Letter to the Editor

On September 11, I lost the NDP’s federal election nomination race in the Yukon and I am thankful for the opportunity.

On September 11, I lost the NDP’s federal election nomination race in the Yukon and I am thankful for the opportunity.

In this well-attended public nomination meeting in Whitehorse, I was able to show in four minutes time, case by case and step by step, that the House of Commons and the provincial and territorial legislatures are becoming shadow parliaments to NAFTA Chapter 11 arbitration panels.

It seemed to touch a nerve with a range of listeners who were present. The responses keep coming from all walks of life transcending the NDP crowd. The Ontario Supreme Court decision, July 8, 2005, mostly agreed with my analysis and can’t remove the de-facto constitutional power of the panel rulings, which can impose monetary penalties.

The House of Commons must remove the panel’s power.

An unprecedented wave of crony socialism with massive payouts ordered by the Chapter 11 panels will bankrupt government. Some politicians are indifferent or they may feel their values agree with the illegal, secret offshore panels that have no appeal process except for the frivolous litigators who can come back pork barreling for the same target as often as they want.

How can governments throughout North America move and uphold legislation and agreements that may be vetoed by Chapter 11 arbitration panels at the drop of a hat?

This has happened already three times against Canada and three times against Mexico. Eleven Chapter 11 cases are in progress right now, all challenging Canadian legislation, and there are several cases against the United States and Mexico as well.

Lawful, constitutional government is targeted in a turkey shoot against Canadian, American and Mexican laws.

The bulk of these so called arbitrations originates with the oil bullies and is directed against environmental laws and also against R&D funding, as in the example of Exxon Mobile and Murphy Inc. against Newfoundland.

All of civil society, including the health-care act have been weakened, not yet beyond repair.

As as long as Chapter 11 is there nothing is worth investing anymore because of a general volatility that is caused by an over arching, legislative veto power that comes from the off shore arbitration panels. Canadians can feel that when they hear everybody’s commitment to medicare, yet it’s slipping all the time.

The Mexican government cancelled a land agreement with the Maya people in preemption of Chapter 11 arbitration, which triggered bloody mayhem in Chiapas (see Reconciliation, by Tony Penikett, available at Mac’s Fireweed, pages 241/242.)

Paul Martin’s commitment to the Kelowna Accord was compromised by his support for Chapter 11. The substantial Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America was set down parallel to the Kelowna Accord process, but was designed to bypass ratification, which further diminished Martin’s credibility.

When Martin hired Tom Flanagan, Harper’s chief adviser, as land claims consultant against the Metis, it was too much. What is next in this trend to legislate by executive orders through the appointments of the Chapter 11 panels that bypass elected assemblies?

What is the next Chapter 11 target? Sustainable technology development, rebuilding of rail transport in the South, YESAB legislation, First Nation agreements to clear the path for a pipeline or other fast and dirty project plans?

What about medicare? The American Gatt negotiator Mel Clark clearly anticipated that it will be crippled and challenged. What about social housing in the US? Canada is not in danger because we don’t have a social housing program since Jean Chretien cancelled it.

What about making an already growing international isolation of Canada worse?

An Obama administration will cancel Chapter 11, his corrective NAFTA intentions were misconstrued as being anti-trade by the CBC and the Globe and Mail.

The Chapter 11 struggle is international and, at its core, non partisan. There are outstanding people involved, like David Orchard, who is running for the Liberal Party in Northern Saskatchewan’s Desnethé-Missinipi-Churchill River riding.

Along those lines its important to remember that the auto pact was killed when the EU and Japan challenged the US and Canada in the WTO. The WTO ruling was explicitly based on Chapter 11, it was the WTO, a body separate to NAFTA who enforced Chapter 11 in this novel case.

Which association of countries is next to fire a lopsided torpedo into the soft underbelly of the NAFTA member’s economies? There is a big target marker painted on that says, aim here, Chapter 11.

Detroit and Windsor need to be encouraged, not prevented, from building instant charge, plug-in hybrid vehicles in North America with a 483-kilometre-range. Nobody else will do it for us, and nobody else has an equally urgent need either.

Now that good jobs for auto parts, vehicle manufacturing, rail road revival etc. can be brought back to North America we are stuck with this absurd piece of WTO/Chapter 11 protectionism in favour of Japan and Germany.

Transportation costs are and will be key and nowhere more than in the Yukon. Mulroney’s chicken, to be precise the 11th, has come home to roost.

Don’t get me wrong, Chapter 11 is not as evil in its original motivation as it looks.

That wouldn’t be realistic to underestimate the human potential for confusion; especially not with regard to Mulroney’s chief negotiator in the NAFTA rounds, the flamboyant and incompetent Simon Reisman, who unknowingly messed up thoroughly with his Chapter 11 draft, dragging the states and Mexico along on this one.

This is not my assessment, its the negotiators in the recently completed US-Australia free trade deal who said so.

They specifically mentioned and avoided the failure of NAFTA Chapter-11 type content, which is a wholesale invitation for frivolous litigation representing veto power of arbitration panels against democratic legislation.

Chapter 11 provides no rules for trade and a lot of instructions for bad policy to dismantle lawful government.

The word government measure appears 35 times describing a water tight target definition of every possible and impossible legislation, regulation, agreement that governments are involved with nationally and internationally.

Time to set a sick bird, the 11th, onto the chopping block and turn it into a nutritious soup, a bit of lime juice and garlic sometimes work wonders to overcome strong au goût flavour.

It’s a six month cancellation notice which can be served informally under the Chapter 22, Article 2205 Withdrawal provision, which is simple and straightforward consisting of 34 words in its entirety.

It’s an NDP tradition to take the leadership role in areas like economic development, ecology, fiscal responsibility, arts and innovation as well as democratic, women’s, minorities, worker’s, children’s  and language rights.

The Chapter 11 removal is a case involving all of the above that needs broad support from the citizenry and out of other parties. Wise First Nation elders consider the effect of decisions for the next seven generations. Doing away with Chapter 11 we can make a lot of sense just looking seven months down the line and even more so over seven years to come.

I am confident the common sense of the NDP and the hard-won experience of Ken Bolton are the best choice for all Yukoners who support Canada’s way of responsible government as well as respect for international law.

Peter Becker

Whitehorse

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