NAFTA: Renegotiated?

NAFTA: Renegotiated?

Postby Oscar » Thu Mar 06, 2008 8:43 am

Renotiate NAFTA? Sounds like a good idea

http://www.canada.com:80/vancouversun/news/editorial/
story.html?id=5f4526fe-42b0-4d3a-a901-f415ba271cdf

Maude Barlow, Special to the Sun

Published: Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Two Democratic contenders for the U.S. presidency suggest they'd like to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and it's as if the sky were falling in Canada.

Conservatives and Liberals joined frightened CEOs across the country last week to describe a potential U.S. abrogation of NAFTA under a Democratic presidency as "disastrous." It is as if they all believe that trade between Canada, the United States and Mexico would simply dry up without an official treaty binding it together.

Either that or we would stop "building things together," as other commentators have suggested as more true to the North American relationship.

Nothing could be further from the truth. And if the Democrats are honest enough to recognize NAFTA's numerous failings, then our politicians owe Canada more than useless doomsday rhetoric.

Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have declared that --failing a complete renegotiation of the trade deal to include better, enforceable protections for the environment and labour -- they would withdraw from NAFTA within six months of taking office.

These issues were dealt with in toothless side agreements at the time of signing the treaty in 1994 while corporate trade and investment remains protected by NAFTA's Chapter 11, which allows companies to sue governments for lost profits due to local, provincial or federal regulations and policies.

As of Jan. 1, 2008, there had been 49 investor-state claims under Chapter 11 (14 of them in Canada), nearly half of which have involved challenges to government efforts to protect the environment or manage resources. Wealthy oil giant Exxon Mobil is suing the federal government for Newfoundland's requirement that some of the company's revenues from offshore development be reinvested locally.

This discrepancy between citizens, or democratic rights, under NAFTA on the one hand, and corporate rights on the other has not gone unnoticed in North America. It has accompanied a widening gap between corporate profits and real wages in both Canada and the United States; real wages have been stagnant for 30 years while corporate profits have never been higher.

If the issue of inequity is finally taking centre stage in the run-up to the 2008 U.S. election, it is an indication of just how many Americans want a new trading relationship with their neighbours -- one that protects their jobs and the environment from the often socially and physically destructive whims of large corporations.

So why is the Canadian government stuck in reverse, clinging to wishful thinking about NAFTA and rushing into new, unsustainable and anti-democratic continental agreements like the NAFTA-plus Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) which just offers more of the same?

The SPP was created in March 2005 to deepen the NAFTA relationship based entirely on corporate lobbying from groups like the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) and the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations. The CCCE boasts that its companies collectively administer $3.5 trillion in assets and have annual revenues in excess of $800 billion.

These companies have been granted a disproportionate amount of influence when it comes to economic, and now even security policy under the SPP. Actually, they are the only non-governmental group allowed to attend secretive annual SPP leaders summits, the fourth of which will take place in New Orleans this April.

Before this week's comments on NAFTA, Obama had also come out strongly against these executive meetings, writing in the Dallas Morning News that as president he would still like to meet with the Canadian prime minister and Mexican president once a year. "Unlike similar summits under President Bush, these will be conducted with a level of transparency that represents the close ties among our three countries." Obama also said that he will "seek the active and open involvement of citizens, labour, the private sector and non-governmental organizations in setting the agenda and making progress."

The fact that Harper and his ministers have purposely kept these groups as far away from the SPP as possible and are reluctant to even consider opening up NAFTA is proof of how beholden our government is to corporate interests. If our politicians would just open their eyes they would see a Canadian electorate that is just as impatient for a fairer trading model as its American friends.

Maude Barlow is the chairperson of the Council of Canadians.

© The Vancouver Sun 2008
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Harper on NAFTA Renegotiation

Postby Oscar » Thu Mar 06, 2008 8:49 am

March 3, 2008

Did I hear correctly? On a CBC Radio clip this morning, that Mr. Harper is excited about Clinton/Obama scrapping/re-negotiating NAFTA, and that he threatened such action with his own volley: to renegotiate Canada/US oil deals!!!?

