March 19, 2008




NAFTA has been in the news lately because of Presidential elections in the United States. Indeed Canada's federal NDP Leader Jack Layton was in Washington on Monday to press for changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Layton spoke at the 'Take Back America conference, a gathering of activists, elected officials, business owners and policy makers.
He his calling for changes to NAFTA, particularly for new labour and environmental standards. His message was 'let's work together and make trade deals that are sustainable and fair. He further goes on to state the Democrats in the U.S. can count New Democrats in Canada as allies in the vital effort to improve upon NAFTA and help build a modern 21st century North American economy that is prosperous, fair, and sustainable for today's families and future generations."

But is it fair when it comes to open markets for health care in Canada. I am of the opinion it is not for the last 5 years we have spent millions of dollars. Trying to build the largest private surgical center in Canada. The $154,000,000.00 facility was to be state of the art with major partners in the health care field to participate in the administration and financing of the project. We have had major bankers, investors, lawyers from major firms in the US come to Canada to do their due diligence. Not only did we have the financing in place. I also had commitments from top international surgeons to relocate to Canada. Only to jump hurdle after hurdle of governmental red tape, road blocks and stall tactics. The fact that I was American and that an American company was behind the project only made things more frustrating. The fundamentals of the project did not matter the focus was more on I am an American. So this will be an American style health care project. There are key elements of NAFTA that calls for fair treatment when it comes to trade it’s called the national treatment rule. It demands that Canada treats all investors, goods and services from Mexico and the U.S. no less favorably as those from Canada in the same circumstances. For example, if a provincial government required the contracting out of publicly funded surgical services, but only to Canadian -owned private facilities, this would put U.S. service providers and investors at a disadvantage. The second key element is called the expropriation provision it’s included in NAFTA’s Chapter 11 on investment. Section 111 0 states that the Canadian government must provide compensation for any measure expropriating an American or Mexican investment. This provision also applies for any measure that is tantamount to expropriation (or nationalization). If U.S. investors enter the Canadian market during periods of experimentation with private health care insurance or delivery, the expropriation provision means that provinces may find themselves compelled to pay compensation to those investors if the provinces want to remove or restrict the investors right to operate in Canada at a later date. Canada negotiated two exemptions in 1994 to try to protect outside investors from entering the health care market this is discriminatory. After spending thousands of man hours and costly delays. I am announcing on the behalf of my shareholders, my investment bankers, and partners. We are officially challenging Canada under the investor state provisions Chapter 11 of NAFTA. I will not get into specifics here but we have a strong case. At the very least my investors should be compensated for the costly delays and unnecessary red tape. We have a serious trade dispute that has been brewing for sometime I am calling on the tribunal to finally do something about the unfair practice. It seems to me you cannot cherry pick what you want in NAFTA then turnaround and say no you are not allowed to enter this market because it is untouchable. This will be the first challenge under NAFTA when it comes to health care. It is time to address this issue that has been unfair for so long.