You’ll see from our media release today that the cities of Toronto and Prince Albert are asking for more information from the Ontario and Saskatchewan governments about how municipalities will be affected by the Canada-EU trade deal. Both approaches offer interesting options for trade activists to re-engage with municipalities that have already passed a CETA motion, or to approach new municipalities that haven’t yet.
Prince Albert council unanimously endorsed a letter that will eventually go to Premier Brad Wall requesting, in part, that the public be given an opportunity to affect Saskatchewan’s position on CETA before the deal is finalized. Toronto councillors are looking for an update from the provincial government since their city decided overwhelmingly last March it wanted to be excluded from CETA. Toronto has a lot to lose because several of its local training and local content rules on some public procurement would be prohibited under CETA.
In their letter to new Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, Toronto councillors Kristyn Wong-Tam, Glenn de Baeremaeker and Pam McConnell express their concerns with newly leaked documents suggesting municipalities have been largely covered by CETA. They write that, “Given the late-stage of the CETA negotiations, and the likelihood that our request for an exemption has not been granted, we feel that it is critical to begin a dialogue with your government as soon as possible and that the Province not abrogate its responsibility to advocate on behalf of municipalities.” (Emphasis mine.)
The letter concludes: “We are requesting that you convene a meeting with Provincial staff and relevant officials to provide a briefing to City Council and City staff regarding the position of the Province of Ontario regarding the CETA negotiations and how you will address the concerns of municipalities such as Toronto.”
If your city or town has already passed a motion on the Canada-EU trade deal, you could approach them again to find out if they ever heard from the provincial government about it. If not, it would be valuable for those municipalities to follow up with the provinces as Toronto has done. In places where councillors are reluctant to pass a CETA motion, they may want to endorse a letter like the one prepared by the Saskatchewan Environmental Society and Council of Canadians.
For more information on the impact CETA could have on municipal governments, see our Municipal CETA Toolkit.