A group of 100 family businesses from across Canada are fighting the border closure by exercising their right to claim damages under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
The group, the Canadian Cattlemen for Fair Trade (CCFT), have served the first five of over 100 Notices of Arbitration under Chapter 11 of NAFTA. Damages can be claimed when another NAFTA government takes actions that give an unfair advantage of its own investors in the North American Free Trade area.
"Free trade is on trial in this case," says CCFT Founding Member Rick Paskal. "It is clear that this is a trade and investment dispute, not a question of health and safety. The United States Government itself now recognizes this fact. It has collected ample evidence to show that Canadian livestock does not present a health risk.
Paskal claims Canadian beef is among the safest and highest quality beef in the world. Even though the U.S. Government now praises the safety of Canadian cattle and beef, the border closure has been extended by R-CALF, or as CCFT states a "protectionist group of American producers." On March 2nd, 2005 Montana-based R-CALF obtained a preliminary injunction from a Montana-based federal judge to keep the border closed. As a result, Canadian investors will continue to lose millions of dollars until the North American market is restored.
CCFT says its members are fighting back against these "protectionist attempts to roll back the NAFTA because the U.S. Government appears unwilling or unable to do the job itself."