According to NDP International Trade Critic Peter Julian, the Conservatives pulled Bill C-23, ratification legislation for the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement off the House of Commons order paper on Wednesday because of continued opposition from NDP and Bloc MPs. Julian says there's no doubt the bill will be coming back, possibly in a few weeks time pending an election call. The failure to get this trade agreement through the House is surely nagging at Trade Minister Stockwell Day, and it is a sign that massive civil society opposition in Canada is having an impact.
We have more details today on Canada's proposal to the Obama administration to grant a Canadian exemption to 'Buy American' stimulus funding rules in return for guaranteed access for U.S. firms to subnational procurement in Canada. According to Inside US Trade, Obama has given his negotiating team, headed by Everett Eissenstat, assistant USTR for the Americas, until Monday, September 21 to provide feedback on the Canadian proposal. As we learned this August, Harper has appointed Don Stephenson, Canada's assistant deputy minister for trade policy and negotiations, to represent the government in these talks.
According to the Inside US Trade article today:
Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson writes today that, "Having ceded important parts of Canada's climate-change policies to the United States – or, to put matters more mildly, having decided to wait on the United States – the Harper government can hardly take a lead in North America on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions."
"The Harper government has said it will propose a cap-and-trade system for industrial emissions."
(The Toronto Star reported on September 7 that, “Though plans are described as a work in progress, numerous accounts say the Conservatives intend to put a cap on the emissions from Ontario’s manufacturing sector and other polluting industries across Canada, while letting oil and gas companies meet less stringent intensity targets which allow output, and pollution, to increase.”)
"What remains unclear – Canadian officials say the government is considering all options – is whether Canada's system would be parallel to what emerges from the U.S., whether it might be integrated with the U.S. system, or whether it might even be enlarged to include Mexico."
The Toronto Star reports today that, "The New Democrats are urging Parliament to trump the United States by establishing a Buy Canadian plan to protect jobs across the country. NDP MP Peter Julian today introduced a private member's bill, the Made in Canada Procurement Act, which would give Canadian companies and industries priority on all government procurements and services."
"Prime Minister Stephen Harper, meanwhile, is in Washington trying to convince Capitol Hill lawmakers to relax the Buy American rules when it comes to doing business with Canada, the United States' largest trading partner.
Julian's private member's bill requires the federal government to give a preference to Canadian companies in the transfer of money to the provinces, municipalities and private companies, or in the direct purchase of goods and services."
The Globe and Mail reports that, "Trade negotiators from both countries (Canada and the United States) are expected to grapple with the issue (of procurement) in the next few weeks. Canadian officials travelling with the Prime Minister (in Washington) said they hoped for a deal by the end of the year, although they acknowledged that much of the (US) stimulus package will be spent by then."
The transcript of remarks by Obama and Harper at their media conference yesterday includes Obama saying, "Our teams have been working together. It appears that there may be ways to deal with this bilaterally, but also potentially multilaterally. The provincial governments in Canada, my understanding is, are not signatories to the WTO government procurement agreements that would have preempted any of these 'Buy America' agreements. That might be one solution. But in addition, we're pursuing, on a bilateral track, efforts to make sure that these sources of tension diminish."