Put Canadian Jobs First

Jean Crowder and Zeni MaartmanVancouver Islanders have been among the hardest hit by the Harper government's trade agreements with the Bush administration, say NDP candidates Zeni Maartman (Nanaimo-Alberni) and MP Jean Crowder (Nanaimo-Cowichan).

"We were told the softwood lumber agreement would be the saviour of the forest industry, but it was a sellout of B.C.'s primary industry," said Maartman. "The Conservatives were primarily concerned with cozying up to Washington instead of getting the best deal for Canada."

The candidates said workers in their ridings will be glad to hear that NDP Leader Jack Layton will put the interests of Canadian jobs first in any negotiations with the U.S because the recent downturn in manufacturing has hit Island workers hard.

"The result has been thousands of lost jobs on Vancouver Island. Millworkers, loggers, and contractors are out of work and Madill - once a primary equipment supplier to the North American forest industry - has gone under," said Crowder.

In Hamilton early Monday, Layton blasted Prime Minister Stephen Harper for making a $50 billion corporate tax cut the only real priority of his government. For the first time in this campaign, Layton explicitly promised to reverse Mr. Harper's corporate tax cut.

Looking ahead to the likelihood that a new U.S. president will seek to re-open the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Layton said: "As Prime Minister, I will enter those talks with one over-riding priority - saving and protecting Canadian jobs."

The New Democrats' leader set out a series of trade policy priorities, including:

a.. Renegotiating NAFTA chapter 6- which right now limits Canada's control over our own energy resources;
b.. and NAFTA chapter 11- which currently allows foreign investors to challenge Canada's right to make laws to protect our interests.
c.. Correcting NAFTA's deeply flawed dispute resolution mechanisms.
d.. Requiring strong labour and environmental standards in every trade deal Canada signs.
e.. Exploring opportunities for a model fair-trade deal with the European Union.

"Between bad trade deals and the secrecy surrounding the Security and Prosperity Partnership, Prime Minister Harper continues to put the board table ahead of the kitchen table," said Crowder.

"New Democrats are the only ones in this election putting the needs of ordinary Canadians at the top of the agenda," said Maartman.

For more information on the NDP election campaign in Nanaimo, call Darlene Thorburn (Zeni Maartman campaign) at 250-248-8135 or Calinda Brown (Jean Crowder campaign) at 250-746-4458.

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