On November 21st the Macdonald-Laurier Institute will celebrate the 25th anniversary of Free Trade with a “gala” dinner that promises to be a “remarkable evening”. It’s being billed as a can’t-miss event, presumably attended by autocratic millionaires who will be outfitting themselves with new monocles and pocket watch fobs for the evening.
I imagine most of the conversation will centre around talk like: “Hey, remember that time we pushed through legislation that would allow us to become even more fabulously wealthy while those in emerging economies sifted through garbage piles, with distended bellies, to find small morsels of food that could never satiate their perpetual hunger? You do? Let’s toast to Evil!” *clinks drink*
The press release announcing the gala boasts that former chiefs of staff to Brian Mulroney and Bush 1.0, Derek Burney and James Baker III will be joining the party to “reminisce about the negotiations leading up to the historic agreement.”
Which, again, I imagine will go more like this: “And then remember James, and you guys will love this, I thought of you guys — when we discussed how we didn’t really give a shit about the middle class and just as I said that a factory worker walked by and gave us a dirty look. Remember that James? Remember how we giggled?”
While these two rascals reminisce about their halcyon days of late night sleepover negotiations and the endless games of phone tag they played, representatives from Mexico will not be attending the gala.
Also contained within the press release email was this gem: “To mark the anniversary of the historic agreement, the election, and the years of prosperity for both nations since 1988…”
Prosperity for who exactly? Was this email sent by a time traveller from 1997? Sadly it was not. It was sent by someone who is aware that the years from 2008-2013 have happened. We can all rest easily knowing that the time space continuum has not been co-opted but seriously, is this a joke?
Even if the fallacious claim that both nations have been gleefully prosperous since 1988 were true, which it isn’t, there’s still a third party to this agreement. You know, uh, Mexico. Would you ever put the words Mexico and prosperity in the same sentence? Of course you wouldn’t because Mexico is essentially embroiled in a civil war killing tens of thousands of its citizens each year. Their government doesn’t have the ability to protect its population from murderous drug cartels, but we can sell them grain at reduced prices and edge out their peasant farmers, so alls well that ends well I guess.
And while our jobs go overseas, the income gap widens, foreign investors take over our industry, and our labour force is reduced and powerless — those who want to become even wealthier will use NAFTA as a cute example of why free trade should be international. Because in their minds wealthy nations should be able to go to resource rich third world countries, strip them of anything valuable, impugn their citizens human rights, corrupt their sovereignty and then hold a gala toasting to their own genius. Yuck.