|The Columbia Journal
P.O. Box 2633 MPO,
Vancouver, British Columbia,
Canada V6B 3W8
Volume Ten, Number Two March 2005 www.columbiajournal.ca
SWEATSHOP FREE ZONE
On Thursday, February 17, the City of Vancouver took an important and groundbreaking step on a vital human rights issue. By becoming the first Canadian municipality to create the necessary regulations to insure that city purchases are not made with companies that indulge in illegal and morally wrong practices such as child labour, sexual harassment, slave labour, union busting and discrimination. The city standing committee on city services and budgets has placed Vancouver in a leadership role in Canada. (About a dozen Canadian cities have passed resolutions of principle expressing the intention to become sweatshop free zones. Vancouver is the first to put the mechanisms in place to implement that intent.) Meanwhile, across North America, hundreds of universities, including a number in Canada, have taken anti-sweatshop positions, most recently at the bookstore operations of the University of British Columbia, and a number of jurisdictions including the states of Maine and California have adopted purchasing policies similar to the new Vancouver regulations.
The BC Ethical Purchasing Group, a local coalition including Oxfam Canada, the Maquila Solidarity Network, the Vancouver and New Westminister labour councils and the west coast offices of the Canadian Labour Congress, as well as student groups at SFU, UBC and Capilano College and interested individuals, is happy to salute this great advance in city policy. . The city of Vancouver has given its citizens just reason for pride. From this vote forward, the city is committed in a practical way to using its purchasing power and our tax dollars to improve the labour and environmental practices of its suppliers. We look forward to hearing soon that other municipalities in the Lower Mainland and across Canada will be following in Vancouver’s footsteps.