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The Council of Canadians “bold” list of demands for upcoming NAFTA renegotiation

The Globe and Mail’s national business columnist Barrie McKenna says Canada should make bold demands with respect to the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

McKenna writes, “Pressure will be intense for Canada to bend on traditional U.S. grievances. A handy reference guide for these is contained in the U.S. Trade Representative’s annual National Trade Estimate report of foreign trade barriers. The chapter on Canada in the 2016 edition highlights such things as the restrictive supply management system for dairy and chicken products, provincial booze-marketing monopolies, high taxes on direct liquor imports and subsidies to Bombardier’s C Series commercial jets. It also highlights foreign-ownership restrictions on telecom companies and a recent ruling by Canada’s broadcast regulator to end the practice of substituting Canadian TV ads for U.S. ones during the Super Bowl game.”

He then highlights, “Canada would be wise to draft an equally bold list of its own demands.”

McKenna argues, “If the Trump administration pushes to neuter the state-to-state dispute-settlement regime (Chapter 19), Canada should insist on limiting the ability of investors to directly sue governments via Chapter 11. Canada has been sued more often [37 times] and hit with more penalties [$170 million] than either of its NAFTA partners under the so-called investor-state rules.”

He also appears to support the idea of a Buy Canadian provision. McKenna notes, “Ottawa should demand reciprocity on government procurement to protect itself from the proliferation of Buy America clauses in various U.S. spending bills. The bottom line should be that if Canadian suppliers are shut out of U.S. contracts, then U.S. suppliers should be barred from contracts here.”

The Council of Canadians has an even more bold list of demands, including:

1- transparency through the entirety of the negotiations – especially in regards to what Trudeau is conceding to Trump to maintain NAFTA

2- meaningful consultations with the general public, as well as consultations and consent from First Nations

3- removal of the controversial Chapter 11 investor-state provision

4- removal of all references to water in NAFTA as a good, service or investment, unless to allow for the specific protection or exclusion of water

5- an exemption from NAFTA’s energy proportionality rule in order to meet our Paris climate commitments

6- a North American Auto Pact to ensure that each country receives a proportional share of employment and investment, and that workers have good jobs and fair wages

7- strengthening the exemption of medicare in NAFTA to allow for an expansion of public health care in areas including pharmacare

8- protection of farmers and local control over farm and food polices

9- the right to use procurement to create jobs and local economic projects

10- clear rules assessing that trade serves communities and people, not the other way around.

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow says, “We see this as an opportunity to re-open NAFTA in a large sense. We will push the Trudeau government not just to sit at the table and react as Trump swings, but to come to the table with its own demands. Time to go back to the drawing board.”

To tell Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the NAFTA renegotiation cannot be another backroom deal and that he should back these bold demands, please go to this online action alert now.

It’s urgent. Trudeau is expected to meet with Trump at the White House later this month. The Mexican minister of the economy has stated that NAFTA negotiations will begin in early-May, but Trump has stated that he wants the talks to begin sooner than that. A ‘Three Amigos’ North American Leaders Summit is also expected to take place in the coming months.