Canada must be fearless in trade talks with the U.S., Unifor says

TORONTO, April 27, 2017 /CNW/ - The Trudeau government must take a firm and fearless stance with the United States in upcoming trade negotiations, said Unifor President Jerry Dias, responding to a rollercoaster week of erratic and troubling trade-related announcements from the Trump Administration.

"This erratic way of conducting public policy that impacts people's lives and the economy might be the President's preferred style of bargaining, but it's unacceptable to Canadians," said Dias. "We must stand united to these bully tactics."

Earlier this week, President Trump openly criticized Canada's supply management program for dairy products and the U.S. Department of Commerce slapped the first in a set of punitive trade duties on Canadian exports of softwood lumber that, if left unchecked, could put more than 25,000 Canadian jobs at risk over time. Shortly after, President Trump announced that it was still his intent to initiate a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), after news reports surfaced that the White House was contemplating an executive order that would see the U.S. withdraw from the trade pact.

President Trump won his election in 2016 riding a wave of public frustration over the failed promise that NAFTA-style free trade agreements would create jobs and bring greater prosperity for working people – a frustration, Dias said, is shared in equal parts by industrial workers in Canada.

"We have a unique opportunity to radically reshape our global trading system, for the betterment of working people, but the goal here should be fairness for workers not punishment," Dias said.

"Governments can, for the first time, engage worker advocates, and social movements, across the continent to imagine what a modern, progressive trade accord should look like. Instead we are stuck reacting to trade threats coming from the White House, which is counter-productive and damaging."  

Dias urged the federal government to meet President Trump's tough trade talk with fearlessness in its renegotiation of NAFTA.

"Canada should not be waiting for Donald Trump. We should signal our intent to immediately begin NAFTA talks with the U.S. and Mexico and formulate our negotiating position," Dias said.  "Our federal government should feel confident to publicly state its willingness to walk away from the NAFTA if the renegotiated terms aren't in Canada's best interest."

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 310,000 workers in every sector of the economy.  It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged.


For further information: or to arrange an interview please contact Unifor Communications Director Denise Hammond at denise.hammond@unifor.og or 416-707-5794 (cell).

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