Vive Le Canada

NAFTA according to BC Standing Committee of MLAs in 1993 & other stuff
Date: Friday, December 19 2003

I got from my university library the following books/etc to read over the holidays:

1. Canada Under Free Trade - Duncan Cameron (ed)
FC630 C3575

2. The Free Trade Papers - Duncan Cameron (ed)
HF1733 C3U5827

3. The Free Trade Deal - Duncan Cameron (ed)
HF 1766 F734

4. The North American Free-Trade Agreement, 1st/2nd reports from the Select Standing Committee on Economic Development, Science, Labour, Training & Technology. (a couple dozen BC MLAs in 1993 studying the effects the NAFTA wil have on BC & Canada)
J110 K6N6 1993/1993a

The Standing Committee was created after a motion by Moe Sihota on behalf of the Minister of Economic Development, Small Business & Trade. It was an NDP government at the time & the Premier was Mike Harcourt. There are too many witnesses (people from industry/unions/business who talked to the committee) to list here but some (or their organisations) are: Maude Barlow, the Fraser Institute, Raging Grannies, Profs of Poli Sci or Economics, MPs, BC Federation of Labour, West Coast Environmental Law Association, End Legislated Poverty, Concerned Citizens for Aboriginal Rights, & others.

Here is a sum-up from the 1st report:
- they criticised the federal government for invoking closure after literally only a total of 4 hours of debate in the House of Commons

- they didn't like how other countries could join the NAFTA even without our agreement

- the NAFTA dispute-resolution mechanism could not effectively end harrassment because there's no requirement to negotiate fair trade laws

- Canada may have to lower environmental standards to remain competive with the USA & Mexico

- they didn't like how we would have to export water or any other resource even if we had a shortage

- rep from Dairyworld (western Canada's largest dairy producer at the time, I don't know if it still exists hehe) said NAFTA sets aside the dairy industry in favour of resolution of issues in that sector through GATT, rep from Telecommunications Workers Union said deregulation of telephone industry will occur de facto of the NAFTA, reps from the Health Sciences Association said the health system is threatened by classifying it as commercial services requiring national treatment for US companies

2nd report sum-up:
- "Your committee recommends that the Province of BC urge the federal government not to proclaim the NAFTA implementation legislation pending a federal election, wherein a full public debate on the NAFTA and its implications for BC & Canada can take place"

- "Your committee recommends that the Government of BC take those steps necessary to ensure that the NAFTA does not restrict the Province of BC's ability to implement public policy in areas of primary provincial jurisdiction"

- "Your committe recommends that the government of BC, pursuant to annex I of the NAFTA, submit a reservations list which, in the areas of investment, cross-border trade in services & financial services, constitutes as comprehensive a representation of existing policy & legislation as possible. Further, your committee recommends that the government of BC take all steps necessary to ensure that the Government of Canada accepts these reservations without amendment"

- both supporters & detractors of the NAFTA stood together in saying that it will limit provinces to diversify & develop local & regional economies as illustrated by a dialogue between a committee member & a rep from the BC Business Council (!!)

- "Your committee recommends that the Province of BC continue to develop its substantial & growing trading relationship with the Pacific Rim & other national & undertake measures to ensure that the NAFTA does not undermine this valued relationship"

- "Your committee recommends that the Province of BC continue to offer constructive criticism of the current dispute resolution process, particularily in the absence of negotiations on new, common, rules of trade. Your committee recommends also that the Province of BC actively oppose the decisions of bi-national dispute resolution panels which undermine BC's domestic log processing requirments"

- "Your committee recommends that the Government of Canada submit the NAFTA to the federal Environment Assessment Review Process (EARP) in recognition that this federal government undertaking has significant implications for Canada's environment"

- "Your committee recommends that the Province of BC urge the Government of Canada to reintroduce federal legislation to restrict the export of water from Canada. Your committee further recommends that BC pursue a proactive regime for the conservation and management of BC's fresh water"

- "Your committee recommends that BC take the policy steps necessary to ensure that BC is not adversely affected from proportional-sharing obligations as set out in the NAFTA"

- "Your committee recommends that the Province of BC undertake policy initiatives to ensure that the BC forest products industry has the right of first refusal with respect to the export of forest products" [comment: does MacMillan-Bloedel count as a forest product? that got exported to the USA!!]

- "Your committee recommends that the Province of BC enact legislation similar in pronciple and effect to the US Fishery Conservation & Management (Magnusson) Act 1976, the New Brunswick Fish Processing Act 1982, the Nova Scotia Fisheries Act 1987, the PEI Fish Inspection Act 1988 & the Processing Act 1987 which ensures that BC is able to restrict the export of unprocessed fish to that which exceeds the domestic fish processing industry's needs"

Questions they posed for discussion (with hindsight I don't hink any of these questions are hard to answer):
1. Will the NAFTA affect the powers of the provinces to legislate in their designated policy areas?

2. Does the NAFTA make Canada a member of a "North American Community" similar to Europe?

3. Will signing NAFTA mean that our supply management systems in agriculture will be phased out?

4. Will Canada have to lower its environmental standards to compete with Mexico & the USA?

5. Should BC be able to prohibit or restrict bulk water exports to the USA & Mexico? Will BC be able to do so under the NAFTA?

6. If Canada does not participate in the NAFTA will we be subject to a "hub & spoke" trade relationship with the USA & other NA countries?

7. Does NAFTA prevent Canada from restricting its exports of oil & gas?

8. Will consumer goods be cheaper under the NAFTA?

9. What are the benefits and disadvantages of agreeing to treat US & Mexican individuals and corporations as Canadian nationals?

10. Is the dispute resolution panel's function weakened by the absence of the FTA's requirement for parties to negotiate a subsidy code & new trade remedy laws?

11. Could Canada's membership in a North American trading bloc inhibit our opportunities to expand & enhance our relations with other trading partners?

12. What is the likely impact of the NAFTA on BC's ability to compete in: the forestry value-added sector, electronics & applied technology, BC's inland & coastal fishery, vegetable & food processing industries, attracting foreign investments in production to serve the North American market?

13. Would there be benefit in the parties agreeing to an enforceable mechanism the provides for an upward harmonization of environmental and labour standards? Does the potential for an international body to determine these questions pose a threat to Canadian jurisdictional sovereignty?

(sorry if there are any typos, I tried to fix them but I was in a hurry to get to an exam. :) )

This article comes from Vive Le Canada

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