More sites to check:

1) Canada pulled into U.S. debate on NAFTA

http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/
20080302/nafta_democrats_080302/20080302?hub=Canada

Updated Sun. Mar. 2 2008 10:48 PM ET CTV.ca News Staff

Canada's government is being dragged deeper into a re-invigorated U.S. debate over NAFTA, with Democratic rivals Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton saying they might opt out of the deal.

2) PM warns against opening NAFTA

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.
20080229.walbertanafta29/BNStory/National/home?
id=al_gam_mostemail

STEVEN CHASE and KATHERINE O'NEILL AND DAWN WALTON

From Friday's Globe and Mail

February 29, 2008 at 4:57 AM EST

OTTAWA, EDMONTON, CALGARY — It would be a blunder for the next White House to reopen the North American free-trade agreement, Prime Minister Stephen Harper warned yesterday in a blunt response to U.S. presidential hopefuls' vows to rewrite or scrap the deal.


3) Obama, Clinton Campaigns Spar Over NAFTA


http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/
politics/national/stories/030408dnpolnafta.1c1d9a6c.html

Posted on: Sunday, 24 February 2008, 21:00 CST

LORAIN, Ohio _ Barack Obama struck at rival Hillary Clinton's base of support among blue-collar workers on Sunday, accusing her of trying to back away from past support of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which is deeply unpopular in this economically lagging industrial state.

4) McCain said renegotiating NAFTA, as the Democrat candidates have suggested, could compromise the support of the Canadians in the war on terrorism.

http://recent-world-news.com/data/artic ... html#hdng1

Elaine Hughes
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GRONDIN on NAFTA Renegotiation

Postby Oscar » Thu Mar 06, 2008 9:01 am

March 6, 2008

Letter to the Editor:

Well, well, well, it appears that Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton are throwing Canadians a bone by announcing that they want to re-examine NAFTA, which has been a stone in our national shoe since its inception.

However, does it really matter what Obama and Clinton are saying to the people in the USA as we, as Canadians, listen ever so intently for a thread of hope to cling on to? Have we not heard it all before, all 57 varieties, all 31 flavours? When has Ms. Clinton ever told the truth? Why doesn't she tell her hypnotized audience that she is a member of the Bilderbergers, and as such, she will follow suit, just like her predecessors, and lead the good ole US folks down the path into a North American Union and One World Government. Goodbye Canada and the sanity of our laws.

And can we expect anything less from Obama? From McCain?

Please allow me to add the final “Post Script” prematurely. Clinton and Obama made their statements about reviewing NAFTA prior to the Ohio primarily, which is a “big labour state” and Ohio is being devastated by NAFTA. A fine upstanding example of political expediency, n’est-ce pas?

Personally, I am tired of looking to the politicians for hope. Would we look to the King of Archdeceivers, such as Lucifer, for hope? And if the devil was to come down to live among us, would he/she be pleasurable to look at, dressed very fashionable, be pleasant of speech, be polite, be an expert at smiling and yet, have the capacity to stare you in the eye and lie, lie, lie?

What has Harper done? Has he given us complete disclosure on the Security, Prosperity Partnership (SPP)? Did Paul-the-Archdeceiver-Martin tell the Canadian public that he, on behalf of the Canadian People and with Big Business’ best interest in mind...that he had agreed to this SPP back in March 2005, which would eventually sell Canadians down the drain to Big Business at the cost of destroying Canada?

I am not a Liberal, or a Conservative, politically speaking, or do I favour the Elephants over the Donkeys in the USA. I am for what works best for Canada.

