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NEWS: BC Premier Clark promises provincial consultation on CETA

BC NDP leader Adrian Dix

BC NDP leader Adrian Dix

Policy Note reports, “Last week Premier Christy Clark took the unprecedented step of promising there would be public consultation regarding the Province’s position on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union. If this really happens it would be an important opportunity. The current government has never allowed the public to have a say on (trade related) issues. …The worry is just how the Premier defines consultation. If the current sales job on the HST is any indication, consultation won’t mean much.”

“During the Estimates debate last week NDP leader Adrian Dix and House Leader John Horgan pressed the Premier on issues such as the possible inclusion of drinking water in (CETA), a subject that has been exempted from previous trade deals. Dix also asked the Premier whether she supported the request from the Union of BC Municipalities and the B.C. School Trustees Association that they be left out of the deal. The Premier declined to answer those questions. Dix asked the Premier if she would make public what BC was offering up in the discussions. The Premier once again refused saying ‘negotiations aren’t typically conducted in public’. She did commit however that: “There will be, I’m told, consultation on this agreement…There will be many avenues for the public’s input.”

“Canada has now completed the sixth round of negotiations on CETA and the Europeans are pressing hard for trade rights on issues that fall under provincial jurisdiction. For that reason provinces are playing a role in the discussions. The Federal Government has asked provinces for a list of items they want to see left out of the deal.”

“The Premier has promised the public will be consulted on these critical issues. She needs to go further and make those consultation meaningful. That means consulting before the decisions are made and actually listening to what people say.”

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