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View Paul Manly Profile
GP (BC)
View Paul Manly Profile
2019-06-19 17:25 [p.29417]
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to stand here today and engage in the debate on NAFTA.
Many of my constituents in Nanaimo—Ladysmith will know that I am very passionate about trade issues and concerned about international trade and investment agreements.
First of all, I want to say that the Green Party of Canada supports trade. We think it is a vital part of our economy. However, what we want to see in trade agreements is respect for environmental regulations, labour standards, health and safety standards, and consumer protections. These things should be increased in trade agreements, the way that the European Union does. Countries that enter the European Union must increase their standards and regulations to meet the highest standards in the union. We think that those kinds of approaches to international trade are important.
About 15 years ago, I was focused on a lot of local issues and worked on films about local water. Somebody had asked me if I knew anything about the Security and Prosperity Partnership, the SPP, and I did not. Therefore, I went off to Ottawa to go to the people summit and learn about the SPP.
I went to Montebello to document the protests that were happening there, and I happened to videotape three police officers who were dressed as radicals with masks on who were attacking their own riot squad. They were unmasked in the process, and all of their boots matched with those of the riot squad. This raised questions for me about why the police would be involved in this kind of incitement, and I have footage of them banging rocks into shields, etc. I wondered why they would be involved in this kind of incitement at a peaceful protest, and they were later proven to be police officers.
I became interested in the Security and Prosperity Partnership and started to dig in. What I found was that in this process there was a deep integration of Canada, the United States and Mexico as part of a fortress North America after 9/11. It also included integration of our regulatory standards. I looked into who was negotiating on behalf of Canada for these regulatory standards. There were 20 corporations for each of three countries, Mexico, the United States and Canada. There were some great Canadian corporations representing Canada in this negotiation process, such as Home Depot Canada, Walmart Canada, Chevron Canada and Ford Canada.
I started to study trade agreements a little more and found that there really was no involvement of civil society in these agreements. These were corporate agreements. Therefore, I really appreciate in this new version of NAFTA that the government has involved labour organizations and environmental organizations as part of the negotiating process, and I see that as progress. This is what we need to be doing in our negotiations on international trade and investment. They cannot just be secretive processes where only the corporations and the bureaucrats are involved. We need people who represent consumers, workers and environmentalists so that we have a fair process that can look at all aspects of trade and make sure that our regulations and standards are protected.
One of the others things I learned working on this film was about investor-state dispute settlements. Chapter 11 in NAFTA was the first time that a developed country had signed on to this process. It was something that the Europeans had used with their former colonial states to kind of keep corporate control over mineral extraction, etc. However, when I looked into Chapter 11, there were cases such as Ethyl Corporation, which got $5 million when Canada blocked the use of MMT, an additive that was a neurotoxin in gasoline. Ethyl Corporation said that it was an unfair trade practice to ban it. There are also things in these investment chapters such as indirect expropriation, and we all know what expropriation is; national treatment; as well as most favoured nation status. These are all things that are used by corporations to challenge our laws and policies. Therefore, I was really happy to see that the investor-state dispute settlement was taken out of the new NAFTA.
Let us look at cases like Bilcon, where a foreign corporation is challenging our environmental assessment process and getting $7 million for doing nothing. It is not a process that makes sense. We see this used as a big stick by mining companies to get developed countries to accept mining and extraction projects.
We need to do something about softwood lumber. That is an important issue in my community.
I am also concerned about the extension of patents for pharmaceuticals from eight years to 10 years for biologics and how that will affect the cost of drugs. We see many people, seniors in particular, who are having to make decisions about what they spend their money on: rent, food or pharmaceuticals.
Article 22, the state-owned chapter, has a carve-out for the Trans Mountain expansion project. That is a concern for me as well.
View Paul Manly Profile
GP (BC)
View Paul Manly Profile
2019-06-19 20:45 [p.29435]
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand again to speak to the new NAFTA. I appreciate the Liberal Party giving me some time to speak about this.
When I left off, I was talking about investor-state dispute settlement and my appreciation that this part of NAFTA was removed. I know it will take three years for it to be completely removed and that some corporations will still be able to use that provision against Canadian laws and policies that get in the way of their profits.
