There are troubling new reports that Prime Minister Trudeau is on the verge of rushing the ratification of NAFTA 2.0 through Parliament.
On Tuesday, Canada’s ambassador to Mexico, Pierre Alarie, told Mexican media that Canada is ready and keen to ratify. Alarie noted that getting the deal done before our federal election this October is a priority for the Trudeau government.
And in order to do that the government would have to move swiftly from here.
This should raise red flags for all Canadians. Justin Trudeau and his government are desperate to shift the spotlight off the SNC-Lavalin scandal and win back the trust of voters ahead of the election – and they may rush the new trade agreement between Canada, the United States, and Mexico into law to do exactly that.
But doing so could shut the door on progressive changes that are in the works to make the new deal better for people and the planet.
Right now, progressive Democrats in the U.S. are using their majority power in the House of Representatives to push for stronger environmental and labour provisions in NAFTA 2.0, as well as to reduce protections for pharmaceuticals that lock in higher drug costs for people like you and me, and lock in billions in profit for Big Pharma.
But these much-needed improvements from the U.S. will be harder to achieve if Canada ratifies the deal as-is in the coming weeks.
That’s why it’s critical that you, me and the Council of Canadians come together to send Mr. Trudeau the strong message from the people to hold off on ratification until these improvements to NAFTA 2.0 are made.
There’s also the serious issue of President Trump refusing to lift illegal tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum.
On Monday, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said that Canadians dislike the idea of ratifying the new NAFTA while steel and aluminum tariffs are still in place. But she wouldn’t be firm on whether that’s a deal breaker.
If ratification happens before these issues are properly dealt with, Canada will lose significant negotiating power to ensure those much-needed improvements get made.
It’s not just unilateral steel and aluminum tariffs that are problematic. While NAFTA 2.0 is better than its predecessor, the deal is still rife with problems:
Canadian dairy farmers would be sacrificed to allow U.S. dairy products into our grocery stores, including milk from cows injected with genetically-engineered bovine growth hormone.
The provisions around environmental protections are still far too weak, will fast-track the approval of pipelines, and fail to address the twinned climate and water crises.
There are concerns that rights and protections for workers are still inadequate.
You will see an increase to the cost of prescription drugs.
Foreign and domestic corporations would be granted greater rights to monitor and change Canadian regulations to their benefit on a wide range of public policies.
In short, NAFTA 2.0 is still a corporate-first deal that requires significant changes.
And there’s still a good chance to make the deal better for people and the planet – but not if Trudeau jumps the gun now in order to save face with Canadian voters.