Date: Sun, 20 Jun 1999 23:14:24 -0500 (CDT)
Trade and investment must serve citizens, not corporations, concludes report
www.canadians.org, media release, 10 June 1999
(OTTAWA) International trade and investment agreements must serve the rights of citizens and the duties of democratic states, not strengthen the and of already powerful corporations, says a citizens' report released today to coincide with a report by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade expected to recommend Canada get more involved in trade and investment talks at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
"Canadians narrowly missed having their democratic rights bulldozed by the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI)," says Council of Canadians Chair Maude Barlow, who headed The MAI Inquiry, a series of eight public hearings held across the country last fall to investigate the likely impacts of the then-proposed MAI. "Public health care, education, culture, the environment all would have fallen victim to an agreement that granted transnational corporations unprecedented powers. Canada and other countries may still sell their citizens out, if they continue to seek this kind of agreement at the WTO."
The Inquiry report, titled "Confronting Globalization & Reclaiming Democracy," reveals an emerging consensus among "civil society" groups on a new approach to international trade and investment negotiations. In a letter addressed to Prime Minister ChrTtien, the commissioners including former Liberal MP Warren Allmand, labour leaders Bob White and Buzz Hargrove, broadcasters David Suzuki and Judy Rebick, and novelist Carol Shields outline five principles that should govern all international trade and investment agreements. The principles include: 1) upholding the rights of citizens; 2) protecting the common good; 3) promoting the development of sustainable communities; 4) guaranteeing the sovereignty of democratically elected governments over corporations; and 5) ensuring effective citizen participation in the development of trade and investment policies.
"No trade or investment deal should even be contemplated that does not acknowledge and uphold the rights of citizens and the sovereign power of democratically-elected governments over corporations," said Senator Lois Wilson, one of 20 prominent experts invited to serve as commissioners with the Inquiry.
"The MAI nearly subverted decades of environmental protections," said Commissioner Elizabeth May, Executive Director of the Sierra Club of Canada. "Internationally, the Canadian government is leading the way in trade-based attacks on environmental measures in other countries, and then professes surprise and indignation when such attacks occur at home. We need a radical change in direction."
Margrete Strand Rangnes
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