There is a disquieting trend emerging in all these trading partnerships that are being negotiated around the world. Who do they benefit? The right wing talks about all the potential jobs but what guarantees do we get as to where those jobs might be? That seems to be left out of the plan. Does Canada just get on board because of its resources or does it really gain opportunities?
What people do not seem to be aware of is that the negotiations for these deals might be between trade ministers but the handlers in their corners are the global corporations. These are the real beneficiaries. And the worst trend of all is that these deals seem to exempt multi-national business from more and more controls.
Going back 25 years, we know now that the North American Free Trade Agreement was never favourable to Canadians. We have had to fight for fairness while losing manufacturing capability in almost every sector. We have spent more time in courts fighting for our trade rights for products such as soft wood lumber than in talks to improve the deal for both parties. Even when we included Mexico, the U.S. pitted the smaller countries against each other and continued to rule the roost.
And the Harper government certainly did not help matters vis-à-vis the Mexicans. The Mexicans have been left with sweat shops and drug thugs. The walls against Mexico in the American Southwest are a deep and lasting insult to a neighbouring country. When ignorant American political wannabes propose a similar approach to Canada, the insult should not be ignored.
And why should Canada pay for that new bridge to Detroit? We have put up with the obstructive and miserly attitudes of the old private bridge owners for too long anyway. Instead of helping with the border problems in the region, Washington bureaucrats have been just as obstinate and obstructive. Canada should open the new bridge and then close the road to the old bridge for construction—for the next ten years.
While Prime Minister Stephen Harper thinks he is some kind of white-knight of trade deals, he has also been the guy to screw them up. His arrogance and off-putting ego have left such a bad taste with European leaders that the deal with Europe that he touted so vociferously has been locked in a diplomatic limbo that Harper does not understand.
Trade deals that need to be negotiated in secret are obviously not the kind of deals that will please everybody in the light of day. Of course there has to be give and take. Different countries naturally develop varying regulations and incentives in dealing with businesses that do the trading. There has to be some levelling of the playing field. That is how it works. The rules have to be fair. Mutual trade has to strengthen the participating countries, not beggar them.
In this day of global corporations, these corporations have to accept their role as rowers of the triremes of trade. They are not the warriors who walk the upper decks. They have to be good corporate citizens in all the countries in which they operate. They have to be responsible for moving us forward. They cannot dictate.
Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry
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