in short supply, as is all grades of SOP (potassium sulphate, non-chlorine potash fertilizer). Brazilian potash imports surged by 26% to a record 4.6 million tonnes during the first half of the year, though Mohr believes aggressive pricing by Uralkali probably contributed to this strong demand.
The net result according to the report is that producer inventories across North America fell 18% below the five-year average in June.
The rest of the year is looking even better.
China will exercise a large amount of optional tonnage from Canada in the second half and Canpotex, the North American marketing and distribution arm of the big three producers, and top producer Potash Corp (TSE:POT) have announced that they are sold out this quarter.
Granular prices in Brazil may increase from the current $355 – $360 to $380 CFR, given strong seasonal demand in the third quarter.
However notes the report, broad-based price increases may await negotiation of a new contract price with China for early 2015 — widely expected to be a 10% hike on today’s $305 CFR China price — setting a new higher floor.
Potash is currently priced well below phosphate fertilizers, which are strengthening. Sulphur prices, used to make DAP fertilizers, have been on a tear, rising to $155 at the Vancouver port in July. That’s up 18% compared to the previous month.
Uralkali expects global potash shipments to climb to 60 million tonnes in 2015, though this may be optimistic given softer crop prices and weaker farm economics, concludes the report.

Canada-EU trade deal has hit a hurdle, not a wall – can impact uranium mining #uranium

There is a segment in this proposed agreement allowing for European ownership of uranium mines in Canada (previously limited to 49% by the Non Resident Ownership Policy or NROP).
Eric
_______________________________
Canada-EU trade deal has hit a hurdle, not a wall
OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Aug. 28 2014, 5:24 PM EDT
Last updated Friday, Aug. 29 2014, 5:27 AM EDT
First, Germany expressed reservations about parts of the Canada-Europe free trade deal.
Now, European Union lawmakers are threatening to block the agreement outright.
The Greens and other left-wing parties are objecting to any trade deal that contains so-called Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions. ISDS allows companies to sue governments when they believe their trade rights have been violated. But critics say the system gives multinationals too much power – a concern that would magnified if the Canadian agreement becomes a model for the EU-U.S. free trade agreement, which is also being negotiated.
So what does this mean for the fate of the deal?
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso are slated to sign the 1,500-page completed text of the trade agreement in late September, formally marking that a final deal has been reached.
The agreement still has a long way to go before implementation – perhaps another two years.
But the European Parliament – even one where Euroskeptic nationalist parties and the Left now hold outsized sway – is unlikely to kill the trade agreement.
Traditionally, the real power in the EU rests with the EU council, which is made up of the 28 EU heads of government. The Parliament, which is aligned by parties rather than countries, must also ratify the trade agreements with Canada.
Experts doubt the Parliament would defy the will of the council. Doing so would effectively take the “union” out of the EU.
“It would be quite a coup for the European Parliament to go against what has been carefully negotiated collectively, and agreed to, by the 28 EU governments,” agreed Daniel Schwanen, vice-president of research at the C.D. Howe Institute in Toronto.
“So far, all governments are on board, in Canada and Europe. For anyone now to play spoiler, they would bear a heavy economic and political responsibility.”
But Jason Langrish, executive director of the Canada Europe Roundtable for Business, says the EU Parliament remains an unpredictable wild card.
“The Parliament has the power and they can stop this agreement from going through,” Mr. Langrish acknowledged. “This is a reaction to the United States, primarily.”
In the past, the Parliament was often a rubber stamp for EU laws. But that’s not always the case any more. In 2012, for example, the Parliament voted down a global anti-counterfeiting trade agreement.
Mr. Langrish said he still believes the EU Parliament will ultimately approve the agreement. But even if it does approve the deal, the vote might not be the last hurdle for the trade agreement.
Under EU rules, member states delegate to Brussels the sole responsibility for negotiating international trade agreements. The EU Council signs the final agreement and puts it to a yes-or-no vote in Parliament.
Toronto trade lawyer Lawrence Herman pointed out that some European officials are making the argument that the Canada-EU trade deal is a “mixed” agreement that strays into the legal realms of EU member nations.
If that’s the case, the agreement would have to be ratified by the legislatures in all 28 EU countries – a process that could delay and complicate implementation, Mr. Herman explained. “It is something to watch carefully,” he said.
But before any deal is put to ratification, the agreement must also undergo legal “scrubbing” – making sure the text accurately reflects the intent of the two sides – and translation into 23 EU languages.
So it may be a bit too soon for Mr. Harper and Mr. Barroso to take a victory lap when they meet in Ottawa next month.
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