Category Archives: trade

The Globe Spins Around

Want to read something strange? Pick up a copy of today’s Globe And Mail and check out the editorial titled The unwelcome landing of another U.S. penalty. The Globe is now “appalled” at how NAFTA is working (or, rather, not working) for our country:

Not again…What are the Americans doing? … Canada cannot win … This is appalling. Whatever happened to the consultations that NAFTA was supposed to foster? … [This] is a terrible way to treat a neighbour.

Uh, yeah, ok. Except that earlier this week the Globe said that Elizabeth May was “off to a bad start” for making the “extreme” suggestion “that the North American free-trade agreement is not working.” Instead, the Globe said, Elizabeth should be focusing on “real issues.”

How do we reconcile this apparent contradiction? Obviously, the only possible conclusion is that Elizabeth, myself, and at least three other letter writers have managed to sway the Globe’s editorial board in less than a week. Good for us.

Maybe stage four will come sooner than we thought.

Letters to the Editor

The first time I ever wrote a letter to the editor of the Globe and Mail it was published. I think I’m being rightfully punished for that, because they haven’t printed one since. Yesterday’s letter makes the score 1 for 4, but that’s ok, because here are three great letters they printed instead.

The Globe defends Chapter 11 of the North American free-trade agreement by saying that only two cases were lost by the Canadian government in response to corporate lawsuits. It is not the quantity of cases but the effect of the cases that is important.

One case the government lost concerned a gasoline additive banned in California. When the Canadian government came to the same conclusion as the California Environmental Protection Agency and decided to ban the additive, a U.S. company sued Canada for loss of revenue and won.

This one case has had a chilling effect on future regulation and makes the government think twice about banning toxic substances.

“Almost 85 per cent of our merchandise exports go to our NAFTA partners,” you say. If you think that’s a good thing, I’d shudder to hear what you think is a bad thing.

Re Elizabeth May, Off To A Bad Start? (Aug. 29): You no sooner get elected to the leadership of a marginal political party and the leading newspaper in the country leaps to the attack. Seems like a pretty good start to me.

What can Elizabeth May be thinking?

Lots of positive press today, and one negative piece from the Globe
and Mail. My letter to the editor follows.

What, you ask, can Elizabeth May be thinking? Good question. Perhaps she’s thinking about the full, true cost of NAFTA (environmental, social, labour rights) and not just the cold financial numbers. Perhaps she’s thinking about the fact that when a trade agreement isn’t being respected, then it’s not worth the dead tree it’s written on. Perhaps she’s thinking that no trade agreement should allow a foreign company to put its profits before the health of Canadians.

Or maybe she’s thinking about taking a principled position instead of just saying what polls and focus groups tell her to. But I’m just guessing, of course.

Chris Tindal
Former Candidate, Green Party of Canada (Toronto Centre)

Centralized Power and the Conductor

Yesterday the Globe and Mail revealed that the Conservatives have “used an extraordinary ‘national security’ clause to take control of $8-billion in recently announced military spending,” contravening the 1994 Agreement on Internal Trade with the provinces. I was going to make one of my famous “so much for real transparency and accountability” and “do these guys even know what these words mean?” and “didn’t Harper used to oppose the centralization of power?” posts, but last night I instead went to see the National Youth Orchestra of Canada perform at Roy Thompson Hall and I ran out of time.

I’m sort of glad I did, because now I can instead report that today the Globe’s editorial staff were much more scathing than I was going to be. Instead of “national security,” they’ve called this “national pork-barrelling…the most startling example of Tory beneficence lately…wrongheaded…How the righteous have fallen…the Tories are making themselves at home in the coffers…part of a widening pork-barrel pattern…and the pattern is called hypocrisy.”

So I think I’ll just back away slowly and let them have the last word on that one.

Oh, the National Youth Orchestra was great by the way. Apparently alumni from the NYOC make up a full third of all orchestras in Canada. It’s a great opportunity for young artists and it deserves our support.

One thing nagged at me though, and you may have noticed this as well. As I watched and listened to the orchestra play, I couldn’t help but think, “you know, if the conductor were to suddenly take a seat, I’m pretty sure the music would go on…”