TORONTO, Oct. 17, 2013 /CNW/ - Unifor National President Jerry Dias is
calling on the Harper Conservatives to immediately release the text of
the free trade agreement with the European Union and ensure the deal is
put through a transparent and democratic review at the federal and
provincial level, before being signed into law.
The union is particularly concerned about how the wide-ranging
Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which Prime Minister
Stephen Harper went to Brussels to sign, will affect Canadian workers
(especially in manufacturing), health costs as well as
telecommunications policy and procurement.
"It's simply not okay to keep the Canadian public in the dark on this
important economic accord," Dias said.
Dias urged all Canadian premiers to likewise embrace an open and
transparent debate about the deal, with the release of the full text as
a key component of that.
In a first for a trade accord, CETA will open up Canada's
telecommunications sector to foreign companies (according to leaked
This would make it extremely difficult for a future government to
reverse the Harper Conservatives' recent reform allowing foreign
multinationals to buy 100 per cent of telecommunications companies
holding up to 10 per cent of the Canadian market and expand from there.
"Any attempt by the Conservatives to use CETA to lock in recent changes
granting foreign multinationals majority ownership rights in
telecommunications would be a brazen threat to democracy," said Dias.
"It would also be bad for Canadian culture, security and workers."
CETA is also expected to give companies based in the EU unobstructed
access to public procurement by municipalities, utilities and other
provincial agencies. This could significantly undermine Ontario's
policy of sourcing transit vehicles within the province and other "buy
A study by Unifor economist Jim Stanford for the Canadian Centre for
Policy Alternatives found that a CETA deal could cost the Canadian
economy more than 150,000 jobs. Canada already has a massive trade
imbalance with Europe, Stanford found, and a free trade deal would only
make that worse.
Unifor represents more than 300,000 workers in every sector of the
Canadian economy. The union was founded Labour Day weekend when the
Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers
union merged at a convention in Toronto.
For further information:
Unifor Communications: Katie Arnup (416) 333-8097 or Stuart Laidlaw (647) 385-4054.