(at least from the viewpoints of the top income earners)
- The top 20 per
cent of rich Canadians got richer.
- Corporations can now pay less taxes,
are now less hindered by national laws, are freer to move production
out of Canada to less regulated, lower-wage-paying countries.
- They have
succeeded in getting the government out of the way of business.
- CEOs were
able to get even richer, with extraordinary access to government.
friends have been able to buy up Canadian companies at unprecedented
rates with no interference from annoying Canadian watchdogs.
has been successful in attaining their goals of re-structuring, deregulating,
privatizing, unimpeded investment and free flow of capital.
- Our American
friends and Canadian companies no longer have to worry about actually
producing goods in Canada. They are now able to serve Canada from
cheaper-producing countries without the necessity of using Canadian
- Canadian subsidiaries can now more easily outsource.
This actually increases export and import numbers. Their profits
Listen to these ringing endorsements from right-winged politicians,
big business interests and politicians that swing from corporate positions
to political power and back to corporate positions:
Peter Mackay says
free trade "has been a big winner for our country" and
refers to it as the "crown-jewel."
Brian Mulroney: "By
and large, it has been good for us and good for our sovereignty."
Financial Post: "The Free Trade Agreement with
the U.S. has led to nearly a decade of prosperity and a much more competitive
Liberal government: "The Government of Canada firmly believes
that the FTA and its successor, the NAFTA, has served Canada well."
Crosbie calls free trade "a brilliant success and which everybody
else thinks is a brilliant success, because they are now all in favour
Canadian Federation of Independent Business executive VP
Garth Whyte: "Most sectors have done well."
Big business that was behind the push,
i.e. Canadian Council of Chief Executives (formerly BCNI), the U.S. Business
Roundtable & the Mexican Business
Council have declared NAFTA an extraordinary success for all three
(from the viewpoint of the bottom 80 per cent of Canadians)
- The more integrated
with the United States Canada has become as a result of the free trade
agreements, the less choice we have seen in determining our own fate,
national policies, and foreign policy. Canada is less sovereign than
- Things, i.e. corporations, now trump the common good for people.
For example, Howard Mann, environmental lawyer who participated on
the Canadian negotiating team on the NAFTA side agreement, says: "Some
measures are deemed by bureaucrats potentially to be in breach of trade
law -- the NAFTA and the WTO -- and never go forward."
- Canada's social
programs and safety standards have deteriorated to an extent that lives
are more at risk. (One example, the NAFTA environmental side accord
watchdog, The Commission for Environmental Cooperation, has pointed
out a 400 per cent increase in U.S. hazardous waste coming into Canada,
not to mention unprecedented border-crossing pollution.)
the start, corporations have lobbied against the social safety net
(includes health care) in order to make corporations/multinationals
more "competitive" in
the free-market economy.
Immediately after the 1988 election, the
then president of the Canadian Manufacturer's Association, in a letter
to government, wrote: "The
[Free Trade Agreement] makes it more urgent that we tackle the outstanding
issues that affect our competitiveness. Because 60 per cent of program
spending is tied up in statutory programs, with most of this in social
programs, this is the spending area that must be reduced." That
is exactly what has happened.
- Unlike what is portrayed to the Canadian
public by the free trade enthusiasts, Canada has actually experienced
a net job loss, despite increased exports, because of the nature
of those exports and the increase in imports. Companies are also
relocating production to lower-wage, lower-standard countries such
as China, India, and the Philippines. Full-time jobs in the 1990s
accounted for only 18 per cent of the total job growth. The majority
of any growth was in self-employment, accompanied by weak growth
in self-employed net income. For the 13 pre-FTA years, the unemployment
rate averaged 8.99 per cent. For the 14 years post FTA, the unemployment
rate average was 9.43 per cent.
- Canada's standard of living dropped,
exactly opposite to what was expected. Canada's real economic performance
fell far behind our main trade partner, the U.S., despite the "level
The Dept. of Foreign Affairs and International Trade recently trumpeted
the fact that the Canadian economy has grown 3.8 per cent since NAFTA.
What they didn't mention was that it used to average 4.7 per cent
in the years before free trade and significantly more than that in
In the decade before the FTA, in terms of GDP growth, Canada
performed better than most, including the G-7 countries, the European
Union and the OECD. From 1984-1988 leading up to the FTA we out-performed
all the OECD economies. After the FTA decade, we fell behind all of
them and had the slowest growth since the 1930s, falling to 80th compared
to other countries. In 2001, Canada ranked only 65th.
CEO Charles Baille said in 2001: "Canada had the
fourth worst economic growth rate over the past 15 years among
the IMF's group of 'advanced' countries."
