We can’t shift the blame

Lawrence Solomon London Free Press January 8, 1990

Question: In the one year since the free trade agreement took effect, has the deal done anything to harm – or help – the Canadian environment?
“Not that I’ve noticed,” says Pollution Probe’s executive director, Michael Manolson.
“The free trade deal is way down there on the list of things that have happened to the environment in the last year,” says Elizabeth May, an environmental lawyer and former adviser to the federal minister of the environment.
May, who was neither for nor against the deal, believes environmentalists still don’t have enough information to assess its impact property, particularly since a change as sweeping and complex as free trade is bound to affect the environment adversely in some areas and positively in others.
Misplaced nationalism: In the case of pesticides, for example, where “Canada has been far more likely to allow a dangerous pesticide in use,” she sees Canada’s environment as the winner if the free trade deal forces our standards up to United States levels. U.S. complaints about Canadian subsidies that allow the forest industry to harvest uneconomic stands may limit resource exploitation, while on the minus side she worries about the erosion of the National Energy Board’s power to stop energy giveaways.

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