Toronto – March 4, 2017 – U.S. President Donald Trump is moving ahead with his plans to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and it appears that talks will begin on June 1.
NAFTA was originally negotiated and passed into law under Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. It was pitched to Canadians as a job and wealth creator. Unfortunately, the benefits that hard-working Canadians were supposed to see from the agreement never came to fruition. Instead, hundreds of thousands of good-paying manufacturing jobs have been lost, incomes have stagnated, and inequality has increased dramatically.
NAFTA, which came into effect in 1994, was also the first trade deal between developed countries to include investor-state provisions. The investor-state provisions allow for investors across the continent to sue democratically-elected governments if they enact rules, regulations, or laws that affect the investor’s bottom line, and they can do this without first having to pursue legal action through the relevant country’s legal system. As a result of the investor-state provisions within NAFTA, Canada is now the most sued developed country in the world. We have had to pay over $200 million to American corporations due to the cases we have lost under invest-state provisions, and since 2015 foreign investors have sought over $6 billion from the Canadian government in new cases.
NAFTA has been an abject failure for ordinary, hard-working Canadians. So it less than reassuring that the man responsible for Canada’s participation in NAFTA, Brian Mulroney, is now being called on by Justin Trudeau to help renegotiate the deal with the Trump administration. Mulroney is now speaking to Trump and is contacting U.S. politicians on Trudeau’s behalf. Liberals are following Mulroney’s suggested strategy of flattering the U.S. President and Conservative MPs have turned to lavishing praise on the Trudeau government when Trump and NAFTA come up. And although the government says Mulroney is not being paid for his efforts – at least by the government of Canada – we should still be concerned about potential conflicts of interest. For instance, Mulroney serves on the board of directors of several U.S. and Canadian companies, including Blackstone Group, a private investment company founded by Stephen Schwartzman, who currently chairs Trump’s economic advisory council.
The Trudeau government should be open and transparent about the upcoming negotiations, but so far the Liberals are remaining mum. There have been no public consultations on the issue, and the government has not stated its objectives for the negotiations.
As well, Trudeau has not provided the public with any information about Mulroney’s role in the NAFTA talks, and when asked about the issue, he simply says that Mulroney’s work will benefit the middle class (the same answer he gives to almost every question from the media).
Canadians should be very concerned that the Trudeau government is using the person who first sold us down the river on NAFTA to help with its renegotiation. This is unlikely to end well.