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article imageBuy Canadian, unions urge Ottawa

By Moushumi Chakrabarty     Feb 10, 2009 in Politics
On the heels of Jack Layton’s call for a “Buy Canadian” approach last week, comes a ringing endorsement from two of the biggest unions in Canada representing half a million workers.
Canadian Auto Workers and United Steelworkers are urging the federal government to wise up and jump on the wagon. Only, they are not calling this a protectionist measure, merely common sense and self-preservation. This policy would enable Canadian products take precedence in the marketplace, they claim. Further, all this is within the purview of NAFTA and WTO. The idea of buying domestic is not new and many developing countries as well as European nations have this clause in place, says the USW.
According to a report in theglobeandmail.com, CAW president Ken Lewenza believes dependence on goods and services from abroad only serves to weaken Canadian enterprise.
“Every year more than $500-billion is spent by governments at all levels in this country and yet, year in and year out, billions and billions are spent on goods and services from other countries when they could have sourced from Canada,” he said.
In January, the labour market in Canada plunged by 129,000 jobs, three quarters of which were in the manufacturing sector. The two unions are convinced that Harper’s government can remedy the situation by a long overdue “Buy Canada” policy.
Meanwhile debate over trade wars worldwide and in North America is simmering as passions run high. President Obama’s intention to stop outsourcing jobs to countries touting cheaper labour as their forte has spelt doom for some. Combined with the current economic scenario, many businesses in developing countries like India and China are already feeling the pinch. Last October Obama had said, "I've proposed a new American jobs tax credit for each new employee that companies hire here in the United States over the next two years. I'll stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas and invest in companies that create good jobs right here in Colorado." It looks like that is one pre-election promise he clearly intends to keep.
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