Jim Reisberry, the president of the Brockville chapter of the Council of Canadians, writes in a letter to the editor published in the Brockville Recorder and Times today that:
At the all-candidates meeting at BCI on Oct. 15, I asked the following question: “Are you familiar with CETA and the impact it will have on the city’s buy-local policy, if passed?” Of the five candidates chosen to answer the question, none knew what CETA was, let alone what impact it would have on the council’s sovereignty. Unfortunately, I was not given time, after it became apparent none of them knew what I was talking about, to tell them what it was or why it was important.
CETA stands for Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. It is the name given to the “free” trade agreement our federal government has been negotiating with the European Union for some time. Actually, negotiations are in the last stages. There will be a rally to protest CETA on Friday Oct. 22 at noon in Ottawa.
Why is CETA important to city councils across Canada, including Brockville’s? Because the Europeans are demanding that their corporations have equal access to bid on all municipal, hospital and school contracts. If needed, our city council would not be able to stimulate the local economy by showing favour to local contractors and businesses. Brockville’s buy-local and Canadian bylaw would be null and void.
In this day and age, agreements signed by provincial and federal governments do make a difference to what councils can do or not do. Our councillors should know this and fight any agreements that will limit their ability to act in the best interests of their constituents. Brockville does not exist in a vacuum. I strongly feel that every councillor should know what is going on in the global economic system and how it affects them, for good or evil.
Our candidates were not totally to blame for not knowing what CETA is; the government and the media have been very secretive about it. Unfortunately, CETA will likely be as well-known in the future as NAFTA is now.
For ‘UPDATE: The Council of Canadians and municipal elections’, please go to http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=4929.