“The ongoing NAFTA negotiations present a unique opportunity for Canada to pursue a new model for more equitable, socially just and sustainable trade." — Larry Brown, President, National Union of Public and General Employees
Ottawa (02 May 2018) — As the ongoing NAFTA renegotiations reach a pivotal moment, nearly 50 of Canada’s major labour, climate and social justice organizations have come together to call on the Canadian government to honour its commitment to implement a progressive trade agenda and to embrace trade policies that are compatible with Canada’s climate commitments, such as those linked to the Paris Agreement.
A unique opportunity
“The ongoing NAFTA negotiations present a unique opportunity for Canada to pursue a new model for more equitable, socially just and sustainable trade. Ensuring trade deals are compatible with climate objectives will be a test for Justin Trudeau if he wishes to maintain Canada’s progressive reputation,” said Larry Brown, President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) and Co-Chair of the Trade Justice Network.
A joint letter to Chrystia Freeland
The organizations sent a joint letter to Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland outlining their shared principles and priorities for a new trade model rooted in principles of equity, the primacy of human rights — including the rights of Indigenous peoples, women and girls, workers, migrants, farmers, and communities — and social and ecological justice. The signatories of this letter warn against the potential for trade agreements like NAFTA to restrict Canada’s ability to enforce its own environmental regulations, maintain its labour standards, and keep jobs and pollution from leaking to other states with weaker policies.
Fixing NAFTA requires more than tweaks
“We cannot afford for NAFTA's replacement to be another tool of climate denial,” said Catherine Abreu, Executive Director of Climate Action Network Canada. “Fixing NAFTA requires not mere tweaks, but binding climate-friendly trade rules. Minister Freeland has promised a progressive trade deal and we are encouraged by the integrity with which she and Canadian negotiators are advancing workers’ rights in the negotiations, and we want to see the same leadership with enforceable trade measures that are compatible with the Paris Agreement.”
The letter echoes the demands trade justice advocates have long called for: transparent and democratic negotiations, strong and enforceable labour rights (including for migrant workers), protection of public services, enforceable environmental standards, and the right to regulate in the public’s interest.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE