Unifor members and allies held rallies across Canada today to show support for the government’s push for a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement that helps working families and their communities.
“Every trade agreement we negotiate must put workers in Canada, Mexico and the US first,” said Katha Fortier, Assistant to the National President, speaking at a rally in Brampton, Ontario.
Rallies were also held in Surrey, British Columbia; Windsor, Ontario; Woodstock, Ontario; and Halifax, Nova Scotia. Several of the rallies were held outside the offices of local Liberal MPs, in an effort to encourage the federal government to strengthen NAFTA by putting the interests of the people and their communities first. In Quebec, Unifor members met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday when he came to the area as part of a by-election there.
“Unifor wanted to present the priorities that we believe should guide our government’s negotiators,” said Renaud Gagné, Quebec Director.
“We told the Prime Minister the government must remain firm and stand our ground in the negotiating process. I’m pleased to say that our positions were well received by the elected officials.”
The actions follow a week of intensive lobbying of Liberal MPs by a delegation of Unifor members on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, during which representatives stressed that the government should continue to push for stronger labour rights and work protections in all NAFTA countries, along with a range of other recommendations to reform auto trade, safeguard Canada’s culture, remove extraordinary investor privileges, among other issues.
“In Atlantic Canada, we don’t have to look very far to see the harmful impacts of NAFTA because it failed to put workers first, and because it gives corporations power over important government decisions,” said Atlantic Region Director Lana Payne.
When Exxon and Murphy Oil challenged a Newfoundland and Labrador and Canadian government requirement that oil companies invest a percentage of offshore revenues in a research and training, they won. Canadian Workers lost out on training that would help build Canada’s oil and gas sector.
Across the country in Surrey, British Columbia, Unifor activists gathered at the office of Liberal MP Sukh Dhaliwal, a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade.
BC Area Director Gavin McGarrigle urged Dhaliwal to be a champion for a better NAFTA that enshrines workers’ rights and creates a new standard for multilateral agreements.
The BC Federation of Labour President Irene Lanzinger and Vancouver District Labour Council President Joey Hartman reminded the crowd in Surrey that regressive trade agreements have been defeated in the past.
For more information on Unifor’s active role in the NAFTA renegotiations, go to unifor.org/NAFTA.