Free trade is a mug’s game

Free trade is a mug's game Since the free trade frenzy began some 25 years ago, it opened the door for our capitalist class to move our manufacturing sector to low-wage countries and be able to sell their products back to us - without tariffs - at higher

Since the free trade frenzy began some 25 years ago, it opened the door for our capitalist class to move our manufacturing sector to low-wage countries and be able to sell their products back to us – without tariffs – at higher profits.

When XYZ Washing Machines takes its means of production overseas, Canadian “investors” benefit, but they take our well-paid real-economy manufacturing jobs along with them. And in doing so, of course, transfer our technologies to foreign countries – often technologies subsidized by our taxes.

The deindustrialization of Canada has been well underway since NAFTA and other agreements took hold, and we have seen our real wages stagnate at best. Add to that the fact that XYZ Washing Machines doesn’t pay taxes in Canada.

The Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement can be seen to have two sides: the protection of Canadian investors in China, and the protection of China’s national resource companies on Canadian soil.

The first invites our business elite to move the rest of our productive economy – and good jobs – to China, thus exacerbating our deindustrialization and the loss of value-added production, tax revenues, etc. Soon, we will not have the know-how – or have the productive means – to make anything from T-shirts to electronic components.

This is what the proponents of free trade call benefits. And considering how much our business elite stand to gain from moving production out of Canada, it is not surprising that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his lot are hell-bent to pass these agreements.

The other side of the agreement is even better. Laura Dawson (Dial back the hysteria on the Canada-China treaty, Nov. 2) matter-of-factly dismisses the use of these international arbitration panels when companies feel they have lost profits due to host countries passing regulations. I invite you all to look up some of these NAFTA rulings and penalties, whether the complaints were filed against Canada, Mexico, or the U.S.

It is an endless list, but just to mention a few: this past June, “Two U.S. oil companies have won their complaint against the province of Newfoundland and Labrador over spending obligations related to their participation in an offshore oil play,” The Canadian Press reports. We taxpayers are on the hook to these companies for $50 million in compensation.

Back in 1997, Canada had banned MMT, a well-known toxic gasoline additive. Ethyl Corp. took it to arbitration: the Canadian government repealed the MMT ban, issued an apology to the company and settled out-of-court with Ethyl for $13 million.

As I write – though unrelated to NAFTA or FIPA directly – Belgian taxpayers are on the hook to China for $4 billion over some dispute, through some similar type of agreement.

As a non-subsidized taxpayer, I find these to be big numbers, considering how much I paid in income tax last year. How many hospital beds does $50 million cover, I wonder?

I just can’t figure why citizens would deliberately put themselves in such a vulnerable position by signing on to these agreements, given our public debt load.

Again, it’s clear who stands to gain in all this, and it’s not us.

Karim Choukri


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, speak during a live stream in Whitehorse on January 20, about the new swish and gargle COVID-19 tests. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Swish and spit COVID-19 test now available in Yukon

Vaccination efforts continue in Whitehorse and smaller communities in the territory

Local poet Joanna Lilley is photographed at the Beringia Centre in Whitehorse on Jan. 20, where she will be hosting a poetry workshop on Jan. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Poetry for the ages

Workshop set for the Yukon Beringia Centre

President Joe Biden signs executive orders after speaking about the coronavirus, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris in the State Dinning Room of the White House on Jan. 21, in Washington, D.C. The administration announced plans Jan. 20 for a temporary moratorium on oil and gas leasing in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge after the Trump administration issued leases in a part of the refuge considered sacred by the Gwich’in. (Alex Brandon/AP)
U.S. President Joe Biden halts oil and gas lease sales in ANWR

“Its great to have an ally in the White House”


Wyatt’s World for Jan. 22, 2021

Children’s performer Claire Ness poses for a photo for the upcoming annual Pivot Festival. “Claire Ness Morning” will be a kid-friendly performance streamed on the morning of Jan. 30. (Photo courtesy Erik Pinkerton Photography)
Pivot Festival provides ‘delight and light’ to a pandemic January

The festival runs Jan. 20 to 30 with virtual and physically distant events

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

A file photo of grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. Yukon conservation officers euthanized a grizzly bear Jan. 15 that was originally sighted near Braeburn. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)
Male grizzly euthanized near Braeburn

Yukon conservation officers have euthanized a grizzly bear that was originally sighted… Continue reading

Mayor Dan Curtis listens to a councillor on the phone during a city council meeting in Whitehorse on April 14, 2020. Curtis announced Jan. 14 that he intends to seek nomination to be the Yukon Liberal candidate for Whitehorse Centre in the 2021 territorial election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Whitehorse mayor seeking nomination for territorial election

Whitehorse mayor Dan Curtis is preparing for a run in the upcoming… Continue reading

Gerard Redinger was charged under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> with failing to self-isolate and failing to transit through the Yukon in under 24 hours. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Man ticketed $1,150 at Wolf Creek campground for failing to self-isolate

Gerard Redinger signed a 24-hour transit declaration, ticketed 13 days later

Yukon Energy, Solvest Inc. and Chu Níikwän Development Corporation are calling on the city for a meeting to look at possibilities for separate tax rates or incentives for renewable energy projects. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Tax changes sought for Whitehorse energy projects

Delegates call for separate property tax category for renewable energy projects

Yukon University has added seven members to its board of governors in recent months. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New members named to Yukon U’s board of governors

Required number of board members now up to 17

Most Read