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Excuse me, but ...?

Here's some ideas for questions to put to our elected representatives. Please voice your concerns in any way comfortable to you. Always request a reply, and don't settle for the usual polite brush-off by your representative's assistant; your questions deserve an answer from your representative himself.

  1. Why is our government planning to subject itself to arbitration by an international court for foreign investors?
  2. Why should foreign investors be allowed to dictate any of our laws? Why should their rights supercede those of our elected governments?

    Reference: -3a. Subject only to paragraph 3b [a minor point regarding parallel suits involving the same dispute] each Contracting Party [government] HEREBY GIVES ITS UNCONDITIONAL CONSENT to the submission of a dispute to international arbitration in accordance with the provisions of this article. (p.62, May 13th MAI draft)

  3. Why does the MAI allow foreign investors to sue governments but not vice versa -- especially if foreign investors have been caught hurting people or the environment? The MAI draft text simply makes no provisions for it whatsoever [as far as I could see].
  4. Why should foreign investors be allowed legal rights that are denied to freely-elected governments? The MAI does not even let governments intervene in MAI lawsuits against other governments by their own investors, although if such suits are won they are permitted, like some dumb bodyguard, to back up such investors. It would be as if our votes counted for nothing.

    Reference: -A Contracting Party [government] MAY NOT INITIATE PROCEEDINGS under this Article for a dispute which its investor has submitted, or consented to submit, to arbitration under article D, unless the other Contracting Party has failed to abide by and comply with the award rendered in that dispute... (p.56)

  5. Why is there no appeal process if a government loses to a foreign investor? Shouldn't there be provision to reverse unfair or incompetent rulings? This is how our court systems normally work in any democratic country.

    Reference: -An arbitration award SHALL BE FINAL AND BINDING between the parties to the dispute and shall be carried out without delay by the party against whom it is issued... (p.66)

  6. The NAFTA has been shown to be a disaster for all signing parties in terms of human rights, the environment, and employment. As in Nike's takeover of Bauer, quality Canadian industry is being exported to Asia where workers are underpaid and mistreated; Ottawa is already being sued by Ethyl for $250 million over an environmental regulation; and millions of people in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico have lost work - all directly due to NAFTA. Will you now please abandon the belief that free trade is beneficial to anyone but wealthy shareholders?
  7. Sir, you claim that education and our health care system are important to you, but then, as your best example of the benefits of free trade, you cite the economy of Chile, where shiny new private health clinics stand next to dilapidated schools and state hospitals. How can you rationalize this?
  8. The MAI constitutes a strong modification to national sovereignty. Any change to the sovereignty of a country is a constitutional change, and as such must, in any ethical democracy, be submitted to the public vote. Yet, no discussion of the MAI or its implications has been brought before the. Why is this?
  9. Fundamental to the MAI is a requirement that signing governments subject themselves to arbitration by an international court for foreign investors. Our country's laws and policies would be dictated by foreign investors. By what reasoning can this be considered a democratic process?
  10. This government's stated emphasis is on job creation. But the most influential group lobbying for free trade in Canada is the Canadian Business Council on National Issues (BCNI), and since 1988, firms belonging to the BCNI laid off more than 200,000 workers while boosting their revenues by $32.1 billion. How can this government's endorsement of free trade be justified when free trade is directly responsible for massive work loss?
  11. Our planet is already in ecological crisis. The narrow considerations of foreign investors completely oppose any form of environmental regulation. If this government commits itself to the 20-year lock-in of the MAI, what future do you see for your children's children?
  12. Will you call for public hearings on the MAI? If not, why not?
  13. What is your position on the MAI? Have you sufficiently informed yourself about the MAI that you can make a responsible decision on whether to ratify it, alter it, or end our country's participation in the agreement? What is your decision, and what are your reasons?
  14. Do you realize that as a policy-maker, under the MAI you will be bound to serve the corporate agenda against the will and welfare of your constituents? How do you feel about this, and what will you do about it?

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