Cameron Wigmore, Green Party Member: On Pesticides, More Or Less

May 9, 2007

On Pesticides, More Or Less

I sometimes wonder how we've come to the point where food that was simply food just a few decades ago has become specialty 'organic' food, and our every day grocery store food is now generally accepted as normal food.


Rather that label organic food and separate it from the regular stock, I think we should label the majority of non-organic foods as 'specialty toxic foods', or 'discount reduced quality foods', and organic foods can reclaim a place on our grocery store shelves as our generally accepted food.


Although I'm not a farmer and do not come from an agricultural background, I've learned a lot in the last few years about the realities of the transition to organic farming. Organic farming is a whole different thing, and it takes years to make the transition. I know a lot of farmers who say they'd rather not work with all of the pesticides and fertilizers they use, but our government doesn't really provide many opportunities for them to switch over to organic farming. I'm excited that the Green Party recognizes this dilemma, and would assist the industry in the transition to organic farming. Many of the new agriculture related policies adopted at the August '06 GPC convention in Ottawa, where I was present and participated, are very exciting and insightful. Watch for them in our next election platform!


Farmers should never ever be vilified by people in the city who've never been to rural areas to learn about the realities of agriculture. Not only have many people forgotten about how admirable, respectable and valuable this profession is, sadly farmers in Canada don't get their fair share of the consumer dollar, and something needs to be done about that right now.


Here's a recent Green Party media release on the subject of raising allowable pesticide levels...


Protect our children; don’t weaken pesticide rules, says Green Party

08.05.2007
OTTAWA – The Green Party is calling on the federal government to protect the most vulnerable members of Canadian society – children and the unborn – by resisting pressure to raise limits on pesticide residues for hundreds of fruit and vegetable products.

Commenting on a report that Canada is about to raise pesticide residue limits to harmonize rules with those of the United States, Green Party leader Elizabeth May said, "Once again, we see Canada joining a race to the bottom in the name of NAFTA.”

Today's Ottawa Citizen reports that Canada's regulations are stricter than those south of the border for 40 percent of the chemical residues it regulates. The different rules are described as a "trade irritant." Under NAFTA, Canadian and U.S. regulators have been working for more than a decade to harmonize regulations but the negotiations are now being fast-tracked as part of the Security and Prosperity Partnership.

"If harmonization is the goal, then we should insist on harmonizing upwards," said Ms. May. "The U.S. has some of the weakest pesticide residue rules in the developed world. These are not the standards to which Canada should aspire."

She said that the harmonization model adopted successfully by the European Union – where all countries must measure up to the member country with the strictest rules – should become standard practice in North America.

"If the cost of NAFTA is exposing Canadians to higher levels of toxic chemicals then that's too high a price to pay," said Ms. May. "It certainly validates the long-standing Green Party position that Canada should renegotiate NAFTA to eliminate mechanisms that erode Canada's sovereignty and environmental laws.”


From the Wikipedia entry on pesticides:

History
Since before 2500 BC, humans have used pesticides to prevent damage to their crops. The first known pesticide was elemental sulfur dusting used in Sumeria about 4,500 years ago. By the 15th century, toxic chemicals such as arsenic, mercury and lead were being applied to crops to kill pests. In the 17th century, nicotine sulfate was extracted from tobacco leaves for use as an insecticide. The 19th century saw the introduction of two more natural pesticides, pyrethrum which is derived from chrysanthemums, and rotenone which is derived from the roots of tropical vegetables.

Pesticide use has increased 50-fold since 1950, and 2.5 million tons of industrial pesticides are now used each year.

On the environment
Pesticides have been found to pollute virtually every lake, river and stream in the United States, according to the US Geological Survey. Pesticide runoff has been found to be highly lethal to amphibians, according to a recent study by the University of Pittsburgh.

Pesticides are strongly implicated in pollinator decline, including through the mechanism of Colony Collapse Disorder.

Dangers of Pesticides
Pesticides can present danger to consumers, bystanders, or workers during manufacture, transport, or during and after use [28]. There is concern that pesticides used to control pests on food crops are dangerous to the consumer. These concerns are one reason for the organic food movement. Many food crops, including fruits and vegetables, contain pesticide residues after being washed or peeled.

A new study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, has discovered a 70% increase in the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease for people exposed to even low levels of pesticides.


For a great video on environmental toxins and their cumulative effects on people, by CBC Marketplace's Wendy Mesley, click here and go to the box on the right with the RM video clip. From the intro to the story...

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," says the old adage. But with so much focus on treatment, drugs and finding the ever-elusive cancer cure, prevention isn't a popular word in the cancer community.

"I can accept that I have cancer; I can't accept how common it is," says Mesley. "If it was just me, I could live with that. But the number of people getting cancer is wrong. Our failure to do better fighting this disease is wrong. I just think we need to be a little wiser about the world we are creating."



Pesticides In The News (collection of updated news stories)

Beyond Pesticides Daily News Blog

Pesticide.net (US News)

58 comments:

Cameron W said...

Related news:


Canada plans to raise pesticide residue limits - Saskatoon StarPhoenix


Canada raising limits on pesticide residues - Montreal Gazette


The plight of the honey bee; Bees might just be the block that topples the environment tower - Owen Sound Sun Times


Migratory birds poisoned by pesticides in south - ctv.ca


Imagine Your Best Employees Vanishing Overnight. For Beekeepers, It's Reality - inc.com


Cancer focus must include environment, new group says - cbc.ca

The Anonymous Green said...

Everytime Canada talks to its largest trading partner about trade issues, why does one always blame it on NAFTA?

Canada is not obligated to move to the US standards. It still has sovereignty over its own environmental standards. This is independent of whether or not NAFTA existed.

So, why does the GPC always point at this agreement, saying it needs to renegotiate. Renegotiate what? In this specific example, there is no need to renegotiate - just set your own Canadian standards in Canada, through regulation.

You may not like what Harper is doing, but Canada is not obligated to go this route under NAFTA (accept lower standards).

Let's cut down on this type of misinformation.

Kate Storey, Agriculture critic, Green Party of Canada said...

NAFTA prevents the government from passing new legislation which will decrease the profit or the potential profit of any company.

That means that since pesticides must pass regulations and if we discover that the regulations now in effect are not protecting us, then NAFTA will prevent us from protecting the public health.

NAFTA promotes profit. It does not consider health and well being.

The Anonymous Green said...

NAFTA prevents the government from passing new legislation which will decrease the profit or the potential profit of any company.

This is not my understanding.

Could you direct me to that specific section of Nafta where it says this?

Thx

Cameron W said...

I think that above statement is an interpretation t.a.g., not a direct quote of NAFTA.

I noticed this statement by Kim Warnke, Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Alberta:

The following is found in Chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement...

Apparently, they are contravening existing legislation with the move to "harmonise downwards"...


- - -
*Article 1114: Environmental Measures*

1. Nothing in this Chapter shall be construed to prevent a Party from
adopting, maintaining or enforcing any measure otherwise consistent with this Chapter that it considers appropriate to ensure that investment activity in its territory is undertaken in a manner sensitive to environmental concerns.

2. The Parties recognize that it is inappropriate to encourage investment by relaxing domestic health, safety or environmental measures. Accordingly, a Party should not waive or otherwise derogate from, or offer to waive or otherwise derogate from, such measures as an encouragement for the establishment, acquisition, expansion or retention in its territory of an investment of an investor. If a Party considers that another Party has offered such an encouragement, it may request consultations with the other Party and the two Parties shall consult with a view to avoiding any such encouragement.
- - -

Kim Warke was on Global News
last night. She did a TV interview on behalf of the Green Party to discuss a release put out on pesticide residue standards for fruits and vegetables. Canada currently has more stringent regulations that the US, but there is talk of harmonizing our standards with the US as they describe the different rules as a "trade irritant".

Cameron W said...

More reference material:

Public Citizen - Ten Year Track Record of NAFTA on Agriculture & Farmers pdf

Public Citizen - Down On The Farm: NAFTA's 7 yr war on farmers & ranchers pdf

The Anonymous Green said...

I think the critics of both the GPC and CPA need to seek professional advice on interpreting Nafta legislation (not partisan NGO or David Orchard type rhetoric).

Both Kate Storey and Kim Warke, in my opinion, are incorrectly interpreting the relevant section of Nafta, and as a result, not serving the public well.

If the Gov't of Canada could not move to tighten environmental standards here because "passing new legislation will decrease the profit or the potential profit of any company", then we would not be able to regulate GHG emissions and other pollutants under CEPA (as the GPC advocates) or the revised Clear Air Act (as the opposition parties advocate).

Nor would the AEUB in your province be able to regulate the flaring of gas at oil and gas facilities (and we know they tightened the regs in mid 90s long after Nafta was in effect - post Wiebo Ludwig controversies).

You can set any environmental standard you want in Canada - so long as it is applied universally to all companies (ie you can't discriminate between Canadian and US/Mexican companies operating here.)

Nafta basically means equal opportunity and equal access.

I don't see how harmonizing pesticide standards downward encourages investment here. It would seem to me all that it would do is allow greater exports from the country that originally had the lower standard. I don't see Kim Warke's point.

Maybe you can invite them to comment on your blog.

Cameron W said...

I've asked for further comments from them. I hope to hear more on this subject.

Herbinator said...

NAFTA is just a step in the road to a more encompassing Harmonization agreement. A subset.

I see the original Elizabeth May NAFTA comment as an understanding that Harmonization is simply a logical expansion of NAFTA. NAFTA prevented us from banning the gasoline additive MMT (even though it is banned in California), and Harmonization will lower protective caps toward lesser American standards.
For example, American turkey used to be routinely turned back at Canadian borders due to its high arsenic content (arsenic added to feed makes the turkeys eat more and fatten more quickly). Early Harmonization talks have eradicated the problem by lowering Canadian arsenic standards.

The link between NAFTA and Harmonization is our lack of sovereignty. MMT, arsenic, oil ... we have to export 2/3 of our production but must import 1/2 of our oil consumption, and we cannot have a strategic reserve. A surrender of sovereignty. Nowhere does NAFTA (or Harmonization) say that the US must export to us 1/3 of their production or that we are entitled to a percentage of their strategic reserve.

So using NAFTA and Harmonization interchangeably is perfectly acceptable to me. Indeed, Harmonization may turn out, in the end, to be just another series of NAFTA extension agreements. Just a North American free trade agreement. Sounds like NAFTA, smells like NAFTA, feels like NAFTA, just as disenfranchising as NAFTA. It is NAFTA to all but the quibblers.

And, since I am on a roll here, dumbing down our standards means we cannot export to Europe. This puts us into further servitude to the US by preventing diversification. Wonder why we cannot export beef to Europe? Our beef has too many hormones and is not allowed there, and for some unknown reason (read as conspiracy theory) we are unable to establish a "certified organic AAA" category which would allow market diversification to Europe.

Smarten-up not dumb-down. NAFTA same as Harmonization for all intents and purposes.

Quit quibbling.

The Anonymous Green said...

NAFTA prevented us from banning the gasoline additive MMT (even though it is banned in California),

Here we go again. More B.S. GP rhetoric.

I have written about this Herb, please go visit my site, review the actual facts, not what some activist has told you, and then come back and talk to me about your claims, and don't simply regurgitate unsubstantiated left wing, anti-US rhetoric.

Click on my name, go to my blog - I
have four entries on Nafta - top blog, three on the bottom, including a specific FACTUAL study of MMT.

Quit spreading misinformation.

Cameron W said...

