The Liberal government wants to bring its feminism to the North American Free Trade Agreement, building on an agreement between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Donald Trump to support women entrepreneurs to get gender rights in the deal.
“Canadians broadly support free trade, but their enthusiasm wavers when trade agreements put our workers at an unfair disadvantage because of the high standards that we rightly demand,” Foreign Affairs Minister said Monday in a speech at the University of Ottawa.
“Instead, we must pursue progressive trade agreements that are win-win, helping workers both at home and abroad to enjoy higher wages and better conditions,” she said as she unveiled some of the priorities Canada is bringing to Washington, D.C. this week for the first round of NAFTA talks.
Freeland also noted Canada has done this before, when the Liberal government added a chapter on gender to its free trade deal with Chile.
That pact had both countries agree that working to include women and girls is key to long-term economic development, reaffirm their commitment to international agreements on gender rights and also work together on things like gender-based analysis.
They also set up a committee to oversee that work.
The study argued this was in the case in how NAFTA undermined the rights of small-scale farmers in Mexico and unskilled workers in the U.S. manufacturing and service sectors.
“Women workers are disproportionately represented in these groups of disadvantaged workers and, because of limited skills and assets, when they lose their jobs, struggle to find alternative forms of livelihoods,” said the study.