This past weekend, Council of Canadians Honorary Chairperson Maude Barlow talked trade with people who are concerned with how to make it fair.
The Canadian Fair Trade Network (CFTN) seeks to “inspire and coordinate a network of engaged civil society advocates and volunteers, along with business, institutional, and government leaders, in building a robust social movement that works to advance the values and vision of fair trade.”
Barlow addressed hundreds of delegates in Ottawa for the CFTN’s 7th National Fair Trade Conference, speaking about the history of trade agreements and how they have evolved. She reviewed problems with trade agreements, such as how they give unbalanced power to corporations, and the opportunities that exist to make trade deals work in favour of people and the planet.
Other topics covered during the conference included Fair Trade Towns, living wage/living income, fair trade campuses and more.
The network joins people from a broad spectrum of interests including volunteers and advocates, non-profit partners, academics, university sustainability leads, and people who work for fair trade business and food service providers. They come together to share interests and ideas about how to create a fair trade economy.
The Council of Canadians believes trade is important to the Canadian economy to the extent that it enriches communities, respects democracy, and preserves our shared natural environment. But free trade agreements signed by Canada and other countries in the past 30-plus years have had the opposite effect.
From the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement of 1988, to NAFTA, the WTO and Canada’s many Foreign Investment Protection Agreements, to today’s bilateral, European Union and Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, these deals enrich multinational corporations at the expense of the vast majority of people and the planet. In fact, these old and new agreements are better understood as “corporate rights deals.”
The Council of Canadians believes trade agreements should be made by and for people, not corporations. We campaign to make trade deals fair and trade policy open and democratic.