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VIEW: ‘Remove expropriation rules from NAFTA’, says Trew

Yesterday, the Globe and Mail editorial board wrote that the federal government should draft a bill “which would empower the Crown in right of Canada to sue the Crown in right of a province, to recover damages paid by Canada because of a breach of NAFTA or some other trade treaty. …Fortunately, Canada is negotiating a free-trade agreement with the European Union in a way that explicitly implicates the provinces. If a treaty is agreed to, the provinces will be parties to it, unlike NAFTA.”

Today, in a letter to the editor published in the newspaper, Council of Canadians trade campaigner Stuart Trew responds:

“The $130-million AbitibiBowater NAFTA settlement has little if anything to do with trade (Avoiding Getting Stuck With The Bill – editorial, Aug. 30). The almost Canadian pulp and paper giant made a corporate decision to pack up and leave Newfoundland. So the government of Danny Williams made the popular decision to take back water and timber rights lent to the company to keep people working. This was a natural resource question that Newfoundland was within its rights to handle. Ottawa forced trade into the picture when it signed NAFTA, which lets companies such as AbitibiBowater take costly expropriation claims directly to unelected international trade panels. Rather than look for ways to make the provinces pay for these settlements, we should remove or rewrite expropriation rules in NAFTA. We would save money and grief by forcing investment disputes back into competent Canadian courts.”

The letter to the editor is at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/aug-31-letters-to-the-editor/article1690597/?cmpid=tgc.

Campaign blogs on the AbitibiBowater Chapter 11 challenge can be read at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?s=%22abitibibowater%22. Our media releases on this are at http://canadians.org/media/trade/2010/27-Aug-10.html and http://canadians.org/media/trade/2010/25-Aug-10.html.