OTTAWA — The Green Party says the Liberal government should suspend trade talks with Brazil and three other South American countries until Brazil makes a serious commitment to protecting the Amazon rainforest, large areas of which are now on fire.
Trade negotiations represent an important opportunity for Canada to contribute to the strengthening of international environmental, labour, health and safety standards, and consumer protections. The Green Party of Canada expects the Canadian government to work towards higher standards whenever it negotiates trade agreements with third countries or blocs.
"The Green Party recognises that Canada is a trading nation and trade is a vital part of our economy," said Green Party International Affairs critic Annamie Paul (Toronto Centre). "Nevertheless, Canadian core values are not for sale and should never be bargained away. Canada's trade agreements must always reflect the highest ethical, environmental and labour standards."
While the Canadian government made progress in recent CUSMA negotiations, by giving a greater voice to labour and environmental organisations, it nevertheless failed to secure stronger environment, labour, health and safety standards and consumer protections. This was an important missed opportunity that cannot be repeated in the current Mercosur trade negotiations.
“I definitely think we should be suspending Mersocur trade talks until the Brazilian government takes action on the Amazon fires and gets serious about action on climate change,” said Green Party International Trade critic, Paul Manly (MP, Nanaimo-Ladysmith).
Even though four countries are represented in the Mercosur bloc — Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay — over three quarters of Canada's trade within the bloc is with Brazil. While forest fires rage throughout the Amazon, the Brazilian government has refused to take urgent action to fight those fires and has been unwilling to end the activities and policies that have produced a dangerous spike in Amazon fires over the past year.
Before Canada can contemplate concluding a trade agreement with Mercosur, Mr. Trudeau must obtain convincing assurances and action from Brazilian President Jair Bolsanaro that demonstrate a commitment to dramatically strengthen environmental standards and protect the Amazon forest; the stakes are simply too high to proceed otherwise.
"The Amazon produces 20 per cent of the world's oxygen, and oxygen knows no borders" said Ms. Paul. "Mr. Trudeau has a responsibility to Canadians and must use all the levers at his disposal in the Mercosur negotiations to secure the environmental standards needed to protect this precious habitat. If Mr. Trudeau will not or cannot obtain these protections, he has no choice but to suspend Canada's participation in the negotiations."
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