NAFTA: People before Profits

Council of Canadians: Freeland’s new trade commitments a step in the right direction

Media Release
Jeudi 20 February 2020 - 17:00

Ottawa – Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland committed to changing the way Canada negotiates and adopts trade agreements in a letter released as Parliament discussed the ratification of NAFTA 2.1. 

These changes were suggested by Council of Canadians supporters, and were introduced in the minority parliament by the NDP during the debate on the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUMSA). Currently the government is under no obligation to consult parliament, release and debate negotiating directions, undertake economic impact studies, or consult the public during the ratification process of trade agreements. Deputy Prime Minister Freeland has committed to changing this practice and to conducting multiple consultations at the House of Commons International Trade Committee.

“As the debate on CUSMA continues for months in the International Trade Committee and in the Senate, we will be asking the Liberal government to guarantee mandatory public consultation in the trade agreement process. We will push to make sure these proposals are enacted,“ said Sujata Dey, Trade Campaigner with the Council of Canadians. “We will continue to fight for a real debate on trade in Canada so that these agreements serve the public interest, not just the one per cent.”

The Council of Canadians’ supporters sent nearly 2,000 letters to the International Trade Committee demanding changes to the way Canada creates and adopts trade agreements and a full debate of the new agreement. Additionally, 35,000 Council supporters wrote letters asking for the removal of provisions on the investor-state dispute settlement, which allows companies to sue governments over their policies, and energy proportionality, which mandates energy exports to the U.S. These provisions are no longer in CUSMA.

“Through the changes proposed today, the government will be giving Canadians an important tool to challenge many of the problems that trade agreements have. These proposals would increase transparency in an arcane, undemocratic system,” said Maude Barlow, Honorary Chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “With a minority parliament, the Council of Canadians knew that the public would be the balance of power. We are proud to have had a role in making these changes and we will continue to be vigilant. There is still more to do.”

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