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Nova Scotia pauses on Bill 20

Atlantic organizer Angela Giles reports that the Government of Nova Scotia has decided not to proceed for now with Bill 20 – the Internal Trade Agreement Implementation Act – due to unanswered questions about its implications.

Why is this so significant?

On January 16, 2009, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the provincial premiers and territorial leaders signed a new Agreement on Internal Trade.

Along with a new labour mobility provision, they agreed to a “dispute resolution mechanism” and “new incentives for compliance”, according to a federal government backgrounder.

This dispute resolution mechanism provides for monetary penalties “of up to $5 million for the largest jurisdictions for continued non-compliance with AIT obligations.”

The government backgrounder notes that, “Signatories must obtain ratification from their respective governments for these amendments to take effect.”

As such, the decision by Premier Darrell Dexter’s NDP government – which was elected on June 9, 2009 – to wait on the implementation bill is a significant set-back for this trade agenda. We are hopeful that other provinces will also take similar action.

The Council of Canadians will be working with its partners to raise further concerns about the AIT and asking the government not to reintroduce Bill 20 in the Spring 2010 legislative session.

The text of Bill 20 can be read at http://www.gov.ns.ca/legislature/legc/bills/61st_1st/1st_read/b020.htm.

For Council of Canadians analysis on interprovincial trade issues, please go to http://canadians.org/tilma.