Articles by David Orchard
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Globe and Mail, Thursday, April 27, 2006

Dubious Mulroney legacy

by David Orchard

It was astonishing to learn recently that former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney has been named the greenest prime minister in Canadian history ("'Engage the Americans,' vintage Mulroney lectures," Globe and Mail, April 21, 2006.)

A magazine called Corporate Knights hosted a gala dinner in Mr. Mulroney's honour in Ottawa. Several "environmental leaders," some of them almost overcome with emotion, we read, explained why he should be so acclaimed.

All of this has left some of us who have laboured in the environmental trenches for most of our lives with a few questions.

Was it not Brian Mulroney and his government that negotiated and signed the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement which has had such far-reaching and devastating impacts on the environment? This agreement transferred a large slice of our sovereignty over energy and water resources to U.S. industry with all its unfolding environmental implications. (Is the tar sands project not one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions on the planet?)

Was it not the Mulroney government that negotiated the NAFTA with its unprecedented Chapter 11 provision that allows American corporations to sue Canada for any law which they feel harms their business and contravenes the spirit of NAFTA? Has not NAFTA been successfully used to overturn several Canadian environmental laws -- the Ethyl MMT case and the S.D. Myers hazardous waste case, to mention just two -- and placed such a chill on all levels of government in Canada that any new laws, environmental and otherwise, are now carefully vetted to make sure they are "NAFTA-compatible"?

Did not the FTA and NAFTA both state that they take precedence over all other international treaties, including environmental ones, to which Canada is signatory?

Have these environmental impacts of the FTA and NAFTA not been sufficiently clear for the "environmentalists" who gathered in Ottawa to kiss Mr. Mulroney's ring?

Just asking.

David Orchard ran for the leadership of the federal Progressive Conservative Party in 1998 and 2003. He is the author of The Fight for Canada – Four Centuries of Resistance to American Expansionism, farms at Borden, SK, and can be reached at Tel (306) 652-7095, e-mail:,

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