Thursday, April 27, 2006

Do We Really Still Have A Valid NAFTA Agreement Anymore?

Canada, U.S. agree to softwood lumber deal
says the CBC headline. But read the fine print. 'Certain Canadian export restrictions will kick in. Producers would have to pay an export tax of five per cent if there's a small drop in price. If it's a larger drop, they would have to pay as much as 15 per cent. Exporters who don't want to pay the tax will have to limit their volume of exports.' Finally we only get $4 of the $5 billion the U.S. collected in duty back!

OK, so how is this free trade? Are we missing something or did Canadians essentially lose on this dispute agreement and did the U.S. actually win despite all the rulings that said we were in the right on this dispute? I thought NAFTA was supposed to be an agreement to end these types of darn ad-hoc sidebar agreements and countervailing duties! Nothing substantially has changed. What good is NAFTA to Canada any more if its not worth the paper its written on?

Canoe reports that the opposition parties quickly attacked the deal. NDP Leader Jack Layton called it a "sellout," and Liberal Leader Bill Graham sarcastically said it was "a great day - for the American industry." Not a real resounding endorsement from our own B.C. Forests Minister Rich Coleman who said a deal this complex is full of tradeoffs. "You have enthusiasm in some sectors, you have ambivalence in others and you've got some people who are just sort of heaving a sigh of relief and saying we've finally got this done and now we can work within a deal for stability," he said.

Why are we all celebrating, especially our Harper Conservative Government, if this is no longer free trade as per the North American Free Trade Agreement Mulroney's Conservatives signed? The bigger question is what more did PM Harper negotiate away that has not yet been revealed? Is our energy next? What about our water?

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