Why the Ecuador trade deal Canada wants hinges on a misleading referendum question

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (The Monitor Magazine)

This is an excerpt from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives The Monitor, written by Stuart Trew.

Ecuador’s April 21 vote on investor-state dispute settlement could quash mining sector hopes in the looming negotiations

Canada’s hopes of quietly and quickly negotiating an “inclusive” free trade deal with Ecuador blew up in both government’s faces last week—and that’s a good thing. It has become clear to anyone paying attention that the proposed deal is political cover for helping Canadian mining companies undermine the voices of Ecuadorians struggling to protect their lands from polluting extractive projects.

With luck, the worst part of a potential Canada-Ecuador trade deal—a planned investment protection chapter with a controversial investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) process like the one Canada removed from NAFTA—will remain off limits by virtue of currently being unconstitutional in Ecuador. However, that outcome rides on the result of a vaguely worded, out-of-place question on whether ISDS should be legalized in an April 21 referendum.

A yes vote would pave the way for reversing years of progress by previous Ecuadorian governments to dismantle the biased and unbalanced international investment arbitration regime. A no vote, on the other hand, would send a clear message to the Ecuadorian and Canadian governments—and the world—that popular sovereignty, the rights of Indigenous peoples, and the rights of nature must be paramount in disputes involving foreign investment.


Read the full article here.