Skip to content

UPDATE: FCM weak in the face of CETA threat to municipalities

FCM president Berrry Vrbanovic

FCM president Berrry Vrbanovic

In late-February 2011, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities stated, “In the past several weeks, we have been made aware of a number of campaigns directed at municipal leaders regarding the free trade negotiations between Canada and the European Union on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.” This statement may refer to the Council of Canadians and its allies encouraging municipal resolutions expressing opposition to CETA across the country. Over the past months, resolutions have been passed in Nova Scotia (Lunenberg), Ontario (Brantford, Alnwick/Haldimand, Trent Hills, Asphodel-Norwood, Tecumseh), and British Columbia (Logan Lake, Burnaby, North Vancouver, Trail).

Regrettably, the FCM has developed a set of seven weak ‘principles’ for them to support CETA. Those principles are: 1. reasonable procurement thresholds (meaning they’re willing to compromise local procurement policies that promote local goods, services and employment); 2. streamlined administration (they want it to be easy for municipal procurement policies to be free-trade compliant); 3. progressive enforcement (they’re asking for verbal warnings before financial penalties are imposed on them for non-compliance); 4. Canadian content for strategic industries (they want CETA to recognize that minimum Canadian-content rules should be allowed within reason); 5. dispute resolution (they want to be able to defend themselves in NAFTA-like dispute resolution tribunals); 6. consultation and communication (they want to be kept informed during the CETA talks so that the deal responds to municipal concerns); 7. reciprocity (they want European municipal procurement spending opened as well).

To read the FCM principles in full, please go to http://www.fcm.ca/eNewsletter/Archive/2011_feb28_Breaking_news.html.

This past Friday, FCM president Berry Vrbanovic issued a statement following meetings with Edward Fast, the Harper government’s trade minister. Vrbanovic said, “Minister Fast told municipal leaders that the government supports FCM-approved principles for the Canada Europe Free-Trade Agreement. …FCM welcomes the federal government’s commitment to a CETA deal that creates new jobs and opportunities for Canadians while protecting the local decision-making…” Vrbanovic (who serves on the Kitchener, Ontario city council) goes on to say, “(The seven principles) will also protect the role of locally-elected councils in deciding how drinking water and other essential public services are managed and delivered.”

To find out how you can pass a CETA resolution in your community – that in part demands that “provincial and territorial governments negotiate a clear, permanent exemption for local governments from CETA” – please go to http://canadians.org/action/2011/CETA-resolution.html.