Trump’s NAFTA objectives fail U.S. working families, Trudeau remains vague on Canada’s goals

 The Trudeau government is under no requirement under Canadian law to make public its negotiating objectives on trade agreement. This is both wrong and unacceptable.

A Column from Brent Patterson, Council of Canadians

Posted July 25th, 2017 on Niagara At Large

This past July 17th , the Trump administration released its objectives for the upcoming renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA),

It did so because under the so-called ‘fast-track’ legislation in the U.S., it must give 30-days notice of its negotiating objectives to give Congress time to provide feedback. Fast-track also means that Congress will only be able to vote on the whole NAFTA text once negotiations are completed, it won’t be able to reopen or vote down specific provisions.

Not surprisingly, but regrettably, Trump’s priorities do not include removing the controversial Chapter 11 investor-state dispute settlement mechanism, nor the listing of water as a service, investment and a good, nor the disastrous energy proportionality provision which locks Canada into climate-destroying oil and gas exports rather than the necessary transition to a 100 per cent clean energy economy.

Instead, among the more than 100 negotiating objectives listed, the Trump administration will be seeking:

·        the abolition of the Chapter 19 state-to-state investment dispute resolution system,

·        the ability for American companies to bid on public procurement in Canada and Mexico, while maintaining ‘Buy American’ provisions in the U.S.,

·        fewer restrictions on U.S. telecommunications companies potentially buying Canadian telecom companies like Rogers, Bell, and Telus,

·        stricter ‘rules of origin’ requirements that would likely impact the Canadian auto sector, and

·        more market access for U.S. agricultural products which could translate into an undermining of our supply management system for dairy, poultry and eggs.

As our American allies have pointed out, “The Trump administration’s NAFTA renegotiation plan fails to take the bold steps needed to replace NAFTA with a deal that works for working families. Instead, the document relies heavily on language from past, business-as-usual trade policies that have privileged corporate interests ahead of others.”

Furthermore, the Trudeau government is under no requirement under Canadian law to make public its negotiating objectives. This is both wrong and unacceptable.

This past July 17th, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland only commented, “We welcome the opportunity to modernize NAFTA to reflect new realities — and to integrate progressive, free, and fair approaches to trade and investment. When negotiations begin, we will be ready to work with our partners to modernize NAFTA, while defending Canada’s national interest and standing up for our values.”

But what does that practically mean? Do we not have the right to know what Trudeau will seek or more likely trade away?

In addition, Trudeau had promised during the October 2015 federal election transparency in trade negotiations – and failing to do so is as much a broken promise as not implementing electoral reform, not setting deeper carbon pollution reduction targets, and not restoring protections for lakes and rivers across this country.

The first round in the renegotiation of NAFTA is expected to begin as soon as August 16 in Detroit or Pittsburgh.

The Council of Canadians will continue to press our demands for transparency and fairness, mobilize with allies at strategic moments (including the town hall meetings now promised by the government), and build public awareness of the harm NAFTA has inflicted.

This July 18th  was to be the deadline to let the Trudeau government – via Global Affairs – know your concerns about NAFTA. The government says it has received 12,000 written submissions. Council of Canadians supporters help generate about one-quarter of those submissions. Now the government has extended that deadline indefinitely. To send them a message via our online action alert, please click here.

To read our submission, click here.

Brent Patterson’s blog

About the Council of CanadiansFounded in 1985, the Council of Canadians is Canada’s leading social action organization, mobilizing a network of 60 chapters across the country.

Through our campaigns we advocate for clean water, fair trade, green energy, public health care, and a vibrant democracy. We educate and empower people to hold our governments and corporations accountable.

Join us and be part of a global movement working for social and environmental justice. We believe a better Canada and a fairer world are possible. Together, we turn that belief into action.

The Council of Canadians is a registered non-profit organization and does not accept money from corporations or governments. Our work is sustained by the volunteer energy and generous donations of people like you.

For more information on the Council of Canadians and its advocacy work, click on – https://canadians.org/ .

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For more news and commentary from Niagara At Large – an independent, alternative voice for our greater bi-national Niagara region – become a regular visitor and subscriber to NAL at www.niagaraatlarge.com .

“A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

 

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