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OTTAWA Canadas largest union has been denied standing in a key legal battle over the power NAFTA gives corporations to challenge decisions by governments.

This case is a frightening example of the way NAFTA puts corporate profits ahead of public health, and the rights of foreign corporations ahead of the democratic rights of citizens, said Judy Darcy, National President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

The case arises from a NAFTA decision that gives Metalclad Corporation US$17 million in damages after a Mexican municipality denied the company a building permit to operate a toxic waste dump. An appeal by Mexico is scheduled to be heard by the BC Supreme Court on February 19.

CUPE asked to intervene in the precedent-setting case because of its huge implications for Canadas environment, public services and sovereignty. But in a hearing today in a Vancouver courtroom, Justice Tysoe of the BC Supreme Court denied CUPEs application.

This is a sad day for democracy, said Darcy. NAFTA panels operating in secret make decisions that will have a major impact on our lives and yet when theyre appealed to the courts and we ask for standing, were denied a voice.

Mexicos appeal is the first court challenge of a NAFTA tribunal decision. The federal government and the province of Quebec have been granted standing by the court but CUPEs request was opposed by Metalclads lawyers.

More and more we find that international trade agreements shut out Canadians, trampling our democratic traditions, said Darcy. These trade deals are like a straight jacket where the corporations hold the key.

Darcy indicated that CUPE would continue to follow the case closely. With or without standing, CUPE is committed to exposing the threat NAFTA represents to Canadians, she said.


Background information on the Metalclad case and CUPEs intervention is available on CUPEs web site at www.cupe.ca.

For further information, contact:

Pam Beattie, Executive Assistant to Judy Darcy at
(613) 761-8796

Catherine Louli at (613) 851-0547