By David Orchard
For months Canadians have been inundated with claims from the Trudeau government, industry and the punditry that NAFTA is good for our country, even necessary, and that “renegotiated” it will be even better. Here is another point of view: ten reasons why Canada should free itself from NAFTA, not enter more deeply into it.
One: Under NAFTA, US corporations have the right to sue Canada for any law or regulation they believe contravenes the spirit of NAFTA. US corporations have sued Canada over 40 times, overturned Canadian laws, received more than $200 million in NAFTA penalties from Canada — and are claiming some five billion more. Why would any nation give foreign corporations the right to sue it and dictate its laws? (Canadian corporations can also sue the US. They have tried and failed each time.)
Two: Under the FTA, which is part of NAFTA, Canada agreed to never charge the Americans more for any good than it charges Canadians. Why would Canada ever accept such a provision which straitjackets us as a competitor to the US?
Three: Canada agreed to never cut back on the amount of any good, including all forms of energy, that it sells to the US unless it also cuts back on Canadians proportionally. Why would Canada agree to deny its own citizens preferential access to their own resources?
Four: Canada agreed to allow US citizens and corporations to buy Canadian companies and industries virtually without restriction. They have taken over thousands of Canadian companies, from our national railways to our retail industry to the Canadian Wheat Board.
Five: Under NAFTA Canada’s standard of living has fallen, real wages are dropping, the divide between haves and have-nots has become a chasm, and one million Canadians are using food banks.
Six: NAFTA is not free trade. It is the integration of North America into one continental economy. Integration means assimilation into the US, and that means the end of Canada.
Seven: Locked into NAFTA, Canada loses its independence. Our country repeatedly follows the US in world affairs, sanctioning, even attacking and bombing small nations that have done no harm to us, because some of our leaders seem to think we must not risk US displeasure as our economies are so intertwined. (Then we see some of these same leaders wring their hands over the plight of the fleeing refugees our bombs have helped to create!)
Eight: Farsighted Canadian leaders have forcefully warned against free trade with the United States. John A. Macdonald called the very idea “veiled treason.” George-Etienne Cartier predicted the end result would be union with United States, “that is to say, our annihilation as a country.” John Diefenbaker urged Canadians “to take a clear stand in opposition to continentalism” and the “baneful effects of foreign ownership.” Pierre Trudeau called the FTA “a monstrous swindle, under which the Canadian government has ceded to the United States of America a large slice of the country’s sovereignty over its economy and natural resources.” John Turner called the FTA “the Sale of Canada Act.”
Nine: Once Canada had no income tax. Tariffs on imported goods financed the operation of the country. Today after three decades of “free trade” with the US, Canada’s federal and provincial debt is a record $1.2 trillion and taxes on ordinary Canadians increase year after year . (The GST, the free trade tax, was introduced in 1989 to make up for the loss of tariff revenues.) Homelessness has escalated and public institutions and programmes are cut, while record amounts of raw resources pour across the border at pitiful prices.
Ten: Canada’s population is roughly one tenth that of the US. If we do not guard our industries, our economy and our sovereignty, our country will be absorbed into the United States. It need not be. Both the FTA and NAFTA have cancellation clauses. With a simple six month’s notice Canada can withdraw without penalty from both. Canada and the US are members of the World Trade Organization and our trade would simply revert back to WTO rules, under which we fared much better than under NAFTA — and without any US corporate right to sue us or buy up our country.-
By David Orchard