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Message-ID: <>
Date: Thu, 15 Jan 1998 14:45:24 +0000
From: "Citizens Concerned About Free Trade (Toronto)" <>
Organization: Citizens Concerned About Free Trade
Precedence: bulk

Toronto Star reader's poll condemns "free trade"

From Citizens Concerned about Free Trade, 15 January 1998

14% believe "free trade" has been good for Canada - 86% don't think so! (303 calls in all - more than the usual number.)

This was the question:

"Eight major multinational companies have cut 18,462 jobs from Canadian operations since Canada and the U.S. signed a free trade agreement Jan.1, 1988. Meanwhile, they hired 47,045 workers in Mexico, says a report for the International Labour Organization. Free trade supporters contend it has strengthened the economy and new export-related jobs have offset manufacturing job losses. THE QUESTION IS: HAVE FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS BEEN GOOD FOR CANADA?"

This is what the callers had to say (and we'd love to get all the comments!):

"No. Any benefits that we've had from free trade agreements have to do with our dollar. As soon as our dollar rises, we'll lose it all."

"Yes. Restraint of competition fosters inefficiency. Protectionism has to be a thing of the past. It doesn't work in favour of the consumer."

"No, especially in the manufacturing area. A friend lost her job in a factory after 18 years of working. He husband's plant closed down after 20 years. A friend I have where I live lost his job after 12 years. These factories moved to the U.S."

"Yes. Free trade is good for Canadian industry. Protected industry helps nobody but the unionists. They're overpaid and overprotected. Free trade has opened them up to competition and will be good in the long run."

"No. Look at the unemployment rate, if you want an example. Since free trade, we've got double unemployment compared to the Americans."

"Yes. Unfortunately, we do not have the population to do anything other than (that). So why don't we just drop this query and get on to the real life and operate in a real global economy?"

"No. Our chief export has been jobs."

"No, but in the Middle Ages, so-called wise men thought they could make gold out of lead, too."

"No. Free trade may benefit some, but has robbed many Canadians of decent jobs and their self-esteem. What has there been to replace these jobs? Minimum wage part-time work. I'm also against the MAI, Multinational Agreement on Investment. I strongly feel this is a real and serious threat to democracy and Canadian sovereignty."

"No. Free trade agreements have been an absolute disaster for Canada. They have increased the Americanization of our country. We've seen the loss of our sovereignty and the loss of our ability to congrol our own resources and our own destiny."

CCAFT comment: there it is, folks! I think that in a "real" survey, the numbers of Canadians rejecting "free trade" would be quite high, too. After all, it's no longer a theory, and abstraction, for us in Canada, we live it, we know it, we can see it all around us. (Sitting at CCAFT's Toronto office at Yonge and Bloor, I can see the effects of "downsizing" the Canadian society from our window: poor and sick people, young and old, standing in freezing cold with their cups and caps and outstretched bare hands. Coming to Canada in 1960 and leaving Toronto for the west in 1973, I never had to climb over people sleeping in doorways and begging on the streets, as I am doing daily now, 10 years after "free trade" came into effect. The deindustrialization and "thirldworldization" of Canada screams at us wherever we look - if we care to look! As the t-shirt says: "Canada is Mulruined." What would be the equivalent Chretien t-shirt?)

Re a "real survey:" We welcome questions re FTA and NAFTA which we could put out in a mini-survey in preparation for a "big" one (for which we need to raise funds.) It is time that a poll on what Canadians think of "free trade" be done, and since the media and "our" government are not doing such surveys (for fear of the results, no doubt) the job will have to be done by citizens organizations such as CCAFT.

Marjaleena Repo National organizer

National chair: DAVID ORCHARD National organizer: MARJALEENA REPO
National office (Saskatoon) tel: (306)244-5757 fax: (306)244-3790
Toronto office tel: (416)922-STOP fax: (416)922-7883
Vancouver office tel: (604)683-FREE fax: (604)683-3749

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