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Parkland Institute Signs on to Statement Calling on Canadian Political Leaders to Stop Ducking Obama

Edmonton – Canadian civil society organizations, including Alberta’s Parkland Institute, call upon Canada’s political leaders to respond clearly and unequivocally to US presidential candidate Barack Obama’s challenge to renegotiate NAFTA during this week’s Federal Leaders debates.

Barack Obama has promised “to work with Canada and Mexico to amend the North American Free Trade Agreement so that it works for all three” countries. While Jack Layton and Stephen Harper have commented on aspects of the renegotiation, it’s high time that all federal parties declare their positions and plans for renegotiating NAFTA.

A wide-ranging group of Canadian civil society organizations have come together to co-sign a statement calling on Canada’s political leaders to commit to renegotiating NAFTA to protect workers and to foster energy security and environmental sustainability.

“It is increasingly clear that NAFTA is putting Canada’s energy security, freshwater resources and jobs at risk. Chief among our concerns is the NAFTA ‘proportionality clause’ that compels Canada to continue exporting this country’s oil and natural gas resources to the United States, even if these exports result in domestic shortages here at home,” says Tony Clarke, Director of the Polaris Institute.

“The time has come for Canada’s political leaders to step up to the plate and renegotiate NAFTA,” says Keith Newman, Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada.

According to a recent poll commissioned by the Council of Canadians and conducted by Environics, 61% of Canadians agree with U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama that NAFTA should be renegotiated to include enforceable labour and environmental standards.

“It is clear that a majority of Canadians support renegotiating NAFTA. Like many Canadians I will be watching the Leaders debates closely to see which leaders commit to renegotiating NAFTA,” says Maude Barlow, Chairperson of the Council of Canadians.

Signatories to the Statement Include: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives; Canadian Union of Postal Workers; Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada; Council of Canadians; KAIROS - Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives; Le Collectif National stop au M?thanier; Parkland Institute; Polaris Institute; Rideau Institute.

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An electronic copy of the full statement is available on the Parkland Institute website at www.ualberta.ca/parkland

For more information contact: Gordon Laxer, Parkland Institute, 780-492-0476, gord.laxer@ualberta.ca

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