Total Pageviews

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Beware of the sellout of our sovereignty

Trade May Be Great, But Beware Of Surrendering Power to Corporations

While the entire world was focused on the outcome of the Brexit vote, another significant trade issue was brewing with much less fanfare. Under the terms of the NAFTA agreement, TransCanada Corporation formally filed a $15-billion lawsuit against the United States for rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline.
Most Canadians didn’t seem to notice or care – yet we should.
Trade has suddenly taken centre stage and not just because of Brexit. Donald Trump has come out swinging against NAFTA and recently described the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement as nothing but the “continuing rape of the United States.” In his recent address to Parliament, President Obama warned that “restricting trade or giving in to protectionism in this 21st-century economy will not work.”  Our trade minister, meanwhile, has been holding town hall meetings across the country on the TPP.
Although I support freer trade, I welcome the current debate. For far too long, elites have characterized trade discussions as too complicated for the general public to understand. It’s time we engaged ordinary citizens. My only plea is that we don’t ignore the growing power and influence that multinationals and foreign investors are gaining through these agreements.
Modern-day trade agreements are not simply about country to country relations. Most also contain something known as Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions. These allow foreign investors and corporations to challenge a government’s policies, actions or decisions if they believe they will hurt their bottom line. To make matters worse, these matters are not dealt with through a country’s regular judicial system but instead by special trade tribunals that lack the same procedural protections as a court.
Not only is the process questionable, but it also allows corporations to challenge matters such as environmental, health and labour protections that they feel hurt their business. Under NAFTA, for example, corporations have challenged Canadian laws designed to prohibit the export of PCB waste; ban gasoline additives suspected of being neurotoxins; restrict fracking; and stop development in environmentally sensitive areas. In 1994 the tobacco giant Philip Morris International threatened a NAFTA suit if the federal government went ahead with plain packaging rules for cigarettes.

No comments:

Post a Comment