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Ottawa- Today we are calling on the federal government to take leadership on the international stage and protect health care, education and water - our most treasured public services. These services are on the table at the WTO - and Mr. Chretien has not received a mandate to trade away what we hold most sacred, explained Judy Darcy, National President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). The same government promised they would never sign the North America Free Trade Agreement and within weeks of their election, they signed it. This time they wont get away with it, added Darcy.

On the eve of negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Common Front on the WTO, a network of unions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will expose the secret talks being held around the world. The CFWTO demands accountability from our elected officials and a cessation to all talks aimed at trading away health care, education, water, and other vital public services.

Over 100 groups representing Canadians from a variety of different interests and backgrounds, have come together to oppose new negotiations at the World Trade Organization, said Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians. Our campaign is to preserve an inherent part of our Canadian identity, our public services. We will fight with the help of activists in other countries as well as in communities across Canada, added Barlow.

Canadians need to know what is the mandate of our negotiators. Nothing coming out of the WTO talks will ever feel legitimate and honest because of the secrecy surrounding the talks and the refusal of the Canadian government to give clear and official assurances about its participation. Working families are worried that everything that makes us rich as communities, people and citizens is being bartered in Geneva, said Hassan Yusssuf, Executive Vice-President of the Canadian Labour Congress.

Public health, education, clean water are not international commodities. Canadians do not want Geneva to prescribe their medications. Parents do not want the WTO in their childrens classrooms. More than ever Canadians want effective, public and local control of their water resources. That is why the government of Canada must be transparent about its participation in these talks and the mandate of its negotiators, explained Yussuff.

Activists in France will launch a campaign today in Paris, and NGO in other countries will join the campaign through the fall. Like the campaign to defeat the Multi-lateral Agreement on Investment, the international NGO community realizes that the only way the WTO is going to be defeated is with national and international action, said Barlow. All of us recognize that this amounts to no less than a concerted attack by the WTO on our democratic rights, she added.

Should Jean Chretien decide to call an election this fall, he should take heed that corporate greed and trading away our vital services is not acceptable. Health, education, clean water, these are our democratic rights. We will defend them, concluded Darcy.

For information please contact:
Catherine Louli, CUPE Communications
(613) 237-1590, ext. 268 or 851-0547 cellular
Morag Carter, Council of Canadians
(613) 233-4487, ext. 252
Jean Wolff, Canadian Labour Congress
(613) 526-7431 or 798-6040 cellular


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