Victoria to Debate Resolution to Keep out of CETA 10-May
2012 May 10, by Chapter Council
Great News: Victoria Debates a strong resolution to keep Victoria City out of CETA 10th of May (tonight).
Here is the text of the resolution, which will be introduced by Marianne Alto.
WHEREAS the Canadian government will soon conclude negotiations with the European Union (EU) on a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA); and
WHEREAS the City of Victoria recognizes the importance of trade to local, provincial, territorial and national economies; and
WHEREAS, as an integral part of the CETA, the EU is requiring full access to municipal procurement; and
WHEREAS the CETA would increase municipal administrative costs by requiring additional reporting and contract management; and
WHEREAS the CETA, unlike previous international trade agreements, explicitly includes access to water rights and services; and
WHEREAS disputes by private firms against local policy decisions could be taken before private trade tribunals that lack transparency and have the authorityto impose fines; and
WHEREAS these and other clauses of the CETA diminish the capacity of local government to hire or buy locally so as to use public spending as a tool for local economic development; and
WHEREAS the CETA will thus limit the powers of local governments to act in the best interest of its residents; and
WHEREAS it is not the international norm for municipal governments to be covered by procurement agreements such as the one proposed in the CETA; and
WHEREAS the federation of Canadian Municipalities has recently secured Federal Government support for seven fair trade principles; therefore
BE IT THUS RESOLVED THAT
1. City Council ask the Province of British Columbia for a clear, permanent exemption for the City of Victoria from the Canada-European Union (EU) Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA); and
2. City Council ask the Federal Government to protect the autonomous powers of the City of Victoria – to create local jobs, protect the environment, and provide services and programs as it sees fit – from any restrictions to those powers in the CETA; and
3. City Council ask the Federal Government to further exempt from the CETA any municipality that so requests; and
4. City Council encourage and support the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in its work with the Federal Government to change the terms of the draft CETA to protect the autonomy of municipal governments.
We will keep you updated on the resolution tomorrow. We have sent a message to all councillors and the mayor expressing our unqualified support. Feel free to contact them as well. The text of the email is shown below:
The Canada-Europe Trade Agreement is the first “free” trade agreement negotiated by the Canadian government that reaches the municipal level of government. Under trade agreement reciprocity rules, this means that all parties in all other trade agreements negotiated by Canada, including NAFTA, can claim the same rights as European corporations under CETA. This fact alone has huge implications to CETA’s reach and unparalleled breadth.
- Municipal Procurement - CETA eliminates the power of local government to use procurement as a public policy tool. The exemptions are very low, and rules have not been made transparent. This alone implies significant legal liabilities for all municipalities unless a mindless, lowest cost bid procedure is followed (see http://www.civicgovernance.ca/files/uploads/FINAL-Shrybman_CETA_report.pdf and http://tradejustice.ca/pdfs/CETAMythsEN.pdf)
- Healthcare costs and Stealth Privatization- CETA increases patent protection on name-brand pharmaceuticals and will raise Canada’s healthcare costs by over $2B a year. Pharmaceutical companies headquartered in Europe are expected to be the primary beneficiaries of this wealth transfer from Canadians mostly on fixed income to big corporations. (see http://www.canadiangenerics.ca/en/news/docs/02.07.11CETAEconomicImpactAssessment-FinalEnglish11.pdf). There are also legitimate concerns that CETA could lead to increasing privatization of healthcare, which Canadians are resolutely opposed to (See http://www.canadianlabour.ca/sites/default/files/pdfs/ceta-and-health-care-2012-03-14-en.pdf)
- Water and public infrastructure privatization. Victoria is a proud Blue Community that reaffirmed its support for public water and sewage infrastructure last year. As Europe stagnates and European water companies desperately seek new markets, CETA will blow the door wide open and forbid any consideration of public good, regardless of popularity or local benefits. (See http://canadians.org/media/trade/2012/26-Jan-12.html)
- Local food - The greater Victoria area is blossoming with energy on food resiliency and local food movements. CETA will forbid any preferential treatment given to local food and municipalities will have few options to support our fragile local agriculture and farming communities. For more, see http://www.wrfoodsystem.ca/blog/2012/04/12/roundtable-speaks-out-on-ceta
Victoria needs the freedom to be able to support local jobs and sometimes give a boost to local or regional businesses and industries when and where it makes sense. We should be able to define what value for money means – not have it defined for us in a trade agreement that councillors had no role in negotiating.
A lot of times value for money comes down to the bottom line costs. Other times we get more value out of public spending by keeping people in the community working, increasing the city’s tax base, or reducing impacts on the environment. The Canada-EU trade deal, if it applied to Victoria, would put too many restrictions on the economic development options of the city. It doesn’t make sense.
We are also very concerned about newly leaked documents that show that municipal governments will not be fully protected from CETA. For example, no provincial government has excluded drinking water and wastewater services from their offers to the EU. Meanwhile, EU member states insisted on protecting the water sector. Canadian municipalities will be vulnerable to trade and investment challenges by corporations who just want to increase their profits in water services. It’s a risk Victoria should seek to eliminate by demanding a clear and permanent exemption from CETA
This and many other concerns have led to cities like Toronto (yes, Rob Ford’s Toronto), London Ontario, Burnaby, North Vancouver, Saanich and so many others to pass resolutions on CETA. For a full list of CETA resolutions, see this map.