Unifor’s campaign to craft a progressive agenda guiding future trade policy – a People’s Trade - is underway with town hall meetings being organized across the country and throughout the year.
The first event of 2018 is set for Hamilton, on April 20, featuring Maude Barlow from the Council of Canadians, and the town hall is open to all in the local area. Register for the Hamilton event here.
With NAFTA and softwood lumber up for renegotiation, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and Europe (CETA) now in effect, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership recently revived without the U.S., the attention to trade means workers across Canada have an opportunity to shape these trade deals to benefit all and not just corporations. Unifor is launching the cross country town hall series to start a conversation about imagining a People’s Trade agenda which will inform the government’s agenda on free trade as whole - instead of simply responding to each trade deal separately - by laying out its conditions and principles.
“Trade matters to all workers and it matters in every community,” said Jerry Dias, National President, noting that about two-thirds of Unifor members work in trade-related industries across Canada. “Now is the time to act and create a trade system that works for the people and not just the corporations.”
To date free trade deals have not only led to the free movement of goods and services across borders, but the outcome has also meant lost jobs, lowered wages, child labour, and restrictions on the ability of governments and citizens to enforce environmental policies. Many of these trade deals have been formulated and signed behind closed doors, without the awareness or involvement of the very people affected by them the most.
“Canadians deserve a voice in the development of trade policy and we need to set the ground rules for what trade should achieve for everyone, not just big corporations,” said Dias.
The People’s Trade town halls are community gatherings, which are open to everyone, and offer an opportunity for participants to describe how free trade has affected them, the local community and, most importantly to brainstorm ideas on what trade should look like and how we can collectively achieve it.
Mark your calendars because the People’s Trade town halls are coming to an area near you:
- Hamilton – April 20
- Saskatoon – May 7
- Kelowna – May 12 (This is prior to the Unifor Media Council)
- Moncton – May 31
- Winnipeg – June 12 (Tentative)
- Windsor – June 25 (Tentative)
- London/Kitchener-Waterloo – June 28 (Tentative)
- Vancouver – November 18
The ideas generated at these gatherings will ultimately form a summary report that will include recommendations will be presented to federal politicians and candidates in the lead-up to the 2019 federal election.
“Our hope is to build a constructive political dialogue on trade during the next election – one that sets us down the path of building a trade system which provides security for all,” said Dias.
To host a community gathering in your area, contact:
Unifor Director of Political Action and Member Mobilization
Roland.Kiehne@unifor.org or 416-495-6562