MFTC February Newsletter
This Month’s Headlines:
1)     News from Public Hearing in South Portland   
2)  Candidates Fight to Have Best Positions on Trade
3)     Peruvian Farmers Protest FTA
4)    Informed Growth Act Update
5)    ACTION ALERT! Contact Your State Legislators
6)    Upcoming Events
The Citizen Trade Policy Commission of the Maine Legislature held a public hearing in South Portland last week and took testimony on the impact of trade agreements. Citizens who testified called for the end of the NAFTA-style trade model and criticized the Colombia FTA. 

Trade Testifying: Peter Kellman, Victor Skorapa, Debbie Leighton, Kathy Robertson, Jenna Vendil
Maine’s fair trade hero, Congressmen Mike Michaud, spoke and stayed to listen to the testimony.
Bangor Daily News article: Colombia Trade Pact Condemned
PolitickerME article with Video Footage: Commission reviews trade deal’s affects on Maine business
Testimony included the impact of trade on global warming, immigration, workers rights, Maine jobs, domestic regulation, and public heath.  Thanks to everyone who came to the hearing! The bi-partisan Commission voted unanimously to oppose the Colombia FTA and will be sending a letter to Maine’s Congressional Delegation and Governor Baldacci on their position and the reasons why.
Candidates Fight to have the Best Positions on Trade issues
We saw it in the 2006 Congressional races and now we're seeing it in the presidential race: candidates are making trade an issue in their campaigns.
Both Senators Clinton and Obama made serious advancements on policy commitments on the eve of the Wisconsin primary last week.  Promises include renegotiating aspects of NAFTA and CAFTA, opposing three pending trade pacts (Colombia, Panama, and Korea), indications to change and replace Fast Track, and agreements to roll back investor rights.  
You can read Clinton's responses to a questionnaire on trade here and Obama's here.  McCain, Huckabee and Paul refused to answer.
Now headed to Ohio, a state that has lost 50,000 jobs due to NAFTA, trade is the big issue.
In related news, both candidates are saying the other one is weak on trade and continue to dispute past positions on NAFTA.   Obama folks also put out a tough mailer against Clinton in Ohio, which has sparked a lot of controversy.
In 2000 and 2004 Gore and Kerry barely touched NAFTA or other trade issues.  The fact that this is a key issue in final stretch of the primary is testament to the work being done around the country to highlight the impact of these unfair trade agreements and force the candidates to take positions.  We'll have to hold their feet to the fire to make sure they hold true to their promises.
At least four people have been killed since last Monday, February 18th, when farmers called a general strike throughout Peru to protest the implementation of the US-Peru Free Trade Agreement and call on their government to help mitigate against the impacts.  Peruvian farmers have said all along that US subsidized agricultural products expected to flood the Peruvian market will ruin their livelihoods. The Peruvian government turned against farmers last week, with four dead, and at least two farmers shot by police.  The government declared a State of Emergency as farmers surged in the nationwide protest blocking roads and railways.   The US-Peru FTA was being sold by lobbyists within the hallways of Congress as a boon to farmers of that country, giving them access to the U.S. market. Instead, farmers are saying US- PERU FTA floods local markets with imports of subsidized agricultural goods.
Do you think corporate agribusiness will chip in to help cover the cost of clean up?
Informed Growth Act Update
The Informed Growth Act is facing a proposed amendment which would allow towns to opt-out of the law. The State and Local Government Committee voted 7-6 ought not to pass on the amendment, which is a majority report in our favor. 
The amendment would weaken the law considerably, allowing big box stores to target towns with no independent information gathering mechanism and review criteria  over towns that want to make transparent and informed decisions. 
We  NEED YOUR HELP to make sure all communities have the information they need to make responsible decisions for their future! 
Call Your Legislator and ask them to LET THE IGA WORK!
Call your state legislator and ask them to preserve the Informed Growth Act.
Ask them to vote NO on L.D. 1962.
Find your legislator!
Tell them to Vote NO on LD 1962
Upcoming Events:

Our Coalition member organization, Maine People's Alliance is holding their Annual Grassroots Lobbying Day this Thursday February 28th 

If you have questions, want more information or think you might need a ride, contact:
·        Adam if you are in Greater Bangor (990-0672),
·        Kate if you are in the Lewiston area (782-7876),
·        Jenny if you are in Greater Portland (797-0967),
·        Ben if you are outside the above areas (782-7876),

  •         A multi-media exhibit titled "Farmworkers Feed Us All: the Labor and Health of Migrants in Maine,"  opened last week at the Maine Cultural Building (adjacent to the State House).   It will be on display through March 8th Exhibit Hours: Monday – Thursday, 9 am to 8 pm; Friday, 9 am to 5 pm; Saturday, 9 am to 2 pm; Parking is Available.  To read an article on the exhibit click here

Defending Water for Life in Maine, A project of the Alliance for Democracy is holding the 2008 Maine Water Symposium March 29th at Bates College in Lewiston.  Internationally renowned activist and author Maude Barlow will be one of several speakers.

              Click here for more information.

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