It's time to renegotiate NAFTA, critics tell Harper

Linda Diebel writes in the Toronto Star today that, "A coalition of major Canadian organizations yesterday urged Prime Minister Stephen Harper to signal Canada's willingness to renegotiate NAFTA in talks next week with President Barack Obama."

SIGNATORIES TO THE LETTER
"Among the signatories to the letter to Harper are (Common Frontiers), the Ontario Federation of Labour, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (Ontario Chapter), OXFAM Canada, the Council of Canadians, Sierra Club of Canada and the Canadian Federation of Students."

RENEGOTIATE NAFTA
" In a letter sent in the run-up to next Thursday's first visit to Ottawa by the new president, the coalition stresses revisiting NAFTA doesn't mean scrapping it, but rather committing to a 'transparent and comprehensive renegotiation.'"

REMOVE THE ENERGY CLAUSE
"While claiming the deal damages working people in all three signatory nations (Canada, the U.S. and Mexico), it specifically calls for the elimination of the energy clause requiring Canada to continue to export non-renewable resources to the U.S., even in times of crisis."

END THE SPP
"The letter also calls for an end to the ultrasecret Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, known privately among trade activists as 'NAFTA on steroids.'"

CANADIANS WANT RENEGOTIATION
"The letter notes the Canadian public supports the need to change aspects of the trade deal, citing the 61 per cent of respondents who took that position in an Environics poll last September (commissioned by the Council of Canadians)."

CCPA STUDY
"In a study to be released Tuesday and obtained by the Toronto Star, Bruce Campbell, director of the grassroots Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, also calls for a revamping of NAFTA. His report, titled The Obama Effect, urges Ottawa to, among other things, work to exclude water from NAFTA and ban bulk water exports, as well as putting more emphasis on ensuring basic public services like medicare and education can be expanded without risk of NAFTA challenges from foreign investors."

The full article can be read at
http://www.thestar.com/opinion/columnists/94544