I spotted this on Wikipedia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nafta#Criticism_and_controversies

Other fears come from the effects NAFTA has had on Canadian lawmaking. In 1996, MMT, a gasoline additive that some studies had linked to nerve damage, was brought into Canada by an American company. The Canadian federal government banned the importation of the additive. The American company brought a claim under NAFTA Chapter 11 seeking US$202.5 million [13], and by Canadian Provinces under the Agreement on Internal Trade ("AIT"). The American company argued that their additive had not been conclusively linked to any health dangers, and that the prohibition was damaging to their company. Following a finding that the ban was a violation of the AIT [14], the Canadian federal government repealed the ban and settled with the American company for US$13 million[15].

t.a.g., is that a reasonable account or would you say it's not very good? The neutrality of this entry on Wikipedia may be disputed.

The Anonymous Green said...

In 1996, MMT, a gasoline additive that some studies had linked to nerve damage, was brought into Canada by an American company.

Not true. Had been here since 1976. Also, no conclusive studies, just speculation. See my blog.

The Nafta Chapter 11 challenge was irrelevant. Hence, it is dishonest to suggest Nafta precluded banning this particular additive. See my blog for details.

Herbinator said...

OK, Anon, first things first. I don't regurge much Green Party propaganda. I'm rather more critical of the Greens than most, in fact.

Odds are that MMT would be banned in Canada were it not for NAFTA, pure and simple. Simply because all mechanisms of NAFTA are not exercised does not exclude the power wielded by NAFTA forces. And, I've posted on MMT, too.

NAFTA, Harmonization = same thing. Simple. I understand simple.

We could also introduce WTO and potential trade wars between European and US interests. It all boils down to control at a community, national or global level. And I must say, I'm not ready for pitiful American standards of corporate globalization practices just yet, thanks. I'll put people before incorporate body anyday. Especially lowest rung incorporate body.

Now if the Americans had standards above European levels, or if their standards approximated Cdn standards then I might be more inclined to think Americans had my best interests at heart. But they don't. It stinks of money and greed. Of Conservatives, actually.

I'm biased, I admit. VERY biased. For a living, I make sick people better by eliminating fat-soluble toxins from their bodies and diets. And they get better, despite medico obfuscation of such practice. People, communities, provinces, and nations should be able to protect themselves from perceived threats, real or otherwise. NAFTA & Harmonization prevents this and presumes instead that America knows what is best for all of us. And, I beg to differ.

NAFTA is an identifiable acronym with a common almost putative meaning. From my perspective its use in this (E. May's) context was perfectly legitimate.

The Anonymous Green said...

Odds are that MMT would be banned in Canada were it not for NAFTA, pure and simple.

Not true. This is just non fact based rhetoric. You are free to review the case facts here: Chapter 11 – Is it STILL a major problem? Was it ever? Not what I'd hoist my political petard upon.

On the GPC blogsite, another individual, Stephen LaFrenie made the same claim as you did. So, I invited him to review the above posting. Here's what he came back and said:

Hello A.G.

First let me accept your debunk of the MMT Chapter 11 situation. I spent the morning trying to sift through the NAFTA agreement and Chapter 11. I'm beginning to have doubts about the renegotiation policy based solely on the agreement between Mexico/U.S./Canada...

First I am finding what appears to be adequate protection for Canada to exert Sovereignty over its environment and impliment measures to protect it...


Your earlier post also indicates to me you lack an understanding of how energy commodities are traded. I have two blogs on my site that address this, but, if you're not going to bother reading them, just make unfounded statements, then our ability to discuss issues is limited.

Given your background, you must be pleased that the gov't is moving forward and reviewing some 4,000 chemicals that were grandfathered when the first version of CEPA was introduced, 1988. The announcement was made last Fall, and lauded by some ENGOs. And this was being undertaken IRRESPECTIVE of Nafta.

The Anonymous Green said...

This is the announcement I was referring to above, outside of Nafta.

PM unveils chemical crackdown

Seeking to keep green agenda from Liberals, Tories get tough with hazardous substances


MARTIN MITTELSTAEDT AND GLORIA GALLOWAY

December 9, 2006

TORONTO, OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper has announced one of world's most sweeping efforts to regulate harmful chemicals, a move that comes as the opposition Liberals try to usurp control of the environmental agenda under new leader Stéphane Dion.

The new strategy "will make Canada a world leader in the testing and regulation of chemicals that are used in thousands of industrial and consumer products," Mr. Harper said at a news conference yesterday.

The Chemicals Management Plan will cost $300-million over four years and is aimed at regulating roughly 23,000 so-called legacy chemicals -- substances produced or imported before 1988, when the government began applying a rigorous assessment of risk.

Although the preliminary review by scientists at Health Canada and Environment Canada has found that thousands of the chemicals pose hazards, the government will focus on the 500 most dangerous and will subject them to the first detailed assessments, beginning next year and ending in 2010. Based on these reviews, Ottawa will make decisions on new regulatory controls against them.

The new chemicals strategy comes after the Conservatives took hits internationally over their inaction on climate change. Environment Minister Rona Ambrose has insisted that it is too late to meet Canada's agreements under the Kyoto accord without imposing harsh measures that would cause energy bills to skyrocket.

The Liberals, on the other hand, have chosen as their leader a man who was environment minister from 2004 until the party's defeat in 2006. Mr. Dion, who is promising to campaign on a platform of environmental sustainability, says he can meet Canada's Kyoto commitments by 2012.

Yesterday's attack on toxic chemicals is the kind of environmental policy for which the Conservatives have demonstrated a preference. As with smog reduction, the need to control harmful substances Canadians encounter in their everyday lives is more easily comprehensible than greenhouse-gas emissions.

And it provides a way of countering the attack the Liberals had clearly been planning on the environmental front.

"I think this has got as much to do with Mr. Dion as anything else," said Nathan Cullen, the NDP's environment critic who accuses the Liberals of being inactive on the toxic-chemical file, even during Mr. Dion's tenure.

"I know some of the people involved in designing this; they wanted something more salient and concrete to compare and contrast themselves on an issue that the Liberals would like to try to reclaim."

But Mr. Dion, whose party initiated the compilation of the list of legacy chemicals several years ago, said the government has had the list since September but has done nothing until yesterday.

"If the health of Canadians is a priority for Mr. Harper's minority government, why did Minister Ambrose delay taking action for three months, only to come out with such a weak plan that won't be implemented until 2010?" he said in a release issued late yesterday.

The new plan follows a review completed earlier this year by government scientists that found a staggering 4,000 chemicals in widespread commercial use may be hazardous to either human health or wildlife.

Because of the large number of suspect chemicals and the sheer number of products they're used in, it is likely that almost every home in Canada contains some items Ottawa is now worried are dangerous.

Mr. Harper received some rare praise from environmentalists yesterday for his announcement.

"It's a significant step forward," commented Rick Smith, executive director of Environmental Defence, a Toronto organization that has tested Canadians for many of these chemicals and has found that everyone had trace amounts in their tissues.

Mr. Smith said he expects the announcement will lead to restrictions in the use of the chemicals, and to less exposure to cancer-causing compounds. "It will mean less carcinogenic substance in consumer products around our homes. It will mean that there will be measurably reduced levels of pollution in the Canadian environment," he said.

Ottawa's chemical hit list

The government says there are thousands of chemicals that could pose threats to human health and the environment. Among those it deems of greatest concern are:

Bisphenol A: This is one of the most widely used compounds in Canada, found in a large number of plastics products. It is the primary chemical in polycarbonate, used to make office-cooler water jugs, dental sealants, baby bottles and the resin lining inside most tin cans. Research has linked it to cancers and declining sperm counts.

Perfluorinated carboxylic acids: These are chemicals used to make non-stick and water- and stain-repellant products ranging from kitchen pans to clothing. The government wants exposures reduced because experiments have shown the chemicals undermine immune systems and skew development.

Perfluorooctane sulfonate: This is a non-stick chemical the government worries could be reaching harmful levels in wildlife. Although North American manufacturing stopped in 2000, there are still worries it may be imported in consumer goods.

Phthalates: These are widely used to make plastics softer and more pliable, often with polyvinyl chloride. Although they were once used in baby products, such as rubber duckies, the government says it has worked with companies to end these type of uses. However, it is still used in vinyl flooring, some blood bags, lubricating oils and perfumes. Research on laboratory animals has linked phthalates to changes to the liver and kidneys, and birth defects. They are also suspected hormone disrupters.

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers: A family of related chemical compounds used as flame retardants in mattresses, computers and other consumer products. Research indicates they are a thyroid disruptor in animal tests. The government is proposing new regulations for the types of PBDEs of greatest concern. Martin Mittelstaedt

Kate Storey, Green Party of Canada said...

The preceding lenghty post on toxins reads like an advertisement for the Harper's government. That is until you realize that $3,000,000 to investigate 23,000 toxins means that only $130 will be spent on each toxin. Then you realize that this is another one of Harpers ineffective attempts to fool the public into thinking he is doing something.

But back to NAFTA. Anonymous has unintentionally pointed out the major problem with NAFTA. It is written to allow interpretation.

This leaves the Canadian government open to lawsuits from companies who don't happen to like new Canadian laws to protect our health and environment. Win or lose, a lawsuit creates expenses that taxpayers shouldn't need to pay.

The Green Party would begin the process to withdraw from NAFTA to protect Canadian sovereignty over our businesses and our regulations.

Anonymous, your post makes me wonder why you think that "encouraging investment" is more important than regulating the poisons that are sprayed on our children's food?

The Anonymous Green said...

Kate, thanks for your "answers".

First off, let me suggest your math is suspect. This is a good example of why I ask individuals who make unfounded claims to substantiate their statements.

You say: That is until you realize that $3,000,000 to investigate 23,000 toxins means that only $130 will be spent on each toxin.

First off, the value is $300 million, not $3 million, and they have indicated they are focusing on 500 chemicals. Your numbers are out to lunch on two fronts. The list was willowed down to 500 from 23,000 based upon studies undertaken over the past years. This is typical GP spin.

Furthermore,you state: The preceding lenghty post on toxins reads like an advertisement for the Harper's government . Yet, you fail to acknowledge the statements of Rick Smith, executive director of Environmental Defence. He has been noticeable in the media of bringing these issues to the forefront in Canada. Frankly, I place more credibility on the opinion of an apolitical NGO than a partisan political critic.

This leaves the Canadian government open to lawsuits from companies who don't happen to like new Canadian laws to protect our health and environment. Win or lose, a lawsuit creates expenses that taxpayers shouldn't need to pay.

Kate, the FTA has been in place since 1989, Nafta since 1993. So, we've had 18 yrs thereabouts of some form of Free Trade with the US. Let's have some facts, not empty rhetoric. How much has it cost the Canadian Gov't under Nafta challenges, that would not have occured if Nafta did not exist? Facts please.

Anonymous, your post makes me wonder why you think that "encouraging investment" is more important than regulating the poisons that are sprayed on our children's food?

What a bunch of nonsense. Who is advocating not "regulating the poisons that are sprayed on our children's food"? Spin, pure and simple GP spin.

Kate Storey, Green Party of Canada said...

Yes, Anonymous, you are right. $13,000 per toxin but the Harper Government isn't really going to deal with them. Only with 500 of them, leaving the remaining 98% unregulated. As you said "Health Canada and Environment Canada has found that thousands of the chemicals pose hazards".

The Green party is tired of watching our children die as the government dithers over "toxin levels" and "business interests".

Are you denying that the rise in cancers rates parallels the rise in toxic chemical use? Are you denying that new research has shown that common chemicals formerly believed to be safe are now known to be toxic and that these chemicals are even more lethal in combination.

NAFTA is a way to increase corporate profits by preventing Canada from protecting it's citizens. Those corporations simply don't care about your health, our your children's health.

Wake up to reality, Anonymous.
You are spouting the rhetoric from the 70's. Back then many believed that chemicals in our food were safe. They believed that smoking was safe too. Now we know different.

The Anonymous Green said...

Are you denying that the rise in cancers rates parallels the rise in toxic chemical use?

No

Are you denying that new research has shown that common chemicals formerly believed to be safe are now known to be toxic and that these chemicals are even more lethal in combination.

