CETA Letter to City and Response

March 9th, 2012

Letter

Sent: February 27, 2012 2:59 PM
To: Mayor’s Office; Karl Wettstein; Ian Findlay; Maggie Laidlaw; June Hofland; Bob Bell; Gloria Kovach; Lise Burcher; Leanne Piper; Jim Furfaro; Andy VanHellemond; Cam Guthrie; Todd Dennis
Subject: CETA and the city?

Hello Mayor Farbridge and Councillors.

Do you have any feedback yet on CETA and municipalities? Several groups and individuals presented to City Council on December 19th 2011 on the threats to municipalities from this secretive trade deal. Guelph Wellington Coalition for Social Justice, Guelph Labour Council, The Central Students Association, Guelph Wellington Health Coalition, Guelph Civic League, Council of Canadians and several private citizens. We were asking for our city to join other municipalities to be excluded from this trade agreement until we can see the details of it.

Our group members are asking for an update. We need to know that you are handling this with expediency since PM Harper is finalizing his details to push it through with no public input, including input from elected local officials. CETA contains no teeth to protect our water and energy utilities from corporate control for their profits. Its services, investment and procurement chapters would give European corporations new tools to challenge our public policy and remove provincial and local initiatives that prioritize good, green jobs and the transition to more sustainable and local economies. Municipal services, including water and energy utilities would be restricted in the same way while European consortiums (public private partnerships) would get new guarantees in municipal tendering to the possible detriment of local public services. We have heard that the EU is seeking an Annex ll reservation for water services. Are we?  What is happening?

Procurement, or the money our municipalities, school boards, health and hospital boards, transit and energy services spend for public contracts… all will be affected. The goal of CETA is to take public contracts out of public control. We want you to demand full transparency and the opportunity to change the deal before it is signed!

“Services and investment commitments leaked to the public in January include promises to liberalize (i.e. encourage more privatization of) drinking water or sanitation services, public transit, waste management and other essential services. Relatively weak protections in NAFTA for public health care and education will also be further diluted. While these were initial offers sent to EU negotiators in October 2011, there is a chance the provinces and territories could make them even worse before the CETA is signed.”

Extreme investment protections in the CETA for brand name pharmaceutical companies could block the introduction of cheaper generic drugs on the Canadian market, pushing up costs to public and private drug plans by almost $3 billion dollars. The deal could also undermine protections for Canadian culture, shift the balance of power away from farmers and toward big grain and agricultural producers like Monsanto, and remove foreign ownership limits on strategic or ecologically sensitive sectors like fisheries and natural resources. European firms will have access to a strong investor-state dispute resolution process like the one in NAFTA which lets firms threaten provincial and territorial governments with lawsuits if they introduce new policies in these and other areas.”  – Council of Canadians.

I am being asked “what is happening?” by local members of these groups. They deserve a reply and need to know that Guelph is moving ahead with the protection that we need. A growing number of municipalities, school boards and municipal associations have raised concerns. They want to see the municipal sector excluded entirely from the deal. The AMO and FCM position on CETA is considered too weak to protect them.

What can we tell our members regarding the city response to our concerns? Please let me know.

Thanks kindly.

Norah Chaloner for Council of Canadians — Guelph Chapter.

Response

February 2012 Update on CETA and City of Guelph.  (Canada – EU Comprehensive, Economic and Trade Agreement) received from Mayor Farbridge in response to our inquiries.

This is the resolution passed by Council with their status:

THAT the report dated December 5, 2011 regarding the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement which has been prepared by Economic Development and Tourism Services be received;

Completed

AND THAT the City of Guelph request a briefing from the  Ontario Government and from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) on the scope and content of trade negotiations with the European Union, including the details of its procurement, services and investment offers to the EU;

Requests made.  Response received from FCM and we are currently arranging for a presentation (details to be determined).

AND THAT the resolutions regarding the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement be sent to AMO, FCM, the Federal Government, the Provincial Government, the local MPP and MP, the Minister of International Trade and the opposition critics, for consideration and circulation;

Completed

AND THAT Guelph City Council does not support the ratification of the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement by the Government of Canada at this time without the Government of Canada providing further opportunity for public and municipal government assessment of the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement and the opportunity for further input into the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement;

Position has been communicated (see previous clause)

AND THAT the correspondence submitted to Guelph City Council with respect to the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement be forwarded with the resolutions;

Completed

AND THAT the federal government’s negotiations ensure that the FCM guiding principles will be fully reflected in any trade agreement reached between Canada and the European Union.

Position has been communicated (see earlier clause)

Posted in CETA, Latest News, P3s | Comments (0)

Leave a Reply