I think it is time to get rid of investor-state provisions in all our trade agreements. It is undemocratic, and it undermines our sovereignty. As we have seen in many cases, such as in Bilcon v. Canada, three arbitration lawyers, whose only interest is keeping the system going, sit in a room and make decisions on our environmental assessment process.
In Bilcon v. Canada, there was a proposed quarry at Digby Neck. The community came out and experts came out and talked about the problems with the quarry. It was an area where the endangered North Atlantic right whales had their calving grounds. There was tourism for whale watching. There was lobster fishing. The community did not want the quarry. When the environmental assessment review panel ruled against Bilcon, after years of environmental assessments, Bilcon was able to take the dispute to a NAFTA panel. Bilcon wanted $470 million. It walked away with $7 million. That is outrageous. Using these kinds of processes to challenge our laws and policies is antithetical to democracy.
Investor-state provisions are being used in developing countries to force through extraction projects or to make developing countries pay through the nose.
A good example of this is Crystallex, a Canadian mining development company. It challenged Venezuela using investor-state provisions after Venezuela decided, on behalf of its indigenous population, that the Crystallex mine would not be in the interest of the indigenous population. It was a threat to the environment. Tenor Capital paid for the arbitration lawyers and invested $30 million. Crystallex ended up getting $1.2 billion in a settlement in this investor-state dispute, and Tenor Capital walked away with a 1,000% return, or $300 million. It is obscene.
I could give members example after example of these kinds of situations. I am glad this is out of NAFTA.
I am also glad to see that the proportionality clause is gone. Under this clause, we had to continue to export the same amount of energy to the United States, on average, as we had in the previous three years.
However, as I was saying earlier, there are a few things that disappoint me about the new NAFTA.
First is the extension of biological patents for pharmaceutical drugs. This is important for products like insulin and for people who have Crohn's disease. People are already struggling with the cost of pharmaceutical drugs. We need drug costs to come down. We must have a national pharmacare program rather than more money for big pharma.
Second is article 22, the carve-out for the Trans Mountain expansion. It looks to me as though it will continue to be a state-owned corporation, which is concerning.
Third is having bovine growth hormone in the American milk and dairy products we will import.
I am thankful for the opportunity to speak to the bill.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2017-02-06 17:43 [p.8526]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise again in this place to speak to the concerns I have about Bill C-30, legislation to enact the comprehensive economic and trade agreement between Canada and the European Union.
There are a number of fallacies that have come up in the debate today, and I will try to address those. They relate, by the way, to the investor-state provisions, which I believe to be the key and most unacceptable part of the trade agreement. However, I want to make sure I do not skip over the other concerns that have been raised by many in Canada and in the European Union.
One is that this trade agreement will absolutely make pharmaceutical drugs cost more in Canada. There is no question about this. By giving greater patent protection, it will postpone the moment when drugs go to generic form, when they become much more affordable. The estimates are that it will increase the cost of pharmaceutical drugs anywhere between $800 million and $1.6 billion.
Let me give the reasons why. This is what the comprehensive economic and trade agreement commits to and that Bill C-30 would implement. It would commit Canada to creating a new system of patent term restoration that would delay the entry of generic medicines by up to two years. It would lock in Canada's current terms of data protection, making it difficult or impossible for future governments to reverse them, and it would implement a new right of appeal under the patent linkage system that would create further delays for the entry of generics.
If this trade agreement is in the interest of big pharma, the pharmaceutical industry, which I would have to mention is an economic sector that does not need a handout, can we accept that the prescription drug business, the pharmaceutical industry globally, does very well for itself and does not necessarily do well for those who need life-saving drugs?
This relates to the debates we have had in this place about the need for pharmacare and a national pharmacare program. It is even in the mandate letter to our Minister of Health to pursue bulk purchasing of prescription drugs to try to bring down the price to the level we could get if we had a national pharmacare plan, when all prescription medication could be purchased centrally to try to drive down the cost.
The reality is that the single largest growing cost within our health care system is the cost of prescription drugs. I want to reference the hard work of my hon. colleague from Oakville, Terrence Young, who lost his seat in the last election. His daughter died from taking a drug, as prescribed by her physician. Her name was Vanessa, and in the last Parliament, we passed Vanessa's Law.
It is very clear that the drug industry charges more than what it costs to produce a drug, because it can. This is the last sector on Earth we should be wanting to give yet more advantages to make the price of drugs go higher.
