Canadian Labour Congress

Canadian Labour Congress

August 18, 2007 09:00 ET

REMINDER: SPP Not About Working Families

Canadian Labour Congress obtains Access to Information documents

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 18, 2007) - The Canadian Labour Congress wants working people to call their M.P.s and demand they put an end to the government's participation in the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), a security-centred redrafting of trade relations on the continent. Barbara Byers, executive vice-president of the Canadian Labour Congress, will make the call while speaking at a rally on Parliament Hill on Sunday.

"We have proof to show that the SPP is completely an initiative of Canada's top-earning CEOs, and their counterparts in the United States and Mexico. This has nothing to do with raising the standard of living of working families nor promoting stronger democracies," says Byers showing a stack of documents obtained by the Canadian Labour Congress under the federal Access to Information Act.

"If this is really about improving NAFTA for all of us, we would all be included in the process. Instead, everything is being done in secret, behind closed doors," says Byers.

The Security and Prosperity Partnership, which is often referred to as NAFTA on drugs, is at the centre of next week's meeting between the leaders of the three countries that belong to the North American Free Trade Agreement - Canada, the United States and Mexico.

Included on the agenda of the Montebello meeting between the three national leaders is a lobby session with a group of hand-picked CEOs from Canada, the United States and Mexico. The ten people chosen to speak on Canada's behalf were selected from a list provided by lobby groups representing the country' s highest paid businessmen. Making the cut for "Team Canada" at the summit: Manulife Financial, Power Corporation, Ganong, Suncor Energy, Canadian National Railway, Linamar, Bell Canada, Canfor Corporation, Home Depot, and the Bank of Nova Scotia.

"They don't speak for Canada. Canadians don't even know who they are. Their shareholders did not send them there, so they are there to represent nobody but themselves. Private interests holding private discussions about their own business with public officials - that's lobbying. The Prime Minister might want to give his own Accountability Act a read before allowing this meeting to proceed," says Byers, Byers says the federal government has to learn that if it wants to pursue new trade deals, it has to do so out in the open, where Canadians can see what's going on and have their say. High security, top secret, backroom discussions that give access to only a few of the wealthiest special interests are doomed to fail.

"Remember the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) and the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)? They all came flying apart as soon as people found out what was really going on. The same thing will happen to the SPP unless the process gets opened up," she says.

Byers says that until the big corporate interests and their friends in government learn this lesson, summits like the upcoming meeting between the Prime Minister and the two Presidents are an insulting waste of taxpayers' money.

"Our hard-earned tax dollars are being used to shut us out of a public policy decision-making process." Byers adds that Canadians are outraged at the double standard being show the small, elite group of CEOs who get access to the summit while everyone else is forced to stand behind fences and police barricades.

"This is why we are asking people to phone their M.P.s and insist they put a stop to the SPP the instant they get back to work in Ottawa," concludes Byers . . .

The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.2 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada's national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 136 district labour councils. Web site:

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    Canadian Labour Congress
    Jeff Atkinson