February 24, 2003
On February 24, representatives of the Ethical Trading Action Group (ETAG) delivered tens of thousands of clothing labels and petitions signed by over 20,000 Canadians to the office of Industry Minister Allan Rock. The label drop demonstrated broad public support across Canada for proposed changes in federal labelling regulations to require public disclosure of factory locations where clothes and other textile products are made.
Marilyn Reed, an Oxfam volunteer and retired school teacher from St. John's, Newfoundland, delivered labels collected by high school students, NGO volunteers and church members from across her province. Representatives of Oxfam, the Canadian Labour Congress and MSN added thousands of labels collected in other provinces.
At a press conference prior to the label delivery, ETAG representatives released information on two Canadian retailers' links to sweatshop abuses in Thailand, Boutique Jacob and La Senza, and explained how disclosure regulations would ensure that retailers can no longer hide their use of sweatshops around the world. The press conference was filmed by CTV, CBC TV and Global TV, and radio interviews were done by Radio Canada and an Ottawa radio station.
Rock was not available to receive the labels and petitions, but officials from the Competition Bureau of Industry Canada received them on his behalf. They confirmed that a Competition Bureau report on ETAG's factory disclosure proposal and other policy options to address sweatshop abuses will be released on Friday, February 28, 2003. The report, prepared by the Conference Board of Canada, is based on interviews and focus group discussions with industry and civil society organizations carried out in November 2002.