'NAFTA sucks:' 13-year-old leads Unifor rally in Windsor
Jada Malott, wearing a shirt with "NAFTA sucks" on the front, addressed a crowd of unionised workers in Windsor during one of six rallies organised by Unifor.
"I may only be 13 years old," said Malott, who was speaking between hockey games and had her teammates in front of her holding anti-NAFTA signs. "But I know for a community to be healthy we need full-time, good paying jobs."
Malott said she's attended town halls and public meetings on NAFTA.
Canada, the United States and Mexico are currently negotiating NAFTA. The fourth round of talks finished this week and were described as "troubling' and "unconventional" by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.
"When I graduate school I'll probably have to leave my city to find work unless I want to work multiple low-wage jobs to pay off any student debt I've incurred," Malott told the crowd.
Malott was followed by politicians who criticized the current negotiation process, including Windsor West NDP MP Brian Masse.
"I can tell you one of our biggest problems we have right now is our negotiators," said Masse, taking aim at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
"He doesn't understand that because he's never really worked for a living," said Masse. "It's not a slam against him in terms of a personal attack. It's the reality of a trust-fund life."
"He does not have a mandate and understand or appreciate out workers," he told the crowd. "When we go to Ottawa we can work and we can stand up for labour."
Preparing for a broken deal
Essex NDP MP and Trade Critic Tracey Ramsey said that Canada needs to prepare for President Donald Trump to break off negotiations and cancel NAFTA.
"If Donald Trump rips it up, which is the way that he's going and what he's been saying... that he really doesn't believe we can get a deal," said Ramsey. "Well that's okay. If we're not going to have a deal than at the end of the day we're going to continue to trade, we're going to keep our labour standards strong and we're going to force corporations to invest in our own country."
Ramsey said that would be done through changes to domestic policies.
She also told the crowd that she was worried about the pace of the negotiations.
"We're barreling towards this cliff," said Ramsey. "And how much are we going to be able to influence what's happening in this deal, in this period of time."
Ramsey said that major corporations have been critical of the timeline.
"People like Ford, big corporations that come like Magna, they say this is dangerous this timeline that we're under. So we support this extension of the timeline," said Ramsey.
She called on people to contact their local and regional politicians to show support for a fair trade agenda that focuses on the environment, the auto sector and work protections.