Feb. 22, 2017
Second Letter to the Prime Minister
When you speak, I hear care in your words. We crossed party lines to back the heart you expressed for this country and were moved by your promise to repair the damage of the former government. But care is not enough for any of us any more. If we are to be sustainable, we must act to protect what’s left in the shared economical and environmental networks of the future. We live a few degrees from ecological and political upheaval. What I want to know is: will you use your heart to legally protect what still lies in the public realm? are you brave enough to put your environmental love into policy? are you willing to be uncool to critique what’s popular because it’s immoral? There is a significant gap between the vision in the pages of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement and the local, green hope growing in European and Canadian communities. Please see past my direct tone to the care that drives these words. I write from grief and within the mix of 3.5 million Europeans and 40+ Canadian municipalities who’ve said no to the CETA. We have been speaking on behalf of children – those who will inherit a society restructured and restricted by the international powers of the CETA. We don’t care whether or not this is the popular viewpoint. We care about the stability of this beautiful green-blue planet.
Your values are different from those of the Harper government, but why is your economic blueprint the same? With the CETA, the former government reconfigured the role of governance chapter by chapter. They renegotiated the terms of management for the public service, municipalities, health care and education, crown corporations and more; these precious jewels of community were redirected to the flow of corporate management in perpetuity. The Harper comprehensive design was maintained but with one change – your government made the court for corporations public. Under your Investment Court System, real judges will now jury corporate complaints against our regulations, traditions and laws. I’m relieved that this role will be removed from the rotation of corporate lawyers who decide cases under NAFTA. But in effect, corporations will still sue us for our regulations but now we’ll now be able to watch. The Investment Court System sanctions, across the North American and European continents, a shocking interpretation of the judiciary. This is a legal manifestation of the same unchecked hunger that is putting the earth in peril and sets the wrong tone for the upper houses of the whole first world. The Investment Court System disarms national courts; this while the alarms sound through floods, drought, social unrest.
Because trade agreements are legally interpreted as more significant than national law, what you’ve okayed in its chapters, you’ll be putting into law. Should there not be more measure of prudence? Should there not be thorough reflection on the pros and the cons? Prime Minister, do you believe there are cons? I never hear you speak about them. Please look south to Brazil, east to India or to South Africa. All are refusing to mute public law for corporate request. None will allow a trade deal to pass their thresholds that gives power to the 1% to critique public regulations and get paid for it. If not Brazil, consider the critiques of the Wallonian government, before they too fell to the pressure of a consuming zeitgeist. What are the environmental risks of a sanctioned court for corporate complaints? Can they all be calculated and offset? Consider Bilcon corporation’s win under NAFTA to quarry through biodiverse marine habitat that’s the breeding ground for sensitive and endangered species in the Bay of Fundy. Our federal-provincial panel concluded after thorough investigation irreparable damage to the ecosystem and to the tourist-based economy of Nova Scotia. Having won the case in trade court, Bilcon now seeks 300 to 400 million dollars retribution for the challenging of their NAFTA rights. When corporations hold the power over water and seed, and the courts too agree, what kind of conflicts will emerge? I lie awake at night and worry. I wonder if you do.
When I see a trade deal like the CETA pass that guarantees permanent access of bitumen oil to the EU, and spreads a genetically modified food system into a continent where it had been barred, I put my head in my hands. You see a win of political faith, I see a windfall of environmental instability. You see a win for markets, I see stress for farmer markets. You see the ability to secure complicated negotiations, I see a government afraid to stand up to a dangerous aberration – the marriage of government and corporation through international law. I imagine it feels to you and your colleagues like there’s little choice to change this path. Corporations have been suing our country over our public regulations for 25 years under NAFTA and the use of ISDS has grown exponentially in the last five years. But from the long gaze, there are other ways of seeing. The urgency of these times changes everything. In upheaval, the measure of success is long. Success asks moral questions. It’s a quiet invitation to the common good, a chance to fall in love and protect the planet for future generations. It’s a call for political heroes. The rewards great.
Not one act for the public good is enforceable through CETA’s Investor Court System, only private profit. It’s inevitable that we’ll look back from the future and ask why didn’t we put an end to the violence of corporations suing against law. This is a time of action to securely course correct. There are things more valuable than trade surplus such as the freedom to regulate national and provincial stability. Donald Trump is wrong. We don’t need to build walls against foreign countries. We need to build protective legal structures in the upside down world of modern trade that destabilizes the law.
On behalf of the generations of children coming, I ask you to consider the gravity of a trade platform. What is is for? Please hear what your international colleagues say about the risks. Listen to what lies in the heart of citizen worry. Global trade consciousness is steadily rising. There’s not enough time left to risk an international direction driven by abstract calculations. The earth shows us her limits. We need a sovereign mind, a spirit of change, to enter international negotiations if we are to stay here and be well. We need a leader who will rise and say: regardless of what’s popular, I will not allow corporations to sue our nation or attack what’s left for the children coming.