CAW Focuses Spotlight on Bad Trade Deal with Europe

October 31, 2011, 10:25 AM EST


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Actions by CAW members in Vancouver, British Columbia and Windsor, Ontario on October 17 helped raise the profile of a national campaign to stop a potentially damaging free trade deal between Canada and the European Union.

In B.C., CAW Local 111 members organized a public demonstration outside the provincial legislature in Victoria to protest the proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Demonstrators delivered 300 signed letters opposing the CETA to Premier Christy Clark in the legislature, through NDP MLA, and CAW Local 111 member, Mable Elmore.

CAW Local 111 Women's Committee Chairperson Ruth Armstrong said the proposed trade pact has been negotiated under lock-and-key by the federal, provincial and territorial governments, and it's time all parties informed Canadians what's at stake.

"We are very disturbed by what we've heard about this deal, through leaked texts and news reports," said Armstrong, who was a lead organizer for the Victoria rally.

The CETA could impact how governments, including city governments, purchase goods and services (restricting the use of job-creating 'buy-local' procurement policies). The deal also threatens to privatize water services, drive up the cost of private pharmaceuticals, kill up to 150,000 manufacturing jobs and enable private investors to sue Canadian governments over policies and decisions that affect profit-making, among a host of other issues.

In Windsor, local CAW representatives delivered deputations to city council in support of a resolution that calls on the federal government to ensure municipal interests are protected during the CETA talks (municipalities are the only level of government not represented at the bargaining table). The resolution also calls on government to provide municipalities regular and detailed status updates on the trade negotiations.

CAW Local 444 First Vice President and Windsor District Labour Council President Dino Chiodo said that while the resolution lacked the "teeth" unions in the community had hoped for to hold the government to account, it has helped kick-start a public dialogue on the CETA in Windsor.

"We need our city council to take a more critical look at what's being negotiated in this deal - as all municipal councils across the country should - rather than simply assume that any trade deal is a good trade deal," Chiodo said.

These actions coincided with a national "Week of Action" organized by the Trade Justice Network that paralleled the ninth round of official CETA negotiations. The negotiations ran from October 17-21 in Ottawa. Government officials are expecting CETA talks to wrap up by early 2012.

For more information on the national CETA campaign, visit: www.tradejusticenetwork.ca

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