Historically, we can look back to the late 1970's (rewind the tape please), and see Joe Clack being destroyed because he was foolish enough to allow his enemies within and without his party to know that he favoured Canadians and not Big Business. And did the Canadian people laugh at Joe Clark when he had lost his luggage on a trip aboard, when in fact, anyone could lose their luggage when traveling? Did not the editorial cartoonist depict Joe as an imbecile with strings holding his mittens to the sleeves of his coat so that he would not lose them? (Toronto Sun) And did we not laugh again? And again? And did the Canadian people not talk about how stupid Joe Clark was? And why or how did he get to be our Prime Minister? And then did not the Conservative Party chuck Joey for Mulroney, who was business as usual, oh sorry, Big Business As Usual?

It is not a matter of agreeing or disagreeing with Joe Clark's policies. Joe was a true blue Canadian, a Canadian for Canada. And if you are not for Big Business, then you will surely get your just rewards, as did Joe.

Yes, we have a problem. There's a leak in the dike! However, the real problem is that there is no visible hole to stick our finger in to stop the water and cry for help at the same time. “Ohhh, but,” you say, “Isn't the SPP, the New World Order, etc., a hole in our dike? Yes, it is, but as far as the average Canadian (and American) is concerned, they are being hypnotised into believing that they do not exist, and 'none dare call it a conspiracy!'

The mainstream press is a smoke screen owned and controlled by Big Business. Big Business wants the North American Union, wants One World Government to increase their profits at the expense of you and me, our jobs, our Canadian way of life, which are all in their way.

We have become spoiled. We do not teach our children about the responsibilities that come with a parliamentary democracy. Well, you might personally, but the schools certainly do not. Hell, they do not even teach the fundamentals of the English language.

We are complacent. The sky will never fall. That little beetle out in BC is not eating up 60+% of the province's white pine forest. You can not travel through Northern Ontario and see how the paper mills and mining camps are polluting our pure water. There is even one river, actually there are a few, that will not freeze over when the temperate hunkers down to minus 25 C for a few weeks because of the pollutants in the water. None of this is a problem.

Paul Martin, Hillary Clinton, Stephen Harper, George W. Bush, Barack Obama? Who do they really represent? Did Martin represent Canada when he secretly agreed to the SPP and the NAU. Who does Harper represent? Our Canadian welfare? I do not think so. The answer is Big Business and the destruction of Canada through the strangle hold of the SPP and the NAU that will wipe out our way of life as we know it.

Who are these guys (and dolls)? They look good. They talk a good story. They have Big Money behind them. BUT, listen up, everyone, they are not Canadians; they are not Americans. They are One Worlders! If you favour the SPP, then you are a One Worlder and every good ole One Worlder knows that it is only a matter of time until the dike will break and wash away what is known as the USA and Canada, and the new crop will be the North American Union and slavery for anyone and everyone who opposes it.

The Devil walks among us. He/she does not have a tail, does not carry a pitchfork, does not dress in red tights and does not have visible horns on its head. Instead, we call this person the Prime Minister, the President or the Presidential hopeful. We are dealing with the incarnation of the Archdeceiver, himself, part or in whole.

When Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama say that they want a review of NAFTA, should we really believe them? Did former President Bill Clinton not lie to the Supreme Court?

And here's a long forgotten example of US Presidential honesty. In the late 1950's, President Harry Truman comes up to Canada to go fishing with Prime Minister Diefenbaker. Harry says to Dief that the future of national defence is not in a fighter plane, but in missile systems. Therefore, Diefenbaker scraps Canada's Avro Aero programme. Yet, every single person working on the Avro Aero programme is offered a job in the aviation industry throughout the industrial world, except Canada, because of what they know, which is more than anyone else on this planet at the time. And wasn't the Avro Aero 20 years ahead of its time according to modest estimates?

There is no secret in terms of what was happening between Truman and Diefenbaker. Truman came to Canada to stare Diefenbaker in the eye, smile graciously, and lie on behalf of Big Business. If the Avro Aero was allowed to proceed on it's God-given course into Canadian history, the other aviation companies in the USA would not be able to compete with the Canadian wonder jet. How many Canadian jobs were lost because of Diefenbaker's Canadian ability to believe the Great Liar known as President Truman? And we are still believing the Great Liar! And to a greater and lesser extent, has not Paul Martin and Stephen Harper been part of this Great Lie by secretly instituting the SPP, which will destroy our Canada?

