Red Deer Advocate, November 10, 2004
FREE TRADE CALLED THREAT
by Tim Gardner
Canada will ultimately lose its political sovereignty if it doesn't get
out of its free trade agreement with the United States, says a fair
David Orchard, a leadership candidate for the former federal Progressive
Conservative Party, says since Canada signed the free trade agreement
and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in the late 1980s
and early 1990s, it's actually gained less access to the lucrative
Approximately 10,000 Canadian companies, such as logging giant MacMillan
Bloedel Ltd., have also been taken over by American companies during the
same time period.
Once a country loses its economic sovereignty, the loss of its political
sovereignty won't be far behind. But Orchard says he believes the
majority of Canadians don't favour political union with the United
States. And one way that supporters of Canadian sovereignty can help
prevent that is to lobby hard for proportional representation in the
House of Commons.
That way, pro-American policies like the acceptance of a missile defence
system for North America won't be accepted by a Liberal government
influenced by the growth of American big business in the country,
Neither will such things as a potential NAFTA-Plus agreement, now being
considered by a panel co-chaired by former federal Liberal cabinet
minister John Manley.
The panel is looking into possible common immigration and security
policies between Canada and the U.S. Orchard said its ultimate goal is
to erase national borders in North America.
Orchard spoke to about 50 people at Red Deer College on Tuesday night.
Orchard, an organic farmer from Saskatchewan, said Canada is
economically far worse off since it signed its free trade deal.
Prior to the deal, the United States had no tariff on Canadian softwood
lumber, he said. It now has a very large tariff on softwood lumber, has
tariffs on Canadian hogs and wheat and has closed the border completely
to live Canadian cattle and to cuts of beef from animals over 30 months
Before it signed the free trade deal and NAFTA, Canada was protected by
international trade regulations, now controlled by the World Trade
Organization, Orchard said. Now, free trade regulations take priority.
Free trade has also benefitted American access to cheap Canadian goods
while hampering trade in such goods inside Canada. That has hurt Canada
Energy provisions within the free trade agreement and NAFTA also say
Canada cannot restrict or cut back on the proportion of energy it
exports to the United States, even when Canada faces a shortage. It now
exports about 60 per cent of its oil and natural gas to the U.S.
"I'm not aware of any country anywhere in the world that's . . . given
away its resources so completely to another nation," Orchard said.
Orchard said he'd like Canada to do away with the free trade agreement
and NAFTA and to start to develop its own industries and economy, like
Japan, Norway and Switzerland.
"We're one of the few countries in this world that has everything it
needs for a modern industrial society," Orchard said.
Canada or the United States can get out of the free trade agreement or
NAFTA by giving the other country six months' notice.