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Sample Letters


Here are some examples of letters now being written to members of government (Letters 1 and 5), as well as some sample letters to use as guides or for inspiration should you wish to write to your representative in government (Letters 2, 2a, and 3) or to the editor of your favourite newspaper (Letter 4). You may also find useful the collections of quotes and sample questions. Remember to include your full name, address, and phone number with your letters.

Quotes from Framers, Opponents, and Proponents of the MAI
Questions for our MPs or Representatives

Letter 1: to Members of Parliament from public interest groups (Canada)
Letter 2: to your Member of Parliament (Canada)
Letter 2a: another letter to your MP (Canada)
Letter 3: to your representative in Congress (U.S.)
Letter 4: to the editor of your favourite newspaper
Letter 5: to the Canadian Premiers from a non-profit society
Letter 6: to Mac Harb, MP Ottawa Centre



Letter 1

Dear [name of MP]

You may or may not be aware of the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), final negotiations on which are now being entered into in Paris by the 29 members of the OECD. William Witherell of the OECD describes the MAI as follows:

"The MAI will establish a broad multilateral framework for international investment with high standards for the liberalisation of investment regimes and investment protection, with effective dispute settlement procedures. Thus it is intended that the MAI will provide a 'level playing field' for international investors, with uniform rules on both market access and legal security. The rules will be legally enforceable, allowing recourse to international arbitration to settle disputes."

A dangerous atmosphere of secrecy surrounds the MAI. Negotiations have been conducted behind closed doors, almost exclusively by representatives of business, and with only token and very recent consultation with public interest groups. Members of government and the Canadian public alike remain uninformed about the content of the MAI, the process of its development and ratification, and its implications for all signatories.

We represent a growing number of Canadians who have grave concerns about the impact the MAI will have on our country, its sovereignty and its people. It is our contention that a clear decision on the MAI cannot be made unless the issue is brought into open debate so that all sides may make an informed contribution to the decision-making process.

Accordingly, we have assembled the enclosed information package for your edification and that of your fellow Members of Parliament. We request your commitment that you will:

  1. sufficiently inform yourself about the MAI that you will be able to make a responsible decision as to whether to recommend passing the MAI, altering the treaty, or halting Canada's involvement; and
  2. call on hearings on the MAI to be convened by the Standing Committee on International Trade, in order that the public may be allowed to present their concerns about this proposed treaty. We further request that the committee hold these hearings across the country.

Signed,

[a list of the individuals/groups that endorse the package]

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Letter 2

[Sample Letter to MPs]

Your Name
Your Street Address
Your Province and Postal Code

Today's date

Name of MP [see resources for a list of MPs by province and constituency]
Address of Constituency Office
[Call Government of Canada Information at 1 800 667 3355 for the local mailing address, FAX number, or e-mail address of the MP representing your constituency. Or, address mail to the Member at: House of Commons, Parliament Buildings, Ottawa ON, K1A 0A6]

Dear [name of MP],

I am writing to make inquiry and express concern about the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), a treaty currently being negotiated at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

I am particularly alarmed by a proposal in the MAI to give corporations and investors the legal tools, or "standing", to directly sue governments. With the exception of one narrow and controversial provision of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), this is unprecedented in international commercial law. Who would pay the fines if a private corporation wins against our government? Could our tax dollars go to paying these fines?

I'm also concerned that some of the existing laws that we now use for positive regulation of investments - like environmental standards, community reinvestment programs, living wage laws and performance requirements - could be hurt by the MAI. Fundamental powers of our provincial and local governments to shape our own futures would be threatened if that were the case. Do we want to make it even easier for locally owned or managed businesses to be replaced by foreign companies who don't have any stake in creating jobs here, funding our schools, developing our communities or keeping our drinking water clean?

Apparently the MAI has been under negotiation at the OECD since May 1995 and was supposed to be completed this May, but has now been delayed a few months. I am greatly disturbed that the negotiations of such a powerful international economic treaty could have reached an advanced stage without the scrutiny and cooperation of citizens, elected officials, and non-governmental organizations. Without public debate, the result can only be extremely one-sided.

As one of your constituents, it is my request that you sufficiently inform yourself about the MAI that you will be able to make a responsible decision as to whether to recommend passing the MAI, altering the treaty, or halting Canada's involvement. I also request that you call for hearings on the MAI to be convened by the Standing Committee on International Trade, in order that the public may be allowed to present their concerns about this proposed treaty. If you will not, then please reply with your reasons.