No

NAFTA is a way to increase corporate profits by preventing Canada from protecting it's citizens.

Don't agree - David Orchard rhetoric

Those corporations simply don't care about your health, our your children's health.

Sweeping generalizations always work best in rhetorical fights. Yes, best to kill off your customers. You're right.

Wake up to reality, Anonymous.
You are spouting the rhetoric from the 70's. Back then many believed that chemicals in our food were safe. They believed that smoking was safe too. Now we know different.


The reality, I believe that needs awakening is yours. The longer and longer the David Orchards, Maude Barlows and other unnamed individuals continue on with this 1988 FTA argument, the greater you and others are putting our children's and other's health at risk. Why? Because, overall, you are directing your scarce resources at something that you will not be able to affect, that is the renegotiation of Nafta - which is a convenient bogeyman, and speaks more to ideology than reality.

Yes, individuals and advocates could have moved the environmental agenda forward by focusing on what Canada could have done on these issues under Chretien/Martin WITHIN Canada using existing laws and regulations. But everytime you inapropriately blame it on Nafta, you are giving the opposing political parties, and the bureaucrats an easy out resulting in inaction- "I can do nothing. My hands are tied. NAFTA".

The debate has degenerated to this level because of activist groups who have gone around for the past 10 yrs spreading myths - MMT is a prime example.

If your strategy is to garner support from the far left NDP crowd, then go around blaming everything in this world on Nafta - they'll probably vote for the party. But, you'll never be successful in seeing this (renegotiating Nafta) to fruition.

Counterproductive rhetoric, and misinformation. Blaming Nafta is an excuse for inaction in Canada.

kate storey said...

Misinformation? I invite you to go back to the trial of Ethyl Corp vs Canada which resulted in forcing Canada to retract a ban on toxic MMT. Also take a look at NAFTA chapter 11. And then think about what that means for pesticide regulations. NAFTA makes it very unlikely that Canada can strengthen our pesticide regulation so we do not want to weaken what we have now.

Economic, Social and Environmental factors are always interconnected.

Harmonization with the US might make sense if Canada were exactly the same as the US but we are not. Climate is one of our major differences. Among other things, climate affects our diet, our food crops, our ecology and the way pesticides interact within our environment and within our bodies. A chemical that is acceptable in the US may have different effects in Canada and between provinces.

Harmonization is achieved partly through NAFTA. NAFTA was passed by a Conservative government that was looking only at the economic side of things. Unfortunately the do-nothing Liberal government did not withdraw from NAFTA and the ineffective NDP did not force the issue(they wouldn't anyway as they were still duped into thinking that NAFTA would bring factory jobs to Canada).

That leaves the Green Party of Canada to balance social, economic and environmental factors. And we have identified NAFTA as one of the factors in the way of balanced government.

The Anonymous Green said...

Misinformation? I invite you to go back to the trial of Ethyl Corp vs Canada which resulted in forcing Canada to retract a ban on toxic MMT. Also take a look at NAFTA chapter 11.

I have covered both. I actually did research. Have you? If so, you will find there was no "trial of Ethyl Corp vs Canada which resulted in forcing Canada to retract a ban on toxic MMT." More spin on your part.

I googled your name. I found you are a western organic farmer. The exact same background as David Orchard - so perhaps it is not surprising you are spouting his rhetoric. I bet you know him quite well and for some time.

Here are the chronological facts from NRTEE. You could have found them had you followed the link I provided earlier here.


3.1.3 Chronology

The history of MMT in Canada is intertwined with developments in the United States. The following key milestones represent the major steps in both countries.


Figure 1. Chronology

1976 MMT is used in Canada as an octane booster to replace tetraethyl lead in gasoline.

1977 The use of MMT is banned in unleaded gasoline in California and controlled under the U.S. Clean Air Act for use in unleaded gasoline throughout the United States.


1978 Health Canada evaluates MMTas an alternative to lead gasoline additive and finds no significant health effects.


1970–90 Canada phases out lead in gasoline.


1978 & 1981 Ethyl Corporation applies for waivers from the U.S. EPA restriction on the use of MMTin unleaded gasoline. Both waivers are denied based on concerns over increased hydrocarbon emissions and effects on emission control systems.


1985–86 The Royal Commission on Lead also examines MMT. It finds find no significant health effects.


1990 Ethyl files a third MMTwaiver application with the U.S. EPA.


1992 The U.S. EPA denies the Ethyl waiver application based on concerns that the use of MMTmight increase hydrocarbon emissions.


1993 The U.S. Court of Appeals overturns the U.S. EPA decision to ban MMT, stating that the EPA could only ban the substance if there were a failure of the catalyst or if hydrocarbon emissions increased. However, the EPA upholds the ban, citing suspected neurological effects.


1993 A private member’s bill is introduced in Parliament to ban MMT. The bill is not passed.


1993 The U.S. EPA determines that the use of MMTdoes not cause or contribute to the failure of emission control devices or systems.

1994 Health Canada undertakes independent studies of MMTbut concludes that there are no significant health effects.

1994 The Cleaner Vehicles Task Force, under the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment,starts to examine MMTbut abandons the attempt upon introduction of Bill C-94.


1995 Sheila Copps, Minister of the Environment, introduces Bill C-94 to control the interprovincial movement of MMT. This bill dies on the order paper.


1995 The U.S. Court of Appeals rules that the U.S. EPA exceeded its authority. MMTbecomes a legal fuel additive in the United States.


1996–97 Bill C-94 is reintroduced as Bill C-29 by Copps’ successor, Sergio Marchi, and is passed by Parliament. The Senate Standing Committee on Energy, Environment and Natural Resources cites the precautionary principle.


1996 The Environmental Defense Fund in the United States launches a public campaign to limit the use of MMTand approaches oil refiners, threatening to make public the names of those that may be using MMT.


1996 The Canadian Petroleum Products Institute commissions a study on vehicle monitoring systems and finds no negative effects from MMT.


1997 A panel is established under the Canadian Agreement on Internal Trade to examine Bill C-29. The panel finds that the MMTban of Bill C-29 is inconsistent with the AIT.


1998 The Canadian government withdraws Bill C-29 and settles with Ethyl Corporation before Ethyl’schallenge can be heard under the NAFTA.


1999 The U.S. EPA proposes a battery of tests for MMT, which Ethyl agrees to carry out in accordance with the health effects testing regulations of the U.S. Fuels and Fuel Additives Act.


*****


1999 The Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA ) had a major revision with the benefit of the experience gained from the MMT case.

2004 MMT was virtually eliminated in Canada due to good old pressure from environmental and other groups on refineries, in the absence of scientific proof that would be upheld in court.

Cameron W said...

Anonymous Green, I think Kate S. is winning this argument.

We've been sidetracked from the main topic (pesticides) to the very related subject of NAFTA, and I'd like to offer a link to a recent article that brings the two subjects together.

Canada to raise limits on pesticide residue

OTTAWA -- Think those grapes look suspiciously dusty? Better break out the veggie-scrubbers: Canada is set to raise its limits on pesticide residues on fruit and vegetables for hundreds of products.

The move is part of an effort to harmonize Canadian pesticide rules with those of the United States, which allows higher residue levels for 40 per cent of the pesticides it regulates...

(snip)

...Canadian regulators and their U.S. counterparts have been working to harmonize their pesticide regulations since 1996, as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Now the effort is being fast-tracked as an initiative under the Security and Prosperity Partnership, a wide-ranging plan to streamline regulatory and security protocols across North America.

The SPP's 2006 report identified stricter residue limits as "barriers to trade."

Boyd's report, published by the B.C.-based David Suzuki Foundation, raised concerns about the levels of pesticide residue allowed in the U.S. and Canada.

Comparing 40 U.S. limits with those set by Canada, the European Union, Australia and the World Health Organization, he found the U.S. had the weakest rules for more than half of the pesticide uses studied.

In some cases the differences were dramatic: The U.S. allows 50 times more vinclozolin on cherries as the E.U., and 100 times as much lindane on pineapples.

Canada fared no better: For permethrin on leaf lettuce and spinach, the Canadian and U.S. limit was 400 times higher than in Europe, and the Canadian cap on methoxychlor was 1,400 times the European limit.

Both countries also allow pesticides that have been banned not only in Europe but also in some developing countries, Boyd noted. Methamidophos, for example, is permitted in Canada but banned in Indonesia and other developing nations, he found. The pesticide is now being re-evaluated in Canada...

(snip)

The Anonymous Green said...

Anonymous Green, I think Kate S. is winning this argument.

Well, as a GPC counsel member, you are entitled to your opinion. I think along with many others, it is wrong.

If you go back to my original posting, I made the simple observation:

You may not like what Harper is doing, but Canada is not obligated to go this route under NAFTA (accept lower standards).

Let's cut down on this type of misinformation.


Such prompted immediately the series of rhetoric, misinformation and erroneous statements from the GPC critic.

I'd prefer they'd stop.

Cameron W said...

Anon Green said, "...the series of rhetoric, misinformation and erroneous statements from the GPC critic."

I haven't noticed any rhetoric, misinformation or erroneous statements. I've never known Kate Storey to engage in over-the-top rhetoric or misinformation.

If anyone here does make any mistakes, corrections in the spirit of kindness and helpfulness are always welcome.

Anon Green, speaking of kindness and helpfulness, let's take a deep breathe and step back. I hope we're all here to contribute to the discussion in the hopes that we can share our knowledge and learn from each other.

Let's reframe the discussion. Anon Green, what specifically is your argument? Will you please outline what you're debate point(s) is/are?

Thanks!

The Anonymous Green said...

Yes, the GPC should stop blaming the Nafta agreement and take appropriate action within Canada using the existing laws and regultaions -on a number of anti-Nafta claims, this being just one more example.

Thx

kate storey said...

Anonymous is right on two counts. I used "Ethyl Corp vs Canada" as a short cut assuming that you would know what it refered to because I prefer not to type lengthy posts.

And you are also right that I am a farmer. (I was motivated to take the financial risk of switching to organic farming because I have family members who got cancer directly from pesticides.)

But you are anonymous. I don't know if you are paid to attack people who are working to reduce pesticides in food?
Or maybe you are sensitive to attacks on NAFTA because you helped create it or benefit from it somehow?

The widely interpreted understanding of NAFTA, chapter 11 is that it prevents Canada from making a new law that will decrease anyone's profits. We can argue endlessly about whether or no this interpretation is correct. In the end the interpretation is left up to the courts and is dependant on how much money those involved are willing to spend to defend their case.And that is why we should withdraw from NAFTA.

Many people believe that it is unwise to link Canada's potential ability to pass safety regulations to a Trade agreement.

The pesticide press release made a reference to NAFTA as one of the reasons to avoid lowering Canada's pesticide limits.
They are many other reasons to ask for stronger pesticide regulations. We know that pesticides are making people sick, especially children. We do not understand the effect of pesticides as they accumulate over time or as they are combined. We need strong anti-pesticide regulations.

The Anonymous Green said...

But you are anonymous. I don't know if you are paid to attack people who are working to reduce pesticides in food?
Or maybe you are sensitive to attacks on NAFTA because you helped create it or benefit from it somehow?


You flatter Cam. If I was either, would I be posting my attacks here?

The widely interpreted understanding of NAFTA, chapter 11 is that it prevents Canada from making a new law that will decrease anyone's profits.

Maybe amongst the people you are aligned with.

My perception of the most outspoken people on this and other issues, is that most, if not all, have never worked in industry, have never had to deal with regulations/practices that may/may not be subject to Nafta (hence opinions are completely based upon speculation and no direct experience) and grossly overstate their cases.

Basically, protest voters that are unable to formulate their arguments on fact, just rhetoric or exaggerations.

Case in point.

Cameron W said...

Anon Green, you've posted a lot of comments over the months, and I welcome your point of view.

I'm disappointed in your avoiding Kate's points and dismissing her comments as rhetoric.

