Hundreds Protest Canada-EU Free Trade Deal
October 22, 2010, 3:51 PM EST
As Canadian and European negotiators wrap up a fifth round of talks for a new ambitious and highly contentious free trade deal in Ottawa on October 22, over 400 protesters, including bus loads of CAW members, expressed their grave concerns over the deal during a noon-hour demonstration held in Ottawa.
The proposed trade deal, called a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, aims at breaking down government regulations over such things as public purchasing, environmental standards, public services, domestic-content rules and others.
Peggy Nash, CAW Assistant to the President, said that this super-charged free trade deal threatens to dismantle some of Canada's most ambitious and progressive economic policy moves in recent decades, which is a backward step in strengthening the economy and local democracy.
"We've seen, first hand, the economic benefits of buy-local purchasing policies over the past years, whether for new transit vehicles in the City of Toronto, green energy programs in Ontario, or other examples around the country. Thousands of jobs have been saved or created because of these initiatives, which have helped level the playing field with most of our global trading partners who use similar tools," said Nash, who was one of a series of speakers, including Council of Canadians National Chairperson Maude Barlow and Canadian Labour Congress Secretary-Treasurer Hassan Yussuff, to address rally-goers.
"It would be a total setback for our country, after taking such great strides, to lose these important tools simply because the Harper government has allowed their right-wing ideology to trump common sense."
Over one hundred CAW members in southern Ontario made the trek to Ottawa for the rally and joined in the call to scrap current trade talks until the federal government receives a full and informed mandate from Canadians to proceed. The rally, the first of its kind in opposition to the CETA, included CAW members from the Greater Toronto Area who bussed down to the nation's capital and who participated in a special on-the-bus CETA workshop.