More than 200 people attended the CETA town hall meeting in Abbotsford last night at the University of the Fraser Valley in the home riding of federal Conservative Trade Minister Ed Fast.
The standing-room only crowd heard about the dangers of the Comprehensive Economic Trade agreement and how it affects the ability of communities to maintain public water services from CUPE National president Paul Moist, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow and Water Watch Mission-Abbotsford activist Lynn Perrin.
Panelists also raised concerns about CETA being negotiated behind closed doors between the Harper government and the European Union. The unprecedented deal will open public services like water and healthcare to out-of-country corporations. At the same time, local governments will lose their ability to purchase locally and to set regulations that impact the so-called corporate “right to make profit”.
The City of Abbotsford is holding a referendum Nov. 19 trying to push through a Public Private Partnership deal that would give control of public drinking water delivery to a private corporation for 30 years. Perrin noted that her eight-year old grandson will be 38 by the end of the P3 contract. She said there is still plenty of time to consider other water supply and delivery options, including federal funding not tied to a P3.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees and Council of Canadians CETA tour continues with free town hall meetings tonight in Vancouver and tomorrow in Victoria.
Vancouver - Wednesday October 12
7 p.m., Maritime Labour Centre, 1880 Triumph Street, Auditorium
Barlow and Moist will be joined by Colleen Fuller, steering committee member of Women and Health Protection.
Victoria - Thursday October 13
7 p.m., University of Victoria, David Lam Auditorium, A144 MacLaurin Building, Ring Road
Barlow will be joined by CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill and Victoria city councillor Marianne Alto.