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City, union demand transparency

Council heeds Unifor's call for more openness from Ottawa on proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

Oshawa is standing alongside one of the city’s largest unions to ask for more openness from Ottawa.

City council has agreed to endorse a motion from Unifor Local 222 to ask for more transparency on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The international trade deal currently being negotiated by the Canadian government could have a destructive impact on the auto sector, according to the union local’s head.

“It’s obviously a very important issue not just for me and my members, but for council as well,” Ron Svajlenko, the president of Unifor Local 222, told city council.

“There’s an awful lot of people in the Oshawa area, in Durham Region that would be negatively affected if this is allowed to go forward.”

Svajlenko says that the crux of the problem are hints that regional requirements for the construction and trade of vehicles will be reduced, resulting in less Canadian-made parts being used, or what Svajlenko has called a “watering down” of regulations currently in place under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Svajlenko and Unifor have called on the government to provide more details about the agreement and the negotiations, all of which have taken place behind closed doors.

“I don’t think it’s fair for Canadians, during a federal election, that we have this kind of discussion,” he said.

The importance of the TPP was not lost on Oshawa council.

“This industry has been decimated,” Councillor Nancy Diamond said of the automotive industry. “We have an obligation in Canada to be working towards the continuation of solid employment, of real jobs.”

Other municipalities that have joined Unifor’s call for transparency include the home of other autoplants in the province: Windsor, Ingersoll, St. Catharines and Oakville.