Digital Journal is one of many media sources speculating that a new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) could come this month. Council of Canadians Honorary Chairperson Maude Barlow and Gordon Laxer, a political economist and founder of the Parkland Institute, point out that the negotiations are ignoring one of NAFTA’s key problems: energy proportionality.
A recent article on the Radio Canada International website states, “’For decades, the Council of Canadians has been arguing that NAFTA erodes our ability to have sovereignty over our energy resources,’ says Maude Barlow, ‘and we have been proven right.’ Laxer says he hopes people will take note of recent tri-national analysis and begin to put pressure on politicians to modify the agreement to take concerns of the environment and sovereignty into account, and to enable the country to move away from fossil fuel dependency."
While trade representatives from the U.S. and Mexico met last week to continue negotiations on a new NAFTA deal, shutting Canada out of talks, Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says she wants to move quickly once the U.S. and Mexico come to terms on a new auto agreement.
“I and Canada are very, very keen to get [a new NAFTA deal] done as quickly as possible,” Freeland told reporters Saturday during a conference call from Hong Kong, where she stopped en route from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations meetings in Singapore. “We’re very, very supportive of moving forward fast, and we are in close touch with both our Mexican and U.S. counterparts,” Freeland said.
The Council of Canadians has been critical about NAFTA’s shortcomings since the very beginning and has called for three key changes in any renegotiated deal:
- Eliminate Chapter 11, the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) process, from NAFTA. ISDS provisions allow corporations to sue governments for policies or regulations that restrict corporate profits. Corporations have used these provisions to challenge laws that protect people’s health and the environment.
- Remove all references from NAFTA to water as a good, service or investment. Canada is vulnerable to bulk water exports and increased privatization under the deal. President Trump could see Canadian water as a way to hydrate drought-ridden U.S. states.
- Eliminate NAFTA’s energy proportionality rule. This rule requires Canada to export a locked-in percentage of our energy production to the U.S. This forces continued production in the tar sands, which will stop Canada from meeting its climate commitments.
We must stand up to U.S. President Donald Trump’s dangerous agenda on trade. We can make NAFTA fairer by protecting and expanding Canadians jobs, safeguarding water and the environment, and strengthening our economy.
To learn more about what is at stake in NAFTA, read Maude Barlow’s report Getting it Right: A people’s guide to renegotiating NAFTA.