CUPE to McGuinty and Charest: Don't copy other provinces' mistakes



    OTTAWA, June 2 /CNW Telbec/ - On the eve of the first-ever joint cabinet
meeting between the Ontario and Quebec provincial governments, the Canadian
Union of Public Employees (CUPE) urges leaders to consider the potential
consequences of risks being taken by their western counterparts with
inter-provincial trade agreements before pursuing any similarly dangerous path
of their own.
    Billed as an opportunity to review several proposed agreements between
the two provinces to advance economic partnerships, CUPE is concerned that the
joint cabinet meeting will result in a decision to pursue a version of TILMA -
the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement.
    CUPE urges the two cabinets to pay close attention to the legal analyses
released on May 21st concerning BC's Bill 32 and on May 26th concerning
Alberta's Bill 1, both related to the implementation of TILMA between those
two provinces.
    "One of Canada's top legal minds on trade and public interest - Steven
Shrybman - has concluded that agreements like TILMA pose a direct threat to
such core Canadian values as cooperation and democracy," says Paul Moist, CUPE
national president, "He even called them unconstitutional."
    Premiers McGuinty and Charest and their cabinets enter this historic
meeting armed with more than enough proof that an agreement like TILMA would
be the wrong direction for Ontarians and Quebecers. Existing trade and labour
agreements, however, are the best mechanisms by which they might explore an
enhanced economic relationship.
    CUPE encourages Ontario and Quebec to demonstrate courage in the face of
pressure to bypass the regulations that some believe hinder Canadian
businesses, especially amidst fear that new trade arrangements could bring
about the same litigation and corporate control problems associated with
NAFTA.
    If the autonomy of local and provincial governments matter to them,
McGuinty and Charest will reject a radical option like TILMA: "Amending
existing labour mobility agreements so they work better for Canadians is the
only option that favours communities, public services, and democracy," says
Moist.
    Premier McGuinty has already said he won't sign any inter-provincial
trade agreement that would undermine labour standards.
    "We can only assume, then, that a deal like TILMA won't even hit the
table, as one of its key elements is to imbue unelected dispute boards with
the power to override legislation deemed to restrict 'business', including
environmental and labour standards," says Sid Ryan, CUPE Ontario Division
President.
    Adds Lucie Levasseur, President of CUPE's Quebec Division, "Given how
little talk there has been of TILMA in Quebec so far, the Charest government
would be wise to not open that can of worms."
    CUPE monitors proposed deals like TILMA out of concern that more
corporate control of communities and workers poses a direct threat to public
services and democracy.




For further information:

For further information: or interviews: Pam Kapoor, CUPE National
Communications, (613) 853-8089

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