Free trade is a timely topic in 2017 as Canada renegotiates NAFTA with the United States and Mexico. Back in 1998, when Prime Minister Brian Mulroney did an about-face and began negotiating a free-trade agreement with the United States, Bob White was prominent in a labour and citizens’ movement opposing the deal. White had built his reputation as a hard-nosed leader with the Canadian section of the United Auto Workers. In 1986, he led a move to leave the international union and form the Canadian Auto Workers. He and others described Mulroney’s free trade deal as being more about investment than trade, arguing that it would fundamentally undermine Canada’s sovereignty and its ability to maintain social, health, and regional development programs. White made this speech to the convention of the United Fisherman and Allied Workers Union in Vancouver early in 1988.
As Hitler attacked the Jews in the 1930s many of them sought refuge in other countries, including Canada. Prime Minister Mackenzie King counseled Canadian Jewish groups and concerned MPs to work quietly behind the scenes, implying that something would be done, but he took no action. There was a significant public sentiment in the country against Jewish immigration, and Canada actually turned away a ship containing Jews fleeing Germany. On 30 June 1939 a Quebec MP tabled a petition signed by thousands demanding that the government not allow Jews into Canada. That prompted A. A. Heaps, a CCF MP from Winnipeg, who had accepted King’s advice about quietly diplomacy, to rise in the House and criticize both the prime minister and his government’s inaction. Heaps was one of the few Jewish Members of Parliament.