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NEWS: Canada Post says NAFTA prevents a ‘buy-Canadian’ approach

The Canwest News Service reports this morning that, “The Canadian Union of Postal Workers and the Canadian Auto Workers have launched a joint campaign aimed at pressing Canada Post to purchase Windsor-made Chrysler Town and Country minivans when it begins upgrading its vehicle fleet.”
CUPW national president Denis Lemelin and CAW president Ken Lewenza will be in Windsor today to ask that Canada Post adopt a ‘buy Canadian’ policy and spend their already budgeted $150 million to purchase 4,500 to 5,500 light vehicles over the next several years.

But, “John Caines, spokesman for Canada Post, said any purchases made by the Crown corporation must fall under NAFTA rules. ‘Canada Post is subject to the North American Free Trade Agreement government procurement provisions,’ said Caines. ‘We do not have the discretion to select a specifically Canadian automotive manufacturer for the purchase of our new vehicles because of the NAFTA tendering rules. We must tender the purchase publicly with an open, transparent and equitable competitive selection process that includes all potential suppliers from the countries that are signatories to NAFTA.'”

“Jeff Watson, Conservative MP for the riding of Essex, said a buy Canadian policy could aggravate international trade relations. ‘We have to be careful not to spark a trade war and that is very real factor,’ said Watson. ‘What we had learned from the Great Depression that protectionism exacerbated a bad situation. And, if we’re going to go that route … we risk enmity from the U.S. and our trading partners.'”

“Lemelin accused Watson and Canada Post of hiding behind NAFTA. ‘It’s the easy answer — ‘we have our hands tied.’ But, as a Crown corporation they can go further than that and be socially responsible about what’s happening. If Chrysler and other corporations can receive subsidies from government, why not use the taxes of our citizens to maintain jobs in the country?'”

The full article is at http://autos.canada.com/news/story.html?id=1572846