Tuesday, December 19, 2006

North American Free Trade Agreement

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is a document that may not directly affect our everyday lives, but is something that has a serious effect on Canada's economy, and yet is not discussed much in the news, so I would like to once more go through this agreement signed by Brian Mulroney (Canadian Conservative Prime Minister, September 17, 1984, to June 25, 1993).

So first of all, what powers does NAFTA give, and to whom does it give the powers to. An initial summary of what I will say is that it gives most economic power to the Americans and their corporations. But, of course, I will explain it further than that. According to an article by Mel Clark in the June 2006 Monitor, a monthly publication from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, some of the powers Mulroney and his Conservatives gave to America are as follows: control over our water, the right to demand that our broadcasting policy be consistent with American interests, and the power to force us to sell them our forests, to name a few. It also gives foreign corporations the right to sue the Canadian government over such issues if we do not do the ridicules things in that agreement. While I do not fully understand how, it is supposedly true that NAFTA has the power to destroy our medicare system if the Americans decide they would like to pursue that course. In an article in the Monitor, Ed Finn says it quite bluntly (which I like): This agreement was not really about trade. It was—is—a legal bill of rights for transnational corporations. To keep this article somewhat brief, I will stop writing about the merits of this deal, but if you would like to read more, please click on one of the two 'NAFTA's to read more: NAFTA1, NAFTA2.

Unless you're the Exxon Mobile CEO, you probably agree that NAFTA is not saving our country. So what are our options to save Canada? Lots of people who see flaws in NAFTA — like the NDP — want to just try to re-negotiate it. But that will only take a lot of time, and seeing there is at the most two sentences in it that benefit Canada, one cannot tweak it; it is a disaster. But there is one thing we can do to fix it: get rid of it. And that is not as hard as it may sound. Article 210-6 of NAFTA states that the agreement may be “terminated by either Party upon six months’ notice to the other Party”—and without paying compensation or meeting any other condition except giving the six months’ notice. Okay, that was easy, but what happens to Canada-U.S. trade? It would take place under the World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO has already hinted that it is not 'anti-Canada' when it made the decision that our Wheat Board is not illegal, despite extreme opposition from America. Also, by abolishing NAFTA and working with the WTO, the U.S. won't be able to literally make us trade with them. If they start acting like jerks, we are not legally tied in with them. and, we would have full fighting power back, as the insane clauses of NAFTA (i.e. taking our water/timber, destroying medicare, etc.) would be gone.

What benefits do we get out of NAFTA that we couldn't get without it? None, unless you think that having the average wage increase by 8% between 1990 and 2000 and the top .1% of Canadians wages increase 100% is good (which you probably don't). We need to show the world (and people who read blogs) why this deal needs to go down the drain, so that going down the drain is exactly what happens to it.

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