Nova Scotia recently elected its’ first NDP government in June of 2009. Recognizing this as an opportunity, and given all of the recent movement on trade agreements impacting the provinces, the Trading Options Coalition[i] decided that we needed to be communicating with government on trade issues.
On March 2nd, trade lawyer and expert (and Council board member) Steven Shrybman came to Nova Scotia for a day of meetings with government officials. Sponsored by the Trading Options Coalition, the goals of his visit were three-fold: 1. Impart an understanding of the importance that the NS government never allow an investor-state clause into the AIT; 2. Suggest that the NS government reach out to other like-minded governments and form informal alliances on trade issues, if they have not done this already; and 3. That the NS government should be calling for public hearings on trade issues, to show their commitment to a participatory democracy (as the new government has been doing with their finance consultations, the pesticide ban, and the land use consultations).
The meetings went very well overall. We had set up a variety of meetings with elected members and staff from two departments: Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Affairs, and Economic and Rural Development. People were receptive to Steven’s ideas and recommendations, and were forthcoming on where we are at as a province in various trade negotiations. It was great to have him here.
Trading Options Coalition members met with Steven for supper that evening and have met since, and there is a desire to push forward with the public consultations. Getting the public informed on what’s at stake will be key.
More information on the Buy American sellout, a statement on public procurement, and something you can do (action alerts), go here: http://canadians.org/trade/issues/NAFTA/buy_American.html; for more information on the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and to have your say, click here: http://canadians.org/CETA.
Why not do something similar in your province? Educate yourself on the issue you’d like to discuss and set up a meeting with your elected representative, for either just yourself or with others from your chapter! It can feel empowering!
Angela Giles, Atlantic Regional Organizer
 Members of the Trading Options Coalition include: The Canadian Union of Public Employees – Nova Scotia; Oxfam Canada; the Public Service Alliance of Canada; the Council of Canadians; the NS Federation of Labour; Sierra Club Canada; the Canadian Labour Congress; the Halifax-Dartmouth and District Labour Council; and the Nova Scotia Environmental Network.