Fantastic turn out for the Green New Deal Town Hall in Yellowknife! Photo by Kevin O'Reilly.
Yesterday, the Liberal government, in a surprise move, tabled the new NAFTA, or the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement, for first reading in the House of Commons.
With only a few hours’ notice, the proposed agreement pushed its way onto the House agenda. Many of us were alerted to it only by a Reuters story that ran a few hours earlier. Today, Mexico also said it would ratify the agreement in a special session before September.
With U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visiting Ottawa to promote the agreement, and with a federal election set for October, it is obvious that not only will the agreement move “full steam ahead,” in the words of Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, but that there will be virtually no public debate on it.
The following is an open letter written in support of the people of Grassy Narrows.
For the last half century, the people of Grassy Narrows have struggled with the devastating impacts of mercury poisoning. Next week, federal Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O’Regan will visit the northwestern Ontario First Nation. What the Minister does while he’s there – whether concrete action to address the community’s urgent health needs are forthcoming or whether it’s a just another pre-election photo op – will be a litmus test for the sincerity of the Trudeau government’s rhetoric on reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
After voting in April to support the citizens’ Climate Emergency Declaration, the Commission scolaire de Montréal (CSDM), Québec’s biggest school board, became the first to become a Blue Community.
Anne-Alice Simard, Executive Director of Eau Secours, an NGO devoted to responsible water management who initiated the action, attended the CSDM’s May 22 council meeting to issue a certificate and to present the project’s goals: to support the human right to water, to keep water public and to ensure that water bottles are replaced by publicly accessible water fountains.
Simard reminded the commissioners that the right to water is far from trivial. Many indigenous communities are without safe drinking water, and the resolution commits the school board to pressure governments to protect the human right of access to water.
Now might be our last chance to make critical improvements to the new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) before we’re all locked in to its undemocratic and corporate-friendly rules – potentially for decades.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is coming to Ottawa on Thursday to meet with Prime Minister Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, and at the top of the list for discussion is the swift ratification of the deal.
The rush is on because Parliament is scheduled to break for summer recess in just four weeks. That gives the House of Commons and the Senate little time to study the impacts of the deal and vote.
The latest word is the Liberals intend to push the new NAFTA legislation through second reading and have it sent to committee as early as this Thursday!
In the U.S., President Trump and his administration are facing a similar short window of time to get the deal ratified. And standing in their way is increasing pressure from progressive Democrats who want significant improvements in key areas before they will agree to support it.