Council of Canadians campaigner Stuart Trew is warning that a free trade agreement between Canada and Europe would threaten Canada’s municipal water systems. The proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, he claims, would lock in bad deals with private water service providers and lock out regulatory improvements. Mr. Trew’s claims are false. Continue reading
Earlier this year, several days after a lengthy interview with a writer for a weekly news magazine, I received a puzzled e-mail. "How would you describe yourself politically?" the writer asked. "Do you lean towards the left or the right?"
Our governments are paying forestry companies to tear down our Crown-owned forests and ship them to the U.S. and Asia. Here’s how our "forest management system" works, taking British Columbia’s rainforests as an example.
Logging a majestic stand of hemlock and balsam in British Columbia’s coastal rainforest costs logging companies $100 a cubic metre. Selling the hemlock gets them an average of $60 a cubic metre, the balsam gets them less. "We lose $40 on every cubic metre of hemlock that we bring to the sawmill," explains Steve Crombie of Interfor, one of B.C.’s large product exporters.
How dumb does Prime Minister Jean Chrétien think President George W. Bush can be? Very, very dumb, judging by the arguments over softwood lumber that our Cabinet ministers and trade officials had been floating prior to Mr. Chrétien’s meeting with Mr. Bush yesterday. Only someone as thick as a plank could buy the lulus put out by our government leaders in what — at over $10-billion per year — is by far the most important trade dispute between the two countries.
Back in 1989, Environment Probe campaigned to turn free trade to the environment’s advantage. Since then, the environmental impacts of free trade have been hotly debated. Critics have rightly pointed out that, in theory, governments may be hamstrung in imposing certain environmental standards. But other enterprising environmentalists have capitalized on free trade to reduce subsidies to—and raise standards in—our environmentally destructive resource sectors.
Earlier this year, the Quebec government, conceding that it was subsidizing Norsk Hydro, a multinational magnesium producer, agreed to stop subsidizing the company’s magnesium smelter, which is a major polluter. It did so following official trade protests by a U.S. industry group—the Non-Ferrous Producers Committee—over Norsk’s access to subsidized water and subsidized electricity. This industry lobby, for its part, decided to use trade remedy laws after being contacted by Environment Probe, who alerted it to the Free Trade Agreement and how it could be used to prevent the export of Canada’s resources at the expense of Canada’s environment.
As you know all too well, Canadians will soon need to decide the future of our country through the makeup of our new constitution. None of the government’s proposed constitutional changes were designed with the environment in mind but some changes will certainly affect the environment. I am writing you to explain why one proposal in particular—the economic union—would benefit the environment, and so deserves your support.
An interview, for CBC Radio’s Ideas program, with Lawrence Solomon about the ways in which competition, privatization, property rights, and other market mechanisms can work to preserve the environment.
Since the first Earth Day in 1970, there has been a lot of good news on the environment. The deserts of the Sahel may not be spreading after all. And Lake Erie is no longer dead; its waters now team with tens of millions of walleye. But the best environmental news of all is the opening of the Berlin Wall and the democratization of Latin America.
Question: In the one year since the free trade agreement took effect, has the deal done anything to harm – or help – the Canadian environment?
Whether you voted for or against the free trade deal, now that free trade is a reality it’s incumbent upon all of us who care about the environment to do everything we can to make the deal work for us. The next 60 months – during which our government will be back at the negotiating table to hammer out the meaning of subsidy – will be decisive in our environment’s future: These negotiations will determine whether or not our forests are spared, whether we can continue to subsidize environmentally destructive coal and nuclear plants, whether free trade means fair trade or whether it means an acceleration of the rape and pillage policies of the past.
Robert Rivard of the Canadian Lumbermen’s Association would like to go back to “the old free trade deal.” He feels the previous arrangement reflected a more Canadian brand of free trade that better served his association’s members.
The environment has been one of the hottest election issues going but the Canadian Wildlife Federation – Canada’s largest conservation group – and Pollution Probe – Canada’s largest environmental advocacy organization – haven’t received much press during the campaign. The cameras, instead, have been focused on those prepared to make unequivocal predictions: tub-thumping free traders like federal negotiator Simon Reisman, who have insisted the deal won’t affect the environment in the least, and fervent anti-free traders like the Canadian Environmental Law Association, who have claimed the free trade deal will lead to our environment’s certain destruction.
If we had free trade, says economist Miles Richardson, we might save Lyell Island. Lyell, a wilderness heritage of unparalleled beauty, is no ordinary island, and Richardson is no ordinary economist. He is the president of the Council of the Haida Nation and a leader in the fight against the British Columbia logging giants eyeing the forests on Lyell, South Moresby and other islands in the Queen Charlottes, where the Haida have lived since time immemorial.