Policy and Political Action

Policy & Political Action

Stop trade agreements that allow foreign investors to sue Canada for protecting its health-care system and its environment

What do trade deals have to do with health and social policy?

Quite a bit, as Australia discovered when it was sued by tobacco giant Philip Morris for plain packaging legislation that the company said would harm its profits. It is using a Hong Kong-Australia trade deal that allows foreign investors to sue participating governments for any measure that could be construed as interfering with actual or prospective profits. Canada is facing a $250 million lawsuit by an American firm under a similar NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) provision because Quebec banned hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) to protect the environment. Fracking is a controversial drilling practice that taps or extracts less accessible oil and gas. Critics say it does so at a higher environmental cost than conventional gas. The NAFTA provision is an investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), and allows foreign (but not domestic) firms to take governments to costly closed hearings before unaccountable international tribunals. The Canadian government says these trade deals do not stop governments from regulating standards for health care, labour, environment or safety. What they don’t tell you is that Canada could be subject to crippling lawsuits if they do. The mere threat of a costly lawsuit could deter governments from acting in the public interest.

What is the current threat?

Canada and the EU are currently negotiating a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which has an ISDS mechanism. It could be signed very soon and would allow any EU investor to sue Canada for any alleged or prospective loss of profit due to any measure taken by any level of government in Canada.

How can I take action?

You already have. As a member of RNAO you have joined many Canadian and international organizations calling on Canada and the European Union to take investment provisions out of the CETA negotiations.

Fill out the form below to send this email to Canadian leaders telling them that you reject ISDS

Emails will be sent to the following:

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper
  • Minister of International Trade Ed Fast
  • NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair
  • Liberal Leader Bob Rae
  • Bloc Québécois Leader Daniel Paillé
  • Green Party Leader Elizabeth May
  • NDP International Trade Critic Don Davies
  • Liberal International Trade Critic Wayne Easter
  • BQ International Trade Critic Andre Bellavance
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