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When the full text of CETA was released in February 2016, we all thoroughly analyzed the deal. Each of us came to the conclusion that it wasn't a good deal for workers, so together we set to work to find areas where we could either block the deal or change it in a way that would protect workers' and citizens' interests in Canada and Europe.
After months of anti-trade rhetoric from the next American president, Donald Trump, Canada must ensure that our trade deals are respected, and push for even more free trade between our two countries. Free trade -- and NAFTA in particular -- has been so beneficial to both Canada and the U.S. that common sense will have to prevail.
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There are lessons for the New Democratic Party and the Canadian Labour Congress in the stunning defeat of Hillary Clinton. The NDP should grow a backbone and learn to more vigorously fight trade agreements such as the CETA and TPP because workers in this country are suffering just as much as their American counterparts.
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The bottom line is that Canada now appears as the only 'adult' in the room when it comes to global trade negotiations. Should the U.S. continue to fail and flail in its attempts to bring the TPP to a vote, that comparative distinction will carry through to Asian countries looking to pick up the pieces of a failed TPP and gain access to the NAFTA market.
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The notion that free trade equals exporting jobs is an easy sell with many American voters. The reality -- that jobs rely on complex supply chain relationships to keep North America competitive in the face of global competition -- is definitely not as catchy.
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Trade is not something we are afraid of. It is not something we oppose. But we are afraid of the sorts of rules contained within trade agreements that establish more rights for corporations. Agreements like CETA and the TPP are pushing the world in the wrong direction.
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In many countries, there is a debate over how much power we give to corporations. And it is boosting populist right-wing parties and left-wing parties that are against trade. In Europe, many of the right-wing parties are opposing free trade agreements. At the same time, from the left of the spectrum, voices such as Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn are also targeting free trade.
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By announcing changes Monday to what we had been told was a done deal, Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland has acknowledge that a trade agreement can, in fact, be modified in the face of massive public opposition and mobilization.
After attending public town halls, participating in over 70 meetings and round tables, and receiving feedback from thousands of Canadians who have written to me, it is clear that many feel the TPP presents significant opportunities, while others have concerns.
Should Canada not ratify the agreement now and decide to try and join later, it's doubtful that any of the probably hundreds of exemptions and carve-outs that it currently has would be offered again. In other words, if you don't like this version of the TPP you'll be less happy with what we would get later.
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Stephen Harper is not telling the full story. He just wants to win the election. And once supply management is dead, how long will our producers be able to count on subsidies from a government committed to balancing the budget by making cuts?
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Canada used to excel at industrial strategy, but now we are satisfied with trade, and any type of trade will do. That hands-off mentality, which is at the heart of global trade deals like the recently concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), goes some way to explaining why Canada's trade deficits are growing, faster with free-trade partners than other countries, and the job intensity of our exports is declining.
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This will be the first generation of Canadians in our history to be worse off than their parents. That blunt fact is the new reality of our country, where seven per cent of workers are officially jobless (and much more if hidden unemployment is included) and youth unemployment stands at over 13 per cent. And that reality is a direct result of the policies and actions of this Conservative government and the Mulroney government that came before it. Friday's headlines point to the 26,000 auto parts jobs at risk as Harper drives ahead to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations have attracted considerable attention in Canada in recent weeks as the political consequences of dismantling agricultural protections loom large with a national elections scheduled for the fall.
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Canada designated Latin America as a foreign policy priority in 2007, but its record to date has been narrowly focused on the pursuit of free trade agreements at the expense of deeper engagement on crucial issues such as decent employment, sustainable economic development, citizen security, corporate accountability, democratic governance, and human rights.
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.
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By design, free trade agreements tear down the protectionist walls propping up status quo producers. However, even those producers -- at least those who reform, will also find a newfound ability to thrive given increased access to markets with tens of millions, or hundreds of millions, of potential new customers. All of this benefits consumers, most obviously when expensive tariffs on their choices, from Korean cars to Canadian beef, are eliminated.
Focusing only on the cost increases associated with stronger (but still lagging) intellectual property protection for pharmaceutical innovators is simplistic and wrong. It is the balance of these costs and benefits that are the ultimate determinant of whether or not Canadians are better off, not just the post-2023 increase in drug costs to provincial governments, patients, and insurers.
What we know about the proposed free trade deal with Europe announced "in-principle" just over a week ago comes to us through leaks and press releases from those generally in favour of the deal. And, already there's reason for concern. The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) will no doubt contain some good and bad things for Canadians worried about the security of their jobs or the opportunities for them or their children to find meaningful employment. Any trade deal would. What we don't know, and can't know until we see the entire text of the deal, is how the two balance.
In the recent throne speech, the federal government announced a variety of initiatives but the one that drew much attention was its ostensible consumer-friendly tack. To help consumers, especially those with the lowest incomes, the federal government doesn't need to micro-manage airline tickets. It could instead focus on the big picture.
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