The impact of trade agreements on food systems and agriculture is probably brought up on almost every broadcast of Deconstructing Dinner, but never have we tackled this topic head on. On this broadcast we look into how trade agreements affect the fruits on our trees, the animals in our fields and the food on our plates. We will focus on two agreements and a “partnership” that have either had devastating effects on our food, and/or will have further impacts in the near and distant future.
A short segment will also be featured covering the recently tabled Bill C-448, calling for a ban on Terminator Seed Technology.
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
For years, we have been told that globalization and free trade are inevitable, and that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) would bring jobs and prosperity to Canadians. But in the aftermath of the softwood lumber decision, even former supporters of free trade are arguing that NAFTA isn’t working for Canada. Critics suggest it undermines democracy, strips Canada of control over our energy resources, threatens to put water up for sale, and endangers health care and other public services.
Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP)
In March 2005, Paul Martin, George W. Bush and Vicente Fox met in Waco, Texas to ratify the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP). The SPP takes NAFTA’s goal of continental economic integration much further by including security and foreign policy issues, and by speeding up the process of regulatory harmonization integral to the first Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. Despite a lack of public awareness or input, all three North American governments are moving quickly toward a continental resource pact, North American security perimeter, and common agricultural and other polices related to our health and environment.
Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA)
On April 1, 2007, a new free trade pact (TILMA) came into effect between Alberta and B.C. Critics say it will have a devastating effect on local democracy, public health and the environment. While currently confined to Western Canada, provincial governments in Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan and the Maritimes have all shown an interest in signing on. TILMA was signed by the premiers of Alberta and B.C., without public consultation or legislative debate, in April 2006. The agreement allows corporations and individuals to sue provincial governments for any provincial or municipal government measure they feel “restricts or impairs” their investment (i.e. their profits). Under TILMA, critics suggest that even measures designed to protect the environment and public health are vulnerable to attack from corporate lawsuits.
Alex Atamanenko, MP BC Southern Interior / NDP Agriculture Critic, “New Democratic Party of Canada“ (Ottawa, ON / Castlegar, BC) – Elected the Member of Parliament for British Columbia Southern Interior in 2006. Alex is the critic for Agriculture and Agri-Food and the Canadian Wheat Board. Atamanenko was born in New Westminster, and was educated at the University of British Columbia and the University of Toronto.
Corky Evans, MLA Nelson-Creston / NDP Opposition Critic for Agriculture and Lands, “New Democratic Party of British Columbia“ (Victoria, BC / Winlaw, BC) – Corky Evans was elected as the MLA for Nelson Creston in 1991, and was re-elected in 1996. He was once again elected to represent his constituents on May 17, 2005. Corky has served as Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries.
Stuart Trew, Communications Administrator, “Council of Canadians“ (Ottawa, ON) – Founded in 1985, the Council of Canadians is Canada’s largest citizens’ organization, with members and chapters across the country. We work to protect Canadian independence by promoting progressive policies on fair trade, clean water, energy security, public health care, and other issues of social and economic concern to Canadians.
Musical Selection (name/title/album/label) Theme/Soundclip – Adham Shaikh, Infusion, Fusion, Sonic Turtle (CDN) Music – Raymond Schultz, After the Nafta Disasta, If This Records Survive Me, Orchard.