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Welland and Mississauga, Ontario rethink Canada-EU trade deal; Grand Forks, B.C. joins them in seeking an exemption from CETA

Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion

Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion

The Welland Tribune reports this week that “The Rose City,” as Welland, Ontario is called, “is putting its support with Niagara Regional Labour Council rather than the Association of Municipalities of Ontario while registering its concerns about the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) being developed between Canada and the European Union.”

According to the article, on Tuesday night, following a presentation from Sue Hotte with the labour council, Welland city council voted in support of a motion from Ward 2 councillor Frank Campion asking that local governments be excluded from the Canada-EU deal.

“I don’t think the AMO motion goes far enough,” said Ward 1 councillor Mary Ann Gimaldi, quoted in the Tribune and referring to a communique from the municipal association to Ontario cities in October 2011. “We all need to make sure we can do what we have to do for the people where we live, and that’s all over Canada.”

That’s what “Hurricane Hazel” McCallion, Mississauga, Ontario’s mayor for almost 34 years, seems to think, too. Last week, Mississauga councillors voted unanimously on a motion brought forward by the Brampton-Mississauga and District Labour Council seeking an exemption for local governments from CETA. It was a surprising move considering the City had already passed the AMO-sponsored motion in December to support the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ seven principles related to procurement.

“Unlike the terms and conditions of the NAFTA, CETA negotiations specifically include Canadian provinces – and, through them, also aim to bind various Canadian municipalities. This is very concerning,” said BMDLC Vice President Jim McDowell in his presentation to Mississauga council, according to a press release.

BMDLC President Motilall Sarjoo added in the same release that improved trade with Europe would be positive except for the ways CETA will undercut local democracy.

“The CETA is taking all of the worst elements of the global trading system and piling them into one agreement that could do more damage than good,” Sarjoo says.

According to one source at the council meeting, Mayor McCallion “even encouraged us to start talking to hospitals, school boards, contractors in the region, as she’s equally concerned about how this deal will impact them.”

On the other side of the country, the Boundary Sentinel reports that on April 2, Grand Forks municipal council in B.C. unanimously passed a motion “calling for an exemption for local governments from the agreement on the grounds that it will impact its ability to procure goods and services locally and potentially control over its government facilities including waterworks.”

Finally, heading back east (the real east), a meeting of Atlantic mayors has decided there isn’t enough municipal input into the CETA negotiations.

According to the Cape Breton Post, the mayors, “who are holding their regular meeting in Halifax, say municipalities have been shut out of talks and want to be included in future discussions on the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement.”

Mayor Clifford Lee of Charlottetown raised concerns about procurement limits on local governments and “says water and the services connected to it should not be considered within the agreements,” according to the Post article.

TAKE ACTION: Revisit your local council to pass a CETA motion

Not a week goes by these days without another town or city asking to be carved out of the CETA agreement. The federal and provincial governments will not be able to ignore these calls, at least not easily, as they try to put the CETA negotiations to bed over the next few months. With cities as big as Mississauga (population: almost 750,000) re-examining their position on CETA, it makes sense for us to re-visit municipalities that have not passed a CETA motion yet as well as those whose motions fell short of calling for a full exemption.

Click here to find our municipal action kit, which we’re updating regularly with new information on the CETA negotiations and new resources to help you pass a CETA motion in your community. We’re also regularly updating our interactive map of CETA motions here.