As Canada’s premiers meet in Vancouver this week, CUPE BC President Barry O’Neill has a suggestion for B.C. Premier Christy Clark: tell British Columbians what her government is putting on the table in international trade negotiations.
“It may not seem like it right now, but CETA, the trade deal Canada is negotiating with the European Community, could well be the most important issue of her time in government,” said O’Neill. “If the deal goes ahead as currently contemplated, it will add massive costs to our health care system, make our public water a commodity to be bought and sold by multinational corporations with no local accountability, and eliminate the ability of local governments to invest in local economies.
“I’m asking Premier Clark to open up to the public about what her government is putting on the table in these negotiations. This is the first time that provincial governments are actually part of the negotiations, and I believe that voters and taxpayers in BC deserve to know what their government is proposing.”
Negotiations were underway last week in Brussels, but have been postponed until sometime in October, partly due to higher scrutiny of the negotiations from European parliamentarians and trade unions. Here at home, CUPE and the Council of Canadians have launched a campaign to educate Canadians about the threats posed by the agreement on issues like prescription drug costs, local government purchasing and procurement, and public water.
CUPE National also has launched an ad campaign—“Hey, Premiers!”—that urges Canadians to contact their premier to ask them to focus on issues that are important to them, including CETA. Last week, CUPE staffers Blair Redlin and Carol Ferguson travelled with a delegation to Brussels to lobby European parliamentarians, meet with unions and civil society groups, and monitor the negotiations.