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‘Obama needs to stiffen his spine to tackle NAFTA’, says Linda McQuaig

Columnist Linda McQuaig writes in the Toronto Star today that, “The thousands who braved the cold for hours on Parliament Hill weren’t there to show their support for deeper Canada-U.S. integration – the agenda of the our financial elite. They were there because Obama’s message is the first sign of a possible breakthrough in dealing with the world’s two foremost crises, the global economic meltdown and climate change, both products of the unregulated capitalism of recent years.”


“Commentators have tried to whip up fears he wants to reopen the deal, suggesting this could damage Canada-U.S. trade. But NAFTA isn’t just about trade. It’s about enhancing corporate rights, often at the expense of workers and communities, which is why it’s always been more precious to corporate interests than to the public. Obama has talked about strengthening labour and environmental protections in NAFTA and even ending the right of foreign companies to sue governments for taking regulatory actions that protect citizens but interfere with corporate profits in the process. (That’s the section of NAFTA that has allowed Dow Chemical to challenge a Quebec law banning the pesticide 2-4D.) Why wouldn’t we want to revisit all this?”

“The real question is whether Obama can deliver…He can’t satisfy the masses who love him and also satisfy the people responsible for the disastrous agenda of the last 25 years. Franklin Roosevelt came to understand that. When he introduced his second New Deal in 1936, he unabashedly ran against what he called ‘the old enemies of peace – business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking … Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me – and I welcome their hatred.’ It’s hard to imagine the smiling guy who bought Beavertails in Bytown last week welcoming anyone’s hatred. But then, give him time. He’s only a few weeks into the job.”

Her full column can be read at http://www.thestar.com/comment/article/591942.