Friday, July 22, 2005

Free Trade? - Get Real!

For the last couple of years, Canadian cattle producers have been shut out from the US market after a single case of BSE was found.

In the last few weeks, an assortment of court rulings in the US have reopened the US border to Canadian cattle. Of course, between RCALF-USA and now the Montana Governer, it seems that our cattle producers are up for more difficulties.

Okay, I respect the fact that any country has the right to protect its own interests, but given the number of years that the Canadian and American cattle industries were intertwined, it stands to pretty good logic that if Canada has BSE, you can pretty much guarantee that the American herd has the same problem lurking somewhere.

As far as I'm concerned, the BSE issue is a manufactured crisis. The actions of various protectionist groups in the US, as well as the US Federal Government have underscored the long-standing sense that I've had that the "Free Trade" agreements that former Prime Minister Mulroney committed Canada are a one way agreement. It's free trade only when American interests are favoured.

The BSE situation is but one more example of the one-way nature of so-called "free trade". If Canada moves to protect its interests, Americans threaten to sue under the NAFTA rules. Meanwhile, America continues to restrict sales of so many Canadian products (softwood lumber, steel to name a few) even when the NAFTA and WTO boards have ruled against them. It's quickly becoming time for Canada to walk away from NAFTA/FTA until the Americans start to honor their responsibilities under those agreements.

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