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Toronto, Prince Albert councillors demand immediate dialogue with provinces on Canada-EU trade deal

Ottawa – Two more municipalities have taken action as part of the Council of Canadians’ campaign to mobilize local governments against the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). This week, Prince Albert City Council endorsed community demands for a bigger public role in CETA while Toronto city councillors called for an immediate dialogue on the CETA negotiations with the new Liberal government of Premier Kathleen Wynne.

“We congratulate the City of Prince Albert for demanding a more democratic process for negotiating trade and investment deals like CETA, which will have significant consequences for communities across the country,” says Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “Why are Harper and the provinces considering weakening Canadian banking rules in CETA? Why are they taking away the right to buy locally? Why include a chapter on pharmaceutical patents? Canada’s provinces have a duty to explain these things to the public and to give people an opportunity to revise or take out parts of the Canada-EU trade deal we cannot live with.”

At its City Council meeting this week, Prince Albert endorsed a letter to Premier Brad Wall from the Saskatoon Chapter of the Council of Canadians and the Saskatchewan Environmental Society to Saskatchewan. The letter explains how more than 40 municipalities, including large cities like Toronto, Victoria and Hamilton, have asked for exemption from CETA.  “We are asking for assurance that these mechanisms for exemptions will be provided before agreeing to adopt CETA in this province,” it says.

Several councillors from the City of Toronto are also following up with the provincial government after the City demanded an exemption from the Canada-EU trade deal in March 2012. In a letter to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, councillors Kristyn Wong-Tam, Glenn De Baeremaeker and Pam McConnell write:

“Given the late-stage of the CETA negotiations, and the likelihood that our request for an exemption has not been granted, we feel that it is critical to begin a dialogue with your government as soon as possible and that the Province not abrogate its responsibility to advocate on behalf of municipalities. We are requesting that you convene a meeting with Provincial staff and relevant officials to provide a briefing to City Council and City staff regarding the position of the Province of Ontario regarding the CETA negotiations and how you will address the concerns of municipalities such as Toronto.”

The Council of Canadians supports municipal demands to be exempted entirely from CETA and is calling on the Harper government to walk away from the deal entirely given its unnecessary risks to public policy and democracy in Canada and the European Union.