And do not get me wrong. I love the American. I love the Canadian. But if we look real close, we should be able to detect that the President is not really an American, and the Prime Minister is not really a true-blue Canadian. Wake-up Canada!

So what is the final line? Maybe, just maybe, Canadians do not deserve Canada? Experts are telling me that they are hearing the drumbeat of war across our planet. "Hell," I say, "come to my street, and you will hear the silent melodic drumbeat of death and internal decay of the Canadian psyche and destruction of my home and country, Canada."

And none would be saved for the people did not have time to care.

May we all wake up and start passing our tests in life because life is a schoolroom. If we do not learn soon, we will be thrown out of school, and there will be no laws to safe guard our liberties that will be sinking with our flagship called Canada.

Paul Grondin
Ontario
pgrondin2@cogeco.ca
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DOBBIN: NAFTA's legacy: the worst agreement we ever signed

Postby Oscar » Thu Mar 06, 2008 9:10 am

NAFTA's legacy: the worst agreement we ever signed

http://www.theglobeandmail.com:80/servlet/story/
RTGAM.20080305.wcomment0306/BNStory/Front/home

Web-exclusive comment:

MURRAY DOBBIN Special to Globe and Mail Update

March 5, 2008 at 7:10 PM EST

In the aftermath of Barack Obama's and Hillary Clinton's threats to "renegotiate" NAFTA — or pull out — the usual suspects have been activated to tell the world how wonderful the deal has been for Canada and the United States.

There is no doubt that the sector that devised the scheme in the first place and sold it to politicians have benefited greatly from this investors' rights agreement and its predecessor. The continent's largest corporations have greatly reduced regulatory impediments to their profits, radically lowered labour costs, gutted Canada's sovereign capacity to pass new environmental legislation and, in terms of investment restrictions, virtually erased the borders.

All of those corporate benefits, however, have been extremely bad for other aspects of Canada and for ordinary Canadians.

But first, let's dispose of a myth about free trade — the notion that it was responsible for massive increases in trade between the U.S. and Canada. According to an Industry Canada study, 91 per cent of the increase in trade in the 1990s was due to the cheap Canadian dollar and the sustained economic boom in the U.S. Now that our dollar is at par or higher, our manufacturing exports are plummeting.

But even if NAFTA were responsible for increased trade, Canadian workers have paid a huge price. Throughout the 1990s, federal governments trumpeted the need to be "competitive" under NAFTA as an excuse to implement some of the most Draconian rollbacks of Canadian social programs ever undertaken. In the name of "labour flexibility," Paul Martin implemented drastic changes to EI eligibility, and repealed the Canada Assistance Plan, freeing the provinces to gut their welfare programs. His extreme low-inflation policy deliberately kept unemployment at high levels (8 per cent to 9 per cent) for most of the 1990s.

That meant that, throughout the decade, workers' real wages actually declined. They still have not caught up to 1981 levels. And the highly paid 220,000 industrial jobs lost as a result of NAFTA are gone forever, replaced by lower-paid jobs.

NAFTA was supposed to unleash a flood of foreign investment — boosting our industrial capacity and productivity. Instead, since the first trade agreement was signed, more than 95 per cent of direct foreign investment has been used to buy up Canadian companies. Head offices and research and development money has headed south, and Canada has seen a steady decline in manufactured goods as a percentage of its GDP for the past 10 years.

Our productivity has fallen behind that of the U.S. in virtually every year since the FTA came into effect in 1989.

The environment has also suffered almost continuously since the deals were signed — and this is according to the Commission for Environmental Co-operation, the NAFTA agency responsible for monitoring the impact of the new regime. The North American Mosaic: The State of the Environment Report, released in 2001, declared that "North Americans are faced with the paradox that many activities on which the North American economy is based impoverish the environment on which our well-being ultimately depends."

