Pontiac without dairy farms?

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Dispatches from the 148 by Fred Ryan

One concrete issue for our next federal government will be international trade pacts. They don’t lend themselves to sound-bite summaries, and so usually are left out of media
discussions – as if  politicians and the media feel ordinary Canadians are too simple-minded to grasp such complexities.

Dispatches from the 148 by Fred Ryan

One concrete issue for our next federal government will be international trade pacts. They don’t lend themselves to sound-bite summaries, and so usually are left out of media
discussions – as if  politicians and the media feel ordinary Canadians are too simple-minded to grasp such complexities.
Of course, it’s also up to us ordinary people to show we are interested and can follow two sentences strung together! 
Former governments promoted these trade pacts as “free trade”, which is Brave-New-World talk for the exact opposite. There’s hardly anything “free” in them, starting with NAFTA.  Some goods are “free” of some duties and taxes, but certainly not all, and certainly not many products from countries like the US, which signs deals and then refuses to abide by them in terms of removing government
subsidies or in accepting trade-court decisions which go against their interests. Smaller economies, like ours, cannot refuse.  Thus, our once-strong manufacturing sector has been wiped out, and if there’s a replacement it hasn’t
been in high-tech (as
promised) but in service industries – fast food jobs, instead of automotive or refrigerator manufacturing jobs which paid well, and were profitable to local manufacturers.
It’s so curious – or is “destructive” better – that the politicians promoting these deals also claim to be protectors of Canadian industry and jobs!
Not only do these pacts aid the transfer of industry and jobs to low-wage
countries, they give the multinational corporations behind these pacts the tools to sue Canada for restrictions we might cause them in trying to protect our environment or set consumer standards. Sue Canada for protecting its environment, for banning hormones in milk, wow! Our taxes again go to the giant companies.
The big pact at the moment is the Trans-Pacific agreement, still being hammered out – in secret – despite public protests around the world.  This will be Globalisation’s crown: protection for profit-
making, protection for patents, and encouragement for transfer to
low-wage regions, but no protection for consumers and certainly none for working people (neither here nor in the ‘poor’
countries).  What a deal, if you are a multi-national!
The Pacific deal remains stuck, with farm supply-management programs one of the big problems for the corporate world. They tell us these pacts will do for food, what earlier pacts did for dollar stores. 
Everything will be cheaper, folks! But don’t ask about quality monitoring, health standards, or worker and consumer
safety – these are impediments to profit and thus open us to lawsuits, largely from the USA.
How is it, again, that this promotes our economy, industries, and jobs, as the government and its think-tank chaperones claim?  More fast-food jobs?
The Pacific trade
deal targets opening our
markets to American, New Zealand, and Chinese milk, fish, meats and other foods.  They’ll all be “cheaper”.  Dollar stores can open food sections.
But how can cheap milk from Alabama or New Zealand be fresh? What quality standards will apply and who will apply them in this world-wide free-for-all? Who will guarantee a steady supply and reliable prices?
Who will inspect
member nations for hidden subsidies (billions in the US’ corn, peanut, cotton, soy industries)?  Who will police this – and how?  Just try telling the Americans they MUST test milk for chemical residues!
Lastly, what will our own countryside look like? What will Pontiac look like with fewer dairy farms? With none?  How will this increase jobs in the Pontiac?
We have to remind ourselves that when we vote for certain candidates we ARE voting for these destructive corporate-trade deals.