Andrew Scheer, the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, stated that in the NAFTA Negotiations Canada should not propose inclusion of climate change measures. Scheer tagged such measures as “social issues”, along with gender equality and aboriginal rights. Erin O’Toole, the Conservative Shadow Foreign Minister, characterized these measures as “virtue signalling,”, inferring that they are really public relations proposals that the Liberal Government knows will never find their way into a trade agreement.
To a bystander with some minimal acquaintance with NAFTA, it is hard to appreciate that the environment as a subject should not be included. The environment was agreed to by the three countries in the negotiation of the present NAFTA, although not formally included in the final document. Now even the US Negotiator wishes to include the environment in the final text.
There is one problem: for a majority of Canadians the environment includes measures to avoid climate change. We don’t wish our boreal forests parched by long periods of drought and then destroyed by wildfires that cannot be controlled. We don’t want “one hundred years floods” to re-occur two years later, as Peterborough and Windsor experienced. We don’t wish the Canadian Arctic to warm twice as quickly as the planetary average.
How different from the attitude, statements and actions of Donald Trump! Under his Presidency, the US reneged on the Paris Accord, the only country that has withdrawn from its commitment. Trump called climate change a “hoax” perpetrated by the Chinese, a surprising statement that he has never qualified or explained.
Convincing Trump that climate change measures are necessary won’t be easy, even though inclusion of these provisions will enable its NAFTA partners to discharge their international obligations under the Paris Accord.
Critics in Western Canada say that insisting on inclusion of climate change measures will be an insurmountable obstacle to reaching a final agreement. And if agreement is not reached Trump will terminate the present Treaty, damaging our economy and costing many jobs.
We cannot support the Conservative Party in its demand for non-inclusion. For 4RG’s position please see our Previous Comments on the re-negotiation of NAFTA: