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Elizabeth May: Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act

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Published on Mar 19, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak on the subject of free trade, particularly in the context of globalization. Now, after the creation of the World Trade Organization, we have a situation that is completely different from what it was before the creation of the WTO.

As always, the models for free trade are based on the NAFTA principles and not on the principles of other agreements that would, in my opinion, produce more benefits for the environment and for all societies.

There are specific issues relating to Jordan with this trade agreement. I would like to preface that with a review of how we came to where we are in terms of where Canada's interests lie as a society, not merely our trade in goods. All of these debates usually rest on the notion that if members have questions about new trade agreements, they are against trade with another nation. I remember a venerable senator who had been minister of agriculture for many years commented that trade is not new, what was Marco Polo doing. We certainly have had trade for a very long time. No one is against trade.

In the context of global trade, we have seen a remarkable transition. We used to live in a world of tariff barriers that allowed the Canadian economy to grow to be as strong as it is now. After the Second World War tariff barriers were targeted and we began to see them coming down. The efforts to say that one country must not discriminate against another began to swing the pendulum in the opposite direction to what we had seen before the Second World War.

These efforts led to the creation of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. In the first instance, the GATT was quite restrictive in terms of focusing on trade in goods, which is what most Canadians understand we mean when we talk about trade agreements: trade in goods, our ability to buy and sell, the ability of our neighbours to buy and sell to us. This trade in goods is something that has been handled by the GATT for a very long time.

Things changed substantially in the 1990s. It took nine years of negotiations, the Uruguay round, to bring forward an updated version of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and within that new agreement to do some things that had not been done before. It was the advent of looking beyond goods to look at trade in services, to look beyond those things that were completely commercial and make changes that had implications for culture, for society overall, for the environment and for labour. In other words, the approach of the trade world began to impinge on other aspects of society. They became not just trade agreements, but agreements that actually changed the very fundamental relationship between citizens and their government versus the relationship of corporations and those governments.

[http://elizabethmaymp.ca/parliament/s...]

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