Countries pledging to take serious action on climate change are also party to, or are aggressively negotiating, trade and investment deals that contain a mechanism that gives large corporations the right to challenge any changes to the current rules under which they operate -- be they environmental, health or human rights -- that negatively affect corporations' bottom line. ISDS essentially grants corporations equal status to governments in these negotiations and privatizes the dispute settlement system between nations.
Trade negotiations are growing in importance as developed and developing countries alike increasingly realize that protectionism is not a path to prosperity. Federalism poses challenges for our trade negotiations that are exacerbated by elections at both levels of government in Canada, and among our trading partners. The electoral clock is also ticking on Japanese Diet elections next summer and on U.S. presidential and congressional elections next fall. If the machinery of trade talks ground to a halt every time an election approached, there would be no trade agreements at all -- which is, perhaps, what some people desire.
We Canadians are writing to you, the Socialists, New European Left, and Greens, because you have the power to stop these dangerous trade deals. With this type of trade agreement, we have a choice: Do we accept rising inequality, unchecked corporate power, and lowered social and environmental standards, allowing the one per cent to become richer at our expense, or do we draw a line in the sand?
Canada's trade minister Ed Fast believes that the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) does not need to be renegotiated to address growing European concern about its investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provision. We can hope that this intransigence could be the undoing of CETA in Europe.
Berlin -- Yesterday, Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, challenged the Canada-European Union Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) and other trade deals in a panel discussion with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. During the panel, Chancellor Merkel presented her G7 presidency priorities.
A weaker Canadian dollar poses a threat to imported inputs to Canada's production machine, and to future Canadian investments abroad. But the soaring U.S. dollar isn't the only currency in play. Movements in other currencies are less dramatic. Perhaps this is an opportunity to scan the globe both for inputs to our production process and for direct investment undertakings in less-traditional markets.
German chancellor Angela Merkel will be in Ottawa for a visit on Monday, but she may not be bringing the news Stephen Harper wants to hear when it comes to the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). That's because the German government wants to re-open CETA and amend the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism. This controversial provision allows a transnational corporation to sue a national government that passes public interest or environmental legislation that impacts their future profits.
In the midst of this new day of free trade between nations, it is precisely the right time to take a close look at our own back yard, and frankly, it needs some work -- particularly given the renewed discussion back home in Canada regarding the difficulty of doing business from one Canadian province to another.
Policies that restrict competition ultimately act to the detriment of Canadian firms and their workers. Free trade agreements like CETA open new markets for Canadian companies, but also force them to compete against foreign entities at home. It is that competition that spurs innovation and productivity.
So while Europe is undoubtedly a good trade partner, the question is: have the Conservatives negotiated a good deal for Canada? The answer is we can't say until we see the actual deal. Just as most Canadians wouldn't sign a major contract without reading and understanding it first, New Democrats won't support or oppose a trade agreement that we haven't seen.