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Windsor and Montreal chapters protest the TPP

The Council of Canadians Windsor and Montreal chapters protested the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) this week.

Earlier this morning, CTV reported, “Crowds have gathered along Riverside Drive Thursday morning for a rally to protest the TPP. The Council of Canadians are welcoming the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade to Windsor just before planned hearings get underway on the controversial TPP. The council plans on reminding the trade committee, composed of MPs from three federal parties, about the growing opposition to the TPP. The group is setting up a speakers’ corner for anyone wishing to send a video message to the committee. Unifor, the council and allies joined to the Windsor and District Labour Council at 10 a.m. outside the hearing venue, the Best Western Plus Waterfront Hotel.”

Later in the afternoon, the Windsor Star added, “Protesters gathered across the street from the Best Western Plus Waterfront Hotel on Riverside Drive where the Standing Committee on International Trade was preparing to hear submissions. …Representatives from the Council of Canadians, Unifor and the Windsor and District Labour Council spoke before a crowd of about 200 people about the deal they say will adversely affect not only manufacturing but also the agricultural sector and lead to huge job losses.”

That article highlights, “Douglas Hayes, chairman of the Council of Canadians Windsor Essex Chapter, said many people don’t understand what the TPP is about and why Canadian jobs are at risk. ‘Our governments can’t stand up for us anymore,” Hayes said. “I see nothing wrong with free trade … (except) when it gets in the way of our environment or our civil rights, our human rights, those things.’ Randy Emerson, also with the local chapter of the Council of Canadians, said the recent hiring of 1,200 people at the Windsor Assembly Plant happened ‘in spite of free trade, not because of it’.”

In his presentation to the committee, Emerson said, “No doubt you have heard a lot in these hearings about ISDS, patents, copyright, regulatory standards, etc. but I’m not going to talk about these. Instead I wish to speak from my heart. Trade had always been good for Windsor. It got us Ford, Chrysler and GM plants and along with that good paying jobs. Free trade has not. Free trade has created a loss of thousands of manufacturing jobs in Windsor. Ford is a former shadow of itself. The Chrysler Van Plant, Plant 6, is gone and GM no longer has any presence in my city. …And now you want to bring in the TPP. Another free trade deal to put more pressure on manufacturing jobs. Instead of waking up in the morning looking at my future retirement with confidence, I wonder if this is the deal that will make my employer pull out of Canada? Will I lose my pension or only get pennies on the dollar?”

On Tuesday, the parliamentary committee examining the TPP was in Montreal. The Ottawa Citizen reported earlier this week, “The International Trade committee heads to Montreal to launch a new series of ‘public consultations’ on the putative Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. Later [in the] afternoon New Democrat MP and committee member Tracey Ramsey will offer her thoughts on the deal, which will also be the target of a ‘welcome’ rally organized by The Council of Canadians, Citizens in Action, ATTAC-Québec and the Raging Grannies.”

Montreal-based Council of Canadians trade campaigner Sujata Dey was at that protest. She says, “A study by Tufts University shows that Canada could lose 58,000 jobs because of the TPP. Major losses could also take place in Quebec’s dairy, eggs and poultry sector. Why can’t we have a deal that creates economic opportunity for everyone, not just corporations?”

And tomorrow, Council of Canadians Toronto, Peterborough, Niagara South and Guelph chapters will be protesting alongside Unifor, OpenMedia, LeadNow, the Trade Justice Network, Common Frontiers and other allies outside the parliamentary committee hearings at the Ritz-Carlton hotel (181 Wellington Street West) at 10 am. Toronto-based Council of Canadians health care campaigner Michael Butler will be speaking at that rally.

The parliamentary committee hearings were also met with protests last month. Council of Canadians activists in Vancouver, Saskatoon and Winnipeg protested the TPP and the limited scope of the hearings.

Beyond attending these hearings (which have yet to visit the Atlantic provinces), you can also email your comments on the TPP to the committee via email at ciit-tpp-ptp@parl.gc.ca The committee is accepting written submissions (of no more than 1,500 words in length) until June 30. Media reports suggest that the House of Commons will vote on the ratification of the TPP in the fall of 2017, just before the November 2017 deadline set by the 12-signatory countries.

For our critique of the TPP, please see our campaign web-page here.