I'm getting a sense that your 'perception' is biased and this might skew your ability to hear ideas that don't fit into your picture of NAFTA.

Anon Green, do you believe that it is unwise to link Canada's potential ability to pass safety regulations to a Trade agreement?

Is it possible that this has happened under NAFTA?

Kate said, "...We know that pesticides are making people sick, especially children. We do not understand the effect of pesticides as they accumulate over time or as they are combined. We need strong anti-pesticide regulations..."

Anon Green, you haven't commented much on pesticides. Would you agree with Kate's comments that I just quoted?

I hope you have time to answer my questions.

The Anonymous Green said...

Anon Green, you've posted a lot of comments over the months, and I welcome your point of view.

Well, you may also recall that I invited you and many other GPC members, right up to the top, to visit my blog , invite others, and advise me how I was interpreting Nafta incorrectly. This was your last entry, over seven months ago:

Hi AG,

Great thoughts. I'm by no means an expert on NAFTA, and you'll find a better discussion on this occuring with a number of other GPC members rather than with me. Still, I'll do my best to get up to speed and provide a response to the points and questions you've brought up.

Sat Oct 07, 10:11:00 AM


Now, back to your latest comments.

I'm disappointed in your avoiding Kate's points and dismissing her comments as rhetoric.

I'm getting a sense that your 'perception' is biased and this might skew your ability to hear ideas that don't fit into your picture of NAFTA.

Anon Green, do you believe that it is unwise to link Canada's potential ability to pass safety regulations to a Trade agreement?


Yes

Is it possible that this has happened under NAFTA?

Not as far as I can see. That is why I have been asking anyone who claims such has happened to provide me specific examples and proof where this has happened. We have 18 yrs of experience to draw upon. Up to this point, none have met this challenge. None.

Kate said, "...We know that pesticides are making people sick, especially children. We do not understand the effect of pesticides as they accumulate over time or as they are combined. We need strong anti-pesticide regulations..."

Anon Green, you haven't commented much on pesticides. Would you agree with Kate's comments that I just quoted?


I don't dispute this at all. Review my previous direct responses to her questions. The final comment is key " We need strong anti-pesticide regulations..."

If the GPC had a majority in parliament , this could be accomplished very easily. Just pass the regulations. No need to renegotiate Nafta. Do what Baird is doing on pollutants. Regulate. End of argument. Campaign on that issue. "If elected, we will change regulations unilaterally to the same stringent standards as the EU. End of story." Don't confuse issues by linking it with Nafta, and the need to renegotiate. This is unnecessary!

I hope you have time to answer my questions

I had.

Herbinator said...

Gee, you guys have been busy in my absence.

Anon, I gave you more credit than I should have with my oblique reference to the WTO.

Would that it were so simple as mere quantitative edit such as, for example, setting MMT to zero.

The Anonymous Green said...

Anon, I gave you more credit than I should have with my oblique reference to the WTO

Well, to be honest, I didn't pay much attention to what you wrote once you started repeating the MMT myth,so I'm not sure what exactly you are now talking about.

kate storey said...

Anon's dispute with the "myth" of MMT seems to be based on nit-picking and perhaps from inaccuracies in the NRTEE website presentation of facts.

MMT is not a myth. The MMT case of Ethyl Corp vs the Government of Canada was filed and was settled out of court. This is recorded in the Law Journals and noted and discussed in many government and law school sources. The case was settled out of court with Canada paying Ethyl Corp $13 million.
This case is commonly used as an example of how NAFTA removes Canada's right to strengthen regulation protecting Canadians. It is also used as a warning not to lower our standards because we will most likely not be able to raise standards later.

There was another dispute between Canada and Ethyl Corp about MMT's damage to automobile emmission control devices. The chronology from the NRTEE website seems to be a confusing mix of both Ethyl Corp issues. This may have resulted in Anon's statements about the "myth" of MMT.

That "myth" seems to focus on whether the MMT bill withdrawn by the Canadian government was about MMT's effect on people or on cars. But does that really matter? The important point is that corporations can influence Canadian law by threatening to sue under NAFTA.

I have learned a lot from this discussion and am even more convinced that withdrwing from NAFTA is one of many important steps toward a more people friendly, healthy and Green society.

The Anonymous Green said...

I have learned a lot from this discussion and am even more convinced that withdrwing from NAFTA is one of many important steps toward a more people friendly, healthy and Green society.

Well, this just proves my point. Many in the GPC (unfortunately) base their opinions on ideology, and it appears are closely aligned with David Orchard and his group of merry followers, who endlessly repeat this rhetoric and mythology.

Now, who is better qualified to interpret trade agreements and regulations? A couple of western based organic farmers, or a lawyer familiar with trade issues?

Had Kate bothered to visit my blog, she would have found another source to consult (has she ever actually read any legal summaries herself - or just some activist's spun interpretation of the case?)

This was a presentation by a lawyer, who has expertise in international trade issues. His review of the MMT case is consistent with the findings of NRTEE.

So, who to believe? NRTEE and this review by a trade lawyer, who both make basically the same case, or an organic farmer in Western Canada?

Not a tough decision for me to make.

(Also note - as I mentioned in my blog, CEPA was updated in 1999 to include the Precautionary Principle, where proof is not required to ban a substance. This was not in Canadian law when the MMT case came up - hence Canada had no legal basis to ban MMT, a situation that no longer exists)

EnviReform

Ethyl

There is a complex chronology and factual situation in this case. Ethyl Corporation, a U.S. company, manufactures the manganese-based gasoline additive MMT, an octane booster that enhances fuel efficiency. In 1994, the Minister of Environment Canada announced her intention to have MMT removed from Canadian gasoline by August, 1995. She was apparently motivated to do so by public health concerns. At just this time, the US EPA was being forced under court order to allow the production and use of MMT in the US after years of prohibition.

Despite widespread concern about the effects of inhalation of manganese, scientific studies of MMT’s health effects in both Canada and the US at the time were inconclusive. Indeed, given the ambiguous scientific evidence available, under Canadian environmental law the environment minister could not legally impose a ban on MMT on health grounds.

Lurking in the background of the controversy over MMT in both countries are the competing interests of alternative additives, especially ethanol, and the long-running battle between automobile manufacturers (who tend to oppose MMT) and fuel suppliers (who favor it) in allocating responsibility for automotive pollution control and performance of emission control systems. This latter conflict took on inter-provincial aspects in Canada, pitting the fuelproducing provinces like Alberta against the auto-manufacturing industry centered in Ontario.

Looking for another avenue of control of MMT beside a health-based prohibition on its use, the federal government submitted a bill in Parliament in 1995 to ban the importation of and inter-provincial sale of MMT. Ethyl was the sole supplier of MMT to the Canadian market.

Because it blended MMT in Ontario and then sold the MMT to refiners in other provinces, the bill would effectively prevent Ethyl from continuing to sell MMT in Canada. The 1995 bill died, but was resubmitted to a new Parliament a year later. The ban on trade in MMT under bill C-29 ultimately took effect in June, 1997. By this time, Ethyl had already submitted its claim under Chapter 11.

While the NAFTA claim was pending, the province of Alberta initiated a domestic challenge to the interprovincial trade ban under the Canada’s Agreement on Internal Trade. The panel that heard that dispute in 1997 ruled in Alberta’s favor in June,1998, finding that the MMT trade ban was an undue burden on internal commerce in Canada not justified by the pursuit of a legitimate objective, protection of the public health. It did not directly question the public health purposes of the measure, but found that there was no urgency to the health concerns and therefore the federal government could have met its legitimate objective through less trade
restrictive means.

A month after the AIT ruling, the Canadian government agreed to settle Ethyl’s Chapter 11 claim. It dropped the trade ban on MMT and paid Ethyl a reported US$13 million of legal expenses and lost profits. As part of the settlement, the government publicly declared that there was no scientific basis to prohibit MMT on health grounds. (Although MMT is also a legal product in the US, most refiners have responded to public and environmental group pressure and have voluntarily agreed not to use it in their gasoline products).

The preceding description reveals three prominent characteristics of the Ethyl case:

1) There was persistent uncertainty about the possible health hazards of MMT. This uncertainty drove the government to use a trade measure rather than an environmental regulation to control MMT and then undermined the federal government’s case in the AIT proceeding. In the settlement with Ethyl, the government abandoned the health basis for its action altogether.

2) There were multiple conflicting commercial and regional interests involved in the MMT debate within Canada which were not directed at Ethyl but which had the effect of distorting the internal decisions within Canada in such a way that Ethyl’s investment interest in Canada became an incidental victim. Part of the reason for protections for foreign investors is precisely because they are not effectively represented in the political decisions of the host country that may affect their interests.

3) The federal government tried to regulate MMT by imposing trade restrictions on it that were not supportable even under Canadian internal trade law. The ruling in the AIT proceeding, like similar rulings in the United States in cases involving environmental regulation affecting interstate commerce, upheld a system of balance between free movement of goods and local or even federal environmental objectives that requires an element of what the Europeans call “proportionality” between an the environmental purpose being served (objectively viewed) and the restriction on interprovincial/interstate commerce.

These three characteristics raise significant doubt that Ethyl’s challenge to the Canadian trade ban constitutes a serious threat to Canadian environmental policy, and help explain why the Canadian government chose to settle this case rather than pursue the arbitration process on the merits.

Cameron W said...

Anon green said, "...So, who to believe? NRTEE and this review by a trade lawyer, who both make basically the same case, or an organic farmer in Western Canada?

Not a tough decision for me to make..."


Your false dichotomy of lawyer vs organic farmer is inaccurate and misleading. The Green Party of Canada has plenty of qualified lawyers and legal experts within the party.

Stating as you have that an organic farmer is less reputable on matters of justice or legality shows your disdain for organic farming, and I worry this might be the case for all farmers. Is it your opinion anon green that people working in the agricultural industry are automatically unqualified to speak on matters of international trade or other legal subjects?

Kate Story's opinion is not based on ideology, and I think it's an error for you to accuse her of this. I've met Kate and spoken with her on many ocassions and she is very knowledgeable and posseses an analytical mind that has impressed me a great deal.

Why do you keep bringing up David Orchard? Anon green, it's you who has begun going on endlessly accusing other people here of rhetoric and mythology in a likely attempt to avoid their very valid points in argument and debate.

Anon green, why do you defend NAFTA so aggressively? There have been many points made in comments above and there is much information in the links above that make a strong case against NAFTA, but you've chosen to ignore them and instead you've focussed on both the intricacies of the history of MMT and your unnecessary character attacks against Kate S.

Robert Frost said it best:
"We dance in a circle and suppose, while the secret sits in the middle and knows."

I'm not the kind of guy that puts up with feel good nonsense. I'm a down to earth realistic thinking person who doesn't take anything as gospel truth without first investigating. I think a lot of Greens share this attitude, and a lot of Greens recognize the drawback to NAFTA.

Anon green, do you have nothing negative to say against the rapid integration of Canada & the USA, or of the SPP, TILMA, dismantling of the CWB, or other trade related subjects? Is it all good in your eyes? Will you share your rose coloured glasses with me?

The Anonymous Green said...

Cameron,

I'll answer your questions (as I have already) after you answer a few of mine.

1) When did you personally become convinced that Nafta was bad for Canada?

2) Why did you come to this conclusion? Was it based upon a specific case?

3) You attended the GPC convention last August. Were you happy when E May immediately announced the GPC's policy to pull out of Nafta even though it was not yet ratified by the party, and even though her main opponent, David Chernushenko was against this?

4) Would your opinion of Elizabeth's decision have been affected had you known she was intimately involved in unsuccessful efforts on the failed Nafta issues, including the case discussed here? Would you be concerned about possible conflicts of interest, or efforts to refight lost legal battles?

5) You mention there are plenty of lawyers within the GPC. Have you ever discussed these issues with any of them, or do you have any evidence that Kate has, lack of objectivity notwithstanding?

