(OTTAWA) – Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands), is calling on Canada to strengthen environmental protections and ensure our public healthcare system, water and other resources aren’t threatened in the upcoming NAFTA renegotiation:
“As Canada enters a renegotiation of NAFTA, we have an important opportunity to address its negative impacts. It is time we rethink how structure free trade. Trade isn’t just about the export and import of goods and services. Trade agreements also impact human rights, labour standards, cultural diversity, environmental laws, and even constitutional rights.
“As President Trump rejected the Trans Pacific Partnership, perhaps he is open to removing the Chapter 11 investor-state (ISDS) provisions from NAFTA. Protecting legitimate economic activity while removing perverse elements of NAFTA is a winning formula that may give the US President what he craves in populist approval domestically, while protecting the significant and symbiotic trade linkages between Canada, the US and Mexico. Canada’s success in these renegotiation talks depends on standing up for Canada – acknowledging that not all of NAFTA was ever to our benefit,” Ms. May said.
On specific issues, the Green Party of Canada hopes to see the following:
Water: Freshwater will only become more vital as we face the effects of climate change and the accompanying scarcity of water resources. We must act to enshrine, enforce and strategically implement the 1987 Federal Water Policy to meet the requirements of sustainable water management – equity, efficiency and ecological integrity.
Health care: Based on the rules for ‘national treatment,’ if Canada allows increasing numbers of for-profit facilities, we run the risk of losing our entire universal single-payer system in a single NAFTA challenge. We cannot take that risk.
Raw logs: Canada's forest heritage – 300 million hectares or 10% of all the world's forests – is on the line. We must focus on keeping value-added jobs in Canada by implementing a substantial whole log export tax. Throughout the process of renegotiation, Canada must work toward a forest management strategy with long-term, environmental sustainability as priority.
Energy: Canada's need for an energy reserve and its own long-term energy security must be recognized. Export controls must be allowed in the context of domestic environmental frameworks, especially in light of the recently agreed to Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.
Chapter 11 (ISDS): The reality is that ISDS mechanisms lead to regulatory chill. As Professor Gus Van Harten explains succinctly : "Corporate giants and the super-rich, alongside the ISDS legal industry, have been the main beneficiaries of ISDS by far, at significant expense and opportunity cost to countries and to those who would have benefited from laws and regulations that were deterred by ISDS."
NAFTA's Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC): The CEC must be protected and strengthened by putting into place mechanisms to ensure the Commission operates free from political interference. Under the former Harper administration, the Canadian government successfullystopped three separate CEC investigations into Canadian misconduct, including BC salmon farms, polar bear protection and Alberta's tailings ponds.
Dairy: Canada need to ensure that supply management is defended and protected.
Mexico: Mexico must not be abandoned by Canada. Canada should use our economic influence and clout to help protect the economy and people of Mexico.
Find the complete submission here.
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