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Barlow pays tribute to labour leader Bob White in CLC video

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow pays tribute to labour leader Bob White in a video that was shown to a large audience at the Canadian Labour Congress convention now underway in Toronto.

White died on February 19 at the age of 81.

The 11-minute video – that features interviews with Barlow, Jerry Dias, Hassan Yussuff, Judy Darcy and numerous others – can be watched here.

The video references the free trade debate that Barlow and White took part in.

In her autobiography, Barlow wrote, “[In October 1987], I took part in a historic two-part debate on the Free Trade Agreement on CBC’s The Journal, pitting Bob White and me against Tom d’Aquino and Peter Lougheed. Bob and I were nervous and spent several days holed up with our advisers.”

She adds, “On the evening of the first debate, held in the Old City Hall in Toronto, the two teams were separated in different rooms until just before we were to go live to air. I was feeling distinctly not up to it. In a very short time, I had come to like and admire Bob very much and was touched as he turned to me just before we left our room and said, ‘I’ve only got my grade ten, you know’.”

Barlow then notes, “Miracles of miracles, we did our side proud. Lougheed and d’Aquino, who had obviously not prepared, wrapped themselves in the flag and spoke in generalities about how they loved Canada, and free trade would be good for us. Bob and I got right into the technicalities of the agreement, arguing about secure market access, American omnibus legislation, proportional energy sharing, national treatment (which requires that a country not discriminate between foreign and domestic investors and companies), and the threat to jobs, social programs, and the environment.”

As the renegotiation of NAFTA is set to begin this August, let us keep the example of Bob White in our hearts and minds as we fight this battle.