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UPDATE: Lessons from how the CETA debate unfolded in Nelson, BC

A Nelson, British Columbia city motion asking for an exemption from the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement if certain conditions are not met offers a lesson on how to approach other city councils about the deal at this late stage.

Councillor Candace Batycki vs Mayor John Dooley on CETA

The motion passed by Nelson City Council reads – “Given the concerns raised about lack of openness and transparency in the negotiation process, Council asks for an exemption for the City of Nelson from the Canada-European Union (EU) Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), as resolved by UBCM Resolutions B108 in 2010 and B87 and B88 in 2012, should the FCM’s Seven Trading Principles not be respected.”

The Nelson Daily reports on how a Council of Canadians-inspired motion to exempt Nelson was altered to a hybrid of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) resolutions when debated by City Council on February 4. The significant difference to keep in mind is, “The UBCM has asked the federal government to exempt B.C. municipalities from the agreement, and the FCM wants some limitations, not exemption.”

The newspaper notes, “Councillor Candace Batycki’s motion to ask the federal government to exempt Nelson from an international trade agreement was the result of a presentation to Council by the local chapter of the Council of Canadians in January. The discussion began with Councillor Deb Kozak noting that Council had received letters from Pacific Insight Electronics and from the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce in support of the CETA, which they said would open up European markets to Nelson companies. The Chamber of Commerce’s letter challenges the points made by the Council of Canadians to Nelson Council in January. Mayor John Dooley, who sits on the FCM committee dealing with this issue at the national level, told Council he had many problems with Batycki’s resolution and he gave a lengthy, impassioned speech. (After the Mayor argued that the City of Nelseon doesn’t buy locally), Council members had little to say about Dooley’s comments and there was no further discussion about the actual content of the CETA including whether or not it would indeed have the adverse effects that Councillor Batycki alleged. Instead, Baticki offered to soften her motion, to ask for an exemption only if a set of negotiation guidelines already developed by the FCM are not followed.”

To pursue a CETA resolution in your community, please use our tool kit at http://canadians.org/action/2012/CETA-resolution.html. When appropriate, you could consider using the Nelson City Council motion as a ‘be it resolved’ in the sample resolution provided in the tool kit. The Nelson Daily report can be read at http://thenelsondaily.com/news/dooley-wins-ceta-scuffle-council-23131. Our ‘WIN! Nelson city council passes CETA resolution’ can be read at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=19156.