Monday, September 12, 2016

Trudeau Has Some Explaining To Do

While our 'new' government continues upon the Harper neoliberal path, apparently never having met a free trade agreement it doesn't like, one issue that never seems to be honestly addressed by either Mr. Trudeau or his most ardent acolyte, Chrystia Freeland, is the Investor-State Dispute Settlement provisions.

Thanks to always astute Toronto Star readers, this contentious issue is being kept in the public forum.
It seems if we look behind Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s ‎”sunny ways” persona, we find he is perpetuating the agenda of the Harper government.

The hearings and meetings being held across the country are a sham, as the PM’s G20 remarks on European trade and the Trans Pacific Partnership ‎show the Liberal government is right in line with the Harper regime, promoting flawed so-called trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Consultation with Canadians on the TPP has consistently raised concerns and objections over the same issue that concerns Europeans – the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clauses that give corporations power above that of the federal government and bypass our judicial court system‎.

The PM states that Canadians are largely supportive of international trade, but, like Stephen Harper’s omnibus bills that contained lots of hidden, usually objectionable, legislation, the TPP is only partly concerned with trade.

Justin Trudeau seems intent on ignoring Canadians concerns over increased corporate powers as well as the relatively toothless and unequal protections the TPP offers for workers’ rights and the environment‎.

He misleads Canadians by characterizing those who are opposed to the “hidden” aspects of the TPP (and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA) as being “anti-trade.”

In this respect, he is simply following in Stephen Harper’s shoes, albeit with a sunnier disposition, placing corporate interests above those of the Canadian people.

Terry Kushnier, Scarborough
What is missing in this news report is that most people, in fact most Americans as well as Canadians, are not against the enhancement of international trade. They are against the dispute settlement mechanism (ISDS) that is included in most trade agreements, which requires dispute settlement by non-governmental arbitration panels.

Historically these are loaded toward corporations that sue sovereign governments, which are legislating on behalf of their citizens. Abuse of this system abounds, for example tobacco companies suing Uruguay for loss of income due to anti-smoking campaigns. They lost that one in the end but the inhibition of social (and environmental and labour) programs, and the cost to governments in worrying about and fighting such “disputes” so that corporations can do international business unfettered, is inexcusable. Much of the opposition to recent draft trade agreements such as CETA by social democratic countries in Europe is for this reason.

Roger H. Green, Brighton

Apparently, Justin Trudeau is going to continue the foolish initiative of Stephen Harper and grant investor protection rights to powerful corporations in order to sign CETA, the Canada-Europe trade deal. These rights would allow foreign companies to sue the Canadian taxpayers for billions of dollars if our elected Parliament passes laws regarding, for example, the environment, health or financial regulations, that adversely effect their bottom lines.

What twisted ideology would inspire any thoughtful politician to undermine our democracy in this way? That Justin would even consider this trade-off is proof that corporations already possess too much power. And these are the same corporations that protect billions of dollars through tax avoidance and evasion.

Stop this madness. Mr. Trudeau, please refuse to sign any trade deal that would erode our sovereign rights.

Cliff Lelievre, Burlington
In addition to the above letters, there is a wealth of information readily available demonstrating the folly of embracing deals that elevate corporations over citizens. What happens next is up to all of us.


  1. The problem isn't trade, Lorne. It's the rules.

    1. Yet the cheerleaders in Trudeau's government talk about how free trade benefits all Canadians, Owen. After all this time, I hope people are becoming wary of swallowing everything our politicians tell us.

  2. These antics, Lorne, have left me reluctantly convinced that nothing short of some new way of government can possibly restore progressive democracy to Canada. The political caste purports to govern in on behalf of the public yet by commission and omission persistently reveal themselves operating on behalf of others, ushering in a truly neoliberal order.

    Globalism has failed, not that it was every intended that it should succeed on the terms on which it was sold to the public. Even the IMF admits it has backfired. Friedman acknowledged as much before his death.

    I don't like to think of Trudeau as dim or deceitful but I do consider him astonishingly shallow. We'll see nothing that is both bold and beneficial from this prime minister and his aides.

    1. I often wish we followed less closely the events of the lunatic bin to the south of it, Mound, and more to what is happening in European, where more and more citizens seem to be aware of and engaged in the debate about such trade deals.

  3. "There is a vast difference between a society whose arrangements roughly serve all its citizens and one whose institutions have been converted into a stupendous fraud, a democracy in name only." - Bill Moyers.

    1. Thanks for the link, Mound. I just started reading it.

  4. Lorne, I doubt people are becoming wary, especially with the way the media reports on the TPP. Take this recent article from CP for example. The headline states that the TPP would boost the economy by $4.3 billion according to a federal study. To the casual reader that sounds great!

    But context people, context! Delve into the article and you find that's a $4.3 billion boost over the next 35 years! That's a paltry $123 million a year, which is pocket change in a national GDP currently at $1.5 TRILLION! The article doesn't mention that at all.

    And the downside if we don't ratify? According to that same study, we'd lose $5.3 billion over the same period. That's a fart in a hurricane! To give some scale to this, consider that the Canadian GDP went from $1.8 trillion in 2013 to $1.5 trillion in 2015. That's a drop of $300 billion just on the global price of oil!

    According to the feds, both the gains from ratifying TPP and the loses from not doing so are in the nature of a rounding error! Given the impact to our national sovereignty, that's a compelling argument for scrapping the deal!

    1. Thanks for this revealing analysis, Anon. It should give all of us some pause.