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Trudeau government fails its own transparency test on NAFTA

What will Trudeau say when he meets Trump later this month?

The Trudeau government is failing the transparency test in the imminent renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

CBC reports, “Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters Wednesday that if negotiations restart on the North American Free Trade Agreement, Donald Trump’s administration won’t be the only player at the table looking for a better deal. …’It’s good to be good at playing defence, but the best defence is a strong offence’, she said. ‘And Canada definitely will be and is good at taking strong offensive positions.'”

Then the article highlights, “But as for Canada’s position in those talks, what would it want to renegotiate, exactly? ‘You are all Canadian’, she told reporters on the call. ‘I hope you won’t expect me to compromise a negotiating position by today, at such an early moment, putting all my cards on the table.’ …’Rest assured that we will very forcefully advocate for the national interest’, she said.”

The Council of Canadians believes the Trudeau government “has an obligation to be open and honest” and “transparent through the entirety of the negotiations” on NAFTA. After all, Mr. Trudeau made the same demand of then-prime minister Stephen Harper about the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

During the last election, Trudeau stated this about the Conservative government’s approach to TPP talks: “The Harper Conservatives have failed to be transparent through the entirety of the negotiations – especially in regards to what Canada is conceding in order to be accepted into this partnership. The government has an obligation to be open and honest about the negotiation process, and immediately share all the details of any agreement. Canadians deserve to know what impacts this agreement will have on different industries across our country.”

The CBC article also notes, “Reports that Mexico was beginning a 90-day consultation period with its stakeholders leading up to a presumed start of negotiations later this spring.” Despite this and the initial flurry of consultations that the Liberals undertook when they were first elected, there doesn’t seem to be any consideration of holding public consultations on NAFTA.

NAFTA is unacceptable as is and the Trudeau government’s approach to its renegotiation has also been unacceptable.

The Council of Canadians is calling on the Trudeau government to commit to:

1- transparency through the entirety of the negotiations – especially in regards to what Trudeau is conceding to Trump to maintain NAFTA

2- meaningful consultations with the general public, as well as consultations and consent from First Nations

3- removal of the controversial Chapter 11 investor-state provision

4- removal of all references to water in NAFTA as a good, service or investment, unless to allow for the specific protection or exclusion of water

5- an exemption from NAFTA’s energy proportionality rule in order to meet our Paris climate commitments

6- a North American Auto Pact to ensure that each country receives a proportional share of employment and investment, and that workers have good jobs and fair wages

7- strengthening the exemption of medicare in NAFTA to allow for an expansion of public health care in areas including pharmacare

8- protection of farmers and local control over farm and food polices

9- the right to use procurement to create jobs and local economic projects

10- clear rules assessing that trade serves communities and people, not the other way around.

To send your letter to the prime minister with these demands, please go to our online action alert NAFTA renegotiations cannot be another backroom deal.

It’s urgent to do so now. Trudeau is expected to meet with Trump at the White House later this month to discuss NAFTA, the Mexican minister of the economy has stated that formal NAFTA negotiations will begin in early-May (while Trump has stated that he wants the talks to begin sooner than that), and a ‘Three Amigos’ North American Leaders Summit is expected to take place in the coming months.