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Quill Plains (Wynyard) chapter opposes Canada-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wants to pursue free trade talks with (clockwise) the presidents of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

The Council of Canadians Quill Plains (Wynyard) chapter has written the government about its concerns regarding the proposed Canada-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement.

The Trudeau government is now seeking a free trade agreement with Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, the four countries that make up the Mercosur trading bloc. On April 28, the federal government announced a 30-day online public consultation period that will conclude on May 29.

Archerwill-based chapter activist Elaine Hughes has submitted her comments to the government on the proposed deal.

Hughes writes, “According to a March 2016 report by the Financial Times, ‘EU countries opposing such exchange of offers warned of the danger of increased environmental damage as well as the risk of EU farms being replaced by large Latin American ranches which can increase productivity by clearing forests.’ Since the trashing of much of Canada’s environmental protection regulations by the previous Harper government – which, as yet, have not been re-instated by the current Liberal government as was promised in Mr. Trudeau’s election campaign rhetoric – Canada remains extremely vulnerable to disastrous environmental damage and must not be further stressed by lowering its  meagre protections any further.”

She also notes, “Martin Häusling, a member of the EU parliamentary committee on Latin America for the German Green Party, has stated that talk of a EU-Mercosur free trade agreement has been ‘extremely polarizing’ and that he fears a massive influx of genetically modified soya beans into the European market would result from a deal. Canadian farmers can grow their own soybeans – no need to bring GM-contaminated soybeans from other countries.”

Hughes highlights, “In June 2010, UPI reported, ‘An EU parliamentary initiative passed in May calls for a ban on all cyanide in European mining market by the end of 2011 and calls on the European Commission to eliminate any direct or indirect support to mining projects that entail the use of cyanide. Mercosur delegates argued current mining processes in South America made that unattainable and the new rules would potentially block South American exports to Europe.’ Canadian mining companies are constantly embroiled in protests launched by citizens of some/all of these countries as they desperately fight to protect their water, air, land and way of life.  It is a shameful situation and Canada needs to clean up its act as it now stands without adding to the problem.”

And she adds, “The Canadian public, scientists, and environmental and social justice organizations are vehemently opposed to the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clause present in all/most so-called ‘free trade’ agreements currently being pursued by Canada (CETA, TPP, etc);  it is a  threat to democracy and the rule of law and must not be included in any  future such agreements. Canadian courts must stand as the final decision in disputes affecting Canadian people and their environment – not some ‘Corporate Rights Act’ enacted by corporate-paid lawyers!”

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