Free Trade Agreement 25th Anniversary


Twenty-five years after the Free Trade Agreement was signed we are looking at the Canada-US Free Trade deal that defined an election campaign and imprinted a nation. From former Prime Minister John Turner ... to Pat Carney, the Tory who carried the deal ... to Ed Broadbent fighting against it for the NDP ... to Ed Fast, our current Minister of International Trade. We hear from all of them.

Free Trade Agreement 25th Anniversary - Former PM John Turner

We started this segment with a clip of what sounds pretty close to a fist-fight -- arguing over Free Trade likely caused a few dust-ups across Canada that year. Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Liberal leader John Turner fought the 1988 election over many things, but issue that dominated was Canada's Free Trade Agreement with the U.S., reached the previous year.

The deal divided the nation with supporters arguing it would stimulate the economy and boost international trade. Opponents argued the deal threatened our sovereignty and that U.S. investment would overwhelm Canada.

It has been 25 years since the deal was signed. Two and a half decades later, we're still arguing whether the deal has been good for Canada. Former Prime Minister John Turner was at the centre of the free trade debate 25 years ago as the leader of Liberal Opposition. He joined us in Toronto.

Free Trade Agreement 25th Anniversary - Panel

Our next two guests were also prominent political players during the debate.

Ed Broadbent is head of The Broadbent Institute. He is the former leader of the New Democratic Party and an outspoken critic of the Free Trade Agreement and its successor NAFTA. He joined us in our Ottawa studio.

And Pat Carney is a former Canadian Senator. She was a Cabinet Minister, Trade Minister under Brian Mulroney and a central figure in negotiating the free trade deal. She joined us from her home on Saturna Island in British Columbia.

Free Trade Agreement 25th Anniversary - Intl. Trade Minister Ed Fast

The present federal government has no second thoughts about the deal. As mentioned, it has negotiated nine free trade agreements with countries and regions around the world over the last six years. And if there are serious threats to Canada's economic future, the Minister of International Trade believes they come from what he calls "free trade deniers." Ed Fast joined us on the line from Ottawa.

This segment was produced by The Current's Josh Bloch.

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Listener Response: Checking - In

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