The MAI (Multilateral Agreement on Investment)
Threat to Canadian Sovereignty
two one hour specials from the January 29, 1998 "Public Forum on the MAI", featuring Maude Barlow.
"The single most important role for us now, in 1998, as we approach the millenium, as citzens of the world, is to bring the rule of law to global capital... If we don't do that we will not be able to fight the other battles. ...and we have to do that together."
-Maude Barlow, volunteer chair of the Council of Canadians.
excerpts from Maude Barlow's speech:
"I think that what has happened is the the MAI has become a metaphor for the debate on economic globalization...and people are tired of being told they have no alternative. Suddenly something comes along that is so outrageous, so egregious, so off the wall, over the top unacceptible, that it becomes a way for us to talk about the rest of it...."
"In 1989 87% of Canadians were insured against unemployment, now it's around 40%. We've watched the growth in income inequalities between people in our society. In those nine years there's been a threefold increase in millionaires and there's been a 58% increase in child poverty - a disgraceful statistic, it 99% in my province of Ontario in those years....There have been cuts that have been taken that are so deep in our social structures in the last ten years that we are now back to 1949 in terms of what we spend at the federal level on social programs as a total of government spending....
"We now have a budget surplus.... the cuts to social programs, government programs and culture and environment generally did not really make much of a difference. In fact it was lowering the interest rates and the resulting growth that cause the deficit reduction and that if we had been prepared to wait two more years we would not have had to cut one single cent out of social programs."
on why the MAI is a threat:
"The top 200 corporations with a combined revenue of over 7 trillion dollars have approximately twice the economic clout of the bottom 4/5ths of humanity. Now, these corporations have largely abandoned the nation states of their birth and they are sucessfully challenging the role of government everywhere to make law ...and of course no international law has grown up to meet them."
"...Basically the MAI's purpose is to remove the remaining nation state's ability to control global capital, mobile capital. It takes away all levels of government's right to dictate the terms under which investment comes in and out of a country. The MAI says that you cannot discriminate. You cannot say that you will give any special treatment in any way to anything Canadian, or from British Columbia or from your community....not just industry, it covers all the areas.... financial transactions plus all cultural institutions...."
"As the agreement is written now...the government could not fund the CBC, it could not give any tax breaks to Canadian magazines, Canadian booksellers, Canadian writers, musicians or artists of any kind. If you were to give subsidies, and continue to fund the CBC, you would open yourself up to a challenge from ABC, NBC, Disney...any public or private corporation of the other countries in the MAI would be able to say that is discrimination."
"As well, the MAI says that wherever there is any mixture of public and private funding for any social program, or health program, or education program like childcare, elder care, or community health clinics and so on...it would be discrimination to have money going to only those Canadian non-profit areas."
"The most outrageous provision of the MAI is the right it gives transnational corporations to directly sue governments...if they bring in any new law, or amend any law, or even apply a current law that they haven't been evenly applying in the past, in such a way that they could claim it was a form of expropriation...by the way this includes subsidies....corporations would be able to sue if governments tried to upgrade their standards, their regulations or practices, or even implement in any way the current practices that they have."
"Now the [Canadian] government is saying it is not going to bring it [MAI negotiations] back in the form of implementing legislation to the parliament of Canada. We will have no chance to debate it... no chance to have a discussion among us or any form of a vote or any form of democratic resolution of this thing in parliament."
"...People are so frustrated that it is turning into a political movement, and I think it is very important that we think about how we use this political movement. We may, in fact, win this one, and we must not think that by itself that's winning...."
Ian Waddell, MLA for Vancouver-Fraserview
Ian Waddell represented the BC government at the House of Commons hearings, where BC was the only province opposing the MAI.
excerts from Ian Waddell's speech:
"The BC position that we presented was basically this: that we were not against foreign investment, but we already have rules for foreign investment.... rules that enhance the security and stability for foreign investors. We also said that we don't want to be part of what Premier Clark called 'the race to the bottom': lower wages, lower environmental standards, trampling on working people."
"Keep up the fight. We must not give up or else we're going to have a new constitution for Canada and it's going to be the Fraser Institute's constitution, and the globalizationists' constitution. We're standing up in BC, we can win this fight."
MAI resource and action links
The Council of Canadians
MAI - Not! Project
Report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade (the MAI hearings)
MAI Resource Kit
Fax your MP for free
order the videotapes
MAI Special Part 1 and Part 2
two one hour specials from the January 29, 1998 "Public Forum on the MAI", featuring Maude Barlow. Contact us to order.
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