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Did Harper want to pay AbitibiBowater? Jim Stanford makes the case

Canadian Autoworkers union economist Jim Stanford strips the recent NAFTA settlement with AbitibiBowater to its logical bare bones. At the end of the day, he writes on the Real World Economics blog, Harper wanted to pay the company to show the world that Canada is “open for business” — and that not even the Constitution will get in the way of company profits. Writes Stanford:

Through Harper’s lens, then, $130 million is a small price to pay to reinforce Canada’s full commitment to free trade rules, and free trade ideology. (So much for this government’s supposed preoccupation with reducing its deficit, at all costs!) But for Canadians, the bill will only get bigger. It will get bigger with every new, more aggressive Chapter 11 challenge filed. With every potential legislation killed by the chilling effect of Chapter 11 (“We can’t do that, we’ll get sued under NAFTA.”). And with every community that closes down because profit-maximizing foreign conglomerates have no compulsion to consider the social or environmental costs of their decisions – just the way the free trade architects want it.

Stanford then lists a number of other ways the federal government could have used the $130 million:

* funded the renovation and retrofit of 5,000 units of low-cost public housing – creating hundreds of construction jobs and alleviating the crisis of under-housing.
* funded 370,000 weeks of regular Employment Insurance benefits for Canadian workers (including forestry workers in Newfoundland) who are being thrown off the EI system every week when their benefits expire.
* funded 25,000 child care spaces for a year, creating 3000 or more full-time jobs for child care workers.

I’m sure you can think of others. If so, why not tell your MP what they are? While you’re at it, ask them to reverse the AbitibiBowater decision. The constitutional and anti-democratic consequences, and the uncertain affects of the decision on water, timber and other natural resource rights, demand it.