MONCTON, N.B.– The hard rain that had been predicted all day finally fell but it could not dampen the spirits of the hundreds of citizens who marched through the streets, fortified with a long list of concerns for the premiers meeting here this week.
“Hey, hey. Ho, Ho. Atlantica has got to go,” they chanted as the rain drenched them and soaked their flags and banners. The secretly arranged trade agreement gives corporations the right to ship raw materials from the maritimes into American factories.
“This deal gives corporations a gateway to ship cheap Asian products to the United States through Halifax,” National President Paul Moist told the crowd in a rousing kick-off to the march.
“We need to call on the premiers to bring the debate about Altantica into the open,” he added. “Put the needs of Canadians first before trying to sell off our assets in this region and in our country.”
Moist alluded to a similar trade arrangement in the west called the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA). It was also a deal cut without public consultation and it gives corporations a virtual veto over government contract decisions.
“Talk to the people of Canada, not just business,” Moist said. “Until you do, premiers, no rain will stop us from exposing and challenging your secret deals.”
The New Brunswick Federation of Labour organized the rally, calling it a 24-hour candlelight vigil, at the site of the Council of the Federation meeting of premiers. CUPE members will take shifts, along with other union members, in the round-the-clock event outside the meeting.
Rally participants, flags and banners in hand, will greet the premiers rain or shine when they take their morning jog at 6:30 a.m.
After the march, workers returned to a huge tent to dry off and attend workshops. Moist and other speakers stressed three issues: end public private partnerships, stop the export of raw materials and tear up the Atlantica accord.