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NWT Association of Communities wants an exemption from CETA as Red Deer, Amhurstberg seek more information on the agreement

The Northern Journal reports today that, “The [Northwest Territories] Association of Communities (NWTAC) asked for an exemption from the proposed free trade agreement in a resolution passed at its annual general meeting (AGM) May 10-13.” The paper quotes Yellowknife Mayor Gordon Van Tighem, president of the NWTAC, as saying CETA could have detrimental effects on a local government’s ability to support their local small businesses while adding an extra layer of bureaucracy and exposing municipalities to legal challenges and costs should they not “toe the line.”

News about the NWTAC exemption request, which has been sent to NWT Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment David Ramsay with the expectation the government will respond by end of July, comes a day after news of two more communities (in Ontario and Alberta) that are asking for more information about the CETA negotiations.

The Red Deer Advocate reported Tuesday that, “The City of Red Deer is joining more than 50 other municipalities, government associations and school boards seeking clarity on a future trade agreement between Canada and the European Union.” City council will receive a report on June 25 as to whether it has heard enough information about the EU negotiations from Red Deer MP Earl Dreeshen and Ed Fast, international trade minister.

The subscription-only article was sent to us by Ken Collier, chair of the Red Deer Council of Canadians chapter, which is urging city council to demand a municipal exemption from the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Several councillors agree this is the best way to go.

According to The Advocate, Councillor Dianne Wyntjes said, “This agreement, from what I’ve read, would put our services and decision making at risk… This trade agreement makes me question; where is the future of our public services, specifically those that we as municipalities provide?”

Councillor Tara Veer also raised the issue of protection for municipal services, asking, “Would the municipalities have choice over whether they could keep those services (like water) public?” The article notes that Collier, who attended Monday’s city hall debate, “said the request to get information is unnecessary… because other agreements, including New West Partnership Trade Agreement involving B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan, saw government officials stonewall information as well.”

“Why you would ask those people to provide that information, I don’t understand,” he said.

A glance at the agenda for Monday’s meeting shows the CETA motion that passed requests:

1) that the local Member of Parliament be requested to obtain all up to date briefing materials including the scope and content of negotiations on CETA for Municipalities in Alberta and to provide that to The City of Red Deer

2) that the Federal Minister of International Trade be requested to provide an analysis and impacts of the proposed CETA agreement on municipalities and to provide that to The City of Red Deer and

3) That the Members of Red Deer City Council who are members of both the AUMA and FCM Board highlight the need for enhanced communication and information sharing and for provincial and federal analysis of the impacts of CETA on municipalities including municipal powers and that information be shared with

Also this week, the Windsor Star reported that Amherstberg town council in southwest Ontario “put its support behind a motion asking for full disclosure from the federal government on its latest trade proposal with Europe.”

Councillor Bob Pillon “made the request Monday based on a County of Essex resolution that looks to limit the effect of the [CETA] on municipal government decision-making power,” according to the article. “Pillon’s motion also seeks to ensure all levels of government in Canada, including municipal governments, can continue to use public money to favour local goods and services, including increasing support for local food, and to protect the seed rights of farmers and not to extend corporate patent rights for drugs, which will drive up health care costs.”

A delegation of Canadian Autoworkers union members attended the council session and applauded the results.

“The European Union wants to have complete control and it would take away their (Amherstburg’s) power as a municipality,” said CAW spokesman Ray Hachey after the vote, according to the Star. “It seems the municipalities get it. For some reason our (federal) government doesn’t,” Hachey said. “(Canadian governments) need to maintain services and the ability to determine what’s public and what’s private. CETA basically takes that away … up to and including water privatization … and health care.”

To read the motion, click here.

To see our map of CETA motions, click here.