Briefing Note #3
Instructions: You are an economist working for a federal government department. Note that the department for which you work is NOT designated for you. You will need to decide the most appropriate department to which you will write the briefing note. The briefing note will thus need to be tailored to the mandate of the department that you choose. The Minister of your department, who is in a minority government situation, needs to decide whether to support or not support his/her colleagues in Cabinet concerning discussions on Canada’s continued collaboration with international economic institution including increasing, decreasing, or keeping the number of free trade agreements between Canada and the rest of the world unchanged.
The context is as follows. The Liberal government is in a minority situation and requires the support of at least one other party. The Liberals have usually relied on the NDP for support; however, the NDP’s foreign policy and economic positions are criticised by some as being “half- baked” – see articles below. As an unbiased economic policy analyst, you are asked to write a formal 2 to 3-page briefing note (approximately 1000 words) seeking a decision from the Minister, based on your recommendations, on action regarding the support for or opposition to the Minister’s colleagues in Cabinet concerning Canada’s traditional support for world institutions and trade agreements. That is, does Canada continue its current collaboration with world institutions and continue engaging in free trade agreements, reduce its engagement or enhance its engagement?
Note that the Minister has read the two articles below. Your briefing note should present economic arguments based on facts and may require an extension, (which may include agreement or disagreement) of the information found in the articles. Base your recommendations on fundamental economic theory learnt in class throughout the semester. Do not shy away from addressing environmental issues, historical issues, trade issues, financial issues, and so forth, if appropriate. Of importance, your briefing note should clearly state options and your recommendation for continued engagement (status quo), increased engagement, or decreased engagement.
Time limit: See Moodle
Materials allowed: You are free to use any material including laptop, notes, access to the Internet, etc. Your only restriction is communicating with anyone.
Article 1 :
Adam Zivo: Unserious NDP faction wants to abolish the military and pull out of NATO Will the New Democrats humour anti-war activists at the party’s policy convention this weekend?
Author of the article:Adam Zivo Publishing date:Apr 07, 2021
At the New Democrat Party’s policy convention this upcoming weekend, voices from all across the left will be heard — for better or worse. As usual, the NDP’s fringes have used this opportunity to call upon the party to commit to withdrawing Canada from NATO, or even to abolish the military completely. They’ve done so by proposing policy resolutions which, if given sufficient priority, will be debated at the convention, and, if sufficiently popular, will be incorporated into the NDP’s platform.
Both proposals were put forth by party members based in downtown Toronto, and each drips with the stereotypes of the far left. The anti-NATO proposal refers to the alliance as a tool for “U.S. client regimes” and “resource plunder.” Similarly, the abolition proposal considers militaries and war to be “a historic institution with no place in modern society,” arguing that the Canadian Armed Forces’ members should be retrained and absorbed into the civil service, enhancing social services. The demilitarization proposal looks to countries like Iceland, Costa Rica and Samoa as case studies of success — as if Canada’s security challenges were comparable to those of a microstate.
Together, the resolutions show a remarkable ignorance of the nature of international power. They serve as a reminder that a non-trivial faction of the NDP’s base can’t be trusted to take foreign policy seriously. This should be concerning for all Canadians. The NDP was the country’s official opposition not so long ago. Now that it props up the Liberals’ minority government, it continues to have some influence on federal policy. The NDP is the conduit through which radical activists can undermine Canadian security interests, if the party lets them.
The resolutions show a remarkable ignorance of the nature of international power
Thankfully, it mostly hasn’t. When Jack Layton was the NDP’s leader a decade ago, he focused on instituting reforms that could give the party a credible chance at governing. Real power has to deal with real problems in the real world, and so he squelched delusional voices that believed, for example, that conflict can be avoided by simply asking nicely. Among improvements in other policy areas, Layton affirmed his support for NATO and for the conscientious use of military force. His reward was a crescendo of support, carrying the NDP to historic levels of influence.
His successor, Thomas Mulcair, followed in his steps, with mixed results.
The NDP’s current leader, Jagmeet Singh, has been less interested in building upon the lessons of the Layton days. Instead, he seems preoccupied with cosplaying as Bernie Sanders, copying trendy leftist positions from the United States in an attempt to bolster enthusiasm within his base. Singh’s foreign policy stances remain fairly ambiguous and he hasn’t yet made any indications
that he wants Canada out of NATO, but Canadians deserve clarity. Will he steer towards the relatively pragmatic politics of the Layton era, or will he expedite the party’s decline by enabling radicalism?
For some, it may be perplexing why anyone would be hostile to pacifism. Indeed, the NDP once espoused a kind of pacifism that you could respect, even if you disagreed with it. In the late 1980s, the NDP opposed NATO membership on the basis of sovereignty, and believed in fully Canadianizing our military. Such a view may underestimate the importance of international alliances, but it at least acknowledges the necessity of hard power in international affairs.
More recent strains of pacifist activism are not like this. Canada’s “peace” movement is driven not by the love for peace, but rather by a kind of civilizational self-loathing that is as juvenile as it is obsessive. Operated by a small but dedicated cadre of academics and social miscellanea, it produces and disseminates propaganda that serves, more than anything else, to justify the atrocities committed by autocrats abroad.
Last weekend, cognizant of the upcoming policy convention, I attended an anti-NATO event organized by the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute. It was apparent that, within their world, any crime can be apologized for so long as it scores points against Canada and the West more broadly.
To them, China is a benign power that is not engaging in cultural genocide against Uyghurs (as a China scholar, let me assure you that this is wrong). Venezuela’s brutalities towards its own people are excusable and criticism of it is an act of imperialism. In Libya, Moammar Gadhafi should have been given the freedom to massacre the popular uprising against his dictatorship.
