Post-NAFTA, it's increasingly difficult for Canada to apply its own health and safety standards and we're soon to see another confrontation. This week, Ontario Environment Minister John Gerretsen introduced a new ban on a list of products, including the weed killer, 2,4-D, to go into effect on Earth Day (April 22). The federal government is already facing a $2-million notice of legal action from DowAgro Sciences - a division of Dow Corp. - that argues a similar ban in Quebec contradicts the North American Free Trade Agreement. Gerrestsen says he won't back down where the health and safety of Ontarians is concerned.
However, the history of NAFTA challenges in Canada hasn't gone well for Canadians. Ottawa backed down in a similar situation in 1997 when Ethyl Corp. sued Ottawa for $251 over the federal ban on the gasoline additive MMT, a substance Canada considers toxic. Canada backed down and allowed the additive, setting what has been seen by environmental groups as a dangerous precedent.