At the same time, litigation relating to pharmaceuticals, the notice of compliance proceedings dealing with full patent infringement, has been termed by Canadian Lawyer magazine as streamlining litigation, again, to the benefit of the pharmaceutical industry. It has a very effective lobby. Hats off to the pharmaceutical industry in Europe and in Canada for getting its own way under this agreement, but that does not mean it is in the interests of Canadians.
I am also very concerned, as is the Green Party, about the protection of procurement. This has to do with the rights of municipalities and other government sectors to say that they want the right to choose where they procure their products. They want to say that it is okay to preference their local suppliers. That will not be possible under CETA.
We also know that the way this agreement is structured around intellectual property leaves a lot to be desired and does not adequately protect Canadian companies in the large, more predatory global marketplace.
Getting to the misconceptions, one was, I thought, rather unexpected in this debate. Just to put it to rest, I heard a number of Conservative MPs use this debate on the comprehensive economic and trade agreement with the European Union to rail against having a carbon price. This was a very unusual place to make that argument, since the European Union has carbon prices. Why, in a debate on CETA, would we hear distorted arguments about the economic impact of putting a carbon price in place? It is rather the contrary. If Canada does not put a carbon price in place, we might find ourselves at the other end of discriminatory tariffs brought forward by the European Union, because they have done so, and they want trading partners to do so as well.
Other fallacies have to do with the way in which we characterize investor-state dispute resolution. It is very important that we distinguish and differentiate between terms of trade agreements to resolve disputes over trade. We have those in NAFTA. We have those in CETA. We have those at the WTO. When there is a dispute over a tariff or an alleged subsidy, there is a dispute process that resolves trade disputes. The investor-state provisions are not those. Investor-state provisions have nothing to do with resolving trade disputes. That may seem counterintuitive, but let me back up. Trade dispute mechanisms within treaties are state-to-state. If Canada has a problem with Belgium, or Poland has a problem with Canada, the investor-state dispute resolution is entirely different.
If we go ahead with CETA, it would give a Polish company the right to sue Canada if any government, state, provincial, municipal, first nations, or a court decision, made a decision that interfered with that corporation's expectation of profits. Therefore, it is not state to state, as it would be in a trade dispute. It is corporation to government.
Let us use a real life example from my home province. The people of Kamloops, B.C. are busy fighting a proposal for a large open-pit mine within the town limits. It is called the Ajax mine. It is being proposed by a Polish state-owned enterprise. Kamloops is a mining community with other mines. It is not as if it is against mines, but the majority of people in Kamloops do not want an open-pit mine in the town limits. If CETA is not in place and the Government of British Columbia decides it will not go ahead with an open-pit mine, that is the end of the story. B.C. can make a decision and Kamloops can make a decision. However, with CETA in place, it would not be the end of the story. The Polish mining company, Ajax mine, could do what Bilcon from New Jersey did under chapter 11 of NAFTA. When its open-pit mine on Digby Neck, Nova Scotia was turned down by the Conservative government of Nova Scotia and the Conservative government federally, under the previous environment minister, John Baird, Bilcon went for a secret tribunal under chapter 11 of NAFTA and sued us for $300 million. Did it allege we were wrong on the science? No. Did it say this was a secret protectionist move to protect trade in Canada? No. It just said it did not think the environmental assessment process was fair to it.
Ajax, the Polish mining company, would have the right to bring secret arbitration cases. The one thing that is different under CETA is the process would not be a secret. There would be an investment court. However, there would be no room at the table to have litigants representing the public interest. No environmental group would be allowed before the so-called investment court to argue this was a reasonable decision that our government made.
Therefore, the presence of these agreements really needs to be much better understood, investor-state agreements, the chapter 11s or sometimes called FIPA, the foreign investor protection agreement, such as the one Prime Minister Harper secretly passed in cabinet, which binds Canada to the year 2045, so the People's Republic of China has the right to sue Canada and we cannot get out of it until 2045.
These agreements need to be better understood as fundamentally corrosive to democracy. They do not belong in trade treaties. They have nothing to do with advancing trade. They are all about reducing the power of sovereign government and increasing the power of transnational corporations. That is why I will be voting against Bill C-30.
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