September 29th, 2017 - 11:40am
The fourth round of NAFTA renegotiations concluded earlier this week, and despite a somewhat slow, frustrating and unproductive first three rounds, this last round was fraught with extreme protectionist demands, threats of abandonment and a great deal of misinformation from the United States.
President Donald Trump continues to bully his way through these trade negotiations - this is the definition of bad faith bargaining – he has used every opportunity to threaten the United States’ withdrawal from NAFTA.
The Americans’ fervent attacks on our manufacturing, automotive, agricultural, cultural, energy, forestry and aerospace sectors are unacceptable.
After threatening for to do so for months, this week the Trump Administration called for a definitive end to Canada’s Supply Management system and they demanded further access to our dairy, egg and poultry markets.
Watch my speech about Supply Management here
Watch my question about Supply Management here
The U.S. also demanded that vehicles made in the NAFTA countries contain at least 50% American content. We know this proposal will backfire as companies will simply pay the low 2.5% tariff on imported goods. This does nothing to ensure content regionally sourced or good-paying Canadian jobs are protected.
Watch my question about protecting Canadian jobs here
The Canadian government cannot force the Americans to ‘play nice’, however they have a responsibility to defend Canadian values, protect our jobs and to stand up to these intimidation tactics.
New Democrats know that Canadians don’t want to continue to placate this bully – they need real leadership and a show of strength.
I represent a rural riding, one that has the most acreage under glass due to the amount of greenhouses. We sit right on the Canada-US border; and I can tell you that I have heard from many of my constituents, for whom NAFTA and the cross border relationship is vital.
My constituents, like many Canadians are worried about their jobs, their businesses and our communities. Over the life of NAFTA, the Windsor automotive industry, one that I worked in for 20 years, has been hit hard by unfair labour practices, unbalanced government procurement policies, weak environmental standards, agricultural manipulation, and unethical, unjustifiable and unequitable distribution of power. NAFTA serves corporate interests and not the people of Canada, the U.S. or Mexico.
Whether NAFTA negotiations take five months, ten months or more, what matters is the result. The Liberal government has an obligation to get a deal that is fair for Canadians and I was glad to see the pace of these negotiations slow. It is crucial that our negotiating team have more time to consult with stakeholders and Canadians. Hopefully this will mean that the Liberal government will be more transparent with Parliamentarians and Canadians going forward. The next round will begin on November 17th, and Canadians need to be prepared for more intimidation tactics from the U.S. I also will be prepared to hold our government to account and force them to stand up to these heavy handed measures.
What New Democrats are looking for from NAFTA:
· Protection of jobs
· Protection our supply management system
· Improvement and equalization of Labour rights and standards
· Chapters on Gender Equality and Indigenous Rights
· The elimination of Chapter 11 – ISDS provisions
· Strengthening enforcement of Environmental Standards and protection against sale of our water
· Elimination of NAFTA’s Energy Proportionality provisions
· Protection of our Intellectual Property and Privacy rights
· Equal access to government procurement
Canadians deserve a better deal and we cannot allow the fear of no deal, interfere with our need to get the best possible deal. I believe that NAFTA in its current form doesn’t work for Canadians – but we have a unique opportunity to change all of that. We have the chance to promote more sustainable and equitably shared economic prosperity.
We have the chance to establish a truly progressive, fair trade agreement that is for all Canadians, all workers – not just one that drastically increases the profits for corporations. It must tackle things like currency manipulation, labour rights, gender and indigenous equality, human rights and environmental protections. It can establish a new standard for consultation, inclusivity, collaboration and transparency. Above all else, the needs of people must be the priority for NAFTA, we can accept and should accept no less.
NDP Critic for International Trade, Tracey Ramsey, made the following statement:
“The fourth round of NAFTA renegotiations begins today and Canadians have yet to see substantial progress on this important trade deal.
The Liberal government is failing to stand-up for Canadians against unfair tactics used by the Trump administration. The administration continues to bargain in bad faith by failing to provide clear proposals, threatening to pull out of the deal and continuing to bully our industries such as dairy, softwood and aerospace. The U.S. has also threatened to serve Canada with protectionist policies surrounding rules of origin.
Now, the Prime Minister himself is in Washington to try and save this deal. Canadians need the negotiating team to secure a strong commitment to level the playing field for working people, ensure the strong future of our supply managed sector and to maintain our ability to implement environmental policies.
It is imperative for the federal government to eliminate Chapter 11’s ISDS provisions in this round as well. The Lone Pine Resources arbitration case currently being heard in Toronto is a perfect example of how NAFTA Chapter 11 has undermined our national sovereignty. Lone Pine is suing Canada for trying to protect our water in Quebec.
NAFTA can and must improve the lives of all North Americans, but to do so it must be transparent, inclusive and forward-looking. It must address important issues like climate change, workers’ rights, and the millions of Canadian jobs at stake. The Liberal government has the opportunity to change this key trade deal and make it about people, instead of corporate profits.”
MP Tracey Ramsey also spoke on CBC Windsor Morning Radio, please click here to listen.
The third round of NAFTA renegotiations just wrapped up the other day in Ottawa.
Despite the fact that negotiators have met three times, the public still does not have answers to key decisions that will impact Canadians daily lives.
In this past week of negotiations in Ottawa there were numerous occasions where I was able to stand up in the House of Commons to ask the government for some transparency about NAFTA during question period. You can review my questions by clicking on the links below.
And I was proud to be joined by four other colleagues this week during question period who also questioned the government on the lack of clarity during these renegotiations. MPs Ruth-Ellen Brosseau (14:25:43), Pierre Nantel (14:45:45), Cheryl Hardcastle (14:51:33) and Linda Duncan (14:52:59).
I also engaged with a variety of key stakeholders and civil society organizations where I joined a panel discussion on NAFTA at the University of Ottawa this past weekend. Which you can review on Trade Justice Network`s website.
I am frustrated that the Liberal government will not be transparent on NAFTA issues and instead the public must rely on vague statements from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Chief Negotiator or rumours that are leaked to the media.
NAFTA has a major impact on the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the goods we make, buy and sell, our jobs – everything in our lives are impacted.
The history of NAFTA highlights an agreement negotiated in secret – behind closed doors, by the wealthy and for the wealthy. I would like to be able to say that this process has changed, but it has not. Under Chapter 11’s Investor State Dispute Resolution process, or the weak unenforceable environmental and labour side agreements and energy proportionality clauses, big corporations have benefitted greatly, while the people of Canada have been an afterthought.
So, as the third round of negotiations comes to a close and we look to what the fourth round will deliver, my New Democrat colleagues and I will keep working hard to ensure the Liberals do not fail Canadians on our nation’s most important trading partnership! We know better is possible and we can achieve it together.