The Trudeau Government has released a list of demands ahead of NAFTA negotiations with the U.S.
Here’s the list as described in a speech by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland:
- First, we aim to modernize NAFTA. The agreement is 23 years old. The global, North American, and Canadian economies have been transformed in that time by the technology revolution. NAFTA needs to address this, in a way that ensures we continue to have a vibrant and internationally competitive technology sector and that all sectors of our economy can reap the full benefits of the digital revolution.
- Second, NAFTA should be made more progressive. We will be informed here by the ideas in CETA, the most progressive trade deal in history, launched by Conservatives and completed, proudly, by our government.
- In particular, we can make NAFTA more progressive first by bringing strong labour safeguards into the core of the agreement; second by integrating enhanced environmental provisions to ensure no NAFTA country weakens environmental protection to attract investment, for example, and that fully supports efforts to address climate change; third by adding a new chapter on gender rights, in keeping with our commitment to gender equality; fourth, in line with our commitment to improving our relationship with Indigenous peoples, by adding an Indigenous chapter; and finally by reforming the Investor-State Dispute Settlement process, to ensure that governments have an unassailable right to regulate in the public interest.
- One reason that these progressive elements, particularly on the environment and labour, are so important is that they are how we guarantee that the modernized NAFTA will not only be an exemplary free trade deal, it will also be a fair trade deal. Canadians broadly support free trade. But their enthusiasm wavers when trade agreements put our workers at an unfair disadvantage because of the high standards that we rightly demand. Instead, we must pursue progressive trade agreements that are win-win, helping workers both at home and abroad to enjoy higher wages and better conditions.
- Third, this negotiation is a valuable opportunity to make life easier for business people on both sides of the border by cutting red tape and harmonizing regulations. We share this US administration’s desire to liberate our companies from needless bureaucracy, and this negotiation is a welcome chance to act on that goal.
- Fourth, Canada will seek a freer market for government procurement, a significant accomplishment in CETA. Local-content provisions for major government contracts are political junk-food, superficially appetizing, but unhealthy in the long run. Procurement liberalization can go hand-in-hand with further regulatory harmonization.
- Fifth, we want to make the movement of professionals, which is increasingly critical to companies’ ability to innovate across blended supply chains, easier. NAFTA’s Chapter 16, which addresses temporary entry for businesspeople, should be reviewed and expanded to reflect the needs of our businesses. Here again, CETA provides a model.
- Sixth, Canada will uphold and preserve the elements in NAFTA that Canadians deem key to our national interest – including a process to ensure anti-dumping and countervailing duties are only applied fairly when truly warranted; the exception in the agreement to preserve Canadian culture; and Canada’s system of supply management.
The part that has received the most attention is the section on making the agreement “more progressive.”
Already, many analysts have pointed out that the United States is highly unlikely to go along with that section, but that’s not the true focus of the Trudeau government.
That document isn’t meant for the U.S., it’s meant for political purposes here at home. It is a political deception.
One of the repeated patterns of the Trudeau government has been paying lip service to “progressive” causes, while enacting an elitist agenda that favours the powerful.
Case in point, Trudeau has failed to keep his promises on funding for Indigenous communities, eliminated tax breaks that helped students and low-income people, while implementing policies favouring big banks and bailing out huge corporations like Bombardier.
The NAFTA document is a continuation of that “say one thing, do another” style of “leadership.” It can also serve as a “justification” if the negotiations fail. The government will say they were standing up for Canadians, and use that to explain away any damage that is caused.
It’s clever, but it’s incredibly cynical – especially coming from a government that promised a “new way of doing politics.”
So much for that.
As always, we must look beyond the words of the Trudeau government and focus on their actions. And given past history, we have good reason to believe Canadians are about to be sold out once again.
The elites want to hide their many failures behind political correctness, deception, and manipulation. We need to push back and spread the truth.
That’s why I write.
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