Aléna: un beau sapin!

NAFTA’s legacy: the worst agreement we ever signed

Special to Globe and Mail Update

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.

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