CAW Urges Municipal Councils to Steer Clear of CETA

December 6, 2011, 1:30 PM EST

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CAW delegates unanimously endorsed a recommendation urging city and town councils across Canada to demand a "clear, permanent exemption" from a proposed E.U.-Canada free trade accord. CAW Council debated the recommendation on December 3.

If ratified, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) will be the first international trade deal to bind Canadian sub-national governments (including provinces and municipalities) to trade rules, particularly with respect to government procurement, public services and investment.

The CETA threatens to restrict the ability of local governments and government agencies to use buy-local policies to maximize the economic value of public purchases. It also threatens to reduce the ability of governments to use public spending as a tool for environmental protection, support for local farmers and small businesses.

CAW Local 444 First Vice-President Dino Chiodo called CETA a "destructive trade deal" and one that leaves our local governments vulnerable to cut-throat global competition.

"Private European firms are gunning for our public services, like health care, education and postal services," Chiodo said. "With such little attention paid to such an important trade deal our job is to make sure the public understands what's at stake here."
With trade talks expected to wrap up as early as 2012, CAW Atlantic Region Director Les Holloway urged Council delegates to "wake up on this issue" before it's too late.

"Free trade deals are designed to shift power from governments, and citizens, to private corporations," Holloway said. "We've already seen it with NAFTA, and we're seeing it again with CETA."

In a study released in 2010, CAW Economist Jim Stanford pegged Canadian job losses in the manufacturing sector at up to 150,000, as a result of the CETA.

A sample resolution was circulated to Council delegates that calls on municipalities to demand a clear, permanent exemption from the CETA and demands the provincial or territorial government fully disclose its initial procurement, services and investment offers to the E.U.

Delegates were encouraged to work with supporting organizations in their communities and bring the resolution to the attention of their municipal council.

A copy of the resolution is available here.

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