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Maude Barlow says that Free Trade with the U.S, undermines Canadian independence on exports

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NAFTA threatens the resources rights of Canadians to their own water

by Peter Tremblay

Canada’s independence from the United States will be totally destroyed, unless it immediately abandons so-called “Free Trade” with the United States. These are the apparent sentiments of the Council of Canadians, and other activists like Connie Fogal, who is the leader of the Canadian Action Party (CAP).

“One of our criticisms of NAFTA was that it would place Canada in a very vulnerable position to have almost all of our exports—I think it’s close to 87% now—going to the United States so that we would then be helpless, or in a very difficult position, if ever there was a reason to close that border, and sure enough this border has been closed. And as my colleagues here have said, this was even starting before 9/11,” says Canadian economic nationalist activist Maude Barlow during a Parliamentary Standing Committee on International Trade that was held on Tuesday, May 1, 2007.

“I would posit that with all we have offered and already given up under the SPP and other processes, it has not helped change that border situation; it’s tighter than it even was. As you know, the line-ups for passports are so long and there are unmanned drones, American planes, war planes, between the Montana and Canadian borders, for instance. The border security is tightening and everything we seem to do does not seem to change that. So that it is a very serious problem,” further stipulates Ms. Barlow.

“On your concern about harmonization, our concern around the regulatory convergence is not a more efficient way for my colleagues here to have a good trading system. That’s not our concern. Of course that makes sense. What our concern is, is that they have set up cross border committees that are going to make decisions around regulations from seeds to food to health care to social programs to environmental standards that will then be not decided in the Canadian or Quebec parliaments, but rather by these cross border committees, and it’s a anti-democratic process.”

“Further, if you look at the regime of George Bush, since he came to power he has deregulated massively in everything from energy to automobile standards to environment. One of the conservation groups said that he has cut 400 environmental programs, for instance. We are harmonizing to a superpower that has massively deregulated in many areas, and, of course, then there’s the problem of having Mexico in the mix as well. So we’re not talking here about sensible harmonization, nobody could be opposed to that, but we are talking about setting up a process of moving into a race to the bottom.”

“On the current status of water, here’s the situation. Under NAFTA we are not forced to export our water. However, once we do start exporting, once any province starts to exports its water, the terms of NAFTA come into being. NAFTA defines water as a good and you’re not allowed, under the terms of a trade agreement, to stop the import or export of a good for any reason, even environmental or conservation. So if any province decides to start exporting commercial exports of our water to the United States , the terms of NAFTA say that the Canadian government can’t then come in and say no, you can’t do that,” Maude Barlow further elaborated in front of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on International trade.

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“Mr. Baird, had said that Canada had a ban on the export of water. He probably thinks we do, but we don’t. What we have is a voluntary agreement with the provinces, which are a mishmash, not all of them have signed it, any one of them could break it, and if anyone breaks it then that water is open from all the provinces to whatever corporation has got into that one province.”

“Moreover, they only banned the transfer of transboundary waters from the Canadian side. But the Americans aren’t interested in transboundary water; they’re taking what they need from the Great Lakes through the new annex. What they really want is that water in those rivers going north and that’s not touched by this. We need a national water act in this country. We need water taken out of NAFTA as an investment, as a good. We need to protect this most previous resource politically, ecologically, and for future generations.”

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Written by thecanadianheadlines

December 15, 2009 at 11:20 pm

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