News Local

Roseneath man part of NAFTA meeting

By Valerie MacDonald, Northumberland Today

Rick Arnold of the Northumberland Chapter of the Council of Canadians is joining other Canadian citizens and legislators, as well as those from the U.S. and Mexico, at the Civil Society Summit in Ottawa this weekend – on the eve of the 3rd round of NAFTA negotiations taking place there. VALERIE MACDONALD Northumberland Today

Rick Arnold of the Northumberland Chapter of the Council of Canadians is joining other Canadian citizens and legislators, as well as those from the U.S. and Mexico, at the Civil Society Summit in Ottawa this weekend – on the eve of the 3rd round of NAFTA negotiations taking place there. VALERIE MACDONALD Northumberland Today

NORTHUMBERLAND - As Canada hosts the third round of NAFTA negotiations in Ottawa starting Friday, civil representatives, including a Roseneath man, are holding their own tri-nation summit in the nation's capital this weekend.

Rick Arnold is a member of the Northumberland Chapter of the Council of Canadian's trade committee.

He said he attended the first civil society summit (of private individuals, legislators and others) held in Mexico last May.

During this Friday's and Saturday's events, starting with public action on Parliament Hill Friday, members attending the panels and presentations will consider what the new NAFTA should and shouldn't do.

The overall theme is "Does NAFTA serve the public interest?," Arnold said in an interview Thursday.

The premise is that NAFTA isn't working and during the tri-nation negotiations between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, the trade agreement needs to be substantially changed. Some of the issues Arnold raised to support the is the loss of manufacturing jobs in Canada and the increased equality gap between Mexico and the U.S. and Canada over the past 23 years of the trade deal.

The local chapter of the Council of Canadians has sent a letter to Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland (dated Sept. 18) with a copy to local MP Kim Rudd whom they hope to meet with on Oct. 10 after a meeting scheduled with her this month had to be postponed, Arnold said. If the Canadian government and its partners push through and complete a new NAFTA by month's end that will be too late to have any impact through the local riding MP, he noted, so the letter has been sent instead.

It includes a list of things the new NAFTA deal should address:

1. Transparency through the entirety of the negotiations;

2. Protection of farmers and local control over food and farm policies;

3. Meaningful consultations with the general public, as well as consultations and consent from First Nations;

4. Removal of all references to water as a good, service or investment;

5. Removal of the controversial Chapter 11 investor-state provision, which promotes job offshoring and gives multinational corporations the power to sue the Canadian government before a tribunal of three corporate lawyers in Washington;

6. Put an end to NAFTA's energy proportionality rule and meet our Paris climate commitments;

7. A North American Auto Pact to ensure that each country receives a proportional share of employment and investment, and that workers have good jobs and fair wages;

8. Foster the expansion of public health care in all areas including Pharmacare;

9. Promote Buy Local policies; and

10. Ensure strong and enforceable labour and environmental standards, not the ineffective rules currently to be found in NAFTA."

National Council of Canadians chair Maude Barlow is referenced in the letter to the minister as saying "we see this as an opportunity to re-open NAFTA in a large sense. We will push the Trudeau government not just to sit at the table and react as (U.S. President Donald) Trump swings, but to come to the table with its own demands. (It's) time to go back to the drawing board."

The local Council of Canadians chapter wants an end to an agreement that it says is killing jobs and depressing wages for workers in Canada, Mexico and the U.S.

The letter to the minister concludes: "We ask that you take our suggestions to heart so that together with the peoples of Canada, Mexico and the U.S., we can forge a new and just trade agreement for North American, from the bottom up."

vmacdonald@postmedia.com

twitter.com/NT_vmacdonald