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The new NAFTA and regulatory cooperation

In NAFTA 2.0 regulatory cooperation is no longer voluntary. It is has become a permanent, binding process that all NAFTA countries must follow. Unelected “stakeholders” now have a back room to shape regulations not in their favour, with no public participation or oversight.

Regulatory cooperation:

Gives corporations advance notice of new regulations.
So called “interested” persons are notified in advance of planned government regulations and are allowed a consultation process before any regulation goes through a legislative process.

Requires all regulations be “science based.”
In other words, regulations cannot be prescribed for ethical or social reasons. The emphasis is on the regulator to prove that a regulation is backed by science, and not on the corporation to prove that their product does no harm. The latter, known as the precautionary principle, is precluded by this approach.

Puts an onerous burden on regulators to defend rules to corporations.
Regulators have to vigorously defend proposed regulations and are even required to suggest alternatives that don’t involve regulating. They have to provide extensive analysis, including cost-benefits to industry.

Makes standards decline.
The new NAFTA encourages the three countries to harmonize, or have similar regulations. This is not about raising standards, but bringing standards down to the lowest common denominator.

Corporations can contest.
Regulatory cooperation is subject to dispute resolution. This means corporations can directly challenge government actions.

As corporations push for GMOs, glyphosate, against health labelling, cigarette labelling, rules on food inspections, and against many public safety rules, under the new NAFTA they now have a new forum to not only be heard, but to contest regulations behind closed doors.

Regulatory cooperation in the new NAFTA takes away our ability to set standards and regulations to protect our health, safety and well-being. The Council of Canadians opposes ratification of a new NAFTA that gives corporations a direct say over our regulations.

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Getting it Right: A people’s guide to renegotiating NAFTA