New NAFTA deal improved, but still fundamentally flawed

December 10, 2019
Media Release

OTTAWA — After months of negotiations, a new NAFTA deal was reached between the U.S. Congress, Mexico and Canada. While the deal is still under wraps, it appears that some key positive changes have been made. However, the deal is more of the same, says the Council of Canadians.

“We have a long way to go before we get a deal that is ambitious enough to serve the needs of the planet and the rest of us. And with the climate crisis, we have so little time,” said Sujata Dey, Trade Campaigner for the Council of Canadians. “The changes to this deal show that while we are up against unprecedented corporate power, we are able to make a difference when we work together.”

Major changes to the deal include:

  • the removal of biologic drug provisions which lock-in profits for Big Pharma. (The Council of Canadians opposed this provision which could jeopardize a future Pharmacare program.)
  • more enforceable labour standards
  • the inclusion of more multilateral environmental agreements in the agreement.

The Council of Canadians welcomes these changes to the deal.

In addition, the Council advocated for removing the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions which allow corporations to sue governments over public policy changes when they affect profit. The Council of Canadians also challenged the energy proportionality provisions which mandate Canada to export energy to the U.S. Both of those provisions have been removed for Canada in the deal.

“Thanks to people power, we have pushed for a better deal. However, it is still a deal based on a flawed pro-multinational blueprint. The deal empowers corporations and is ineffective at challenging the essential issues of our time—climate change and rampant inequality—which are amplified by unregulated globalization,” said Maude Barlow, Honorary Chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “What we can rejoice in is this: ISDS, the corporate courts are on the run. Chapter 11 will not apply to Canada in the new deal. Finally, all over the world, these provisions are being seen for what they are, an attack on the commons, and a grab bag for rich multinationals.”

At the same time, new toxic provisions were introduced into the new deal; a binding regulatory cooperation chapter which seats corporations at the table where regulations are made, giving them the power to modify and challenge them; the erosion of the supply managed markets and sovereignty for Canadian farmers; and ineffective protections for water. The agreement does not mention the Paris climate agreement and still has provisions which encourage the further privatization and deregulation of the economy.

The Council of Canadians is available to comment on the new NAFTA.

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About the Council of Canadians:

Founded in 1985, the Council of Canadians is a grassroots-based social action organization, mobilizing a network of 60 chapters across the country and over 150,000 supporters from coast-to-coast-to-coast.

Through our campaigns we advocate for clean water, fair trade, green energy, public health care and a vibrant democracy. We educate and empower people to hold our governments and corporations accountable.

The Council of Canadians is a registered non-profit organization and does not accept money from corporations or governments.

For more information contact:

Victoria Marshall
Communications Officer, Council of Canadians
vmarshall@canadians.org
647-242-3392

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