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The Council of Canadians follows emerging NAFTA debate

NAFTA was negotiated by the governments of Carlos Salinas, George H.W. Bush, and Brian Mulroney.

The Council of Canadians has been providing updates and popular analysis on the implications of the election of Donald J. Trump as the next President of the United States, particularly in relation to the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

NOW Magazine reports, “Many lefties and enviros would love to see NAFTA ripped up, or at least renegotiated to get rid of Chapter 11’s dispute resolution mechanism that’s allowed dozens of U.S. corporations to successfully sue the Canadian government over tougher environmental regs. But that’s not what Trump’s likely to target for renegotiation. ‘My fear is that Trump will want to put walls up against Canadian and Mexican imports, while at the same time deregulating environmental rules in the U.S.’, says Council of Canadians chair Maude Barlow. Barlow tells NOW that Canada would also be under pressure to reinstate gutted water protection laws and kill Canada’s flimsy protections against bulk water exports. Considering Trump owns a bottled water company, Council of Canadians’ Brent Patterson speculates the president-elect ‘would undoubtedly be receptive to the business case for bulk water exports’.”

We have been highlighting numerous concerns about Trump and NAFTA since his upset win on November 8.

Trump win signals greater hardship to come & the need for grassroots organizing (November 9): In the first hours after the election results were confirmed, we noted that Trump will be sworn in on January 20, 2017, but that the movement work with our American friends and allies (and all peoples around the world impacted by neo-liberalism, nationalism and racism) to build the better, just and inclusive world we all know is possible continues without pause.

The Council calls for open and honest NAFTA renegotiation process (November 10): Here we note that The Council of Canadians has long called for the renegotiation of NAFTA. This past June, an Angus Reid Institute poll found that only 1 in 4 Canadians support the deal, with more than one-third wanting it renegotiated. With that in mind, we began to call for an open, transparent and democratic process, not another secretly negotiated ‘free trade’ deal like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We argue that public hearings should be held, as well as consultations with First Nations and Indigenous peoples.

The Council calls for major changes to NAFTA & an open and transparent renegotiation process (November 11): In this blog we point to Trudeau having criticized Stephen Harper during the last election for the Conservative government not being open and transparent when it negotiated the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but that with the renegotiation of NAFTA imminent the new Liberal government has not disclosed details of what Canada would seek in an updated agreement. We state that NAFTA is unacceptable and the Trudeau government’s approach to its renegotiation is also unacceptable.

Climate leaders don’t build pipelines, nor do they back NAFTA (November 11): This blog notes that both NAFTA and the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement contain an energy proportionality clause that places strict limits on the ability of the Canadian government to curtail energy exports in times of need or for environmental purposes. It has been described as the mandatory export clause. This provision coupled with the Chapter 11 investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clause poses a huge obstacle to Canada transitioning to a 100 per cent clean energy economy.

Will the renegotiation of NAFTA include bulk water exports? (November 13): This blog says that the governments of British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Ontario have all previously promoted bulk water exports. It also notes the Montreal Economic Institute, the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, and former CIBC World Markets economist Jeff Rubin have all made the business case for bulk water exports. And it highlights that our existing protections against bulk water exports are weak and that water needs to be removed as a good, service and investment from NAFTA.

Trump’s NAFTA demands put environmental and safety standards at further risk (November 16): This blog notes Trump is likely to seek to renegotiate country-of-origin labelling, softwood lumber, currency manipulation, environmental standards, and food safety standards. It also notes a media report says that if NAFTA were abrogated that the United States could choose to pursue a bilateral ‘free trade’ agreement with Canada (while other media reports have suggested if NAFTA were abrogated, trading relations would revert to the rules under the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement).

How is Trudeau approaching Trump on the renegotiation of NAFTA? (November 17): This blog highlights that the Trudeau government believes NAFTA has benefited Canada, that the deal can be improved, that a win-win solution is possible with the renegotiation, that it will put visa rules on the table (including jobs related to the digital economy), that the Canada-EU ‘free trade’ talks show they are skilled negotiators, and that it believes that the changes to NAFTA will amount to only tweaks or slight edits.

For ongoing updates and analysis on this, please click on our NAFTA campaign web-page here.