The Canadian government is currently in the process of renegotiating the North American Free Trade agreement. NAFTA is a critical component of the Canadian economy, and 76.2% of all our export trade is done with the United States of America. Unfortunately for Canada, its largest trading partner has become one of the largest threats to democracy and pluralistic values. Canadians have watched the US spiral into autocracy in a series of overt attacks on democracy and a free and independent press, which were spearheaded by the Trump administration throughout 2017.
Canada has witnessed the mass arrest, imprisonment and criminal prosecution of journalists and activists; the specter of toxic Trump-style politics; far-right hate movements; allegations of "fake news", and other attacks on a free press, and these threats have drifted north of the border. Most recently, US attorney general Jeff Sessions threatened to charge journalists who do not disclose their sources, a fundamental tenet of press freedom which CJFE has fought hard for here in Canada. It is obvious that our shared customs of plurality and free expression are under full-fledged attack.
America no longer appears to be a trustworthy trading partner.
In 2016 our supporters sent hundreds of letters to Prime Minister Trudeau and his Ministers for International Trade and Foreign Affairs, calling on them to consider China's human rights record during the renewed trade negotiations with China, ensuring human rights including free expression are not cast aside.
Today, we're asking you to sign this petition to Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland and Minister for International Trade François-Philippe Champagne asking them to make the promotion of democratic values and human rights in America Canada's #1 trade priority.
CJFE Excutive Director Tom Henheffer made an appearance on CTV Morning to discuss the campaign.
ATTN: The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and
The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of International Trade
We, the undersigned, call on the Government of Canada to include a robust defence of the rights to free expression and a free and independent press in NAFTA negotiations. The rights we reference are defined in Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
In August 2017, the Canadian government launched a public relations campaign circulating social media postings which tout a #PromiseMade and a #PromiseKept, some of which outlined Canada's commitment to 'progressive trade policies.' It is our belief that there can be no trade policies more progressive than those built on a relationship in which all partners share and exercise a mutual respect for fundamental human rights. Free trade should only take place with a guarantee of other shared values.
Democracy must be our greatest export.
Canadians have witnessed an ongoing series of overt attacks on democracy and a free and independent press, which were spearheaded by the Trump administration throughout 2017. This antidemocratic trend in America must not be appeased. The Canadian government did not pick its trading partners, but it now has a moral obligation to use its voice and position of relative power during NAFTA negotiations to hold the Trump administration to account for their behavior.
A failure to defend the fundamental values that bind our nations together will have deep repercussions for both the future of Canada and the world.