The problems with progressive free trade and a divided labour movement

…And we’re back to regularly-scheduled programming. Apologies for the podcasting hiatus to (now really faithful) listeners; I hope to be back to regular episodes once again. I’m restarting the show this week with two great guests. First up, I speak with Angella MacEwen about the on-going NAFTA re-negotiations and whether Trudeau’s much-vaunted “progressive free trade” holds water. Angella has been a guest on the show before and is an economist at the Canadian Labour Congress. Speaking of the Labour Congress, my second guest, David Bush, looks at the turmoil that led up and has resulted from Unifor leaving Canada’s house of labour. Dave is an editor at Rankandfile.ca; he writes frequently and incisively on the Canadian labour movement.

As always, remember to subscribe above to get new episodes as they appear, rate the show on iTunes and donate to help keep this good thing going. Thanks!

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No, Canada’s economy will not collapse if Trudeau stands up to Trump

Trudeau met Trump on Monday but voiced no criticism. He stayed mum on Trump’s racist travel bans for Muslims and refugees—silent even about Canadian Muslims being arbitrarily denied entry at the US border. Many commentators in the media were quick to jump to Trudeau’s defense, excusing his total lack of spine with considerations of real economik: Canada’s trading relationship with the US is too valuable for us to go even mildly criticizing Trump.

Of course, Canada’s economy does rely heavily on the United States. But while over 75% of Canada’s exports go to the US, our trade relationship looks different than what many imagine it to be. And, in fact, the economy is much less of an excuse for Trudeau’s cowardice than it seems at first glance.

Here’s how Canada’s exports to the US break down:

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Cutting through Canada’s election fog: inequality, climate change and free trade

This week’s podcast is a Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives double-header. The CCPA has been an invaluable resource for alternative economic and political analysis for decades and I always enjoy highlighting their work. First up, I speak with Seth Klein, the director of the Centre’s British Columbia office, on how inequality and climate, two major issues to which Seth and the CCPA devote considersable effort, have fared in Canada’s election debate so far. Seth also talks about how the platforms of the parties stack up against the Leap Manifesto. The second half of the episode contains my conversation with Scott Sinclair, the CCPA’s chief trade researcher. Scott talks about the freshly-concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, and what this enormous trade pact means for us and our democracy.

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The media love the TPP, but should you?

Canada’s media have heaped fawning praise on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the biggest free trade and investment deal in years. Rather than raising questions and red flags over a secret deal with mixed impacts, our media has been cheering and patting elites on the back.

Negotiations over the TPP concluded early Monday morning in Atlanta. The deal was signed onto by 12 countries from around the Pacific Rim, including Canada. Details of the deal are murky as the negotiations were secret and the final text has yet to be released.

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More to the point, Canada already has existing free trade accords with many of the countries involved in the deal and low tariffs on imports and exports. Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, among others, has pointed out these deals are less about the economics of trade and more about the political clout of corporations in today’s already-globalized world.

Rather than pausing for critical reflection and investigation, Canada’s mainstream media and pundit class initiated a TPP love-in. To see just how narrow the range of opinion is, try to spot the difference in the following quotes from the editorial and opinion pages of Canada’s major newspapers and magazines. (more…)

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