June 29, 2009

Reuters reports that, "A United Nations meeting on the global economic crisis adopted proposals on Friday for reforming the world financial system..."

"After months of negotiations, over 140 members of the U.N. General Assembly approved by consensus a 15-page resolution that is short on specifics but includes a call for increased U.N. involvement in global economic policy-making."

"The final resolution was watered down from an earlier version prepared by U.N. General Assembly President Miguel D'Escoto, a leftist former foreign minister of Nicaragua, that Western delegations said was too radical."

"Among other things, the draft calls for increased representation of developing countries and better gender balance at the IMF and World Bank. The resolution says some countries have called for a 'more efficient reserve system' and urges further study of the possibility of replacing the U.S. dollar with the IMF's Special Drawing Rights as the top reserve unit."

"The United States said the world body had no authority to order changes."

June 26, 2009

The Council of Canadians has long opposed the Canadian government's support of the asbestos industry.

In September 2000, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow wrote then-Trade Minister Pierre Pettigrew stating, "Canada’s aggressive support of the asbestos industry and the pursuit of markets, in spite of the estimated and projected death toll from asbestos, is a disgraceful indication that Canada values trade in toxic materials above the health of its own citizens and the health of workers around the world."

We also released a report that year that called on the federal government to "plan for the global elimination of the asbestos industry and initiate a 'just transition' strategy for the industry and its workers." We highlighted that, "A primary consideration must be to ensure that the cost of the demise of this industry is not exclusively or disproportionately borne by the workers and the towns that are dependent on the asbestos industry.”

June 26, 2009

The Globe and Mail reports that John Manley has signed on as "the new head of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE). In taking this job, he becomes the new voice of Corporate Canada, a role that has been filled for 28 years by retiring president and chief executive officer Thomas d'Aquino."

"He will join the CCCE in October, and said issues at the top of the agenda will include regulation of financial services, the U.S.-Canada relationship, energy and the environment (he speaks of the two issues in one breath), and climate change."

The Canwest News Service specifies that, "He will begin work on Oct. 19 as president-designate to ensure a smooth transition, and take over in full Jan. 1."

The Globe and Mail adds, "In his new role, he should enjoy access to the corridors of power, as the head of the CCCE or its staff have met with the Prime Minster's Office or federal Finance officials a total of 15 times in the past 18 months, according to the federal lobbyist registry. Those talks ranged from tax policy to energy and small business. On at least three occasions, Mr. d'Aquino had face-to-face meetings with Mr. Harper."

June 26, 2009

CBC reports that, "Trade Minister Stockwell Day said in an interview Thursday that federal and provincial officials discussed the issue (of procurement) on Monday and that the premiers have been given a draft procurement agreement that would act as an adjunct to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)."

"Day said the measure has general support from provinces, particularly Quebec Premier Jean Charest, but that some premiers have asked for time to review the draft."

"Day said he talked to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, who was receptive to the action. But he conceded there is no certainty the initiative, which amounts to a unilateral declaration of non-retaliation against Buy America provisions, will convince the U.S. to stand down on its protectionist measures."

"If it works, Canada would attempt to negotiate a more formal agreement tying provinces and states to free trade in procurement spending..."

"Day said the provinces' reluctance to sign on to NAFTA provisions for procurement when the treaty was signed by the United States, Canada and Mexico is now being used as a stick in Congress to beat Canadian suppliers."

June 25, 2009

Premiers Jean Charest and Gary Doer are on a mission in Europe this week to convince EU trade officials that the provinces are 100 per cent on board plans to forge an economic partnership agreement with Canada. Europe needs provincial approval because so much of what it is asking for involves binding sub-national governments, including cities, to international trade restrictions on government services and procurement. So it's interesting to see Charest clinging to Quebec's provincial securities regulator as "provincial jurisdiction" when Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is so desperately trying to create a national regulator.

CERT President Roy MacLaren with Canadian and European leaders
and trade officials (from CERT website)