The legacy of NAFTA 20 years later... interview with MP Peter Julian

The Legacy of NAFTA

MP Peter Julian looks at

Peter Julian, the International Trade critic recently spoke at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Forum. The Conference was held to take a critical look at NAFTA Past, Present and Future Linking Agriculture, Development, and Migration.

a href="http://www.carnegieendowment.org/"=_blank">The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

According to Julian, the reality is that NAFTA has only served to make a handful of CEO's billionaires, while the real income, for two thirds of Canadian families has gone down.

In fact, some families have lost up to six weeks of income in order for Canada to be part of this agreement, and the policies that go with it.

The other reason for the trip was to compare how Mexico has also suffered from Free trade deals that have seen a loss of jobs rather than a benefit for the masses.

In Mexico, the PRD (Partido de la Revolucion Democritica ) led by López Obrador lost the 2006 presidency to the PAN’s Felipe Calderón by the smallest margin in Mexican history.

Obrador, then mobilized hundreds of thousands to carry out weeks of mass protests. He was claiming that electoral fraud had deprived him of the presidency under much controversy, similar to what we have seen between Al Gore and George Bush.

The result of that election, has changed the PRD party to now take a very strong stance against NAFTA.

a href="htttp://www.developmentgap.org/trade/The_Mexican_Economy_Six_Years_Into_NAFTA/"=_blank">The Mexican Economy: Six Years Into NAFTA

The most serious damage to the Mexican economy has been to rural farms due to the flood of cheap agricultural goods pushing out the local farmer. On January 1, 2008, Mexicans saw the last of the tariffs removed that were put into place to help the Mexican agricultural sector...

In the States, we are currently seeing the race for the Democratic leadership using NAFTA-gate as a platform for reworking the rules of NAFTA.

While the Canadian main stream media is eager to discuss the “NAFTA leak”, Julian would rather we focus on what these trade deals, largely been held in secrecy, have done to society in all three countries.

From the loss of our natural resources, to job losses, temp jobs, and sweat shop labour practices right here in Canada in the Tar Sands, it is the corporate agenda for more profits that is running the government, not the citizens of these countries.

We must fight to take back democracy in Canada, just like the many generations before us that fought long and hard to make Canada a country respected around the world.

Sadly, that respect has been drained away with the NAFTA trade deals that affect each individual in every country, but the public is not allowed to hear about how the deals and policies are constructed.

We have lost our public watchdog – the Press to Corporate takeovers. Local news is sparse, and has been replaced largely with car accidents, and car buying ads, filling the time slot that use to be news.

The public has no idea of what is going on unless they are tapped into the independent media.

Unfortunately, blogs of self importance and personal opinion have taken over the internet, making it harder than ever to find reliable sources of information and news from the streets.

Whenever a journalist attempts to write stories that give voice to those that are actively fighting to bring back accountability and democracy, anonymous bloggers attack anything they don't personally agree with. But how do these bloggers that refuse to give their real names, even know what message is the truth, when so much of the information they rely upon is corporately owned?

When the greater good, and the poorest in society are routinely ignored for the benefit of a few elites at the top, democracy, and the culture of a country die. (Jane Jacobs).

What is the sense of being an individual country, when Global policies focus on economic issues before the environment, and international companies own the resources and import labour from anywhere in the world, as long as it is good for profits?

The Tar Sands are an excellent example of how NAFTA thinking and deal making has taken tariffs and laws out of the hands of the citizens of the very country supplying the resources

In Hamilton, the ownership of both Steel plants now sits with who ever has the money to buy up ownership and control. There is no local responsibility for the increased pollution that has emitted out of these foundries, since the a ArcelorMittel buy out. How can citizens protect themselves from increased pollution when Provincial and Federal governments, may find themselves being sued for a “possible” loss of business, if they try to force restrictions upon these, now internationally owned industries.

Recently we have seen something that Dofasco has long taken pride in not having, a union. But are these new Unions strong enough to have a place on the Global stage?

a href="http://www.thespec.com/article/344375"=_blank">A tough union sell at Dofasco

How do you keep control of the jobs and the environment, when the company your now dealing with has CEO's on the other side of the Globe?

Canada is now finding itself being battered about like any other "3rd" world country.

That's the legacy of NAFTA.

Maggie Hughes Producer/Host

"the Other Side" 93.3 cfmu-fm radio

Hamilton