Mr. Speaker, the multinational agreement on investment is a bad deal for the people in my riding of Halifax West and it is a bad deal for Nova Scotians.
On February 13, I challenged both the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Industry about the impact of this mega deal. Neither was willing to tell the real story to Canadians. This deal has been cooked up by the cream of the financial elite, by some super rich people and mega corporations, many making more in a year than some entire third world countries. This agreement would arm Goliath with missiles while handcuffing and blindfolding David.
Mega corporations did not elect this government, people did. But the MAI which this government is so keen on will protect those mega corporations at the expense of the taxpayers who elected this government. The MAI would tie the hands of our own government. It would elevate the special status of investors at the expense of our environment, labour standards and public safety.
We should be taking the lead by working to forge international agreements which include at their root the banning of child and forced labour, the protection of our threatened environment for our children, the banning of discrimination which hurts those who have the most to lose and free collective bargaining with equal footing for all partners.
Under the North American Free Trade Agreement Ethyl Corporation in the United States was enabled to sue the Canadian government for $350 million for banning the dangerous and toxic substance MMT from gasoline. Ethyl Corporation wants Canadian taxpayers to foot the bill for over one third of a billion dollars simply because we want to ban a toxic substance and the NAFTA paves the way for this type of corporate rule over the voter.
If NAFTA is a leaky dory then the MAI is the Titanic going down. NAFTA has provisions for six months notice of termination while the MAI would bind Canadian parliaments for 20 years. If the MAI were passed today it would tie the hands of this elected government and the ones after that.
Voters would have as much chance of eluding the 20 year storm clouds of the MAI as our Atlantic fisheries have of becoming healthy again under this Liberal government. This agreement would pave the way for huge multinational corporations to sue Canadians through our government for doing no more wrong than taking measures to protect ourselves. We could be prevented from confronting threats to our children's health that we do not even know of yet.
Corporations that are not elected would be able to use MAI muscle to protect their short term profit margins by preventing our elected governments from successfully taking legislative steps to protect our health, culture, democracy and working conditions.
Would my constituents be given similar rights to protect us from the impact of the operation of these corporations? No. On one hand, could the Sierra Club use provisions of the MAI to prevent deadly chemicals from eating holes in the ozone? No. On the other hand, could multinational corporations find ammunition with the MAI to continue working to produce these chemicals? Yes.
This new corporate stealth rule is like creating a whole level of super government without any voters and without any accountability. The MAI is all about providing 20 years of protection for this new corporate rule. Fortunately many political leaders are now showing common sense.
In March of this year European parliamentarians from 15 nations voted an overwhelming 437 to 8 against these undemocratic negotiations. Just last week the ministers of 29 OECD countries announced they have decided not to sign or set a new deadline for this much criticized agreement.
Our Liberal government still seems to be deep in the pockets of large corporations. We must remember that large corporations did so much to bankroll the election of the Liberal government. However, the government now has the choice of saying yes to the people Halifax West and to Nova Scotians and no to the selfish interests of the super rich.
I ask the government which choice it will make. The MAI is now sleeping, thanks to the work of those who opposed it. Let us ensure that the government does not wake it up.