MAI hearings tour B.C. beginning in February

Interest remains high and presenters are encouraged to register now

The B.C. legislature’s special committee on the MAI goes on the road in February for phase II of public hearings on the Multilateral Agreement on Investment. The committee will seek the views of British Columbians on the affect this proposed treaty could have on their lives, on their communities, in the province and in the country. Hearings will be scheduled for Terrace, Prince George, Nelson, Cranbrook, Courtenay, Nanaimo, Victoria, Surrey, Kamloops, Kelowna and Vancouver starting mid-February to mid-March. HEU members are encouraged to participate as presenters and attend as observers. A strong public turnout at every hearing will indicate a continuing high degree of interest in the subject, something that British Columbians demonstrated in last Fall’s hearings in Victoria and Vancouver. It is also important for individuals and groups to register immediately as presenters at these public forums. The Clerk of Committees in Victoria is taking registrations now and will confirm dates, times, locations and answer questions. Call the Clerk collect to register at (250) 356-1898. For information about the hearings, contact the Clerk’s office at the same collect phone number, by fax number: (250) 356-8172, by e-mail: clerkcomm@lass.gov.bc.ca, or on the internet at: www.legis.gov.bc.ca/cmt. Last October, the B.C. Health Coalition, of which HEU is a member, briefed the special committee on the threat the MAI poses to health care. The BCHC’s complete presentation is available on the HEU web site at: www.heu.org under the heading “Newsletters”. And there’s an article on the MAI in the Nov./Dec. 1998 edition of the Guardian which is also available on our web site. The proposed Multilateral Agreement on Investment is a legally binding, wide-ranging international treaty often referred to as a charter of rights for corporations. While the MAI as proposed has been scuttled—thanks to massive, global grassroots opposition— there is little doubt that it will re-surface. Proponents of globalization have admitted their dismay over the MAI’s public exposure and the ensuing opposition outrage that blocked its signing. And, these same proponents have vowed to bring it back, probably through the World Trade Organization, with few changes but better marketing.