OTTAWA – Canada and the European Union have entered the sixth round of trade talks this week for what could be the largest free trade agreement since NAFTA.

But critics from both sides of the Atlantic are protesting outside the EU Headquarters in Brussels to voice their concerns the deal will be neither good for the environment nor the economy.

The Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, which has largely gone unreported, has been in the works since October 2009 and International Trade Minister Peter Van Loan has said negotiations could be wrapped up by the end of this year.

He has praised the potential deal as the centerpiece of the Conservatives' "ambitious" free trade agenda.

"As Canada's second largest trading partner and the world's single wealthiest market, the European Union holds great potential for Canadian workers, entrepreneurs and businesses," Van Loan wrote in an e-mail Tuesday. "Canada is now negotiating an agreement with the European Union that will be broader than even NAFTA. That's why our provinces and territories are participating in the negotiations in areas that fall within their jurisdiction.

"Together, we are negotiating a trade agreement that will secure access for Canadian companies doing business with Europe and create jobs and stability for Canadian workers."
While Canada reportedly is also keen to open up labour mobility as part of the deal, the 27 European nations want open access to Canadian government procurements, including provincial and even municipal contracts.

According to the government, a 2008 study found Canada and EU two-way trade could increase 20% with a free trade agreement, and Canada's economy stands to gain upwards of $12 billion annually from such a deal.

Dear Friends,

I was honoured to be appointed Minister of National Defence.

I can assure you that Canada will continue to strongly support our Ukrainian friends and allies as they defend Ukraine from Vladimir Putin's illegal and deadly invasion.

To date, the Canadian military has provided the following assistance to Ukraine, and other Eastern European allies:

  • Four CF-18 fighter jets to Baltic Air Policing.
  • Assigned HMCS Fredericton to NATO Maritime Forces.
  • Deployed 120 Canadian Armed Forces members to Eastern Europe to participate in a series of training exercises alongside NATO allies.
  • Donating 30,000 coats, 30,000 pairs of pants, 70,000 pairs of Gore-Tex boots and 4,500 pairs of gloves.
  • Purchasing tactical communications systems, explosive ordnance disposal equipment, tactical medical kits, and both night and thermal goggles.
  • Joining the U.S.-Ukraine Joint Commission on Defence Reform and Bilateral Cooperation.

In addition, I can confirm that Canada intends to offer radar satellite images to Ukrainian forces:

Ottawa plans to provide valuable satellite images to Ukrainian forces Staff
Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Ottawa plans to help Ukraine's beleaguered armed forces by providing them with high-resolution images from Canada's powerful RADARSAT-2 satellite, CTV News has learned.

Twice a day, the satellite will cross over Ukraine, providing precise details on what is happening on the ground -- day or night. That will allow the Ukrainians to redeploy their troops and use them more strategically against Russian-backed separatists.

The satellite is "really good at detecting military hardware," Retired Col. Andre Dupuis of Space Strategies Consulting told CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife.

The stakes are high because there is no guarantee that the current ceasefire between Ukraine and the rebels will hold. If the ceasefire fails, the U.S. could move to arm the Ukrainian forces.

The leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine met in Minsk Thursday to try to negotiate an end to the bloodshed in eastern Ukraine. The talks come amid intense fighting in recent weeks.

If the U.S. ends up supplying Ukraine with lethal arms, Canada may do the same. New defence minister Jason Kenney said that Ottawa is in "very close contact with our allies to see what the next steps might be."

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Hon. Jason Kenney, PC, MP
Calgary Southeast

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