Yours sincerely,

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Letter 2a

[Sample Letter to MPs]

Your Name
Your Street Address
Your Province and Postal Code

Today's date

Name of MP [see resources for a list of MPs by province and constituency]
Address of Constituency Office
[Call Government of Canada Information at 1 800 667 3355 for the local mailing address, FAX number, or e-mail address of the MP representing your constituency. Or, address mail to the Member at: House of Commons, Parliament Buildings, Ottawa ON, K1A 0A6]

Dear [name of MP],

Allow me to express my concern, shared by a growing number of people in Canada and worldwide, that a blind belief in the benefits promised by free trade is a policy which has already resulted in immeasurable damage. The NAFTA has been shown to be a disaster for all signing parties in terms of human rights, the environment, and lost employment. As in Nike's takeover of Bauer, proud Canadian industries are being dissolved and exported to Asia where workers are underpaid and mistreated; Ottawa is already being sued by Ethyl for $250 million over an environmental regulation; and millions of people in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico have lost work - all directly due to NAFTA.

I'm sure you are aware of the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) now being negotiated by the members of the OECD. Fundamental to the MAI is a requirement that signing governments subject themselves to arbitration by an international court for foreign investors. Our country's laws and policies would be dictated by foreign investors; therefore the MAI constitutes a strong modification to national sovereignty. It is my understanding that any change to the sovereignty of a country is a constitutional change, and as such must be submitted to national referendum; if there is no legal requirement for this, there certainly is an ethical one. Yet, no discussion of the MAI or its implications has been brought before the Canadian people. Why is this? By what reasoning can this be considered a democratic process?

I understand that the ministers involved with the MAI are surrounded by advisors from the corporate sector. But I respectfully submit that the corporate sector DOES NOT represent the interests of voting Canadians. A clear decision on the MAI cannot be made unless the issue is brought into open debate so that all sides may have their say.

As one of your constituents it is my request that you sufficiently inform yourself about the MAI that you will be able to make a responsible decision as to whether to recommend passing the MAI, altering the treaty, or halting Canada's involvement. I also request that you call for hearings on the MAI to be convened by the Standing Committee on International Trade, in order that the public may be allowed to present their concerns about this proposed treaty. If you will not, then please reply with your reasons.

Sincerely yours,

Sources:
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Public Citizen Global Trade Watch
Globe and Mail, Wednesday 02 July 1997

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Letter 3

[Sample Letter to Congress]

Your Name
Your Street Address
Your State and Zip

Today's date

[Representatives by State and District, and a list of their mailing addresses can be found in resources. For example:]

The Honorable Neil Abercrombie
1233 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515-1101

Dear Representative Abercrombie,

I am writing to make inquiry and express concern about the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), a treaty currently being negotiated at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

I am particularly alarmed by a proposal in the MAI to give corporations and investors the legal tools, or "standing", to directly sue governments. With the exception of one narrow and controversial provision of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), this is unprecedented in international commercial law. Who would pay the fines if a private corporation wins against our government? Could our tax dollars go to paying these fines?

I'm also concerned that some of the existing laws that we now use for positive regulation of investments - like environmental standards, community reinvestment programs, living wage laws and performance requirements - could be hurt by the MAI. Fundamental powers of our state and local governments to shape our own futures would be threatened if that were the case. Do we want to make it even easier for locally owned or managed businesses to be replaced by foreign companies who don't have any stake in creating jobs here, funding our schools, developing our communities or keeping our drinking water clean?

Apparently the MAI has been under negotiation at the OECD since May 1995 and was supposed to be completed this May, but has now been delayed a few months. I am greatly disturbed that the negotiations of such a powerful international economic treaty could have reached an advanced stage without the scrutiny and cooperation of citizens, elected officials, and non-governmental organizations. Without public debate, the result can only be extremely one-sided. And now I understand that President Clinton wants to add the MAI to his pending request for "fast track" negotiating authority from the Congress, and if that happens, even Congressional debate will be side-stepped.

Has Congress yet been consulted about the MAI? If not, why not? Why is the government silent about an agreement with such powerful implications for all Americans? Who supports the MAI?

As one of your constituents, it is my request that you sufficiently inform yourself about the MAI that you will be able to make a responsible decision as to whether to recommend passing the MAI, altering the treaty, or halting America's involvement. I also request that you call for hearings on the MAI to be convened across the country in order that the public may be allowed to present their concerns about this proposed treaty. If you will not, then please reply with your reasons and with answers to my other questions.

