(Ottawa) The Canadian Union of Public Employees is calling on Paul Martin to establish cross-country hearings into last Augusts blackout, now that the Canada-U.S. Task Force investigating the disaster has finally released its interim report and blamed an Ohio-based utility.
The Americans have already had televised hearings, but Canadians have so far been denied a voice in this process, says Paul Moist, the national president of CUPE, which represents municipal and utility workers in many provinces, including Ontario. The Chrt0069en government says it will hold public forums into the blackout, but we believe that all electricity consumers and workers across the country should be able to have a say at meaningful public hearings. We hope Paul Martin is willing to go one step further than the current prime minister and ensure a proper airing of views.
Moist says that CUPEs main message for Martin is that the best power source is public power. Publicly-owned power accounts for 80% of electricity in Canada, but only 12% in the United States, where the August blackout originated. The best system is the one that rests in the hands of the people, not the corporations, says Moist. Thats the only way we can guarantee accountability.
Moist says CUPE is preparing to make many recommendations about how to improve Canadas electricity system in the hopes that the new government finally establishes public hearings. CUPE members will urge Martin to:
- improve the east-west Canadian grid so theres less dependence on the north-south grid that caused the problem in the first place
- protect the successful vertically-integrated public power systems in provinces like Quebec and Manitoba
- keep a secure, affordable electricity supply with stable and fair prices
- provide first-rate energy conservation and efficiency programs that encourage environmental sustainability
- guarantee democratic control over Canadians electricity system
- end the continental integration of electricity markets
- exclude electricity from trade and investment deals such as WTOs General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)
Paul Moist is available this week to elaborate on CUPEs concerns for electricity and what the union is recommending to make our power system better.
For more information:
Kaj Hasselriis, CUPE Communications, 613-237-1590 ext. 268 (w), 613-798-6925 (c)