The following is a transcript of NDP leader Jack Layton’s appearance on CNN’s Lou Dobbs tonight on March 6th, 2008:
DOBBS: Let’s take a different perspective on NAFTA if we may tonight, this one the Canadian perspective. At least one Canadian perspective and one major Canadian political party that adamantly is opposed to the trade agreement and to the threat of the North American Union.
Jack Layton is the leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party and he joins us tonight from Ottawa.
Jack, great to have you with us.
JACK LAYTON, CANADA’S NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY LEADER: Good to be with you, Lou.
DOBBS: The Canadian perspective, on NAFTA a lot of grumbling here and a lot of talk if it should be omitted in our presidential contest as well. Your thoughts?
LAYTON: We think NAFTA is not working well for working families and the middle class. I will just give you a couple examples. Here in Canada we have lost a third of a million jobs in the last three years in the manufacturing sector. The kind of jobs that allow people to pay a mortgage, to raise their kids, to make contributions to the local hockey team — we love hockey here in Canada, and really to the backbone and to the community. And they’re now finding the jobs that are available when they get laid off — out of these plants because their jobs have now been sent off to a far-off land where wages are one one-hundredth of what they are here — the kind of jobs they can find in Canada are minimum wage.
They can’t pay their mortgages, they are really struggling and I know many American workers are finding exactly the same thing. I think it’s time we made a little common cause and make sure the trade deals are working for the people who make the economy work.
DOBBS: I think most Americans would not pay attention a great deal to the fact Canada is a parallel, if you will, universe in terms of these agreements. When you talk about a third of a million jobs, that goes beyond just NAFTA, that goes to Canada’s overall trade policies, does it not?
LAYTON: Yes it does. Just to give you some examples. We ship raw logs from our forest all the way over to China where they are turned into products and they come back and we buy them. We even find sometimes the products don’t meet our standards our here. I heard you talking about toxic toothpaste in the U.S.
We’ve been facing toxic toys here in Canada. There goes the jobs. The trees go and they take the jobs with them and I know the West Coast is experiencing many of the same things. We need some fair and sustainable trade. That’s what we’ve got to put together.
DOBBS: What a wonderful expression. Fair and sustainable trade. In other words, Jack, let me say, I think many people, are surprised as they listen to you talking about the problems with NAFTA from your perspective, those are precisely what we’re doing now.
We’re sending timber and bringing back lumber. We’re exporting soybeans and scrap and taking in computers from China. The principle source of our computers, our consumer electronics and we look like a third world country for crying out loud.
LAYTON: It’s these multinational organizations under this so- called phrase globalization feel they can consume and produce in their own interests. And they are certainly doing very well by it but it leaves a lot of people behind and that’s why we think a renegotiation of trade should take place and today in Washington, our trade critic, Peter Julian was there from our party working with Congress members and legislators from Mexico to set up a working group to set up a working group. That is a bit of good news today.
DOBBS: Real quickly, we are out of time. Jack Layton, Mr. Brodie, the prime minister’s chief of staff, some talk about him being the source of that leak of Obama-gate as it is called here? Your reaction?
LAYTON: I asked the prime minister today in the House of Commons to apologize to the American people for this kind of interference on the democratic process in the U.S. It’s not right, he hasn’t yet apologized and he hasn’t yet fired the source of the leak. So we’ll keep working on that on our end.
DOBBS: It’s nice and it’s absolutely reassuring, Jack Layton, to find that politics are not just a mess here but occasionally up north. We thank you for taking time with us and hope you’ll come back soon as we discuss these important issues for working men and women and their families and both candidates and the United States and Mexico for that matter.
LAYTON: For sure, Lou. Take care.
DOBBS: Thank you. You too.
Up next here, Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez at it again. Moving troops up to the border with Colombia, maybe he intends to use them. We’ll have that report.
And five years since the creation of the Department of Homeland Security a few questions remain like why aren’t our borders and ports secure? I’ll be talking with Congressman Lamar Smith about that.
We’re coming right back. Stay with us.
For whatever the depth of this “scandal” for all parties that message on it, it’s a good one for Jack Layton because it fits well into his message track as he advocates on his views regarding organized labour, manufacturing, and free trade. This sets Layton up firmly against our Conservative Prime Minister who stands opposed to Layton’s principled, however misguided, views on most, if not all of these issues. Jack Layton receives great profile here from CNN and if we contrast this to the faltering leadership of Leader of the Opposition Stephane Dion, we find Layton to be more of a credible voice for those that oppose the Conservative government’s agenda.
Also a scandal in Canada is that the news media is focusing more upon the leak on Obama’s position rather than the Chicago senator’s nebulous position itself. The preservation of NAFTA and full political disclosure of the candidates on the issue is in Canada’s best interest. While it is unfortunate that there is now a perception of interference in US electoral politics by Canadian government staff, Canada is better off for having the issue front and centre on the US political stage. Americans are now be able to evaluate the positions of their political candidates on such an issue of importance to Canada. It is to Canada’s advantage that U.S. candidates for president are now being vetted on their position regarding free trade with our country.
In the U.S., the scandal is based on full disclosure of policy in a political campaign (“keeping them honest”, as Lou Dobbs might say). In Canada, the scandal is the inappropriate nature by which Americans were given an opportunity to have an honest policy debate.
Hundreds of thousands of jobs will be affected by renegotiating or ripping up NAFTA. What’s got the Ottawa press buzzing is which one job close to the Prime Minister (in Ottawa or Washington) may be affected instead.