Sincerely,

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Letter 4

[Sample letter to media. A version of this letter was printed in the TIMES-COLONIST (Victoria, BC). See resources for the addresses and FAX numbers of media in North America]

Dear Editor, [Name of Newspaper];

You may or may not be aware of the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), final negotiations on which are now being entered into in Paris by the 29 members of the OECD. A dangerous atmosphere of secrecy surrounds the MAI. Negotiations have been conducted behind closed doors, almost exclusively by representatives of business, and with only token and very recent consultation with public interest groups. Members of government and the Canadian public alike remain uninformed about the content of the MAI, the process of its development and ratification, and its implications for all signatories.

The MAI would subject all legislation to the narrow profit-based priorities of foreign investors. There are no exceptions in the MAI for international labour and civil rights conventions or environmental protocols and treaties. The sovereignty of every signing country will be greatly affected. It is my understanding that any change in the sovereignty of a country through international treaty or otherwise must be submitted to the prior agreement of the citizens of the country by means of a referendum; if there is no legal requirement for this, there certainly is an ethical one. Yet the subject of the MAI has not yet been brought before the people of Canada for discussion. The silence of the federal and provincial governments on this issue is complete, and very scary.

I understand that the ministers involved with the MAI are likely surrounded by advisors from the corporate sector. But the corporate sector DOES NOT represent the interests of voting Canadians. A clear decision on the MAI cannot be made unless the issue is brought into open debate so that all sides may have their say. Therefore I believe that anything the media can do to bring the MAI to the forefront of Canadian awareness would be a great benefit to Canada as a whole.

Thank you very much for your time...

Sincerely,

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Letter 5

August 6, 1997

Dear Premiers of the Provinces of Canada:

You, as Premiers of all provinces of Canada, are meeting between August 8 and 10 in Saint John, New Brunswick. We do not know precisely what the agenda at that meeting will be, but think that much of the meeting will be devoted to a balancing of social and economic trends in the Country, with some attention given to the issue of national unity.

We are concerned that these discussions stand a strong chance of being useless, given the outside constraints now under development on the international scene. The unavoidable effect of these constraints (Multilateral Agreement on Investment now under negotiation within the framework of the OECD, entrusting the Multilateral Environmental Agreements to the World Trade Organization, introducing the transnational corporations in the decision-making process of the United Nations etc..), would be a quasi complete elimination of national sovereignty for all countries of the world. The result would be the formal subjection of all social, economic and ecological legislation and practices anywhere to the priorities and agendas of international capital, with the purpose of eliminating all obstacles to trade and investment, regardless of other effects and impacts on people and their natural context.

We urge the Premiers of all provinces of this country to place these constraints as a priority during their meeting in Saint John, and to request that the Federal; Government of Canada organize a national referendum about the Multilateral Agreement on Investment before proceeding any further in the negotiations under way now at the OECD in Paris, and in any event before signing such an agreement. According to our information in constitutional law, any change in the sovereignty of a country through an international treaty or otherwise **must** be submitted to the prior agreement of the citizens of the country by means of a referendum. The Multilateral Agreement on Investment implies considerable changes to the sovereignty of all signing countries, including Canada.

For reference, we indicate in appendix, the various constraints on government operations at national and provincial levels, that hinder the full exercise by these governments of their duties and responsibilities to the citizens of the country.

Respectfully submitted,

Yves Bajard, D.Sc., Secretary
National Centre for Sustainability, Victoria and Vancouver, B.C. Canada

APPENDIX

Short list of constraints preventing governments from exercising their duties and responsibilities to the citizens of the Country: (more detailed information is available on request).

a. the 29 OECD members are negotiating behind closed doors a multilateral agreement on investment aimed at achieving complete freedom of movement and operation for international capital, at the cost of local social, economic and ecological protection? They want by the way, to impose it on all nations of the world.

b. the agreements reached at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio in 1992 are (1) the result of negotiations among governments of nations already prisoners of international capital, and therefore, decided on criteria of minimizing the concessions to sustainability; (2) not funded adequately (only approximately 30% of the funds assessed as necessary and committed in principle have been mobilized and they are managed by institutions such as the World Bank, whose track record in regards to sustainability is dubious); (3) entrusted to the World Trade Organization for coordination and control (The stated purpose of the WTO is to suppress all barriers to trade, regardless of other considerations); .

