According to the Coast Reporter, the District of Sechelt, just north of Vancouver, voted May 2 on a Canada-EU trade motion which requests the B.C. government “to disclose what it is putting on the table regarding procurement, services and investment as part of the CETA discussions, explain the impacts CETA would have on municipal governance and give local governments the freedom to decide whether or not they will be bound by the agreement.”
Though the motion doesn’t call for a full exemption for local governments, it follows several recent municipal governments by asking for an “opt-out” option. Like Hamilton, Ontario, Sechelt council wants a chance to decide whether or not to be bound by procurement and other rules in CETA affecting municipal spending powers and policy. According to the May 2 minutes, in discussing the CETA motion, councillors decided “it is Council’s responsibility to speak for the public and voice their concerns about what will be on the table, such as water rights, resources, etc.”
The full motion, available on the Sechelt government website, reads as follows:
Recommendation No. 13 – Resolution on Proposed Canada European Trade Agreement
WHEREAS the Canadian government is close to concluding negotiations with the European Union (EU) on a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA),with participation from the provinces and territories; and
WHEREAS the EU is insisting on full access to procurement by local governments which could significantly reduce the ability of local governments to hire or source locally or use public spending as a tool for economic development, environmental protection and support for local famers and small businesses; and
WHEREAS government procurement rules combined with investment protections related to transit, water, electricity and other public services delivered locally may lock in privatization and make it prohibitively expensive to apply new regulations, to remunicipalize services, or create new municipal programs; and
WHEREAS local governments in British Columbia already have open and fair procurement policies;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Council:
– Request the BC government to disclose what it is putting on the table regarding procurement, services and investment as part of CETA discussions, explain the impacts CETA would have on municipal governance, and give local governments the freedom to decide whether or not they will be bound by the agreement.
– Send this resolution to the Union of BC Municipalities, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, and to local Members of Parliament and Members of the Legislative Assembly with a request that this policy be adopted.
In discussion it was noted that it is important to not restrict the District of Sechelt’s procurement and decision making by tying funding to public private partnerships, and to be innovative and supportive of community.