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NEWS: Chapter activists counter Harper government spin on CETA today

The London chapter protested CETA today.

Last night when we first received the details on where and when 19 federal cabinet ministers would take their pro-CETA message across the country today, Council of Canadians trade campaigner Stuart Trew sent an urgent action appeal to chapters asking them to counter the Harper offensive with media releases and actions.

And chapters responded, with the London chapter staging a great action and Calgary chapter activist Ted Woynillowicz being quoted in Postmedia News articles in at least nine newspapers across the country, as well as the Canadian Press and the Global News reports too.

Postmedia newspapers (including the Winnipeg Free Press, the Montreal Gazette, the Victoria Times Colonist, the Windsor Star, The Province, the Vancouver Sun, the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, the Calgary Herald, and the Edmonton Journal) reported, “The Conservative government moved Friday to fill a public relations vacuum that has enveloped free trade talks between Canada and the European Union, holding 18 public events nationwide and launching an online portal with facts and myths about the deal.” But each of the Postmedia news reports highlighted, “‘You don’t have much to go on except looking at other free trade agreements,’ said Ted Woynillowicz from the Council of Canadians. ‘Instead of having 18 ministers fanned across the country, we should have MPs fan across their constituencies to discuss (CETA).’ The Council of Canadians has been vocal in its opposition to CETA, as have some municipalities and unions that fear the agreement could have effects on domestic jobs and privatize public services.”

As well, the Canadian Press reported, “The Council of Canadians says the government shouldn’t just be staging photo ops and speeches but also should engage with Canadians to listen to some of their concerns. ‘If the Harper government really wanted to meet with workers, he would have picked a more convenient time than 9 or 10 a.m. on a Friday,’ said Ted Woynillowicz in a statement. ‘We dare these ministers to come back to the province to actually meet with the public and take tough questions about CETA.'”

And Global News reported, “One of the most outspoken critics of CETA is challenging the government to prove the benefits they are selling. ‘They can do all the name calling they want but the fact of the matter is they haven’t put anything on the table that proves that this is going to be beneficial,’ said Ted Woynillowicz of the Council of Canadians, a social justice organization. And while it’s critical of CETA, the council is not anti-trade, according to Woynillowicz. ‘Trade is always a good thing,’ he said. ‘My concern is let’s make it fair and get a little bit of balance in here. Not just getting rid of our natural resources.’ Woynillowicz said Canadians should expect the federal government to present an evidence-based, sector-by-sector analysis of CETA’s potential impacts, instead of just telling Canadians to trust them. And it must be done before the trade deal is finalized, according to Woynillowicz. ‘It’s very undemocratic,’ he said. ‘What good is it if Canadians get a look at it after it has been signed.'”

Additionally, this evening the London Free Press reported, “The national battle over a pending trade deal between Canada and the European Union hit London Friday. Federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt took the shop floor at Lamko Tool and Mold to sell the controversial Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). …But Ottawa has to give it a hard sell because concern is rising about how different this trade deal is from others, said Gary Brown, a Council of Canadians official picketing Lamko Friday. ‘NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) exempted municipalities, hospitals and education from free trade. CETA targets those things. Municipalities will not buy local.’ The deal also would push cost of prescription drugs up $3 billion because of changes to patent laws, Brown warned.”

The London Free Press article adds, “Organized labour is also rallying against the deal, saying it would give foreign corporations power to challenge decisions made by federal, provincial and municipal governments and sue for compensation. The Canadian Union of Public Employees said the agreement could kill as many as 150,000 Canadian jobs and called for transparency, saying many details remain hidden. What is known, said CUPE, is European multinationals would get unconditional access to government purchasing and contracting, particularly at the provincial and municipal levels, and prohibit spending that aims to create local jobs or boost local economies, stated a CUPE release.”

We also know that the Charlottetown and Regina chapters sent out media releases, perhaps others too – so we’ll continue to look for media coverage and stories of other actions that took place today.

Trew’s blog on today’s actions can be read at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=14866.