Canadians Saying No To Stealth Trade Deal For Canada, USA, Mexico - August 15 & 18, 2007
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Security and Prosperity Partnership

Canadian Labour Congress August 15, 2007
http://canadianlabour.ca/index.php/view_en/1217

This has been an important year for labour's political action, from the fight for Bills C-55 and C-257, to our latest Better Choice campaign, to the recent launch of our Made-in-Canada Jobs campaign. For those of us engaged in political action, however, there is an important moment next weekend where Canada's labour movement will be present.

US President George W. Bush, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, and Canada's own Prime Minister Stephen Harper are meeting in Canada to discuss the latest trade deal being pushed through the back door by the continent’s corporate elite. It’s called the “Security and Prosperity Partnership� or simply the SPP.

The SPP has been called NAFTA on drugs. According to the corporate elites behind the scheme, it’s just a shot of what business needs to perform better and make corporate profits higher, faster and stronger. The only problem is they won’t tell us what this involves.

Ask any of the hundreds of thousands of workers in Canada who no longer have a good job in manufacturing or forestry and they’ll tell you that life is hard enough under NAFTA. Ask the millions of people who can see how fast our standards for everything from protecting the environment, to retirement security to transportation infrastructure like trains and bridges have fallen in recent times. They’ll tell you the SPP is just the latest corporate party drug.

Either way, the federal government has been doing its best to keep the SPP off the public’s radar screen. That will change after next weekend.

A rally against this latest attempt to pass a trade deal by stealth will happen on August 19 on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. This rally will be followed by a teach-in on the SPP at the University of Ottawa. The organizers are expecting well-known speakers from Mexico, the US and Canada to address the teach-in .On Monday morning, August 20, shuttle buses will leave Ottawa and Hull to bring protesters to a "family friendly" demonstration on the Western perimeter of the SPP Summit.

We invite all labour activists to participate in these events to show their opposition to the SPP, the latest corporate assault on the environment and workers' rights. At the very least, people should give their local Member of Parliament a call – Parliament isn’t sitting, so they should all be working in their local offices. Tell them they can’t let the SPP become law until Canadians know what it’s all about.

Remember back in 1988, when the government actually printed copies of the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement for everybody to read? Remember when you actually knew who was negotiating that trade deal, and when they were appointed by the government?

If this was really about making NAFTA better for us all, we would all be included in these negotiations. It’s time to put the brakes on the SPP and tell the people behind it to respect our democracy.

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Aug 18, 2007 09:00 ET

REMINDER: SPP Not About Working Families

Canadian Labour Congress obtains Access to Information documents

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 18, 2007) - The Canadian Labour Congress wants working people to call their M.P.s and demand they put an end to the government's participation in the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), a security-centred redrafting of trade relations on the continent. Barbara Byers, executive vice-president of the Canadian Labour Congress, will make the call while speaking at a rally on Parliament Hill on Sunday.

"We have proof to show that the SPP is completely an initiative of Canada's top-earning CEOs, and their counterparts in the United States and Mexico.

This has nothing to do with raising the standard of living of working families nor promoting stronger democracies," says Byers showing a stack of documents obtained by the Canadian Labour Congress under the federal Access to Information Act.

"If this is really about improving NAFTA for all of us, we would all be included in the process. Instead, everything is being done in secret, behind closed doors," says Byers.

The Security and Prosperity Partnership, which is often referred to as NAFTA on drugs, is at the centre of next week's meeting between the leaders of the three countries that belong to the North American Free Trade Agreement - Canada, the United States and Mexico.

Included on the agenda of the Montebello meeting between the three national leaders is a lobby session with a group of hand-picked CEOs from Canada, the United States and Mexico. The ten people chosen to speak on Canada's behalf were selected from a list provided by lobby groups representing the country' s highest paid businessmen. Making the cut for "Team Canada" at the summit: Manulife Financial, Power Corporation, Ganong, Suncor Energy, Canadian National Railway, Linamar, Bell Canada, Canfor Corporation, Home Depot, and the Bank of Nova Scotia.

"They don't speak for Canada. Canadians don't even know who they are. Their shareholders did not send them there, so they are there to represent nobody but themselves. Private interests holding private discussions about their own business with public officials - that's lobbying. The Prime Minister might want to give his own Accountability Act a read before allowing this meeting to proceed," says Byers, Byers says the federal government has to learn that if it wants to pursue new trade deals, it has to do so out in the open, where Canadians can see what's going on and have their say. High security, top secret, backroom discussions that give access to only a few of the wealthiest special interests are doomed to fail.

"Remember the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) and the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)? They all came flying apart as soon as people found out what was really going on. The same thing will happen to the SPP unless the process gets opened up," she says.

Byers says that until the big corporate interests and their friends in government learn this lesson, summits like the upcoming meeting between the Prime Minister and the two Presidents are an insulting waste of taxpayers' money.

"Our hard-earned tax dollars are being used to shut us out of a public policy decision-making process." Byers adds that Canadians are outraged at the double standard being show the small, elite group of CEOs who get access to the summit while everyone else is forced to stand behind fences and police barricades.

"This is why we are asking people to phone their M.P.s and insist they put a stop to the SPP the instant they get back to work in Ottawa," concludes Byers . . .

The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.2 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada's national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 136 district labour councils. Web site: www.canadianlabour.ca

For more information, please contact

Canadian Labour Congress
Jean Wolff
Director of Communications
613-878-6040

or

Canadian Labour Congress
Jeff Atkinson
Communications
613-863-1413
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