It might also have mentioned that Canada has not passed a major new environmental protection law since NAFTA came into effect — at least not successfully. In two instances where it did try, NAFTA's investment chapter forced it to back off. In the Ethyl Corp. case, Canada tried to ban a gasoline additive, MMT, that damaged cars' catalytic converters (not to mention our health). The company sued under NAFTA and Canada withdrew the law. The resulting chill effect means we have no idea how many proposed new laws have been killed in their cribs.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Canada is an energy "superpower." But NAFTA virtually guaranteed that the U.S. would be the beneficiary of our energy, and it unleashed a massive increase in energy exports to the U.S.

Canada now exports 63 per cent of the oil it produces and 56 per cent of its natural gas to the U.S. And because of NAFTA's proportionality clause, Canada is legally obliged to continue exporting the same proportion of our oil and gas forever even if we face a shortage.

Next up is our water. The U.S. is already officially into its supply problems and it will, over the next 20 years, become a catastrophic crisis, outpacing even their predicted energy crisis.

NAFTA defines water as a good — meaning that, as soon as any provincial government signs a contract to export bulk water to the U.S. (by river diversion or tanker), nothing can stop further exports.

All of this, and for what? Allegedly, it was for guaranteed, predictable access to the U.S. market. But, of course, as the softwood lumber saga proved, there is no such thing. When its history is written, NAFTA could rightly be described as the worst agreement ever signed by a Canadian government.

Murray Dobbin, a Vancouver writer, is a columnist for the online magazine The Tyee.
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The Birth of NAFTA. It Took Clinton to get it Signed

Postby Oscar » Thu Mar 06, 2008 9:29 am

It Took Clinton to Get It Signed - The Birth of NAFTA

Fred Gardner Counterpunch

http://counterpunch.org/gardner02282008.html

February 28, 2008

The best defense, some say, is a good offense. Hilllary’s "Shame on you, Barack Obama" performance deflected attention from the fact that the Clinton Administration did indeed get NAFTA through a resistant Congress. NAFTA was conceived under Reagan and then pushed by Poppy Bush, who got an extension of fast-track negotiating authority from Congress. (Meaning Congress couldn’t revise the text, just vote yes or no.) Agreement with Canada and Mexico was reached in August ‘92.

As a candidate for president Bill Clinton supported NAFTA with the proviso that side agreements (that would not involve renegotiating the NAFA text) might be needed to protect the environment and the rights of workers. After taking office, Clinton negotiated the side agreements, ignoring the majority of Democrats in Congress whose preference was to scuttle the pact altogether.

In July ‘93, according to a National Association of Manufacturers’ chronology, "Lawmakers returning home to their districts in August were barraged by anti-NAFTA sentiment. Many supporters of NAFTA returned to Washington publicly undecided on the pact. Convinced that NAFTA’s passage was contingent upon a strong push by the White House, dozens of House Republicans–led by Minority Leader Newt Gingrich–said they would withhold their support until the President demonstrated his commitment to the issue.

"That commitment came September 14, 1993, when President Clinton accompanied by former Presidents Ford, Carter and Bush, issued a strong statement of support for NAFTA." At this point the Archvillain of the American Century, David Rockefeller, weighed in with a Wall St. Journal op-ed explaining why passage was so important to him, personally:

"I can’t help seeing the current debate over NAFTA in the context of my own half century of work with the people of Canada and Latin America, an interest I shared with my late brother, Nelson. It seems ironic that many of the things we had hoped to witness in Latin America–and worked hard to accomplish–are threatened by a rejection of NAFTA by the U.S."

The Archvillain’s brother Nelson had toured Latin America at Nixon’s behest in the late ’60s and was greeted by riots in every city. At the time the Rockefellers owned a ranch in Venezuela five times the size of New York City and controlled Creole Petroleum.

