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400 protest CETA outside 5th round of negotiations

I know… where are the photos? I promise we’ll have them up soon. I just wanted to say a quick thank you to everyone who joined our 400-strong CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) rally outside Old City Hall in Ottawa today. The number of banners flying side by side opposed to the secrecy and scope of these free trade negotiations with Europe was inspiring. We told the Harper government what we thought of CETA — that it was a bullshit deal. We’re not opposed to trade with Europe, we’re not opposed to working with the European Union on environmental protections and improving labour rights. We are opposed to CETA. The deal on the table is a rotten deal for Canada and the EU.

Peter Julian, international trade critic with the NDP, was the only politician at today’s rally — which is indicative of the good work the NDP has been doing in Parliament to challenge the logic of free trade. Julian issued a media release shortly after the rally to demand “fair trade and transparency” in the Canada-EU trade negotiations.

“We have zero confidence in the ability of this Conservative government to negotiate a trade agreement that will serve the best interests of Canadians,” says Julian in the release, which notes his attendance at the CETA rally. “From softwood lumber to the sellout of our strategic industries such as shipbuilding, the Conservatives have consistently sacrificed Canada’s ability to protect jobs and maintain our economic base.”

A special thanks to the Canadian Autoworkers union for busing workers up from the GTA, and of course to all the wonderful speakers from, in no particular order, CAW, the Canadian Federation of Students, Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Canadian Labour Congress, Indigenous Environmental Network, ATTAC-Quebec, Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union, Canadian Union of Public Employees, National Farmers Union and Council of Canadians.

For those at home with cellphones. Please take a quick second to text CETA to 123411. You’ll receive a note asking if you want to add your voice to the growing number of Canadians demanding an end to the CETA negotiations while a public debate and consultation can happen. The Harper government needs a public mandate to continue — not just a corporate wish list of what services should be privatized, what jobs should disappear, and what environmental standards should be weakened.

And now it’s almost time for the Council of Canadians’ 25th anniversary meeting to start. Maude Barlow, Dorval Brunelle and Steven Shrybman will kick us off tonight at a free public event. Maybe we’ll see some of you there!