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MONCTON Moncton residents are on community alert, watching and ready to protect water and other public services from corporate predators.

Participants at a lively town hall meeting last night were clear in their determination to stop the spread of privatization and public private partnerships (P3s). The Stay Public! town hall was organized by the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

So-called public private partnerships are privatization wolves in sheeps clothing. If the corporations get their teeth into public services, theyll tear them to shreds. Costs rise, accountability and safety are diminished and quality plummets, says CUPE national president Judy Darcy, who moderated the forum.

Last spring, Moncton residents threw a wrench in the plans of water multinational Vivendi to take over management and financing of the citys water infrastructure. Vivendi, through its subsidiary US Filter, operates the citys drinking water plant a P3 thats costing taxpayers millions more than a publicly financed and operated facility. A strong community campaign exposed the back-door bid and forced city council to shelve the plans.

New Brunswick has had problem after problem with P3s, in highways, health care, schools and more. Enough is enough. Last night, the community made it clear they wont rest until their waters safe and public once and for all. Mayor Murphy and city council havent heard the last from us, says Darcy.

Moncton residents shared their concerns and ideas for action in a wide-ranging discussion that also exposed the high costs of a recreation P3 in the city. Participants drew energy from the growing cross-country campaign to save Medicare. They also renewed their commitment to keep a close eye on council when it comes to the citys water system.

Communities feel the devastating impact of privatization most directly. Theyre also an incredibly powerful force to resist and reverse privatization. Services are the glue that holds Moncton together, and make it a great city. Our members are committed to defending and strengthening public services in every city and town across this country, added CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Claude Gnreux.

The forum highlighted CUPEs 2002 Annual Report on Privatization, Cross-Country Sell-Off. The report, which includes a chapter on Moncton, documents the threat that privatization, underfunding and international trade deals pose to community control of services and local democracy. For an online version of the report, visit www.cupe.ca/arp2002.

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CUPE is Canadas largest union with over half a million women and men working in health care, municipalities, schools, colleges, universities, libraries, emergency medical services and social services. For more information visit www.cupe.ca and www.cupe.nb.ca.

For information: Richard McGrath, CUPE Communications

506-857-2816 (o) 613-282-1458 (Cell)