OBAMA’S CANADA VISIT ‘GOOD
NEWS’ FOR FILIPINO-CANADIANS
By Alex P. Vidal
TORONTO, Canada — Filipino-Canadians here hailed the Feb. 19 first foreign visit of US President Barack Obama in Ottawa saying “it created a sense of buoyancy, an uplifting of mood, and that’s always good in terms of economy.”
Celestino Miranda, whose father in Aklan, Philippines is among the beneficiary of the Filipino veterans equity law in the stimulus bill recently signed into law by Mr. Obama, said the President’s visit in Canada is expected to spur employment opportunities because of the reopening of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which will benefit both the United States and Canada.
Miranda, a financial analyst, said since both countries are each other’s “best customers”, both countries “build things together and some imports can cross the border many times during the production process.”
“Almost one quarter of the merchandise trade is in autos, trucks and parts and many Filipinos who lost their jobs last year due to recession are expected to rebound this year,” Miranda said.
Cristobal Palacios, an engineer, meanwhile, said Canada is the largest export market for 36 of the 50 states. More than $1 million a minute in business crossed the border, he said.
Palacios said many Filipino skilled workers will be benefited as jobs will return once the NAFTA will reopen.
Filipinos here also credited Obama now that the “infamous” Rescission Act of 1946 may has been rescinded with the passing of the stimulus bill that will benefit the Filipino veterans equity provision.
There were approximately 430,000 Filipino WW II veterans who were slated to receive US military benefits (health care, G.I. Bill of Rights, pension, vocational rehabilitation etc) when this bill removing those benefits was approved by the US Congress on February 18, 1946, political analyst Rodel Rodis reported earlier.
He said before signing the bill into law, President Harry Truman declared that “the passage and approval of this legislation does not release the US from its moral obligation to provide for the heroic Philippine veterans who sacrificed so much for the common cause during the war.”
In a news conference with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Mr. Obama acknowledged that he has said NAFTA does too little to protect U.S. workers and the environment. Canada, the United State’s largest trading partner, is leery of changes to the deal.
Robust trade helps both nations, Obama said. Noting that NAFTA has side agreements on labor and the environment, he added: “If those side agreements mean anything, then they might as well be incorporated into the main body of the agreements so that they can be effectively enforced.”
He said he hopes there eventually will be a way to do so “that is not disruptive to the extraordinarily important trade relationships” between the two nations.
Both leaders said that as economies around the world face challenges, it’s important for the U.S. and others to resist calls for protectionism.