c. The Transnational corporations of this world are negotiating from a position of strength their introduction in the decision-making process of the United Nations (documentation available on request)

d. Governments everywhere are placing in any case the current economic growth ahead of all other considerations. The effects on non-market values essential to the continuation of organized life in any country (and this includes Canada) are likely to be deeply destructive and are very preoccupying. (This has several reasons, which can be explained on request). Yet, governments do not seem to take the resulting threat into account.

e. People are mostly passive in affluent countries. They enjoy their quality of life as long as it can last (i.e. as long as they are employed or gather revenues from their capital). When they cease to be employed by the system in place, they are marginalized and soon forgotten. People living in less affluent countries are ignored (or for the tiny fraction of powerful assimilated to the residents of the wealthy parts of the world).

f. The entire process is governed by a shrinking number of individuals (according to the United Nations Population Division, one year ago, approximately 300 persons controlled as much money as the 2.7 billion poorest people alive...) .

g. monetary short term profit is the leading force of the economy at present, with an overwhelming advantage to capital over labour. As a result, corporations are, without any hesitation, minimizing (externalizing) the costs of production, distribution, sales and disposal after use (by many complementary means, on which can be specified on request) and optimizing (maximizing) sales prices (again by means that can be specified on request).

h. The monitoring of human transactions is overwhelmingly geared to monetary indicators, exclusively, i.e without real, in-depth accounting for the variations in other absolute and relative values affected by human transactions (on the market and outside of the market) (again, explanations can be provided on request)

Prepared by Yves Bajard, National Centre for Sustainability. All the above statements are founded on verifiable information obtained from the United Nations, The OECD, the WTO, the World Bank, other international organizations, national statistics and data bases from universities.. An extensive file, containing documentse from diverse sources, is available to support the above statements.

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Letter 6

5 September 1997

Mac Harb, MP for Ottawa Centre
Centre Block Rm. 552-D
House of Commons
Ottawa ON K1A 0A6

harbm@parl.gc.ca
(Parliamentary office 996-5322)

Dear Mr. Harb:

In the very near future, your government plans a fundamental change to how our laws are made in Canada. It intends to transfer power from Parliament to large corporations, eliminating public control over them within Canada, without the informed consent of the Canadian people.

Under the proposed Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), all of Canada's governments -- including provincial and municipal -- would cease to have power to implement laws in the public interest if the laws ran counter to the aims of transnational corporations. The MAI is being negotiated through the 29 rich countries of the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) but would be open to any other country. In the words of Renato Ruggiero, Director General of the World Trade Organization, "we are writing the constitution of a single global economy."

I have acquired a copy of May 13th draft the MAI, read it and shown it to several others. Let me suggest you look under "Dispute Settlement, Investor-State" starting on page 61. There you will find provisions for a closed tribunal that can be best described as a "kangaroo court," because of its blatant built-in bias towards investors. For instance, it would permit corporations to sue governments to uphold the provisions of this treaty, but contains no provision for governments to sue corporations.

In other words, corporations would rule our elected governments, rather than the other way around. The MAI enshrines "investor rights" as globally enforcable over the rights of humans and other lifeforms.

Mr. Harb, I have been discussing this matter with other citizens in your riding. The shocking injustice represented by this proposal serves as an urgent reminder that Canadians are entitled to fair and competent representation by our elected officials. It thus seems reasonable that you:

- inform yourself about the MAI's implications for Canadians, to a standard reasonable to expect of a Member of Parliament, in order that you can recommend passing, amending or rejecting this proposed treaty, and

- make clear to your constituents the implications of the MAI for Canadians, and explain who would benefit from each MAI proposal, who would bear what costs and risks, and why they should.

Your constituents in Ottawa Centre can fairly expect you to set out this information publicly, item by item, allowing any challenges of its validity. This is simply applying the precautionary principle that citizens apply to important responsibilities such as safety and the environment.

As our MP, it is your duty to ensure genuine public consultation and debate BEFORE our government takes action to commit Canada to this treaty. This includes urging the appropriate House of Commons committee hold public hearings across the country without delay to examine the MAI proposals, and ensure that we in Ottawa Centre are informed of such hearings.

Do you agree that these expectations are fair? If so, what actions will you take to meet them?

I look forward to your reply in the very near future. The OECD's deadline to finalize the MAI is now May 1998, but does not rule out the agreement being finalized even sooner.

Sincerely,

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