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Falling support for NAFTA spells trouble for the TPP

NAFTA public services
Design and illustrations: Tony Biddle

On the eve of the “Three Amigos” summit in Ottawa, a new Angus Reid Institute poll on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) shows a stunning rejection by Canadians of the free trade agenda the summit aims to advance. This matches the growing sentiment against free trade in the United States.

“Since NAFTA was signed, we've seen the loss of well over half a million manufacturing jobs in Canada, the net loss of 1 million jobs in the United States, and the displacement of millions of Mexican farmers. Employment trends suggest part-time precarious jobs with fewer benefits, while the income disparity in all three countries continues to grow,” says Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “It’s no wonder that Canadians, like Americans, are unconvinced by claims about the benefits of free trade deals like NAFTA and the TPP.”

While Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto will be touting the benefits of NAFTA at their meeting on Wednesday, the new Angus Reid Institute poll suggests only 1 in 4 Canadians support the deal, with more than one-third wanting it renegotiated. A recent Bloomberg poll found that 44 per cent of Americans say NAFTA has been bad for the U.S. economy.

Just this past Friday, Calgary-based TransCanada formally launched a $15-billion (U.S.) investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) challenge under NAFTA against the United States for its rejection of the 830,000 barrel-per-day Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

“Our environmental policies and social programmes have been challenged more times than any other developed country,” says Sujata Dey, Trade Campaigner with the Council of Canadians. “TransCanada’s $15-billion (U.S.) lawsuit over the rejection of Keystone XL shows how even U.S. climate action can also be a victim of deals like NAFTA and the TPP. It’s time for our leaders to reject the TPP, which world-renowned economist Joseph Stiglitz calls the worst trade deal ever.”

Since NAFTA came into force on January 1, 1994, 38 legal challenges have been launched against Canada under the deal’s Chapter 11 ISDS provisions. Most often these challenges are directed against laws that protect the environment.

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