For Immediate Release
May 24, 2018 , 12:30 PM Eastern
Unceded Algonquin Anishinaabe Territories [OTTAWA] – The Canadian government needs to fix its position on NAFTA to avoid payouts costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, according to environmental, labour, and trade justice groups gathered on Parliament Hill today to sign a cheque on behalf of the Canadian Government to US quarry Company, Bilcon. Bilcon’s quarry project was rejected by federal and Nova Scotia governments in 2007 after undergoing an environmental assessment.
« It is shocking that Canada’s current negotiating position will enshrine trade tribunals that can make decisions about the application of our environmental laws,” according to David Snider, Vice-President of Sierra Club Canada Foundation. « We went to court to try and prevent a payout of $570 million and to protect our ability to have a say over protecting the environment. We lost – and we now know Canadians are completely exposed to future payouts. And our environment will pay the price. Canadians need to know the next damaging project like the Digby Quarry could be on their doorsteps, and our governments will be afraid to reject it for fear of payouts down the road. »
On May 2nd, Federal Court Judge Ann MacTavish ruled against the Canadian Government, who requested our courts « set aside » a NAFTA Tribunal ruling in favour of Bilcon. Sierra Club and East Coast Environmental Law, represented by Ecojustice, intervened in the case. The quarry company is now asking for $570 million CDN in compensation.
« Canada keeps losing cases such as the Bilcon one, and corporations continue to reap the rewards, » according to Brent Patterson, Political Director of the Council of Canadians. « Its time to re-think Canada’s position. This has happened too many other times with other projects and other communities. Our courts should have the final say on how we administer our laws, not trade tribunals made up of international trade lawyers.”
« Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions can be used to shield polluters, which in the end hurts workers and communities, » according to Katha Fortier, Assistant to the National President of Unifor. “A fair trade deal would protect workers rights and provisions that enable governments to safeguard local, sustainable jobs. »
« Countries around the world are rejecting provisions that create a separate legal system for foreign corporations, and we want Canada to do the same as we renegotiate NAFTA, » according to Larry Brown, Co-Chair of the Trade Justice Network. « A modern trade agreement needs to protect our ability to protect the environment and keep promises to tackle climate change. These corporate rights clauses can prevent us from reducing pollution, and can be used by foreign companies to overturn government decisions, to create a regulatory chill because governments will be reluctant to act, and ultimately to get payouts once their projects are rejected – in this case $570 million dollars that can’t be used to improve our environment . »
“Leadership means ensuring NAFTA isn’t a tool of climate denial anymore,” according to Eddy Pérez, International Policy Analyst (IPA) with Climate Action Network Canada, “For too long, Canada’s trade positions have had a negative impact on our communities. A progressive NAFTA deal is one that favors the public interest and that is compatible with the Paris Agreement. “
The groups asked elected leaders to attend the giant cheque signing today in Ottawa, and to show their support for changing the government’s position on NAFTA by a signing declaration calling for a better trade deal.
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For more information, please contact
David Snider, Vice-President, Sierra Club Canada Foundation
1-819-593-9665 (mobile) / firstname.lastname@example.org
Dylan Penner, Media Officer, Council of Canadians
Cell: (613) 795-8685 / Office: (613) 233-4487, ext. 249
Katha Fortier, Assistant to the National President, Unifor
1-416-799-4679 (mobile) / email@example.com
Larry Brown, Co-Chair, Trade Justice Network
1-613 228 9800 (office) / LBrown@nupge.ca
Eddy Pérez, International Policy Analyst (IPA), Climate Action Network Canada
1-514-975-1592 (mobile) / firstname.lastname@example.org