Steelworkers call on Harper government to stop promoting toxic trade



    BURNABY, BC, Jan. 16 /CNW/ - On Wednesday (Jan. 16), as part of a North
American day of action and the campaign to Stop Toxic Imports, members of the
United Steelworkers (USW) in Western Canada called upon the federal government
to stop ignoring flaws in trade deals that expose Canadians to unsafe imports.
    In more than 100 cities across the continent, including Vancouver and
Winnipeg, USW members are putting legislators on notice that toxic trade must
be stopped. Both Canadian and American consumers have been bombarded by
recalls of children's toys, food and other consumer products.
    USW members and federal MP Peter Julian (NDP Burnaby-New Westminster)
spoke with the public outside the constituency office of International Trade
Minister David Emerson in Vancouver, alerting consumers that Ottawa is still
leaving them exposed.
    Last December, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Health Minister Tony
Clement announced that legislation would be introduced in 2008. Some steps,
like higher fines and mandatory recalls, go in the right direction. But
there's nothing to help make more products in Canada, and nothing about
negotiating modern trade deals that protect health, workers and the
environment.
    "What Stephen Harper and the Conservatives ignore is that unregulated
trade deals don't protect consumers, workers or the environment," said USW
Western Canada Director Stephen Hunt. "Without fixing them, it's only a matter
of time before the next crisis hits."
    In November and December, Steelworkers across Canada put toxic toys and
trade on the national agenda. In cities from Montreal to Vancouver, public
events were held and lead testing kits were distributed to concerned parents.
The kits are still available for a minimal fee through the USW's website:
www.stoptoxicimports.org.
    "For decades, governments have left bad trade deals in place," said Hunt.
"But from forestry to manufacturing to the safety of our kids, it's
increasingly clear they need changing."
    Hunt said that the federal government must ensure that the safety of
imported goods "meets our domestic standards. As well, government inspectors
need to verify their safety."
    With details of the law still secret, he added that mandatory recall
powers need to be wide-ranging and that all toxic products that are seized
must be safely destroyed.

    The USW is Canada's most diverse union, representing more than 280,000
men and women in every sector of the Canadian economy.





For further information:

For further information: Stephen Hunt, (604) 683-1117 or (604) 816-2554


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