6) When Elizabeth May recently stated in the National Post that she was immediately contacted by David Orchard after her announcement to run in Central Nova, and stated that she has known David for ages and completely agrees with him, or words to that effect, did it cause you any concern? Or did this simply reinforce your opinions?

7) What qualifications do you believe Kate has to comment on trade issues, and what qualifications do you have to determine if they are valid?

Answer these points, and I'll be happy to answer yours.

Seems only fair.

Thx

Cameron W said...

1)We should define 'bad' so that it's not misinterpreted, but as to when, it was in the late 90's.

2)After careful research and observations, and based on a number of things.

3)The media jumped on that and made a bigger deal out of it than it was. It did become GPC policy to renegotiate NAFTA, and I was surprised at how well May drew media attention right from the word 'go'.

4)unsure, but not likely.

5)yes.

6)no concern.

7)ahh... I don't have to qualify my opinion, and I realise that you don't have to value it if you find it unqualified. I am simply an average Canadian who has taken an interest in empowering myself through information and knowledge, and the opinions I form of other people are not based on their 'qualifications' but rather on how they carry themselves and how they prove their intentions and abilities.

I am fully qualified to determine if other people have valid comments. This seems to me to be unhelpful in asking this possibly rhetorical question. If I was formally trained in trade or economics (another interest of mine) I'd hold the same opinion.

Knowing that, what qualifications do you have to determine whether my opinion of Kate's qualifications to form an opinion on trade are valid?

Looking forward to your answers to my previous questions!

The Anonymous Green said...

Thank you for your answers. They reinforce a certain view that was emerging.

So, I'll answer your one point at the end before returning to the others.

Knowing that, what qualifications do you have to determine whether my opinion of Kate's qualifications to form an opinion on trade are valid?

The reason I brought this up was because you have offered your personal opinion on her analytical skills, and have sided with her opinions. So, it naturally begs the question, where have you obtained your analytical skills to put forward this opinion, and for it to carry any weight with me? I have worked in industry (some in your province), have dealt extensively with regulations (many environmental), and in doing so, I have had to read many legal decisions. This gives me a certain level of experience and confidence in expressing opinions on regulations, and the issue of how Nafta affects Canadian industry. I think this is important. If I have any bias, it is through actual experience.

Now back to the previous posting

Stating as you have that an organic farmer is less reputable on matters of justice or legality shows your disdain for organic farming, and I worry this might be the case for all farmers. Is it your opinion anon green that people working in the agricultural industry are automatically unqualified to speak on matters of international trade or other legal subjects?

I am speaking of two specific organic farmers, not all in general.

Now, I am a bit older than you, based upon yur picture. So, I recall intimately the Free Trade debate of 1988 - it was the central issue in the election that year. And I've heard all of the fear mongering from the far left for almost 20 yrs now. When I saw Kate's first entry, a red flag immediately went up. Here's what she wrote:

NAFTA prevents the government from passing new legislation which will decrease the profit or the potential profit of any company.

That means that since pesticides must pass regulations and if we discover that the regulations now in effect are not protecting us, then NAFTA will prevent us from protecting the public health.

NAFTA promotes profit. It does not consider health and well being.


Any objective person, I would submit, would call these statements at best, uninformed, certainly erroneous. It indicates to me a real lack of understanding. There are two principal people who routinely utter similar statements over the past two decades - David Orchard and Maude Barlow.

Her subsequent post was written to support her already established opinion. She dismissed proof that Canada can in fact regulate chemicals, and pass legislation. In addition to selective faulty math, she made a non-sensical inference, when she stated: "Anonymous, your post makes me wonder why you think that "encouraging investment" is more important than regulating the poisons that are sprayed on our children's food?" What a ridiculous statement.

This led me to conclude she was irrational, and bordering on being an idealogue. So, when I googled her name, and found out she was also an organic farmer in Western Canada, in close proximity to David Orchard, my opinion started to firm up. This is how Jeffrey Simpson, G&M columnist described him last fall: "On the prairies, especially in Saskatchewan, Mr. Dion has made an alliance of sorts with David Orchard, a flaky, marginal political figure who is almost a cult."

Kate Story's opinion is not based on ideology, and I think it's an error for you to accuse her of this. I've met Kate and spoken with her on many ocassions and she is very knowledgeable and posseses an analytical mind that has impressed me a great deal.

Addressed above

Why do you keep bringing up David Orchard? Anon green, it's you who has begun going on endlessly accusing other people here of rhetoric and mythology in a likely attempt to avoid their very valid points in argument and debate.

Addressed above. But let me explain further. I earlier gave the example of Stephen LaFrenie who held similar opinions about MMT, took the time to review the research of mine on the topic (MMT) and did some additional research of his own, and came to the same conclusions I had about Nafta concerning environmental restrictions (his opinion- there are none).

There was also another GP member who used to blog as the Green Librarian. He would also make general sweeping statements about Nafta, loss of sovereignty etc., the same rhetoric I've heard from Orchard, and repeated by Kate. I challenged him on his blog to substantiate his claims. Well, he immediately went ballistic, calling me names etc. - basically not dealing with the issue. He challenged me to put my case forward, and he'd come and critique it. So, I did.

Here's what he wrote:

Anonymous said...
Man, I'm busy. I'll get to it, hopefully by the weekend.

Nothing eats up time like sick kids.

G.L.

Ooooh, moderation has been enabled...CENSORSHIP...CENSORSHIP!!! :-D

I've moved to betablog so apparently can't comment as me on your blog.

Tue Oct 03, 07:07:00 AM


He never came back. And this was not for lack of me contacting him and asking for his input.

This is what I am constantly finding with GPC members who publicly state positions. When challenged, they disappear, or try to spin their way out of things (Kate's strategy in my opinion). Another GPC critic did the same thing on the trial blogsite - he was too busy on the weekend to answer my questions, then disappeared.

Anon green, why do you defend NAFTA so aggressively? There have been many points made in comments above and there is much information in the links above that make a strong case against NAFTA, but you've chosen to ignore them and instead you've focussed on both the intricacies of the history of MMT and your unnecessary character attacks against Kate S.

I am against spin and misinformation in politics. How many times and to how many people have individuals like Kate made similar statements as to those she posted originally? I shake my head.

Robert Frost said it best:
"We dance in a circle and suppose, while the secret sits in the middle and knows."

I'm not the kind of guy that puts up with feel good nonsense. I'm a down to earth realistic thinking person who doesn't take anything as gospel truth without first investigating. I think a lot of Greens share this attitude, and a lot of Greens recognize the drawback to NAFTA.

Anon green, do you have nothing negative to say against the rapid integration of Canada & the USA, or of the SPP, TILMA, dismantling of the CWB, or other trade related subjects? Is it all good in your eyes? Will you share your rose coloured glasses with me?


Many are not Nafta related, and would happen irrespective of Nafta. The GPC appears to blame all on this agreement, leading to the conclusion it needs to be renegotiated. I have previously stated why this is folly.

I recently heard Elizabeth May say on a CPAC presented speech that the election platform, prepared in consort with the industry critics, including Kate I presume, is 100 pages in length and focuses throughout on SPP - it's central theme. My goodness!

Time to move out of 1988 mode and into the 21st century. The world has changed in twenty years. Many seem stuck in the irrational and fearmongering past. You appear to be a more recent convert to the "movement".

Cameron W said...

Anon Green, I'm sad to hear that you've decided to lump me in what what you perceive to be the 'far left', when the Green Party is anything but far left. I don't identify myself with the 'far left'.

What I see in the Green Party is an ability to view the whole picture. Our economic system modeled on growth is not sustainable, and it's our descendants who will pay for our overconsumption. It is a mistake for Canada to 'harmonize' down to weaker regulations on pesticides, as toxins in our environment are making Canadians ever more sicker, with rising cancer rates, and the people who pay for this are not the industries producing the toxins but the people who are exposed to them. NAFTA is but one cog in the globalisation machine that has done nothing to improve global social justice, sustainability or environmental protection.

In the end I see only the Green Party paying attention to the big issues and creating policy that will save Canadians money, improve our quality of life, and can easily be applied by us all. Our country needs the political will to make the solutions that the Green Party represents a reality.

Are you on board?

The Anonymous Green said...

Anon Green, I'm sad to hear that you've decided to lump me in what what you perceive to be the 'far left', when the Green Party is anything but far left. I don't identify myself with the 'far left'.

The only other major Canadian political party that is anti-Nafta is the NDP. By making this a central plank in the GPC platform, that is where it is being positioned. The GP continues to claim it s anything but far left. The featured policies do not support this claim.

NAFTA is but one cog in the globalisation machine that has done nothing to improve global social justice, sustainability or environmental protection.

Action can be taken on any number of issues identified without having to renegotiate NAFTA. You should know this yourself in Alberta. The Stelmach gov't is in the process of consulting with Albertans on how to develop the oilsands, and what are fair royalty rates.

If you don't like the environmental or social costs of this type of development - it can be altered. The power rests with the Provincial gov't. So focus on that rather than blaming Nafta energy provisions, as the Orchards, the guy from Parkland Institute, and many within the GPC keep erroneously claiming. It is truely tiresome listening to the constant blaming by individuals on the US, Nafta etc.

Our country needs the political will to make the solutions that the Green Party represents a reality.

Are you on board?


Not if political capital is continuously spent on initiatives that will not result in the outcomes desired - renegotiating Nafta a big one for me. I have suggested the current laws and regulations exist in Canada and should be used in the platform. Pursuing this option and focusing on SPP will only alienate the majority of the electorate to the right of the NDP. I'm one of them who keeps on trying to moderate the message, but may soon give up.

(I will post a Lloyd Axworthy book review, where he deals with SPP hold on)

The Anonymous Green said...

Book review of Linda McQuaig's latest anti-US publication (representing,it appears, the GPC's position as I've seen articualted so far), and words of wisdom from an experienced former foreign minister (bolded at bottom)

POLITICS

Why we must stand up to the bully, and how

LLOYD AXWORTHY

HOLDING THE BULLY'S COAT

Canada and the U.S. Empire

By Linda McQuaig

Doubleday Canada,


Linda McQuaig poses provocative and very important questions for Canadians in her new book, Holding the Bully's Coat. Why do so many of our prominent citizens in the fields of business, government, the academy, the military and the media -- one might say an elite of Canada -- endorse with enthusiasm the pushy, aggressive, imperial agenda espoused by the current Bush-Cheney administration in the United States? Why does this class of influential Canadians go out of its way to trash and demean the accomplishments and achievements of Canada, while extolling the misguided and failed military adventures of our southern neighbour? And why is this group so out of touch with the basic instincts of Canadians, who are at best skeptical of and most often opposed to U.S adventurism?

McQuaig pulls no punches in describing who these Yankee cheerleaders are and how their calumny (to use a favourite word of a charter member of the club, presently facing criminal charges in Chicago) is pernicious in its impact. She decries how our media gives them disproportionate platform time -- just check out the panel lineups on our nightly news shows. To quote McQuaig, "It is the views of the elite -- as expressed by Andrew Coyne, Margaret Wente, Rex Murphy, Robert Fulford, Jack Granatstein, David Bercuson, to mention a few of the more prominent voices that tend to dominate the national debate. Their views are given an extraordinary amount of media time and space, which gives them considerable influence in shaping the debate and making palatable a neo-conservative political agenda that has little resonance with the broad Canadian public."

What clearly irks McQuaig about these naysayers is that for her, and in her view most Canadians, our country works pretty well. We have a domestic public domain that serves most citizens equitably (you would get an argument on this from our aboriginal people) and we have exercised a positive influence internationally not by flexing muscles but by taking leadership on initiatives that promote international co-operation and eschew ideological grandstanding. This balanced approach has become passé, at least in the eyes of many who now carry the torch for closer ties with U.S.-style policies. McQuaig sees this as a problem not of anti-Americanism, but of anti-Canadianism.

