Guelph City Council and CETA

January 10th, 2011

Before the last election CoC Guelph asked all of the candidates a few questions about their positions on issues that concern us.

Here is the complete text of the questions. Below that we have posted the responses we received from the mayor and councillors.

Municipal Elections 2010

A Vote for Trade Justice – A Vote for Blue Communities

This October, we will head to the polls for municipal elections. Two important issues facing communities this year are the effect of recent international trade agreements on municipal autonomy and the need for major reinvestment in public water systems.

CETA, Cities and Water

With 80 per cent of Canadians now living in urban areas, our cities and towns are a foundation of the social economy, innovators of public policy, environmental first responders, and stewards of our shared waters. Across Canada, we need to support municipal leaders who will who understand thatprogressive economic and environmental policy should be fostered. We can’t let the future we want for our communities be threatened by international trade regimes and privatization.

In Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) negotiations, the EU istrying to restrict or ban municipalities from applying local preferences or local hiring conditions on public contracts, from directing projects to social enterprises and low-income communities, and from favoring the purchase of local foods in public buildings. Even the right to choose the public delivery of essential services such as water and electricity is threatened by CETA. For more information on CETA, see our website:

Because CETA and other new trade deals put public water at risk, the best way to protect water is for cities and towns to become Blue Communities. This happens when a community agrees to adopt water commons framework that:

  1. recognizes water as a human right.
  2. promotes publicly financed, owned and operated water and wastewater services.
  3. bans the sale of bottled water in public facilities and at municipal events.

Fact sheet: Private water and CETA (bilingual):

A recent legal opinion about CETA and municipalities from the Centre for Civic Governance:

A condensed version of the CETA legal opinion

Questions for Candidates

1. Will you commit to the Blue Communities Project that :

  1. Recognizes water as a human right.
  2. Promotes publicly financed, owned and operated water and wastewater services.
  3. Bans the sale of bottled water in public facilities and at municipal events?

2. Will you sign the Trade Justice and Fair Procurement Pledge? Online text.

3. Do you think it is right to apply ‘free’ trade rules to cities that limit our democratic capacity to support local business, jobs and protect the environment?

4. Will you demand that cities be taken off the table in ‘free’ trade talks with the European Union?

5. Will you consider how public spending can be used to support social goals such as job creation, environmental protection and local farming, and will you oppose any free trade deal that gets in the way of communities being able to spend money in this creative way?

Posted in CETA | Comments (6)

6 Responses to “Guelph City Council and CETA”

  1. admin Says:

    The following response was received from Mayor Farbridge:
    Thank you for the work that the Council of Canadian has done to both protect our water and to raise awareness of the implications of CETA.

    I have reviewed the material on CETA that you have provided and have confirmed that the Association of Municipalities of Ontario is actively advocating on the behalf of all municipalities in Ontario.

    Our Water Supply Master Plan, Water Conservation and Efficiency Strategy, Waste Water Treatment Master Plan, Waste Water Treatment Facility
    Optimization and Source Water Protection Program make a strong commitment to our municipal water supply. Guelph City Hall was our first bottled
    water free facility and we are working to extend this to our other facilities. We have had excellent success working with several events to
    provide municipal water in place of bottled water.

  2. admin Says:

    Councillor Bob Bell gave the following answers:
    1. yes
    2. probably, haven’t read it yet
    3. We need to retain the right to buy local
    4. yes
    5. Probably

  3. admin Says:

    Councillor Maggie Laidlaw gave the following answers:
    1. Yes
    2. Yes
    3. Absolutely not!
    4. Yes, definitely!
    5. Yes, and Yes!

  4. admin Says:

    Councillor Cam Guthrie gave the following answers:
    1. I’d have to research this more.
    2. Not at this time. I’d have to research this more.
    3. I’d have to research this more at another time.
    4. Again, I’d have to research this more at another time before I would agree to your statement.
    5. I’m not sure about the “free-trade” issue and its impact at this time, but I can tell you that supporting job creation, environmental protection and local farming is something that I would support.

  5. admin Says:

    Councillor Leanne Piper gave the following answers:
    1. Yes.
    2. Yes.
    3. Cities should never be tied in their ability to make decisions in the best interests of their citizens. I object to free trade rules, or any similar restrictions, that take away the interests of promoting local economies.
    4. Yes. Guelph, through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, has been actively supporting the exemption of cities from CETA.
    5. Yes, I will. Municipal governments should always make decisions with a triple-bottom line approach. This means that a City Council should always have the freedom to make a decision that is not always the “cheapest” option — if there are other environmental or social considerations that are of greater concern.

  6. admin Says:

    Councillor Karl Wettstein gave the following answers:
    Thank you for your interest in this years election. Your questions are all important discussion points in our community, recognizing some of them are quite controversial and have implications beyond local communities. Most of them go beyond the mandate of municipalities under the Municipal Act. They would be more appropriately discussed in Provincial and Federal political forums.

    I do support the fundamental objectives of the Blue Communities Project.