As police tear gassed and fired rubber bullets and water cannons at protesters in Quebec this weekend, President Bush spoke inside the protected halls of a conference center and told the other leaders from the Western Hemisphere that “open trade must be matched by a strong commitment to protecting our environment and improving labor standards.” But Bush offered no specifics on how such a commitment would be implemented. Many Democrats argue that countries joining trade pacts with the U.S. should at a minimum be prevented from lowering their environmental and labor standards in order to attract foreign investment. Police estimated that at least 20,000 protesters were in Quebec to demonstrate against globalization and the Free Trade Area of the Americans. (Note: Did anyone else catch the opinion piece in yesterday’s New York Times arguing that the World Trade Organization is turning green?)

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.