‘Free’ trade has cost Canada billions of dollars

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To the Editor:

Let’s hope Justin Trudeau has a close look at the Trans-Pacific Partnership before he signs it. All indications are that it is an extension and enlargement of previous “free” trade bills, and will replace them. He may discover, to his dismay, that far from an advantage for Canadian workers, it may be another form of government by the multi-national corporations.

So how did Canada fare under the North Atlantic Freed Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)? Since 1994, Canada has paid millions in compensation to transnational corporations under Chapter 11 of NAFTA. Who were the winners in this government giveaway?

The U.S. Ethyl Corporation received $251 million over use of MMT, a neuron toxic gasoline additive; the U.S. firm S.D. Myers received $6 billion for banning the export of PCBs; Dow Chemical sued Quebec for banning the use of a harmful pesticide (settlement pending); the U.S. Abitibi Bowater paper mill sued and received $130 million because Newfoundland removed the free use of hydroelectric power; American oil company Lone Pine Resources sued Quebec, claiming $250 million because of a moratorium on the exploration of oil and gas in the St. Lawrence River; California’s Sunbelt Corporation challenged the ban by B.C. on bulk water exports, demanding $10 billion in damages; Canada must export 70 per cent of its oil and natural gas to the United States, at the same time importing to meet its needs and not reducing production to save our planet from greenhouse gases; and the Bank of Canada, created in 1935 to help our government through interest-free affordable loans, must now follow the dictates of private European and U. S. banks. In addition, privatization companies have launched moves against Canada Post and our medicare program. How free is that?

This is the reality of globalization and free trade. Rather than employment and prosperity, Canada lost thousands of well-paid, permanent jobs in the manufacturing sector; wages stagnated and outsourcing increased.

Under the TPP, the cost of our medication will be affected as drug patents are extended, our public services, such as CBC and Canada Post, could be affected and our environmental laws, already pathetically weak and out of date, will be stalled.

Governments seem to relish becoming puppets manipulated by large corporations at the expense of sovereignty and their labour force. Why not fair trade instead of free trade?

At stake are the protection of water, the environment, public services, health care, roads, bridges, sewer systems, supply management and genetically modified food imports.

Free trade is the euphemism for free government by multinational corporations.

Larry Ewashen