Canada's productivity fell far
behind the U.S. as the gap widened. During the 90s, Canada was 20th out of
26 OECD countries in productivity growth.
real income level gap with the U.S. widened and slipped relative to
several other countries. As corporate taxes were cut, to be "competitive," ordinary
Canadians have had to pick up the slack, paying more individually
for necessary services such as property taxes, power and utilities,
education and health costs, gasoline, retail sales tax -- combined
in an era of stagnant and declining income.
- More than 10,000 Canadian companies fell
out of Canadian hands, without a whimper, since getting rid of the
Foreign Investment Review Agency, an American demand for free trade
talks, resulting in less jobs, less corporate taxes remaining in Canada,
less being spent on research and development in Canada.
- The "export boom" happened mainly in
response to a previously strong U.S. economy and, perhaps mostly, to
the low Canadian dollar. When we see the dollar rise, we see exports
To quote one of Canada's biggest exporters (not to mention major receiver
of government aid), Bombardier's L. Beaudoin, in 2000: "Our exports
did not increase during the first few years." He had earlier also
stated: "The more the Canadian
dollar dropped, the better things got for Canada. Only then did the benefits
of the FTA begin to materialize."
And from the June 2003 Senate Report
of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs re trade: " Certainly,
almost every witness we heard from said that the value of the dollar
was crucial to our exports and that the value of the dollar was responsible
for our increase in exports to the U.S."
This seems to put into question
the Mulroney, MacKay and free trade opponents' oft-repeated claim that
the FTA and NAFTA are extraordinarily successful, accompanied by the
boom" offered up as the reason why. Clearly
this is misleading.
- The successful Auto Pact, which was to be protected
under the free trade agreements, and was to be "more secure as
part of a broader accord," according
to Brian Mulroney, was struck down as being in violation of the
World Trade Organization. The result? Plant closures in Canada and,
according to the CAW, a loss of 7,000 good-paying Canadian autoworker
jobs to Mexico.
has given up significant control over energy and national environmental
regulation. Our precious resources are falling out of Canadian hands,
being diverted south with apparent abandon and lack of concern for
possible future shortages.
- U.S. protectionism has increased, as opposed to being
halted as was promised. U.S. trade laws trump any trade agreement obligations.
From the U.S. trade website: "At the same time, our government
was careful to structure the WTO dispute settlement rules to preserve
our rights. The findings of a WTO dispute settlement panel cannot force
us to change our laws. Only the United States determines exactly how
it will respond to the recommendations of a WTO panel, if at all."
per cent of Canadians have gotten richer while 80 per cent are in worse
shape than pre-FTA.
- Canada is near the bottom of the heap in terms of
global competitiveness among the G-7 countries.
- Few foreign investors any longer consider Canada
as a prime place to invest. By 2003, Canada was down to 14th globally
on the list of countries in which corporations were likely to invest.
- Most Canadians are now employed in
the lower-paying service industry rather than the traditionally better-paying
production industry. Between 1992 and 2002, service exports to the
U.S. were $34.4 billion, compared to $40.5 billion in imports.
- The savings
of Canadians have plummeted. Never have Canadian citizens been so in
debt. The majority of Canadians are living paycheque to paycheque.
By 2003, the average Canadian owed 0.1 per cent more than they were
earning. The number of people going broke has doubled. Ninety thousand
Canadians now go broke yearly. The debt to income ratio has passed
100 per cent. At the same time as being no further ahead financially,
living costs have soared and the unemployment safety net has deteriorated
to the U.S. levels -- exactly the opposite of what was promised.
share of world trade has fallen. Canada's share of the U.S. market
has also fallen, despite the trade promise of privileged access.
panels have not been successful in ending disputes. Harassment has
increased, clobbering Canadians and putting citizens out of work as
a result. It apparently means nothing even if you win.
- As a result of the trade agreements,
Canada has given the U.S. rights to our water that they didn't have
previously, which will, no doubt, come back to haunt us.
- The assets of the corporations
that were behind the push for free trade, have more than doubled while
their work force has been significantly cut. CEO salaries have skyrocketed.
cuts have not led to any increase in firm size in manufacturing in
Canada as was expected. The "specialization" theory of the
free-market economy is a non-starter as firms change countries
at ever-increasing rates.
Virtually every promise made to Canadians about the expected
benefits of free trade has proven to be untrue.
The same small minority
of people that have benefited from the free trade agreements and promoted
them, despite their promises having proven to be false, are incredibly
still telling the public free trade is great for us and we need more
of the same.
The Canadian border is slowly being wiped out. Canada is
slowly being wiped out.
This is perhaps the biggest con job ever perpetrated
on Canadians by a small number of powerful people who seem willing to
put individual gratification above the fair treatment of the majority
of Canadians and the sovereign protection of their country. With easy
access to statistics from even government sources that clearly show "free
trade agreements" have not delivered to the majority of
Canadians, what other explanation can there be?