Particularly pungent is the description McQuaig applies to the owners of these views as a "comprador class." The term, which dates back to 19th-century colonial times, was used to describe a local elite that served the interests of a foreign business class. Members of the class acted "as intermediaries, presenting the goals of the foreign interests to the local population in a positive light." This is tough language, indeed.

But it is not the members of the chattering class who are the worst offenders; they are simply the messengers. McQuaig reserves her most scathing comment for those political and military leaders who buy into this pandering point of view and have set about redirecting Canadian public policy. There is General Rick Hillier, who internalized the U.S. military's war-fighting ethos and disdain for peacekeeping during his sojourn at Fort Hood, Tex. McQuaig devotes considerable ink to the instalment of Hillier as Canada's top solder in February, 2005, signalling "the transformation of the Canadian military into a combat force, and one that would mesh neatly with the U.S. military ... brazenly thumbing his nose at the Pearsonian peacekeeping tradition." In her eyes, Hillier is clearly the one who has dictated our shift in Afghanistan from protection of civilians toward an offensive search and hunt for the Taliban.

There is Paul Martin, who acquiesced to the Hillier plan but was saved from a potentially disastrous decision on the U.S. missile defence strategy only by a revolt within the Liberal caucus.

Then, of course, there is Stephen Harper. McQuaig argues that the Prime Minister is systematically cloning Canadian policies on the Bush model. To make her case, she cites the abandonment of the Kyoto accord, the faithful following of Washington's counterterrorism policy and the pursuit of a continental energy policy designed to meet the U.S. energy thirst. This is being discussed, maybe even negotiated, by a blue-ribbon panel of CEOs under the umbrella of a tripartite agreement between Canada, Mexico and the United States, called the Security and Prosperity Partnership.

For McQuaig, these developments add up to a real threat to Canadian values and a loss of sovereignty. Fair enough. But this is where I find the book comes up short. McQuaig's own notion of sovereignty seems based on a traditional and increasingly antiquated paradigm. It is no longer possible to use sovereignty as defining the right to make decisions solely on the basis of your own interests; we have become too interconnected and intertwined with the fate and fortune of others, either as global citizens or as North Americans. Like it or not, we have to conceive of finding co-operative answers to common problems that affect our mutual security, whether in energy supply, water scarcity, climate change, migration or border crossings. Answers must be found, but should not be sought only behind closed doors in triple-A resorts by small circles of elites.

We need to think creatively about how to rewire the institutional, treaty and political circuitry into a North American context if we are to maintain the ability to exercise the right of decision-making. The time has come for a clearer articulation of a blueprint on how to construct architecture for managing our U.S. relations. This blueprint has to emerge in the context of an evolving North American interdependence in which we share responsibility for making decisions on common continental problems, and not leave it solely to the market or Uncle Sam to decide.

One example of such new arrangements is the growing network of relationships among regional premiers and governors, cross-border business groups, civil-society organizations and universities that are synchronizing their responses to environmental, trade and resource issues. Transborder paradiplomacy is where the intensity of activities has been the highest, where the initiatives are the most innovative, and where alliances are being formed, generally ignoring the national capitals.

The same innovative spirit is needed when it comes to finding answers to today's serious security issues. McQuaig is critical in her book of the made-in-Canada idea of "responsibility to protect," a way of setting out rules to determine when there should be international intervention to stop crimes against humanity and genocide, because she resents its use by Michael Ignatieff as a way of justifying the invasion of Iraq. What she doesn't recognize is that his was a mistaken use of what is emerging as an important way to set limits on unilateral intrusions by powerful states, while at the same time setting out standards to protect civilians from violence.

Furthermore, it becomes a very useful talking point in persuading the United States that it can use its immense power to prevent abuses of rights without being a bully. In the post-Iraq era and the post-Bush period, we have a chance to influence U.S. policy toward positive international collaborative action. But that means being fully engaged with the United States, a prospect that McQuaig doesn't appear to relish.

Managing how we share this continent with the most powerful country on Earth is not easy, and certainly should not be the preserve of a small elite. In that respect, McQuaig is perfectly right. She is also right in asserting that we should not be a bystander or a helpmate when our neighbour takes to bullying. Barbara Coloroso, a well-respected expert on bullying, says it is important that action be taken to offset the bullies and get them to change their actions. The bystander must speak out, stand up and support the victim.

McQuaig's book alerts us to the need to apply these lessons in our relations with the United States, and now we need to have an open debate among all Canadians on how best this can be done. After all, as Coloroso points out, "bullying is a life-and-death issue."


Lloyd Axworthy, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Winnipeg, served as Canada's foreign affairs minister from 1996 to 2000.

Kate Storey said...

This book review by Lloyd Axworthy makes a lot of sense to me. His suggestions of where International Trade should go are very similar to Green Party Shadow cabinet discussions. Thanks, Anon. This is also very timely as I will be speaking with Mr. Axworthy in a few weeks. He has just chosen my son as the valedictorian for the University. I had not seen this book review and if I’m looking for small talk will bring up NAFTA.

So maybe we are talking on opposite sides of the same thing, Anon. Do you think that Free Trade can get us to the type of trade situation discribed in the book review? I am under the impression that the bullying nature of our trading partner makes Free trade unfair.
Also because business people (at least the ones that I know) don’t generally seem to make decisions based on pure, rational thought. As Anon has stated, Spin directs a lot of our reasoning. I used it, of course. Probably because most people don’t have the attention span to process long explanations. We try to condense our thoughts into quick statements that are unfortunately then misinterpreted.

Anon, I would like your opinion on the following example of trade, remembering that it relates to the experience of farmers who make business decisions based on media reports (spin).
I produce wheat and cattle. With a high US dollar over the past decades, it was profitable to raise cattle in Canada and sell them in the US. We could get a 30 to 40% raise in pay when we converted US dollars to Canadian. This, of course, enraged US cattle farmers. Their government should have been able to react by imposing a tariff on Canadian beef to level the playing field. NAFTA did not allow this, we were told. Therefore furious US cattle farmers managed to completely close the border to Canadian cattle by politicizing BSE into a crisis. Since BSE occurs equally on both sides of the border and since the border closure was directed by a small group of US cattlemen and not supported by the US public, it is reasonable to assume that BSE would not have been politicized in Fair trade situation. With Free trade, Canadian farmers went from having an unfair trade advantage to having no markets all in one day. The predictable result was bankruptcy for some and pain for all. Farmers left, towns lost business, cities became more crowded. Some farms were taken over by others who were producing beef more cheaply by using growth hormones and antibiotics, food quality went down, health care costs went up. Seemingly because NAFTA prevented the US from using trade tariffs to keep it’s farmers happy.

The Anonymous Green said...

Do you think that Free Trade can get us to the type of trade situation discribed in the book review? I am under the impression that the bullying nature of our trading partner makes Free trade unfair.

Here's my view. When you live next door to the richest and most powerful nation in the world, and you have a long cultural history of being "hewers of wood, drawers of water", there will, by nature, be some difficulties. The economies and level of trade is simply too large for there not to be. The same applies within or without free trade. I have trouble with a very subjective definition of what is "fair".

Anon, I would like your opinion on the following example of trade, remembering that it relates to the experience of farmers who make business decisions based on media reports (spin).

I produce wheat and cattle. With a high US dollar over the past decades, it was profitable to raise cattle in Canada and sell them in the US. We could get a 30 to 40% raise in pay when we converted US dollars to Canadian. This, of course, enraged US cattle farmers. Their government should have been able to react by imposing a tariff on Canadian beef to level the playing field. NAFTA did not allow this, we were told.

Ok, seems reasonable.

Therefore furious US cattle farmers managed to completely close the border to Canadian cattle by politicizing BSE into a crisis. Since BSE occurs equally on both sides of the border and since the border closure was directed by a small group of US cattlemen and not supported by the US public, it is reasonable to assume that BSE would not have been politicized in Fair trade situation.

Ok, but this is the view of the Canadian farmers, you included. Is this spin? And what is Fair Trade in this situation? Who defines what is fair? I'd say turn the situation around, and assume you were an advocate in Canada for disease free food. Would you not be kicking and screaming to close the border from US imports?

Personally, I'd look to what Japan and Korea did during the BSE crisis. They seem to be pretty picky in terms of the quality of the beef they import, and as I vaguely recall, also discriminated against Canadian beef. Or what happened to British producers in the EU when their products were detected with BSE. I thought they shut exports from the UK down pretty quickly.

The fundamental problem, from my perspecive, was the lack of meat processing plants in Canada. Had Canada processed the beef here and tested 100% if necessary (I recall seeing somewhere the cost was in the order of $15-$50/head), perhaps the problem could have been alleviated.

With Free trade, Canadian farmers went from having an unfair trade advantage to having no markets all in one day. The predictable result was bankruptcy for some and pain for all. Farmers left, towns lost business, cities became more crowded. Some farms were taken over by others who were producing beef more cheaply by using growth hormones and antibiotics, food quality went down, health care costs went up. Seemingly because NAFTA prevented the US from using trade tariffs to keep it’s farmers happy.

As I mentioned above, perhaps the solution should have been to build more beef processing plants in Canada, and have a greater control over testing and quality. Add value with a label that said "Canadian beef, 100% tested" that would have solved the longterm problem. Maybe even gotten a premium for your product, and won greater Asian markets. Had you discussed this option amongst other beef producers? Some Alberta producers eventually moved in this direction (processing plants, although I'm not sure where that got them).

As an aside, I'm not an expert on farm issues, but I have written a blog on corn, and what to do under Nafta when dealing with depressed commodity prices. See here.

Kate Storey said...

I agree. Canadian and US farmers lobbied hard for BSE testing for every animal. It was turned down in both countries. We guess because universal testing would reveal a startlingly high BSE rate and result in loss of consumer confidence in beef and possibly other meats. Meat plant workers often have a farm connection and the stories come back home about selective testing and the effort to avoid finding BSE.

And farmers also tried to get meat processing plants going including one in my area in which I invested significant $. This plant was hamstrung by a provincial government which linked public money to an unusual and impossible requirement for farm commitment of animals on the basis that, under NAFTA, the plant would be unsuccessful.

Your blog on Corn has lots of good info. In Canada the ethanol story is similar the meat processing plant senario. In order to access funding, plants have requirements for farmer investment. I read this to mean that it will be farmers and not governments who will lose their investment when rising grain prices and competition from the meat industry make grain ethanol unprofitable.

None of this has much to do with pesticides but it does point out some of the market pressures on our food system that rewards the lowest cost producer, even if quality has been reduced by pesticides or if desease is the result.

Cameron W said...

Anon Green said, "...I'm one of them who keeps on trying to moderate the message, but may soon give up..."

Don't give up! I and others in the Green Party need to hear your voice among all of the other green voices both in and outside of the party. This discussion has taken a lot of turns and I'm thrilled to see the recent posts by you and Kate. Your efforts to bring clarity and moderation to the Green Party are important and appreciated.

Cameron W said...

Canadians' health being sacrificed to trade agreement with U.S.: May

ROBYN YOUNG
14/05/07
Green party Leader Elizabeth May reacted angrily to a move by Health Canada to increase the limits on pesticide residue, saying the health of Canadians should not take a backseat to the health of a trade agreement.

Richard Aucoin, chief registrar for Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency, explained last week that limits are changing to harmonize with other countries, specifically the U.S

"The fact that there are different pesticide-residue limits in two countries for one crop ... there is the potential of a trade issue happening at the border if there's a sense that those residues might exceed the Canadian limits," he said.

But May thinks the burden to change limits should be on the U.S.

"If we could improve the standards in the United States so that their maximum-residue levels were more protective of human health, that would solve the trade problem," she said in a phone interview. "But no one's even suggesting that."

However, not everyone has a problem with the news.

Greg Gerrits, of Elmridge Farms in Sheffield Mills, said the move will level the playing field for Canadian farmers.

