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NEWS: Delta-Richmond chapter raises concerns about foreign trade zone

The Delta Optimist reports, “A small group of demonstrators brought the Occupy movement to Ladner this week. The group met at the Ladner bus loop Monday morning before moving on to the Highway 17 pedestrian overpass to set up a non-disruptive demonstration to bring attention to local port issues – such as the as the proposed foreign trade zone and Terminal 2 expansion.”

Council of Canadians Delta-Richmond chapter president Cathy Wilander has stated, “Foreign trade zones are also referred to as free trade zones or economic trade zones in other places. Governments section off land to create special investment climates for business and industry. What this usually means is the opportunity to do business without environmental and social policies/labour regulations to restrict corporations and business. We need to be aware of what the environmental and social cost to our community will be if a zone is established at Deltaport. How much farmland will be lost, who will protect workers’ rights, what will what will be the cost to the surrounding marine environment, how much more pollution will be created and what will be the impact on migratory birds and other wildlife? We will look at what we can do to stop this. We need to protect our community. There is nothing free about a free trade zone.”

The newspaper article adds, “Bob Ages, another Ladner resident who is also involved with the local chapter of the Council of Canadians, as well as the organization’s national board, said there are concerns about workers rights and the ability to enforce labour laws if a foreign trade zone is established.”

“Local provincial NDP candidate Nic Slater took part in the local demonstration. He said he has concerns over the amount of truck traffic generated by Deltaport. Slater said there are other ways to get goods to and from the port, specifically via barge, which, he said, is safer and less costly from a fuel point of view.”

In mid-May it was reported that the consultant hired by the BC government to report on the advisability of a foreign trade zone in British Columbia would have a four month deadline to do so. In late August, the Delta Optimist reported, “That study has been completed and the government is currently reviewing the findings. …The findings of the study done for the B.C. government will be made public later this year.” With just two weeks left in this calendar year, we await the release of that report.

For Council of Canadians blogs noting concerns about the proposed foreign trade zone, please see http://canadians.org/blog/?s=%22foreign+trade+zone%22.