Sierra Club statement regarding NAFTA


Sierra Club Canada Foundation recognizes the positive steps Minister Freeland announced yesterday as part of the opening salvo in re-negotiating a North American free trade deal, including more transparency and consultation, her move to make NAFTA more progressive in general and in regard to the environment, indigenous, and gender rights, recognizing the importance of placing the environment within the core text, and that that new trade agreement will be for all Canadians.

Sierra Club Canada Foundation and its Responsible Trade Project have been clear that Free Trade Agreements must be redesigned to protect the immediate environment, all ecosystems, and the climate.

“An unlimited growth economy, fuelled by fossil fuels, threatens our continued survival. I was pleased to hear Minister Freeland’s adherence to the principles of fairer trade, “ states Janet Eaton, Trade Advisor, Sierra Club Canada Foundation. “She seems to understand that free trade at the cost of people and the planet threatens the tenure of more progressive governments that court middle class votes - as evidenced by the rise of populist movements in other regions of the globe, including the United States.”

Sierra Club is currently intervening in a legal battle contesting the finding of a trade tribunal established under Chapter 11 of NAFTA regarding the rejection of a coastal quarry in Nova Scotia. A US company, Bilcon, is seeking $100 million USD in compensations as a result of being turned down by an environmental assessment panel and provincial and federal environment Ministers in 2007.

Although Canadians are aware that certain policy positions cannot yet be revealed, Sierra Club Canada Foundation reiterates essential changes we and thousands of our supporters called for in April of this year that should be part of an environmentally constructive deal:

  1. Enforce Paris climate agreement and other essential international standards to protect climate, and environment
  2. Eliminate investor-state dispute settlement to safeguard sovereignty over public interest protection including climate change
  3. Rescind the energy proportionality clause which exacerbates climate emissions limiting our ability to meet obligations of Paris Agreement
  4. Require green procurement purchasing ensuring preference for goods and services with low environmental impacts 
  5. Bolster climate protections by penalizing imported goods made with high climate emissions
  6. Prioritize policies that minimize climate pollution using a climate impact test in which climate impacts of policy proposals are reported and weighed.

“Given who is sitting across the table from us in the US, the resolve of the Canadian government to push for a progressive agenda will be severely tested in these negotiations, and we will be watching carefully to make sure the environment does not slip off the table as this process proceeds,” according to Gretchen Fitzgerald, National Program Director of Sierra Club Canada Foundation. “Our commitment to solving climate change, protecting healthy ecosystems, and resilient communities must be non-negotiable.”



Gretchen Fitzgerald, National Program Director


Tel: 902.444.7096

Janet Eaton, Trade Advisor, Sierra Club Canada Foundation


Tel: 902.670.7304

Bana Hamze, Responsible Trade Coordinator


Tel: 514.591.3151