"We're expected to compete against products from other countries ... and they can use what they want as far as chemicals go," he said.

Canadian farmers are forced to follow strict regulations when products from other countries have no regulations, he added.

"The imported stuff is allowed to just flow in here and we have to compete on price," Gerrits said.

But he won't increase his use of pesticides either way.

He uses as little as possible on his crops because of their high cost and environmental impact.

(snip)

Geordie Ouchterlony, owner of Home Grown Organic Foods in Halifax, was surprised by the news.

"All the more reason to choose organic," he joked.

(snip)

More clients may be added to his list when they find out about Canada's new pesticide-residue limits.

Anonymous said...

It's not on pesticides, but rather trade. An interesting statement.

Presentation on the SPP to the International Trade Committee

Gordon Laxer

Political Economy Professor, and The Director

Parkland Institute at the University of Alberta

May 10, 2007
Introduction

Parkland Institute is an Alberta-wide research network at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. We are supported by over 600 individual members and dozens of progressive organizations. Parkland Institute conducts research and education for the public good.

My remarks are on the energy and climate change implications of the SPP.

Why No Energy Security for Canadians?

I don't understand why Canada is discussing helping to ensure American energy security when Canada has no energy policy, and no plans or enough pipelines, to get oil to Eastern Canadians during an international supply crisis. Canada is the most vulnerable member of the International Energy Agency - IEA, yet recklessly exports a higher and higher share of its oil and gas to the U.S. This locks Canada into a higher share under NAFTA's proportionality clause. Instead of guaranteeing U.S. energy security, how about a Canadian SPP - Secure Petroleum Plan for Canada?

While rising Canadian oil exports help wean America off Middle Eastern oil, Canada is shirking responsibility to Canadians. Rising Canadian exports are perversely leading to greater Middle Eastern imports for Canada.

We import about 40% of our oil - 850,000 barrels per day, to meet 90 per cent of Atlantic Canada's and Quebec's needs, and 40 per cent of Ontario's. A rising share, 45 per cent comes from OPEC countries, primarily Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Imports from North Sea suppliers - Norway and Britain -are shrinking (37 per cent).

Many eastern Canadians heat their homes with oil. Yet we have no plan to send domestic supplies to them. Why not? In which NAFTA country are the citizens most likely to freeze in the dark?

The National Energy Board's mandate is to "promote safety and security ... in the Canadian public interest". Yet they wrote me on April 12: "Unfortunately, the NEB has not undertaken any studies on security of supply." This is shocking.

I asked the NEB about whether Canada is considering setting up a Strategic Petroleum Reserve under its membership in the IEA. The NEB replied that Canada "was specifically exempted from establishing a reserve, on the grounds that Canada is a net exporting country whereas the other members are net importers."

The IEA was set up by industrial countries in 1974 to counter OPECs boycotting power. The 24 members must maintain emergency oil reserves equivalent to 90 days of net imports. Only net-exporters are exempt. Canada shares this status with 3 other members.

Britain and Denmark have been net exporters, but set up strategic reserves, as required of European Union members. That leaves Norway and Canada. Norway doesn't need a reserve. Sensibly, it supplies its own citizens, before exporting surpluses.

Western Canada can't supply all of Eastern Canadian needs, because NAFTA reserves Canadian oil for Americans' security of supply. Canada now exports 63 per cent of our oil and 56 per cent of our natural gas production. Those export shares are currently locked in place by NAFTA's proportionality clause which requires us not to reduce recent export proportions. Mexico refused proportionality. It applies only to Canada.

As well, we don't have the east-west pipelines to fully meet Eastern needs. Instead, 5 export pipelines are planned.

Although we have more than enough oil and gas to meet Canadians needs, Canada is the most exposed IEA member. Meanwhile, the U.S. is doubling its Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Natural gas

Nor does Canada have a natural gas plan. At last summer G-8 meetings, Canada began negotiations to send Russian gas to Quebec. It is very risky. Recently, Russia cut natural gas exports to Ukraine and Byelorussia for political reasons.

Why import natural gas, when we could be self-sufficient and energy independent?

U.S. NEP

Those are official U.S. goals in its 2001 National Energy Policy - NEP. Domestic ownership too - remember Congress blocked a Chinese takeover of Unocal. The US didn't draw up a continental security plan in 2001, but a national one, as Mexico has, like we should. Most countries have similar national policies.

No one is fooled by SPP talk that 'North American energy security' is anything more than US energy security.

I don't advocate copying the U.S. on all energy policies - finding 'their' oil under someone else's sands - Middle Eastern, and Alberta's tarsands.

Strategic petroleum reserves help short-term crunches, but not long-term ones. Eastern Canadians' best insurance is to restore the rule before the Free Trade Agreement - no energy exports before 25 years of 'proven' supply, not 'expected' supply.

The SPP is taking us in the wrong direction:

Quickening environmental approval of tarsands exports

More LNG terminals in Canada dedicated for U.S. export

Bringing in temporary Mexican workers without permanent resident rights

Paradigm Shift

Instead, Canada needs a paradigm shift to face the new realities:

security trumping trade - means that energy security for Canadians trumps NAFTA

climate change - The production of tarsands oil, ¾ of which is exported, is the single biggest contributor to our rising greenhouse gases. This is the gassy elephant in the living room everyone pretends not to see. Instead, we need a moratorium on new tarsands projects. Then, cut consumption to reduce carbon emissions.

NAFTA's proportionality clause - You won't convince Canadians to cut fossil fuel use, as we must, if it means that whatever we save is exported to the U.S., the proportional requirement rises, and tarsands carbon emissions remain unchanged.

Conclusion

Instead of the SPP Canada needs a new energy security and conservation strategy. Canada has a NEP - No Energy Plan. It is not helping Alberta or other producing regions. The people of Alberta, the oil and gas owners, receive pitifully low royalties and other economic rents. Alberta and Norway have similar amounts of oil and gas, yet Alberta's Heritage Fund was started in 1976 and has 12billion US. Norway started their fund in 1996 and has 250 billion US. Much of tarsands oil is shipped out raw without upgrading in Alberta.

Canada must do a national energy strategy differently - as a partnership with the producing provinces and territories. The 1980 National Energy Program had good goals - energy sufficiency, independence, Canadian ownership and security, but it was unilaterally imposed.

A new federal-provincial plan must raise economic rents in all their forms so producing regions can use the funds to transition to a post-carbon economy. Otherwise, in a generation, Alberta will become, not the rust belt like the U.S mid-west, but the fossil belt.

Recommendations

No SPP before public hearings, bills before Parliament, the consent of Canadians.

No export of raw bitumen

no environmental sacrifice zones in northern Alberta

Higher economic rents

Get a Mexican exemption on proportionality

Finally, a new SPP - Secure Petroleum Plan for Canadians.

Cameron W said...

The presentation above is online here.

There was a news story that covered the hearings and it can be found here.

Tory MPs storm out of meeting on energy sharing; Canada left short to aid U.S., says professor

Amid heated charges of a coverup, Tory MPs on Thursday abruptly shut down parliamentary hearings on a controversial plan to further integrate Canada and the U.S.

The firestorm erupted within minutes of testimony by University of Alberta professor Gordon Laxer that Canadians will be left "to freeze in the dark" if the government forges ahead with plans to integrate energy supplies across North America...

(snip)

The Anonymous Green said...

Canadians left to "freeze in the dark" - more rhetoric from the far left.

Gordon Laxer, along with David Orchard, has been engaged in this type of fear mongering for it seems like ages. He is the prime example of an ivory tower academic who lacks any practical understanding of how energy investment decisions are made, and how commodities are traded.

If you are interested in understanding why some of the energy provisions of Nafta exist, see these two blogs I have written earlier in response to similar claims.

NAFTA energy provisions? It was the BC Dipper's fault.

Some fodder for discussion on the energy provisions of NAFTA

I am not suggesting that he does not have some valid points elsewhere, but some of his statements, while true in academia, have no real world relevance. Rhetoric and spin.

kate storey said...

Proportional sales of energy certainly makes sense. Once we have made a deal to sell anything, our customer deserves fair treatment in the event of a shortfall. But what doesn't make sense to me is what happens in the longterm, after we realize that a shortfall will continue. Under NAFTA how does Canada renegotiate the proportion of energy it sells. Did we maintain the right to renegotiate annually? or every 5 years?

Also, you seem to be very negative toward those with a passionate belief, such as Orchard or Laxer. Now, I am not defending these gentlemen as I have never met either one, or heard them speak or read their writings. But it seems to me that once society has moved too far in any direction, it takes a huge amount of energy to return things to the center.

I can readily indentify with the passion of a farmer who has braved the ridicule of his peers, broken out of the accepted mold and tried organic farming. Once you've done that you understand politics in a whole new way.

You see, farming is one of the few industries that makes something from nothing except wind, rain and a few particles of dust. We provide the basis upon which civilization is built and so a lot of effort goes into telling us how to produce more and cheaper food. Every day I receive a constant stream of information in the form of articles in trade papers, magazines, direct ads, radio and TV ads and service announcements. I am told that in order to be a good farmer I must buy the latest technology that science can offer, produce more than my neighbor and strive to buy out my neighbor’s farm. And yet when farmers follow this advice, our costs go up, our net income goes down, our neighbors move away, our towns shrink and our services are cut. And still we are told by the experts that we can solve these problems by simply producing more, using debt to achieve that elusive efficiency. And using Trade agreements to try to sell all that excess production.

But once I became an organic farmer everything changed. Everytime I balance my books I can see that by cutting out all that expensive spray, fertilizer, infrastructure and medication, and accepting the resulting lower production, I have raised my net income. It is extraordinarily frustrating to have seen that the farm income crisis can be solved by the farmers themselves and yet to be unable to convince those who are brainwashed by propaganda. So I quite admire anyone with the guts to get up and make a fuss to try and wake people out of their self denial.

The Anonymous Green said...

Proportional sales of energy certainly makes sense. Once we have made a deal to sell anything, our customer deserves fair treatment in the event of a shortfall. But what doesn't make sense to me is what happens in the longterm, after we realize that a shortfall will continue. Under NAFTA how does Canada renegotiate the proportion of energy it sells. Did we maintain the right to renegotiate annually? or every 5 years?

Energy is just like any commodity. It is subject to supply and demand. In addition, it can be delivered in different forms - so that switching between fuels can take place.

When you have an interconnected grid of pipelines (oil and gas) and electricity transmision lines across North America, the market responds very quickly to changes in prices.

Say the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline does not go ahead, and therefore a significant amount of new gas does not come onstream in Canada. The price would tend to increase in Canada, particularly in Alberta if the oilsands expands as planned, and continues to use natural gas. Right now we can meet domestic gas requirements in Canada, and still export to the US - to utilities through the main pipelines. (Currently 66% or whatever value Laxer keeps quoting). But if the price of gas in Canada (say Edmonton price)gets too high, the utility in San Francisco will look for alternate supply. If it is cheaper to now buy gas from Mexico, or import it from Australia in the form of LNG, it will.

So, the market naturally corrects. The percentage of gas exports will start to decline. There is no need to renegotiate anything. The provisions for proportionality was in dealing with unforseen shortages - say a major pipeline breaks, or a severe storm knocks out electricity trnsmission towers - not this ratcheting up deal they keep claiming.

This is nonsense what Laxer and Orchard are saying. Think about it. If the Mackenzie Valley Gas field is not developed, and the percentage of our exports to the US starts to decline, will the US ambassador to Canada carry the Nafta agreement to Parliament Hill and demand that Canada open this area to development?

Even if he could, would he also force companies like Imperial Oil to develop Arctic Gas for sale in the US if it is extremely expensive for them to do it, and they will lose money at it? Of course not, these companies will source gas elsewhere, maybe from Russia.

This issue has come up elsewhere, and I used a farm analogy again - corn. Follow the discussion down from here.

