Mr. Speaker, today I am presenting amendments to Bill C-79. The Green Party is naturally opposed to agreements that are designed to protect the rights of investors and big foreign corporations.
On that, I am proud to say that we are the only party in the House that has consistently and always opposed investor-state dispute resolution agreements in every trade deal that has come through here.
I want to thank the hon. member for Essex for her work on this as well. It is very clear that the New Democratic Party does oppose investor-state agreements in the context of the CPTPP. In that, we were only joined by the Bloc Québécois today in objecting to shortening the debate. Even though the NDP, the third party in this place, was prepared to bend and allow a shortened debate, its amendment, which was rejected in this place, would have allowed debate that went for five hours as opposed to being shortened to almost no hours. It was amazing to me that the compromise position of the NDP was not accepted and that the large parties in this place, the Liberals and Conservatives, were all too quick to rush this bill to conclusion.
The trans-Pacific partnership, which we are entering into in this rushed fashion, has been refashioned as the comprehensive and progressive trans-Pacific partnership agreement, but it is very clear that it is not progressive, and it may not even be comprehensive.
I want to focus initially, as others have in this place, on what we celebrate, and I do want to be clear that I celebrate the achievements that were just achieved in replacing NAFTA with what has now been rebranded, Trump style, the USMCA. However, parts of the USMCA remain troubling. I should mention what they are. There is the erosion of supply management that protects not only our dairy farmers but other protected agricultural sectors. It presents a threat to human health in Canada if dairy products contaminated with bovine growth hormone are allowed to enter our marketplace. We remain concerned about the USMCA giving longer patent protection to pharmaceutical companies, thus driving up drug costs. We remain concerned about other sectors that are impacted by the new USMCA. However, we are relieved that the auto sector will survive this. We are relieved that many other sectors have not been negatively impacted as much as Trump had threatened.
The big good news out of the USMCA is what the Prime Minister mentioned earlier today, which happens, ironically, to be the subject matter of the amendments I argue in this place today. What the Prime Minister celebrated today, and I could not be more overjoyed, and “overjoyed” is the word to use, was the end of chapter 11 in NAFTA.
Chapter 11 was the world's first investor-state dispute mechanism. It was the debut of a concept that is so inherently anti-democratic that it is astonishing how it has managed to creep into nearly every trade agreement Canada has signed since. Now, essentially, the grandfather of all investor-state dispute resolutions is gone, but the illegitimate progeny continue to contaminate democracies around the world.
I will never forget how Steve Schreibman, a noted trade lawyer in Canada, described ISDS when he was fighting for intervenor status on behalf of Sierra Club Canada in one of the many chapter 11 cases that we ultimately lost. It was the one brought by S.D. Myers of Ohio, which claimed, believe it or not, that it was an investor in Canada, although it had never actually built anything here. It claimed that its rights had been infringed, because Canada banned the export of PCB-contaminated waste. We lost that case. Members may not believe it, but at the time an investor-state dispute resolution panel ruled that Canada had violated chapter 11 by banning the export of PCB-contaminated waste to the U.S., it was illegal under U.S. law to allow its importation. In this area of trade law, the only precedent to help figure it out is to reread Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, because none of it has ever made any sense.
I was about to quote Steven Schreibman in that case. He said that chapter 11 investor state dispute mechanisms are “fundamentally corrosive of democracy”.
Here we are in this place celebrating today, and I do celebrate. I want to thank, on the record, the Minister of Global Affairs for her extraordinary work in bringing through a concluded agreement with an administration as incoherent and unpredictable as the one that currently occupies the White House. Regardless of political stripe, Canadians should celebrate that. We have much more in common as Canadians than differences with those trying to score political points against the government for managing to navigate anything in the topsy-turvy world one encounters when dealing with the President of the United States.
We celebrate this big achievement that chapter 11 of NAFTA is gone. Why, then, are we inserting chapter 9 in the CPTPP, which does the same thing, but with different countries? With the advent of CPTPP, if we pass Bill C-79 as it is without accepting my amendment, we will now be subject to the same corporate rule, where foreign corporations from Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico—we already had a Mexico ISDS under NAFTA—New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam have superior rights to domestic corporations.
There is another truth that must be told about these agreements, because, really, Canada is not at risk from TPP investor-dispute mechanisms from Chile, Mexico or Vietnam. I say that because there is a pattern. Here is the pattern, which we know from hundreds of cases reviewed by two major European Union think tanks, the Corporate Europe Observatory and the Transnational Institute. They looked at hundreds of these cases that allow foreign corporations to sue domestic governments. Was there a pattern? Do governments tend to win? Do corporations tend to win? That is not the pattern one finds, but there is a pattern: the larger economic power always wins.
When Philip Morris, a U.S. corporation, decided to sue Uruguay because it dared to put health warnings on cigarette labels, Uruguay was going to lose, and it did. When it is a U.S. corporation, such as Ethyl Corporation, SDMyers, AbitibiBowater or Bilcon, the very worst case, the U.S. corporation will win and Canada will lose.
Canadian corporations, on the other hand, trying to sue in the U.S. nearly always lose, because we are a smaller economic power. That is why it is extraordinary that it was the U.S. that wanted to remove this agreement and Canada that used it. I hope we were using it the whole time, holding it back knowing it was a bargaining chip we were prepared to play, but we should never have fought to hang on to chapter 11 of NAFTA. It is so deeply offensive.
Here is the evidence. “Profiting from injustice” is the name of the study, and the subtitle is “How law firms, arbitrators and financiers are fuelling an investment arbitration boom” and gaining enormously financially. It is basically, like the words used earlier in this place in a different context, ambulance chasing. Basically, law firms, arbitrators, financiers and individual lawyers have made out like bandits on chapter 11 cases and other ISD cases. The arbitrators are for-hire judges. There is no court. They are individual lawyers who are arbitrators, who, in the same firms, often represent corporations suing countries. There is no justification for leaving this in the CPTPP.
We have another precedent besides removing it from NAFTA, and that is that in the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the EU, individual countries have opted out of ISDS while still joining in the overall trade deal.
Investor-state dispute resolutions are anti-democratic. They have nothing to do with trade and everything to do with transferring democratic rights to corporations. We should pass my amendment, please, and take ISDS out of the CPTPP.