PokerPulse Letters -- Calling for Canadian Support of Antigua at the WTO

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Our Letter Calling for Canadian Support of Antigua at the WTO

From: legal
Cc: ; ; ;
Sent: Thursday, May 25, 2006 8:08 PM
Subject: Canada should grow some guts and support Antigua in the Cross-Border Betting Dispute with the U.S.

Welcome PM Harper and Trade and Foreign Policy Ministers to the new government,

I am delighted to see the wonderful changes you've made to the International Trade Canada website, which is now informative and interactive - in a word, useful. I hope these most welcome changes will be similarly reflected in Canada's comportment at the World Trade Organization (WTO). What I'm especially looking for is a strong, renewed commitment by our envoys to show Canada's support for Antigua, the bravest and boldest WTO Member, in its Cross-Border Betting Dispute with the U.S.

I have had the good fortune to meet Antigua's lead counsel, Mark Mendel, who happily shares with me and probably many others, lucid translations of the unique nomenclature and procedures involved in international trade law, an area that is still not widely understood even by the legal profession. With his help, I have been able, I hope, to clarify the positions of both Antigua and the U.S. in the dispute and remove at least some of the mystery of the WTO for our visitors. Imagine my shame when I learned that Canada had abandoned Antigua mid-fight with no explanation. Why, for goodness sake?

I met a number of representatives of Antigua at an international gaming summit in Montreal last summer, and they were without exception earnest, well spoken professionals. As residents of a tiny developing nation with few resources, they were hard-pressed to find a way to self-sufficiency. After much research and a lot of hard work, they were able to use their knowledge of technology and the Internet to develop a legitimate, well-regulated industry, an industry that became so successful, in fact, that the U.S. is trying to shut it down. Even today, despite two favorable panel decisions and a stated promise to comply, the U.S. is considering two more pieces of legislation that would preclude Antigua's participation in the U.S. market.

Nor can the U.S. make any credible moral claims as the basis for its opposition. About five minutes after Antigua was forced to bring its case to arbitration, the U.S. signed CAFTA, a trade agreement which specifically allows signatories to provide gambling services within the U.S. market.

Two words: softwood lumber. Who knows better than Canada what it's like to 'negotiate' with our U.S. trading partners?

While Canadians may not be able to extricate ourselves from NAFTA, let us at least bring our wisdom from that experience to bear on Antigua's dispute.

I greatly fear that if Canada and other developed nations fail in this opportunity to support a small, poor country that openly displays its good report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at its website for all the world to see, we will have failed in our primary obligation, which should be to provide those benefits promised by co-operation to all Members, especially those that are the most vulnerable.

Please re-evaluate the position of the old Pettigrew guard, whose response to this opportunity was retreat! Retreat! Screw your courage, Mr. Harper, Mr. Emerson, to the sticking place and help Antigua save its fledgling industry, the very key to its independence and maybe even the smallest taste of Western prosperity.

Thank you in advance for your kind attention,

L.M. Murray

For more on Antigua and the WTO please visit our Caribbean forum.

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