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The Free Trade road has been anything but free

Darius Mirshahi | Social Justice Club President | Opinion | February 11th, 2008

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.
“..For the union makes us strong.”

Several dozen unionized workers at Ledco Tool and Die in Kitchener, Ontario took control of the means of production, assumed control of all access points and ‘illegally occupied' their factory for nearly three days. This came immediately after Ledco Tool and Die, a company that made parts for Ford, Chrysler and GM, attempted locking out their workers after trying to make them accept a 25 per cent cut in wages and a 20 per cent loss in benefits. After this idea and the lock-out didn't fly, Ledco filed for bankruptcy, resulting in the infamous banksters coming along with government guns and official-looking papers to force the workers off the property and into a settlement negotiation.

With the extreme consolidation of power and wealth opposing them, workers had no other option than to comply. They will continue picketing outside the plant, but it is likely that the factory will be permanently shutdown and gutted of everything of value by banks and other creditors. Canadian manufacturing workers will continue to lose jobs such as these as the machines and the means of production keep getting shipped overseas where cheaper and more expendable workers can be forced to work harder and be paid next to nothing.

So Ledco went bankrupt, and Canadian workers were once again swindled out of their jobs by the globalized free-market that externalizes everything from environmental damage to workers rights. Believe it or not, we in the west can also wake up on the wrong side of capitalism. Most of us have not experienced the dark-side of capitalism, yet, because we are generally the ones capitalizing. But as the post-NAFTA factory shutdowns and massive layoffs have proven, nobody is safe from free-market capitalism. United we fall.

Enter the S.P.P., or what some critics call “NAFTA on crack with guns.” The S.P.P., an acronym for the “Security and Prosperity Partnership” between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, is really a corporate take-over of government. The agenda at S.P.P. meetings is not being set by Harper, Bush and Calderon, but rather by 30 of the largest corporations in North America. The prosperity that this agreement is trying to secure is that of the elite class who run the multi-national corporations. These mega-corporations are intent on integrating all three countries into a corporate-controlled ‘North American Union' in order to maximize their profits. No more national sovereignty or local autonomy. No more democracy.

Start feeling sick; the S.P.P. will bring American-style privatized, for-profit, healthcare to Canada. The privatization of health care is already happening here (private clinics are springing up across Canada, especially in Quebec and B.C.), and deep integration turns the universal healthcare that Canadians enjoy as an essential social service into an impediment to free trade.

Environmental policies will also be considered impediments to trade, and be struck down in the interest of corporations who wish to commodify every component of the natural world.

American companies already own and control the majority of Canada's massive oil and gas reserves (Canada, not Saudi Arabia, is the United States' top supplier of oil), and under NAFTA we are forced to continue exporting 65 per cent of our oil (the amount we currently export), even if we have a critical shortage at home. We now have to import 55 per cent of the oil we consume from Venezuela, Algeria and Norway while we are forced to send our own oil south.

They don't only want oil, they also want our water. Water is definitely ON the table. Large areas of the United States are facing extreme droughts and they're looking north for the answer. Bulk water exports, where foreign corporations permanently drain water out of our lakes and river ecosystems to sell for profit, are currently being negotiated.

But there's also going to be military integration, police integration, food safety integration, and total economic integration and the lack of trade barriers will keep jobs flowing south to where workers have less rights and can be exploited easier.

So before you start thinking of what you'll buy with your first ‘Amero', think about what's at stake here. Do you really want to become exactly like the States? Canada and Mexico are in the process of being swallowed whole by the American empire; we are closer than we've ever been to losing this country and no one even knows it. NAFTA is bad for democracy, but the S.P.P. and N.A.U. reek of all-out fascism.

For more info about the S.P.P. come to the SPP forum at the London Central Library Friday February 8 at 7 p.m.

National Day of Action against the S.P.P. is February 16: Converge on the Ontario Court at 361 University Ave. in Toronto at 1 p.m. for a rally and march.
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