Good Friday morning,
It’s a bird…it’s a plane…it’s a blimp with an esoteric political message?
Yes, progressive activist outfit Leadnow and the left-leaning social action group Council of Canadians are flying a blimp around Ottawa today to protest the investor-state dispute system (ISDS) rules in the North American Free Trade Agreement that they say have made Canada among the most-sued countries in the Global North.
The ISDS allows investors from a NAFTA country—Canada, the United States, and Mexico—to file suit against a member government for allegedly breaching obligations laid out in the agreement. In essence, it blocks countries from favouring domestic investors over outfits from other NAFTA countries, ensures all investors are granted full protection and security for their investments, and prohibits expropriating or nationalizing investments owned by an investor from a NAFTA member country, according to an analysis of the segment by international business law firm Osler.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has said reforming ISDS rules is a priority for Canada in NAFTA negotiations, the third round of which kicks off in Ottawa on Saturday. Canada is looking to reform the system to empower governments with the “unassailable right” to regulate in the public interest.
The third round of renegotiations go until Sept. 27.
On Friday, Ms. Freeland, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, and Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains are holding meetings on NAFTA negotiations.
At her regional ministerial office in Toronto, Ms. Freeland will be meeting with the NAFTA advisory council, a prominent collection of Canadians tasked with providing assistance and insight to the government during talks with Mexico and the United States on overhauling the decades-old pact. She will also host a lunch talk in Toronto with the first NAFTA negotiating team: former Progressive Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney and former Canadian ambassadors to the United States Derek Burney, Allan Gotlieb, and Michael Wilson.
Later in the day, Ms. Freeland and Mr. Bains will participate in a roundtable with representatives from the auto parts industry.
Finally, Ms. McKenna is hosting the second meeting of her NAFTA advisory council on the environment in Ottawa. The 10-member group features prominent Canadians from politics, law, and Indigenous groups, and advises Ms. McKenna on environmental issues in NAFTA renegotiations.
Ms. McKenna will be doing a short scrum at 4 p.m. in the Parliamentary foyer.
Getting back to the blimp stunt, it’s part of the Council of Canadians’ daylong Civil Society Summit on NAFTA that seeks to probe whether the continental pact is in the public interest.
Bloc Québécois Leader Martine Ouellet is participating in a panel discussion at the summit, hosted on the campus of the University of Ottawa. The event, set to take place in room 112 in Tabaret Hall, runs from 1-4 p.m, and will feature separate panels composed of members of civil society and legislators.
Ms. Ouellet will participate in the legislators segment, alongside NDP MP Tracey Ramsey, Mexican Senator Mario Delgado, and Quebec provincial legislature colleague Amir Khadir, a member of the leftist Québec Solidaire.
The legislators panel runs from 2:30-4 p.m. Bloc MP and party parliamentary leader Gabriel Ste-Marie is also expected to be in attendance at the summit.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Bill Morneau is hosting a roundtable session to hear from local small business owners in Halifax on the Liberal government’s proposed changes to restrict the tax savings generated by incorporation. The roundtable talks goes at 9:35 a.m. (Atlantic time), with a media roundtable scheduled for 11 a.m., followed by a media availability for broadcast media at 11:35 a.m.
As for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, he will meet Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at the Invictus Games in Toronto on Saturday.
U.S. First Lady Melania Trump is leading the United States delegation of athletes competing at the international sporting event for wounded, injured, or sick armed services personnel, which run from Sept. 23-30.
Have a great weekend!
Marco Vigliotti is the digital editor of The Hill Times. Submit your news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org