Wednesday, March 02, 2016

History of private courts

With the new, proud, progressive, people-friendly Trudeau government signing the free trade deal with Europe into which the Harper government poured so much energy, a new study from Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto highlights the consequences of ISDS, the investor/state dispute settlement process.

That is the system, integral to modern trade agreements, by which foreign investors and businesses inconvenienced by policies that do not suit their business plans can sue governments in private tribunals, usually to argue that public policies (environmental protection, anti-smoking, labour-market rules) inhibit the freedom of their trading. Canada has been affected by ISDS, generally losing, ever since the first Free Trade Agreement with the United States. ISDS is central not only to NAFTA but to the looming TPP, which the Trudeau government also accepts. Summary of the study:
the beneficiaries of ISDS ... have overwhelmingly been companies with more than $1 billion per year in annual revenue - especially extra-large companies with more than $10 billion - and individuals with more than $100 million in net wealth.
But you probably guessed that. As they say, free trade is like a free lunch; someone always pays.

H/T: Huffington Post.
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