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Canada’s National Questions, Free Trade and the Left

DECEMBER, 2021 – When on the second day of January 1988 the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement (CUFTA) was signed by representatives of Canada and the United States, 2,000 gathered in a protest march on the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor and Detroit.[1] That march was one aspect of the movement against what at the time we called “free trade”[2] – a set of policies pushed by Ronald Reagan in the United States and Brian Mulroney in Canada, a phrase that came to symbolize the employers’ offensive in both countries, and in spite of considerable opposition, a policy which came into effect one year after the Ambassador Bridge demonstration.

The above is the first paragraph of “Canada’s National Questions, Free Trade and the Left [3]. The complete text can be found here.

[1] Bob Broughner, “Free Trade Foes Jam Bridge to U.S.,” Toronto Star, January 3, 1988.

[2] The “free” component of the phrase “free trade” is actually misleading. Nominally associated with the “freeing” of trade from what some see as intrusive government policies, the extent of “freedom” represented by CUFTA and deals like it depends very much on where that economy sits in the world hierarchy of nations. Be that as it may, “free trade” was the name we gave the policies of Mulroney and Reagan.

[3] Paul Kellogg, “Canada’s National Questions, Free Trade and the Left,” Socialist Studies/Études Socialistes 15, no. 1 (2021).

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