From the perspective of the Church’s social teachings on human work and the preferential option for the poor, for example, we need to ask some probing questions:
Will a free trade deal create more permanent jobs or will it result in more plant shut-downs and worker layoffs in certain sectors of our economy? Will those workers affected be mainly women?
Will it serve to erode some of our universal social programs here in Canada because of the demand to compete with those US states that have adopted lower social welfare standards?
Will it undercut the capacities of small farmers to fulfill their vocation as authentic food producers in our society by eliminating marketing boards considered to be “unfair practices”?
Will it serve to undermine the role of labour unions and collective bargaining rights in Canada because of competition from those US states that have adopted anti-union right to work legislation?
Will it result in an even greater flooding of Canada’s market with US television media, publications, and entertainment, thereby generating further assimilation to the American culture?
Will certain federal assistance programs for regional economic development have to be reduced or removed to ensure free market exchange, thereby having a devastating impact on poorer provinces and regions?
Will it end up limiting significant trade relations with Third World nations striving to serve the basic needs of the poor majority in their countries, because Canada has become locked into a North American continental market?
Will a free trade deal serve to increase Canada’s economic and political dependency on the United States, thereby further restricting the possibilities of Canada exercising a more independent foreign policy for justice and peace in the world?
(Adapted from “Free Trade: At What Cost?” in Love Kindness: The Social Teaching of the Canadian Catholic Bishops, 1991)
In this activity, students study the long standing relations between Canada’s First Nations and the government of Canada. Students examine Aboriginal issues that have become prominent in the later part of the twentieth century. They examine and attempt to present solutions to crisis situations that caused tension among Canada’s population. This examination is done in light of the Church’s teaching on respect for different peoples and the use of non violence to resolve disputes.