Since the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) renegotiation began in August last year, our OpenMedia team has been following the process every step of the way, as the modernization of the 24 year agreement will have implications on the critical functions of the Internet and our everyday online activities.
Since then, we’ve launched four different actions on the issue to ensure citizens’ voices play a key role in shaping the negotiation process and eventually, the final version of the deal.
We launched a Canadian action that directly feeds into the government’s public consultation, an International petition for citizens from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, and a specific petition to stop a dangerous proposal by Bell Canada to introduce a website blocking system and radical new copyright rules in the agreement (FYI, Bell is now pitching the same idea to the CRTC, and has the backup of over 25 other media and communications organizations, including Rogers, Cineplex and the CBC).
The result: over 55.6K citizens have added their support to our campaigns on digital rights in NAFTA over the past few months, and this week we had the satisfaction of materializing that incredible support by sending a print petition to Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland and an electronic petition to all three Ministers in charge of the NAFTA negotiations: Minister Chrystia Freeland (Canada), Ambassador Robert Lighthizer (U.S.) and Minister Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal (Mexico).
I am confident to say that this is one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in my career at OpenMedia so far because it is a testament to how so many people care about fighting for transparent and democratic processes in trade deals and an open Internet. It also comes to show how something as simple as adding your name to an online petition can go a long way–and by that I mean, actually making it to a decision maker’s desk, where they can read your concerns and see a stack of paper filled with thousands of names of people who care about issues like NAFTA.
Something like this is hard to ignore. Your voices have a great influence on decision makers, Just recently, when Canada signed a reworked version of the TPP and pushed to suspend controversial Intellectual Property (IP) and ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement) provisions in the new deal, Minister François Philippe Champagne acknowledged that the public played a key role in the government’s decision to suspend some IP provisions.
Speaking out is very important, even if sometimes the fight is long and it takes a while to see any changes (take those 5 years of campaigning against the TPP until we saw a somewhat improved agreement, for instance). Your voices help shape the world around us and make it a better place.
Thank you for speaking out and adding your support to our campaigns! We will continue to campaign on NAFTA to ensure the new deal puts people and the planet (and of course, our beloved Internet!) before profits. We will also keep you posted on Minister Freeland’s response to our petition delivery and request to meet with her and her office to discuss the current state of the negotiation process.
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