The entire hemisphere, the Archvillain wrote in the WSJ, now has "a whole new vision of economic organization … This revolutionary process started with the profound economic transformation undertaken by Chile [under Pinochet]. It accelerated rapidly with Mexico’s decision to join the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade; to unilaterally reduce tariffs; and finally to work toward a radically new trading system with the signing of NAFTA. This not only brought Mexico into the game … it also held out the promise of extending the new trading system to the entire hemisphere." [Rockefeller used the word "revolutionary" four times and "radical" twice to describe the move towards One Big Market. No wonder the Birchers mistake him for a Communist!]

The Archvillain singled out some faithful lieutenants for special praise: George Bush, Carlos Salinas de Gortari ("a young, Harvard-educated economist"), the Peronist Menem in Argentina, Perez in Venezuela … Rockefeller must have wanted to credit Pinochet for turning around "the game" in Chile, but he refrained from doing so by name: "Under what were special circumstances, Chile had already moved in the direction of a market economy under the military government that replaced President Allende’s disastrous Marxist experiment in the early 1970s … " Rockefeller gloated that there was no longer opposition to privatization in Latin America: "Traditional ‘labor’ parties carried out the economic revolution because they felt that the changes being encouraged would result in economic growth and job creation …

"I never expected to see such a transformation in my lifetime. It would be a terrible pity to see such a historic opportunity pass by us now because of a failure on our part to ‘grasp the moment … ‘ I truly don’t think that ‘criminal’ would be too strong a word to describe an action on our part, such as rejecting NAFTA, that would so seriously jeopardize all the good that has been done –and remains to be done– to improve the lives and fortunes of so many people."

Rockefeller’s lifelong gopher, Henry Kissinger, weighed in at the same time with a piece in the LA Times calling NAFTA "the single most important decision that Congress would make during Mr. Clinton’s first term … . the most creative step toward a new world order taken by any group of countries since the end of the Cold War … not a conventional trade agreement but the architecture of a new international system."

Meanwhile, on the legal front, Public Citizen, the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth had sued the Bush Administration for not completing an environmental impact statement on NAFTA. On June 30, 1993, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Richey ruled that the White House did indeed have to complete an EIS before sending NAFTA to Congress. The Clinton Administration asked a U.S. appeals court to reverse the decision. Solicitor General Drew S. Days III argued that the Environmental Protection Act applies to federal ITAL agencies, END ITAL not to the president, who would be in charge of implementing NAFTA. (George W. Bush’s advisors didn’t invent the imperial presidency.) A three-judge panel overruled Richey and Clinton sent an implementing bill to Congress in November ‘93.

According to the NAM history, "Anti-NAFTA forces claimed they had enough votes to defeat the bill in the House, but as the House vote scheduled for November 17 approached, intense lobbying efforts by the White House and by the NAM and its members proved successful … In the end, the House approved NAFTA by a 234-200 vote."

The difference between the Democrats and the Republicans, some say, is that the Democrats do it to us with lubrication. Poppy Bush probably could not have forced NAFTA through Congress. It took the Clinton side agreements to slide it through.

Fred Gardner edits O'Shaughnessy's. He can be reached at fred@plebesite.co
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We should all support NAFTA renegotiation

Postby Oscar » Thu Mar 06, 2008 1:12 pm

We should all support NAFTA renegotiation

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/subscr ... 8857c.html

Frances Russell

Updated: March 5, 2008 at 02:55 AM CST

Canadians and Mexicans should pressure their governments to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement -- Canadians to regain control over energy and Mexicans to regain control over agricultural land.

Canadians and Mexicans and Americans should all support the NAFTA renegotiation proposed by Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The U.S. senators want to strengthen NAFTA's labour and environmental standards. But most importantly, they want to abolish NAFTA's nefarious Chapter 11 which allows private capital to trump democratic government.

