In the wake of the ratification of the CETA agreement, environmentalists and anti-free trade zealots are ganging up on politicians who voted for it. This can’t become the new normal.
Incidents in France
The French National Assembly recently approved CETA, a free trade agreement between the European Union and Canada. The left-wing media outlet Mediapart consequently published the names, email addresses, and phone numbers of the members of parliament who both voted in favour of ratification and were present during climate change activist Greta Thunberg’s speech in Parliament. In this article, the author “RAPHJ” writes: “We leave the liberty to citizens to make them pay for it”, “it” being their vote in favour of the agreement.
The trade deal removes tariffs on nearly all goods and services between Canada and Europe and has led to a 15 percent rise in the amount of EU exports to Canada, according to European officials. The agreement is particularly opposed by farmers, who fear overseas competition.
As a result of these calls for “political action”, parliamentarians and the people working in their offices have now been assaulted and intimidated.
In recent days, at least seven offices of MPs belonging to Macron’s La République En Marche party who voted in favour of the controversial ratification have been degraded, including those of Jean-Baptiste Moreau in Guéret (Creuse) and Barbara Bessot-Ballot in Vesoul (Haute-Saône). In Thuir, located in the Eastern Pyrenees, rotten peaches, pallets, and straw bales were dumped in front of Sébastien Cazenove’s headquarters.
Party HQs are being attacked: some having epithets such as “liar” and “traitor” sprayed on the walls, others having the entrances to their offices sealed.
At protests against TTIP and CETA in Germany two years ago, environmentalists told politicians to “watch out” with an accompanying guillotine.
Such tactics increasingly demonstrate that activists no longer consider this to be a debate. They will not accept dissent and their fanaticism will not stop until people get hurt.
What freedom means
Free trade means more consumer choice and more competition in a free market. It is amazing that Donald Trump can be criticised constantly for failing to keep the intercontinental market free of new tariffs, yet our own politicians in Europe are being attacked for defending the deregulation of trade.
Free trade should also mean the free exchange of ideas. We cannot accept a climate in which political violence becomes the norm. In a free society, we debate ideas and challenge one another’s viewpoints without resorting to violence and intimidation to achieve our political goals. While I find the idea of centralised banking absolutely abhorrent, I would never dream of enacting political violence against those who work for the ECB in Frankfurt.
That essential ideals of freedom and mutual respect must remain the cornerstones of liberal democracy.
This article was first published by Values4Europe.
Pictures are Creative Commons.
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