Toronto lawyer Galati files constitutional challenge against EU trade deal

OTTAWA – The Toronto lawyer who successfully challenged the previous Conservative government over one of its Supreme Court judge nominees is setting his sights on a new target: Canada’s free trade deal with the European Union.

Rocco Galati has filed a statement of claim in Federal Court arguing that the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, as the deal is known, is unconstitutional.

The complaint focuses on controversial provisions in the agreement, similar to those in the North American Free Trade Agreement, that would let companies sue the government under certain circumstances.

The statement of claim also takes issue with the federal government’s tradition of signing and ratifying free trade deals and other international agreements without prior approval from Parliament or the provinces.

Galati, who filed the complaint of behalf of former Liberal cabinet minister Paul Hellyer, has a history of successfully challenging Ottawa.

The Supreme Court of Canada sided with him three years ago when he challenged the Harper government’s attempt to appoint Justice Marc Nadon to the top court.

University of Ottawa constitutional law expert Errol Mendes says to expect a different result this time around, since the Constitution gives the federal government clear powers to sign and ratify free trade deals.