The Council of Canadians Montreal chapter marched with maritime workers from around the world today.
An International Transport Worker's Federation (ITF) media release notes, "One hundred and thirty maritime workers from across 56 countries are meeting in Montreal, Canada to help shape the future of trade union campaigning in the industry. ...The maritime activists will take to the streets of Montreal on Wednesday in a rally to celebrate the gains made by trade unions for ordinary people."
The march also focused on the Seafarer International Union's (SIU) opposition to the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). The chapter and maritime workers gathered at Parc de la Place du Canada and then marched to the Minister of Transport office in Montreal to deliver a message that CETA must not be allowed to destroy the Canadian Maritime Industry.
The SIU highlights, "The Maritime Provisions of CETA could cause thousands of job losses in Quebec and Canada."
SIU President James Given says, "We are proud to host trade unionists from all over the world. This week they will join us in rallying in Montreal to give a simple message – trade unionists are the voice of the 99%, the ordinary working men and women whose voices are being drowned out by the 1% – the richest in society. One maritime example is the proposed free trade agreements in Canada that would have a huge impact on the shipping industry, and ultimately on workers, both in and outside the country. The bottom line is we want fair trade not free trade."
Given has also stated, "We can guarantee one thing for sure, if CETA is signed and adopted, Canadian Maritime jobs will be lost and it will not take long before the rest of the Canadian transportation sectors are affected, including, air, road and rail. As seafarers we work hard to protect Canadian waters, our shoreline and our country, if cabotage is weakened via CETA, there will be no guarantee that our waters, our shoreline, or our country will be as secure as it is today."
Montreal-based Council of Canadians trade campaigner Sujata Dey also spoke at the conference yesterday.
The Globe and Mail has reported, "Under the free-trade agreement, key pieces of the highly protected Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River shipping business will be opened up to foreign competition for the first time, with no reciprocal access to the European market. The free-trade deal would allow European operators to carry empty containers in Canadian waters, bid on dredging projects as well as carry cargo between Halifax and Montreal. Under Canada’s Coasting Trade Act, virtually all ships plying Canadian waters must be flagged in Canada, with crews trained and certified here. Without those protections, the industry warned it could face unfair competition from lower-cost European operators. The Seafarers’ International Union of Canada said ships flying European 'flags of convenience' will be able enter Canadian waters 'without any restrictions on origin of the crew, or level of wage and working conditions.'"
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is now scheduled to sign CETA at a Canada-EU Summit in Brussels on October 28-29.
To send a letter to the prime minister to demand that he not sign CETA next month, but to instead call on the Parliamentary Budget Officer to conduct a a post-Brexit independent analysis of the deal, please click here.
We are calling for this analysis because, as The Globe and Mail reported this summer, "The Canada-EU deal was predicated on Britain being part of the European Union and concessions made by Canada envisioned these as worthwhile tradeoffs for access to 500 million consumers. Britain, with more than 60 million citizens, is responsible for close to 20 per cent of the EU’s annual economic impact."