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Conservatives have their marching orders, courtesy of corporate Canada

The President and CEO of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE), John Manley wrote a letter to Prime Minister Harper to congratulate him on winning a majority government and to outline the policies that corporate Canada would like to see him implement during the course of his tenure.

The CCCE is an organization representing the one hundred and fifty most powerful corporations operating in Canada and is widely mentioned in the film I have been showing across the riding entitled “Poor No More”.  For those that have seen the film it is clear that the CCCE drives the corporate agenda in Canada and that our government follows its directives.

In his letter Mr. Manley, a former Liberal Cabinet minister, lists as one of his priorities the strengthening of Canada’s partnership with the United States.  He notes that he welcomes the Prime Minister and President Obama’s announcement of “a four-pronged strategy to improve bilateral security cooperation and accelerate job creation and economic growth through the trade facilitation at our borders”.

Manley’s letter goes on to encourage the federal government to swiftly conclude trade negotiations with the European Union (CETA) and India.  Also, the CCCE wants to see a successful conclusion to the World Trade Organizations’s (WTO) Doha Development Agenda by the end of 2011. 

To do this the Prime Minister is told to basically get rid of the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) and phase out our supply management (SM) system for eggs, dairy and poultry.  Never mind that signing away these ‘made in Canada’ institutions will erode our sovereignty along with farmers’ ability to earn a half decent living from the marketplace without taxpayer subsidies.

So there we have it - the CCCE ‘marching orders’ - and judging their recent announcement to eliminate the CWB through legislation, the government of Canada is wasting no time in complying.  

The whole idea of improved bi-lateral security and more free trade has not been beneficial to all Canadians.  Under NAFTA we have seen the loss of hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs, export restrictions to Canadian beef farmers over BSE, our vegetable and fruit producers unable to compete with cheap American imports, and of course, the softwood lumber dispute.

The CETA and DOHA agreements, as they stand now, are incredibly unfriendly to farmers.  For instance, if the DOHA is signed as currently drafted, each dairy farmer stands to lose approximately $70,000/year.  Prairie wheat farmers will be major losers because the CWB will be gone.  If the current CETA agreement is signed municipalities will find it extremely difficult to maintain local food procurement policies.

Once we sign these things away it will be next to impossible to get them back. We need to show this Conservative government that it is not the CCCE who should be driving the agenda but Canadians who are concerned about the future of their country.

Alex Atamanenko is the MP for BC Southern Interior.