Year Published:  1987  
Pages:  45pp   ISBN:  ISBN 0-9692334-1-X
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX3387

Abstract:  The conference from which this report emerges was organized by GATT-Fly, a coalition supported by various Canadian churches which undertakes research, education and action in solidarity with people's organizations struggling for economic justice in Canada and the Third World. The aim of the conference (which included eighty participants from various church, labour, farm, women's and anti-poverty groups) was to provide a forum for exploring the impact of bilateral free trade on the participants' own struggles for economic justice. They tried to situate the bilateral trade issue within a global context, examining self-reliance as an alternative to free trade and considering the ethical and theological basis for action on issues of free trade and self-reliant alternatives.
The Honourable Barry Turner, MP Ottawa-Carleton, presented the government's point of view. He was followed by speakers from universities, unions, churches, a farmer's union, a national women's organization, GATT-Fly itself, and by the president of the Mexican Workers' Party, Herberto Castillo, who brought a Mexican perspective to the discussions of both free trade and alternatives to it.
The conference statement declared this to be "a critical moment in the implemetation of a process, by which all social relations will be subject to market rules. With this agreement, transnational corporations are trying to eliminate weaker competitors and increase the pressure for a maximum reduction of their production and marketing costs." A bilateral free-trade agreement will "sanction, perhaps irreversibly, the current trend of privatization and deregulation." It "constitutes a general attack on government's ability to intervene in the economy, so as to ensure a decent livelihood and some measure of social justice for the less powerful." The conference found it "unacceptable that such an agreement is being negotiated in haste, secrecy and without a public mandate."
Clearly this conference last February understood what is becoming increasingly obvious in the free trade debate: the two sides are divided philosophically by their very different concepts of the kind of Canada they want for themselves and for their children's future.

Insert T_CxShareButtonsHorizontal.html here