During the last election, Stephen Harper trumpeted the record number of trade deals he had signed. But, Gus Van Harten argues, if you look at the deals, it's clear that Mr. Harper has been selling us down the river:
The right trade agreements can create opportunities for Canada. But the Harper government has seemed more interested in getting lots of deals than in making sure each is good for Canada’s economy.
The three most important deals are:the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) with China, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Europe, and the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
We have not been given a lot of information about the deals until now. The TPP has people like Jim Basillie very worried -- with reason. It continues a pattern established with FIPA:
1. The Harper government gave Chinese investors “market access” to Canada — a right to buy what they want in our economy — without getting the same for Canadian investors in China.
2. When Harper announced the deal he said that it “ensures non-discriminatory treatment” for foreign investors. But the terms let China keep all its existing laws, policies, or practices that discriminate against Canadian investors.
3. In FIPA, the Harper government exposed Canada to potentially massive financial liabilities due to the special and lopsided rights it gives to foreign companies, which can seek uncapped amounts of public compensation from governments directly before international tribunals.
One of the reasons Mr. Harper lost the election was because his claim that he was a good economic manager was no longer credible. Careful examination of his trade pacts underscores his economic illiteracy.
We'll have to see if the Liberals are better at trade than Mr. Harper was.