Preventing Serbia’s ethnic cleansing of Kosovar Albanians was a tragedy. In Syria, Bashar Assad is not a bad guy because, as one faction of the Syrian freedom movement is jihadist, the entire freedom movement is illegitimate. Furthermore, according to these activists, Russia’s destabilizing shadow-war on Ukraine is actually NATO’s fault, because the 2014 Ukrainian revolution, which ousted the corrupt and Russophilic Viktor Yanukovych, was obviously orchestrated by the CIA, provoking a blameless Russia. Eastern Europeans support NATO not because of legitimate grievances against Russian imperialism but because, unable to think for themselves, they have simply been duped by the CIA and vaguely-defined “corporate interests.”
These are the beliefs of the Canadian peace movement. So long as you can vilify the West, war is peace, and genocide, repression and war crimes are acceptable, even desirable. Intellectually and morally bankrupt, these activists shield themselves from introspection by maintaining a tightly controlled echo chamber, where even the NDP, their greatest political ally, is considered compromised.
Nonetheless, the peace movement manages to get itself heard sometimes. Bombarding society with disinformation and half-baked analysis, it sweeps up the impressionable and ignorant. It thrives in the nooks of leftist media landscapes, thwarting, as best it can, criticism of foreign crimes. At the policy convention, the NDP will have the opportunity to once again repudiate this small, but loud, faction. Hopefully it will.
NDP BUILDS ON TRADE POLICY AT MONTREAL CONVENTION
Stuart Trew 7 years ago
The NDP has expanded its position on trade so that the party would not negotiate NAFTA- and FIPA-like investor-state dispute settlement processes into trade deals, and would preserve the right of municipal governments and key provincial agencies “to include local content and other local economic development requirements as part of their procurement policy.” Delegates to the NDP’s convention in Montreal this weekend voted on the changes, which were supported at the mic by MPs Libby Davies and Don Davies, who is also the party’s trade critic. “Great to see strong support for stopping I/S/D (investor-state dispute settlement) in trade agreements & support for local govt’s. Keep drug costs down,” tweeted Libby Davies on Sunday afternoon as the vote passed unanimously. With the additional two clauses, the NDP policy on Fair Trade (section 4.5 of the policy book) now reads like this. New Democrats believe in: a. Defending Canadians’ economic interests, particularly in terms of foreign investment and takeovers. b.
Promoting trade agreements that include enforceable standards for human, workers’ and women’s rights and environmental sustainability, and that protect public services. c. Subjecting all proposed international trade agreements and international treaties to a Parliamentary vote and ratification through the legislative process. d. Demanding more accountability and transparency in international trade organizations, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO). e.
Renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to protect Canadian sovereignty, especially in investment and energy security. f. Regulating the flow of international capital and reducing financial speculation. g. preserving the rights of municipal governments and provincial entities such as Hydro Quebec and Manitoba Hydro to include local content and other local economic development requirements as part of their procurement policy. h. not negotiating investor-state dispute resolutions mechanisms into trade agreements, consistent with the policy of the Labour government and party of Australia. The NDP’s position on trade has been in the news A LOT in the past year because the Harper government see it as a weak spot to be exploited. Trade Minister Ed Fast and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, even the Prime Minister
are not above a little red-baiting to depict the NDP as anti-trade extremist commies who hate our veterans and freedom and your puppy. The NDP must be worried that Harper’s scare tactics are working since Thomas Mulcair has tried to distance himself and the party from the views of those who oppose to the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, the Trans- Pacific Partnership negotiations, and other tools of multinational corporate power. “You know, if you start off … by saying, ‘It’s this, this and this’ and you go around Canada saying, ‘The sky is falling,’ well, if the text proves you right, then that’s fine. But the sky hasn’t fallen yet,” Mulcair told CBC last month, adding that the EU was “a good starting point” for the kind of trading partner the NDP would prefer, because of its strong institutions, rule of law and stability. Maybe the sky hasn’t literally fallen from 30 years of free trade, but it’s getting a lot warmer. The jobs aren’t getting any more full time, more secure, or more well paid. The pressure (and in Europe direct coercion) to privatize public services keeps going up, with that privatization locked in by deals like NAFTA and CETA. And we have seen the text of the EU deal, at least we’ve seen a lot of it — enough to know CETA will reproduce the worse parts of NAFTA and then some. CETA will take us further away from the the compassionate, socially just Canada that Mulcair said this weekend the NDP would create if elected. Mulcair says some good things about trade, too. Like this, also to the CBC in March: “What we’re concerned with overall with the Conservatives is that their only approach seems to be openness for the sake of large companies, without taking into account the public interest,” he said. “The gutting of environmental legislation concomitant with the signing of these deals is no accident. The Conservatives want to make sure that not too much (regulation) is in place so that anything that would be added (after a deal is signed) could be contested by the investors. “What we’re going to be driving is the public interest. They’re going for powerful, insider interests.” The Canada-EU trade deal will contain investor-state dispute settlement and restrictions on municipal procurement, or public spending. Hopefully that’s enough for the NDP and all other opposition parties to oppose CETA if it ever comes to a vote in the House of Commons. The Green Party of Canada position on trade can be read here.
The Liberal Party position must be somewhere on their website What We Stand For but it’s not as easy to find as the Green or NDP positions. Bloc Quebecois trade critic André Bellavance explained his party’s views on free trade and CETA during a political debate organized by the Trade Justice Network in 2011. The Conservative Party of Canada has never seen a free trade agreement it didn’t automatically like, before even reading it, and without paying attention to anything critical anyone had to say about it.
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