2017-01-25

Petition Re NAFTA and ISDS

I have prepared a petition in response to the opportunity to seek removal of ISDS from NAFTA given by the intention of the new President of the United States to open NAFTA for renegotiation.  The text of the petition follows.  Unlike the actual petition which cannot contain hyperlinks, this copy contains links to various related articles about ISDS.  The petition itself is on Change.org; do not attempt to sign it here.

Petition Re NAFTA and ISDS
To:  Prime Minister, The Right Honourable Justin P. J. Trudeau,
Minister of International Trade, the Honourable Fran├žois-Philippe Champagne,
The Parliament of Canada, and
the rest of the Government of Canada
Whereas The new President of the United States of America has stated his intention to open the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) for complete renegotiation; and
Whereas Negotiations for NAFTA and for other so-called free trade agreements have been and continue to be conducted in secret by government trade negotiators with the exception that representatives of international corporations with interest in the effects of international trade are permitted access to these negotiators and to contribute to treaty development while:
  • wholly domestic Canadian businesses with an interest in how international trade may affect their own local business operations,
  • organizations concerned about environmental issues and how international trade may impact the Canadian and worldwide environment,
  • labour organizations with concerns about how international trade may affect working Canadians,
  • Canadian agricultural organizations with concerns about Canadians’ capacity to feed ourselves while also trading internationally,
  • organizations attentive to health and safety issues and concerned with the effect of international trade on those issues, and
  • others with interest in the effect of international trade on Canadian society
          are all prohibited the same access to Canada’s government trade negotiators; and
Whereas NAFTA contains provision for Investor/State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) through the International Centre for Settlement of Investor Disputes (ICSID); and
Whereas ISDS permits international corporations to sue Canada by tribunal outside of any national judiciary to overturn new law enacted out of our sovereign right to govern ourselves; and
Whereas ISDS suits get decided in secret trials without recourse to appeal, utter anathema to a free and democratic society, never open and public; and
Whereas The evil of ISDS lies in its capacity to defeat the sovereign right of nations, Canada included, to govern themselves by granting international corporations with investments in Canadian business the right to sue Canadian federal, provincial, and local governments in these SECRET TRIALS outside of the Canadian judicial system if new environmental, labour, health and safety, business practice, etc. law impinges on their investment; and
Whereas These secret ISDS trials exist in one direction only – international corporations may sue nations, Canada included, but nations may not sue international corporations – ISDS raises international corporations from their proper status as subjects of nations and welcome guests within Canada to superiors of nations; and
Whereas Decisions by ISDS tribunals are based solely on the impact new Canadian law may have upon a complainant corporation’s investment, with all other factors (environmental, labour, health and safety, business practice regulation, etc.) government must consider when drafting law, regarded as irrelevant to each case; and
Whereas Decisions by ISDS tribunals are based upon neither existing statutes of any kind nor active precedents, implying that Canadian governments cannot know, when preparing new law, if our actions may be subject to attack under ISDS and, thus, may feel need to clear any new law with international corporate boards of directors if Canada wishes to preclude attack by ISDS suits; and
Whereas The above four conditions transform international corporations from subjects of nations or welcome guests within Canada to, in effect, non-territorial kingdoms and reinforces the current dangerous trend corrupting Capitalism toward Capital Feudalism by which:
  • Capital replaces land as the feu;
  • International banking replaces the Church as the external power;
  • Non-territorial international corporations replace kingdoms as the fundamental holders of the feu;
  • Corporate CEOs replace kings as the authorities by which the feu gets distributed and to whom loyal attachment must return;
  • Major corporate internal divisions and subsidiaries replace baronies, earldoms, dukedoms, counties, etc. as subordinate holders of the feu;
  • Corporate vice presidents, very senior managers, and subsidiary CEOs replace the various Lords of the Realm;
  • Corporate managers and highly skilled technical professionals replace knights;
  • Contractors replace the freeman peasantry; and
  • Ordinary common working people are reduced to the new serfs;
All while the role of sovereign nations and democratic decision making diminishes into insignificance, reducing Canada and participating nations to resource and labour colonies of international corporations; and
Whereas As a consequence of our participation in NAFTA, Canada is already the developed nation most frequently attacked with ISDS suits, with one immediately a recent case in point, an ISDS judgment against the province of Ontario; and
Whereas NAFTA is widely considered to be a template and precedent for many other so-called free trade agreements in which Canada currently participates or are under negotiation with Canada’s participation;

Therefore We the undersigned Canadians, prepared, “O Canada, We stand on guard for thee,” do petition you to:
Require that The sovereignty-deleting Investor/State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) through the International Centre for Settlement of Investor Disputes (ICSID) provision be wholly removed from a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA);
Require that In place of ISDS, a renegotiated NAFTA provide that Canadian operations of international corporations which find themselves at issue with our governments at any level should bring the matter to an open and public Canadian court within the Canadian judicial system for decision under Canadian law in the same way as wholly domestic Canadian corporations and Canadian citizens must do;
Require that Alternatively, in place of ISDS, a renegotiated NAFTA provide that, if an issue exceeds the competence of Canadian courts, an international corporation should openly and publicly request its home nation government (by home nation, we do not mean that nation within which an international corporation is chartered or locates its corporate head office; we mean that nation in which the plurality of the corporation's equity capital ownership resides) to pursue the matter in an open and public international court on a sovereign nation versus sovereign nation basis that clearly holds international corporations as subjects of sovereign nations and not as equals with, nor as masters of, sovereign nations;
Require that In line with this government’s commitment to be fully open to Canadians, the renegotiation occur openly for public scrutiny; and
Require that Representatives of:
  • wholly domestic Canadian businesses with an interest in how international trade may affect their own local business operations,
  • organizations concerned about environmental issues and how international trade may impact the Canadian and worldwide environment,
  • labour organizations with concerns about how international trade may affect working Canadians,
  • Canadian agricultural organizations with concerns about Canadians’ capacity to feed ourselves while also trading internationally,
  • organizations attentive to health and safety issues and concerned with the effect of international trade on those issues, and
  • others with interest in the effect of international trade on Canadian society
have the same access and opportunity to contribute to a renegotiated NAFTA as do representatives of international corporations.

Therefore also We Canadians who love our sovereign, “True north, strong and free,” do petition you to:
Commit to Seek to remove ISDS from all other so-called free trade agreements to which Canada is party, as those agreements come up for renewal,
Refuse to Sign or ratify so-called free trade agreements currently under negotiation as long as they contain ISDS,
Refuse to Participate in any new so-called free trade negotiations if parties to those negotiations intend to include ISDS.


Thank you for your attention.