Canada's Original Think Tank

Open Caucus

In the spring of 2014, the Senate Liberals began our Open Caucus initiative. The goal of these meetings is to foster nonpartisan discussion on issues facing our country. We invite all parliamentarians as well as the public to take part in the discussion with a panel of experts on any given topic, and focus informing ourselves and others on matters that are important to Canadians.

 

Open Caucus Themes

  • October 18, 2017—NAFTA Modernization: Benefits and Challenges

    The Open Caucus was first established in 2014 when Senate Liberals opened their Caucus doors to the public on Wednesday mornings. The Open Caucus is now co-sponsored by the Independent Senators Group (ISG) and the Independent Senate Liberals. This non-partisan collaboration brings together two groups representing the majority of the Senate’s current membership.

    In 1993 the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) established one of the largest trade blocs in the world. NAFTA created a highly integrated system amongst the three member states with many economic benefits. In 2015 total trilateral merchandise trade, amounted to over $1.0 trillion USD. In recent times President Trump has raised concerns about NAFTA and demanded renegotiation. This provides an opportunity to update the agreement and align it with current realities; for instance, the new agreement can address e-commerce as NAFTA was established before the digital age. With the current negotiations underway it is important that Canadians are informed of the challenges and rewards that will come with a modernized agreement. This new agreement will have to address a wide range of issues cutting across sectors, such as: supply management, investment, intellectual property, telecommunications, e-commerce, freedom of movement, energy, rules of origin, dispute resolution, and much more. Considering the complexities involved in renegotiating this expansive trade agreement we ask the question: how will a modernized NAFTA impact Canadians and Canada’s relationship with our North American partners?

    Panelists included:

    • Michael Geist: Law Professor at University of Ottawa, editor and columnist on technology law
    • Al Mussel: Founder and Research Lead at Agri-Food Economics Systems, Inc.
    • Brenda C. Swick, Partner at Dickinson Wright Law Firm, Government of Canada appointed expert arbitrator under Chapter 19 of NAFTA
    • Jerry Dias: National President of UNIFOR, Canada’s largest private sector union

    Our discussion is not only open to all parliamentarians, but also to all Canadians, who are welcome to attend in person or follow along and contribute via social media at @LibSenate on Twitter.

    This meeting took place:

    Wednesday October 18th, 2017
    9:15 am – 11:15 am
    Room 160S, Centre Block


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