5.15 Trade and sovereignty

Robert Frost wrote that good fences make good neighbours. The Green Party supports fair, global trade. We support trade built on the principles of global equity, Canadian sovereignty, human rights, and the environment.

Over the last fifteen years, international free trade agreements have become an important part of Canada’s economy. Despite acknowledged benefits, there are some clauses and sections in these agreements that are not balanced. They put foreign and corporate business interests first.

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. The North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), for example, limits our government’s will to enact new environmental legislation, labour standards, and human rights laws because they might be challengeable under NAFTA. Many Canadians and public policy think tanks now admit that NAFTA has not lived up to its promises. Some failures include: promises that the income benefits of NAFTA would be widely shared; promises that NAFTA-led integration would increase productivity; promises that NAFTA would help us escape the resource export trap as hewers of wood and drawers of water.

The Green Party supports fair trade that puts sovereignty, human rights, and the environment first and does not support trade agreements that put the rights of multi-national corporations first.

We recognize that trade is an important component of a sustainable economy but that it cannot hamper or undermine sovereign efforts to protect and enhance local quality of life and build local economies.

The Green Party is about transforming − shifting mind sets, shifting taxes, shifting emphasis in trade from a failed free trade model to a proven fair trade model, and it is about shifting emphasis from global to local development. We recognize the costs and limitations that fossil fuels will increasingly place on global trade and transportation, and the need for local and community participation to achieve sustainable communities.

Green Party MPs will work in each of the following areas related to trade agreements:

  • North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA):

    1. Immediately provide the required six months’ notice of withdrawal from NAFTA;

    2. Exempt bulk water transfers;

    3. Re-negotiate the NAFTA energy provision, recognizing Canada’s need for an energy reserve and its own long-term energy security, as well as control over exports to be governed by environmental frameworks, with an emphasis on getting inter-provincial agreements in place first;

    4. Remove offensive disciplines, such as democratic decision making tribunals, specifically Chapter 11;

    5. Rewrite a fair trade agreement based on principles that protect human rights, workers’ rights, jobs, and community rights; that recognize limits to resources, and ensure that Canada retains its Charter position on limiting property rights; and that uphold environmental protection.

  • Bi-Lateral Trade Agreements:

    1. Renegotiate bi-lateral trade agreements, and negotiate any new ones, to follow the format set for NAFTA as noted above.

  • Free Trade Agreement of The Americas (FTAA):

  1. Oppose agreements in the style of the June 2009 agreements with Colombia;
  2. Negotiate fair trade agreements with countries in this hemisphere who have stated they do not want to be part of the FTAA, whose last meeting, in 2003, failed to reach agreement; these countries already form a valuable trading bloc.
  • World Trade Organization (WTO):

    1. Propose reform of the WTO, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank, placing these institutions under the authority of the UN General Assembly;

    2. Shift the direction of international trade away from “free trade” to “fair trade” focusing on the global protection of human rights, labour standards, cultural diversity, and ecosystems.

  • Canada European Union Trade Agreement (CETA):

    1. Oppose any extension of NAFTA-like provisions into a trade deal with Europe;

    2. Reject any inclusion of Investor-State provisions;

    3. Oppose provisions that favour pharmaceutical corporate interests over affordable prescription drugs for Canadians;

    4. Oppose provisions that undermine supply management for Canada’s dairy and poultry industries;

  • Trade, Investment, and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA):

    1. Urge British Columbia and Alberta to pull out of the TILMA and devise agreements to ensure the sovereignty of sub-national governments, energy security, and food security for all Canadians, while ensuring Charter rights and refraining from embedding the supremacy of property rights into trade agreements.