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Pacific NorthWest Economic Region Summit pushes corporate agenda, says union

VANCOUVER — The U.S. and Canadian corporations and regional governments meeting behind closed doors here next week will be making serious decisions about the future of public services, labour mobility and homeland security with no input from the public—and that should send off alarm bells for everyone, says the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

The Pacific NorthWest Economic Region (PNWER) is a cross-border trade and security organization that brings together large multinational corporations with states, provinces and territories including Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Alberta, and the Yukon. The PNWER will be holding its annual summit this year at the Westin Bayshore in Vancouver, July 20-24.

“Some of the corporate members of this group are bent on privatizing hydroelectric power, post-secondary education, health care and transportation, to name a few public services they’re targeting,” says CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill. “But they don’t want to hear from any of the people who deliver those services, the public who depend on those services or, indeed, anyone who disagrees with their agenda.”

“They want to advance this agenda without involving any of the people who deliver those services—or indeed, the public, who depend on those services.”

O’Neill said CUPE BC is also concerned that the group’s discussion of the 2010 Olympics will ignore issues like Aboriginal rights, housing, homelessness and the rising cost of living in the Lower Mainland. As well, the homeland security discussions on cross-border information sharing, border security and cross-border trade appear aimed at easing travel for business while adding further restrictions for most people.

“It sounds pretty close to the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP),” says O’Neill. “That kind of corporate agenda has become very familiar in B.C. and Alberta. As with the TILMA, this summit is not interested in how that agenda will affect First Nations, small business, the trades and a whole lot of other people. I also suspect that a lot of their initiatives wouldn’t go over too well with the UBCM or BCSTA.”

Earlier this week, the Vancouver and District Labour Council passed a resolution expressing opposition to the PNWER Summit because of the corporate domination and the closed door nature of it.

A number of groups have planned a rally against the PNWER summit, to take place at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday July 20th at the Westin Bayshore.


Contact: Barry O’Neill, CUPE BC president: (604) 340-6768

Dan Gawthrop, CUPE Communications: (604) 999-6132

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