Before NAFTA, private investors' grievances were adjudicated on a government-to-government basis. But NAFTA allows foreign capital to sue government directly.

And sue they have -- for tens of millions of dollars -- challenging the public's right to regulate the environment, culture, agriculture, natural resources, jobs and health and safety. As of Jan. 1, 2008, there have been 49 investor-state claims under NAFTA: 18 against Canada, 17 against Mexico and 14 against the U.S. So far, Canada has paid $27 million in damages and Mexico, $18.7 million. To date, investor claims against the U.S. have been dismissed.

Two cases provide a flavour. An Exxon-Mobil subsidiary is suing Newfoundland and Labrador for $40 million because the province demanded a fixed amount of local research and development. Chemtura Corp. is suing Canada for $100 million over the ban on its pesticide Lindane, a neurotoxin and suspected carcinogen.

NAFTA is "very much a relic of the Roaring Nineties," says Scott Sinclair, director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives' trade and investment research project. "That's another era now and it's just not an appropriate framework for managing the problems of the early 21st century. There is a growing recognition we need active democratic governments to protect the environment on issues like climate change and to deal with the growing inequality which again is a consequence of the patterns of trade that have developed under NAFTA and other trade agreements."

Sinclair points out Chapter 11 not only costs taxpayers but chills government from regulating in the first place.

NAFTA also plays an even greater -- but disguised -- role in this and other U.S. election campaigns. Illegal immigration, primarily from Mexico, is a major flashpoint in American politics. But Obama and Clinton have not connected illegal immigration to NAFTA's Mexican agricultural "clearances."

NAFTA forced Mexico to liberalize and corporatize its agriculture. U.S. agribusiness giants like Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland effectively pushed millions of small farmers off the land into the slums of Mexico City and finally to the U.S. border.

A Mexican government study reports the number of agricultural households plunged from 2.3 million in 1992 to 575,000 in 2002. Those woRandall King in the primary sector (forestry, hunting and fishing as well as agriculture) represented 26.8 per cent of the total woRandall King population of Mexico in 1991 but only 14.6 per cent in 2006.

"NAFTA negotiations took place without taking into consideration the views of Mexico's civil society," writes Americas Policy Program researcher Ana de Ita in Fourteen Years Of Nafta And The Tortilla Crisis. Mexico now imports most of its corn from the U.S. because its agricultural land grows fruit and vegetables for North American tables.

"So while agricultural and food exports from Mexico are concentrated in a small number of lavish products for the U.S. elites, Mexico has lost its ability to feed its population and has increased its dependency on the import of basic goods," de Ita continues.

In Canada, the Obama-Clinton NAFTA intervention has pulled our energy sellout into the light. To scare the Democrats away from touching NAFTA, the Harper government is warning Americans that their privileged access to our oil and gas could be disrupted, a bogus threat since this Alberta-centric government would never touch the Oil Patch's sacred cow.

NAFTA makes Canada's oil and gas America's oil and gas. Canada cannot reduce its exports to the U.S. unless it reduces its consumption by the same amount. Although Canada is obliged to secure the U.S. energy supply, it has no security of supply for 40 per cent of its population. Nor does it have an emergency strategic petroleum reserve. Canadian trade lawyer Steven Shrybman says "if we had any self-respect, we should have rescinded the deal a long time ago."

Richard Heinberg, educator and author of eight books including The Party's Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies, says NAFTA's "strange clause...formalizes Canada's status as a resource satellite of its imperial hub to the south." Meanwhile, an energy crunch in Canada is "fairly imminent.

"So Canada's energy security and global climate security are both held hostage by a provision within a trade agreement -- a provision that is unique in all the world's treaties," Heinberg continues in his Feb. 7 Energy Bulletin blog. "Canada has every reason to repudiate the proportionality clause, and to do so unilaterally and immediately."

The peoples of Canada, Mexico and the U.S. all have very good reasons to renegotiate NAFTA. But only in the U.S. are politicians even talking about it.
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