Oshawa Calls for Exemption from European Trade Deal

February 2, 2012, 10:45 AM EST

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Oshawa City Council joined a growing list of municipalities across Canada raising concerns around a proposed Canada-European Union free trade deal that would strip local governments of the right to manage public purchases and lock in the privatization of public water and wastewater services, among other impacts.

On January 30, Oshawa City Council voted in favour of a resolution, brought forward by local union leadership, calling on the government of Ontario to issue a clear and permanent exemption for Oshawa from the proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

CETA negotiations have been ongoing since 2009, and have directly involved federal, provincial and territorial governments. If signed, CETA would mark the first time in history that Canadian provinces and territories would be bound by the terms and conditions of a bilateral trade deal.

CAW Local 222 President Chris Buckley said this would have a direct effect on the day-to-day work of municipalities.

"This trade deal will likely change the way our cities and our towns do business by opening up local services, investment and procurement to global competition, yet they have no official voice at the negotiating table," Buckley said.

Buckley and Durham Region Labour Council President Jim Freeman spoke to city councillors about the potential dangers this trade deal could have on municipalities and criticized trade negotiations as lacking transparency.

"Our governments have been tight-lipped about what's at stake for cities in this trade deal, and we see that as unfair and unproductive," Freeman said, noting the deal could be finalized as early as March of this year.

In addition to the request for an exemption, the resolution calls on the government to disclose its offers on procurement, services and investment and asks for a clear explanation on how the CETA will impact municipal governance.

Oshawa is the latest in a growing list of municipalities in Canada to speak out against the CETA, including the cities of North Vancouver, Hamilton, Cape Breton and others.

A full map of municipalities that have participated in the CETA campaign can be viewed on the Council of Canadians website: http://www.canadians.org/trade/issues/EU/index.html

For more information on the CETA campaign, and to download copies of the municipal resolution, visit: http://www.caw.ca/en/8883.htm

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