The original blog may be of interest as well - it deals with nuclear energy, and resulted in some discussion. Morality in Politics. Who decides what is ethical?

Also, you seem to be very negative toward those with a passionate belief, such as Orchard or Laxer. Now, I am not defending these gentlemen as I have never met either one, or heard them speak or read their writings. But it seems to me that once society has moved too far in any direction, it takes a huge amount of energy to return things to the center.

I have no problem with Mr. Orchard speaking about issues he is knowledgeable and passionate about, as you have, organic farming. What I do take exception to is his self appointed role as an expert on Trade Agreements - and the use of misinformation, and just plain spin. He appears to look for a Nafta black cloud under every silver lining.

This leads to a cynical electorate, and ultimately to poor political decision making on a go forward basis.

kate storey said...

The market naturally corrects due to supply and demand. But the market also corrects by lowering quality and off loading production costs onto society and onto the environment. So often there is no way for the consumer to know the quality of the goods they are purchasing.

Food is a good example. There is no way for you to know if the pesticide sprayed on that vegetable was applied properly, or if residue remains because it was harvested too quickly after spraying. You don't know if it was irrigated with clean water or if it has been contaminated by E.coli. There is serious money to be saved by those willing to cheat the system. It is these same people who are lobbying to weaken allowable pesticide residue levels so that their shortcuts cannot be identified.

Energy is another good example where instead of product quality, we see environmental distruction due to extraction processes.

In a global market consumers need the protection of quality regulations. Which brings us back to NAFTA. The Trade part can be rationalized. But why do Canadian quality regulations have to be linked to a Free Trade agreement? This doesn't make sense to me. I want my government to set standards so that I know what I am buying. I don't like to buy lightbulbs that cause fires, apples that cause cancer, or appliances that have to be exchanged several times before I get one that works. Even when I buy highend products. And when I complain I am consistently told by government and by suppliers that under NAFTA, Canada has lost the ability to regulate quality.

When consumers hear this they are naturally receptive to suggestions to renegotiate the quality regulations out of NAFTA.

The Anonymous Green said...

Food is a good example. There is no way for you to know if the pesticide sprayed on that vegetable was applied properly, or if residue remains because it was harvested too quickly after spraying. You don't know if it was irrigated with clean water or if it has been contaminated by E.coli. There is serious money to be saved by those willing to cheat the system. It is these same people who are lobbying to weaken allowable pesticide residue levels so that their shortcuts cannot be identified.

Well, I have do doubt that there will be pressures to change, in both directions - up and down. But, if pesticide residue is such an important issue, irrespective of changes in current regulations, why do I never hear of any public awareness campaign on the need to properly wash fruits and vegetables in the home before consumption? Isn't this something the political parties and advocates should be doing to raise awareness?

Energy is another good example where instead of product quality, we see environmental distruction due to extraction processes.

Yes, but we control the pace and the regulations that the industry operates under.

In a global market consumers need the protection of quality regulations. Which brings us back to NAFTA. The Trade part can be rationalized. But why do Canadian quality regulations have to be linked to a Free Trade agreement?

They are not.

This doesn't make sense to me. I want my government to set standards so that I know what I am buying. I don't like to buy lightbulbs that cause fires, apples that cause cancer, or appliances that have to be exchanged several times before I get one that works.

We have already discussed food, I submit we can set our own standards. On electrical products, if you notice on all elecrical appliances, or lightbulbs, there is a stamp, CSA standing for Canadian Standards Association. They cover much more than electrical goods. Their office is in the Toronto area. I have actually visited their library there. The equivalent in the US is ULC. If a manufacturer wanted to sell a product in both markets, he will build to the higher standard, and get both stamps.

Even when I buy highend products. And when I complain I am consistently told by government and by suppliers that under NAFTA, Canada has lost the ability to regulate quality. When consumers hear this they are naturally receptive to suggestions to renegotiate the quality regulations out of NAFTA.

Here's another example of harmonization or lack thereof. It involves the big bad oil industry.

Earlier this year, there was a gasoline shortage in Ontario brought about by a fire at Imperial Oil's Nanticoke refinery. Prices shot up (less supply), and consumers were outraged and asked the Federal Gov't to take some action. Some were asking for a temporary lessening of Canada's environmental rules for gasoline, allowing US gasoline into Canada - but the gov't refused. You see, Canada has tighter standards for the benzene content in gasoline, more stringent than US standards. This was discussed in a column by Eric Reguly in March:

The stretched refinery and distribution system means not a lot has to go wrong to create a mess. A bout of frigid weather can do it, as can a single busted refinery, a damaged pipeline or a railway strike. Making matters worse are Canada's import restrictions on U.S. gasoline, for environmental reasons related to benzene content.

Now, the anti-Nafta crowd would naturally argue that this would lead to a harmonization, Canada relaxing its benzene regulations to meet the US standards. Well, guess what? The exact opposite is happening. Note this Washington Post article of last year:

EPA Seeks Less Benzene In Gasoline

By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 2, 2006; Page A12

The Environmental Protection Agency yesterday proposed cutting toxic emissions from cars nearly in half by 2030, drawing praise from many environmentalists while sparking concern among gasoline refiners.

The new standards, which are subject to a 60-day comment period, would take effect in 2011. They would force refiners to reduce the annual average benzene content in their gasoline by 36 percent and would establish a national trading system so companies producing gas with more benzene content could buy pollution credits from cleaner refiners. Auto manufacturers would also have to install technology to reduce benzene emissions in new cars.

Benzene, a naturally occurring carcinogen, accounts for about 1 percent of gasoline content; it causes an estimated 40 to 60 U.S. deaths a year. Under the Bush administration's proposal, by 2030 passenger cars would emit 45 percent less benzene than today and release 350,000 fewer tons of benzene and other toxins.

"America has a history of loving its cars," EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson said. "By cleaning up our fuels and vehicle exhaust, EPA is paving the road toward a cleaner environment and healthier drivers."

S. William Becker, executive director for the State and Territorial Air Pollution Program Administrators, said states have spent eight years trying to get the federal government to impose stricter standards on air toxics.

"It's disappointing that it's taken this long, but at least they've taken a good first step," Becker said. "This is not an expensive change, but it's a very important one in terms of air quality."

The standards should cost just $0.0013 per gallon to implement, the EPA estimated, and add less than $1 to the average cost of a car. This translates into a cost of $205 million a year for an estimated $6 billion in health benefits annually by 2030.

But Bob Slaughter, president of the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, said the proposal would cost his membership much more.

"The new standards on gasoline, including benzene, is a challenge," Slaughter said. He added that he will survey refiners to see how much it would cost them and how it might affect the nation's gas supply.

Becker and other environmentalists said they are concerned the pollution credit trading system would mean Americans in some regions would continue to breathe elevated levels of benzene. Gas in Rocky Mountain states, for example, often has benzene levels two to three times those in other areas.

But Slaughter said the trading system would cushion the plan's financial impact. "It makes a difficult proposal at least marginally more workable," he said.

Conrad Schneider, advocacy director for the Clean Air Task Force, a Boston-based environmental group, faulted the administration for not imposing stricter limits on diesel emissions as part of the new rules. They account for an estimated 3,000 U.S. deaths by lung cancer a year.

Both the Bush and Clinton administrations have imposed stricter diesel pollution rules over the past few years, but because diesel engines last so long the fleet will not turn over until about 2030.

The Anonymous Green said...

More on Canada's benzene regulations. Note that the new regulations came into effect in 1999 (well past Nafta implementation) as demonstrated in the graphs.

http://www.ec.gc.ca/cleanair-airpur/CAOL/OGEB/fuels/reports/Benz_2004/Report04_p4_e.cfm

The Anonymous Green said...

Same thing, with hyperlink

4.0 Canadian Gasoline Composition

Cameron W said...

Thanks Kate & anon green for your interesting discussion.

Lori Gadzala, candidate in Nepean-Carleton, Ontario, wrote recently about pesticides.

Thinking outside the Pesticide Box

The Government of Canada has recently signaled its intention to relax pesticide regulations for fruits and vegetables to fit with lower U.S. standards. Lori Gadzala, candidate in Nepean-Carleton, Ontario, wrote to us about pesticides.

Ah, gardening season. That time of year when lawn-care companies phone, hoping to coax you into regular summer chemical treatments. Before you are tempted to sign a contract or buy that box of pesticides, please read this.

While pesticides are legal in Canada, there is a growing controversy surrounding their use, especially for cosmetic purposes. The problem with using cosmetic pesticides is that lawns are right beside houses. Studies show that people get a lot of pesticide exposure simply by tracking it into their houses on their shoes, where, if it’s out of the sun, it lingers for longer than outside. Children in particular spend quite a bit of time on grass in the summer.

What are the health risks of pesticides? It depends on who you listen to. The federal government’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency says that pesticides are safe if applied according to instructions. The Ontario College of Family Physicians did the country’s largest scientific review on pesticides in 2004. They found associations between pesticide exposure and birth defects, reproductive problems, brain, prostate, and kidney cancer, and childhood leukemia. That prompted the College, the Canadian Cancer Society, The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, and many other health professionals to call for Canadian cities to pass bylaws prohibiting cosmetic pesticide use. In addition to killing pests and harming humans, pesticides also kill useful insects in the garden, and leach into bodies of water.

To date, well over a hundred Canadian municipalities have passed bylaws restricting the use of pesticides for cosmetic reasons, including Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. The province of Quebec has been phasing out the sale of various pesticides for cosmetic use since 2003. In spite of the fact that Canada already has some of the weakest regulations governing pesticides in the industrialized world, the Government of Canada has signaled its intention to make them even weaker. It recently announced pesticide regulations for fruits and vegetables are being relaxed to fit with lower U.S. standards.

What can we do? The Green Party has called on the government to restrict the use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes and supports a long-term phase out of their use in agriculture. Start by writing your Member of Parliament. There is no need to take risks -or spend money- just for a pristine, green carpet of grass.

Cameron W said...

Some interesting articles...

'Pesticides are what is killing our kids'

PEI Launching Probe on Rare Cancers, Potato Pesticides Suspected

Cancer 'aggressive' in P.E.I. county, doctor says: Blames pesticides: Health authorities doubt claims, but agree to investigate

The Anonymous Green said...

Now here is an area that the GPC should focus on - China. This recent story on Chinese food imports into the US as but one example. What's happening in Canada?

Tainted Chinese Imports Common
In Four Months, FDA Refused 298 Shipments

By Rick Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 20, 2007; Page A01

Dried apples preserved with a cancer-causing chemical.

Frozen catfish laden with banned antibiotics.

Scallops and sardines coated with putrefying bacteria.

Mushrooms laced with illegal pesticides.

These were among the 107 food imports from China that the Food and Drug Administration detained at U.S. ports just last month, agency documents reveal, along with more than 1,000 shipments of tainted Chinese dietary supplements, toxic Chinese cosmetics and counterfeit Chinese medicines.

For years, U.S. inspection records show, China has flooded the United States with foods unfit for human consumption. And for years, FDA inspectors have simply returned to Chinese importers the small portion of those products they caught -- many of which turned up at U.S. borders again, making a second or third attempt at entry...

Cameron W said...

Popular herbicide not as safe as advertised

New evidence about dangers of Roundup weed killer.


Monday, June 25, 2007
by Chee Yoke Heong

New studies from both sides of the Atlantic reveal that Roundup, the most widely used weed killer in the world, poses serious human health threats. More than 75 percent of genetically modified (GM) crops are engineered to tolerate the absorption of Roundup — it eliminates all plants that are not GM.

Monsanto Inc, the major engineer of GM crops, is also the producer of Roundup. Thus, while Roundup was formulated as a weapon against weeds, it has become a prevalent ingredient in most of our food crops.

Three recent studies show that Roundup, which is used by farmers and home gardeners, is not the safe product we have been led to trust...

(click on link above for full article)