Message to Canada's Political Leaders: During the Leaders Debate, Stop Ducking Obama's NAFTA Challenge



    OTTAWA, Sept. 30 /CNW Telbec/ - Canadian civil society organizations call
upon Canada's political leaders to respond clearly and unequivocally to US
presidential candidate Barack Obama's challenge to renegotiate NAFTA during
this week's Federal Leaders debates.
    Barack Obama has promised "to work with Canada and Mexico to amend the
North American Free Trade Agreement so that it works for all three" countries.
While Jack Layton and Stephen Harper have commented on aspects of the
renegotiation, it's high time that all federal parties declare their positions
and plans for renegotiating NAFTA.
    A wide-ranging group of Canadian civil society organizations have come
together to co-sign a statement (view www.polarisinstitute.org) calling on
Canada's political leaders to commit to renegotiating NAFTA to protect workers
and to foster energy security and environmental sustainability.
    "It is increasingly clear that NAFTA is putting Canada's energy security,
freshwater resources and jobs at risk. Chief among our concerns is the NAFTA
'proportionality clause' that compels Canada to continue exporting this
country's oil and natural gas resources to the United States, even if these
exports result in domestic shortages here at home," says Tony Clarke, Director
of the Polaris Institute.
    "The time has come for Canada's political leaders to step up to the plate
and renegotiate NAFTA," says Keith Newman, Communications, Energy and
Paperworkers Union of Canada.
    According to a recent poll commissioned by the Council of Canadians and
conducted by Environics, 61% of Canadians agree with U.S. presidential
candidate Barack Obama that NAFTA should be renegotiated to include
enforceable labour and environmental standards.
    "It is clear that a majority of Canadians support renegotiating NAFTA.
Like many Canadians I will be watching the Leaders debates closely to see
which leaders commit to renegotiating NAFTA," says Maude Barlow, Chairperson
of the Council of Canadians.
    Signatories to the Statement Include: Canadian Centre for Policy
Alternatives; Canadian Labour Congress; Canadian Union of Postal Workers;
Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada; Council of Canadians;
KAIROS - Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives; Le Collectif National stop
au Méthanier; Parkland Institute; Polaris Institute; Rideau Institute.




For further information:

For further information: Joe Cressy, Polaris Institute, (613) 237-1717
x102, joecressy@polarisinstitute.org

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