Mississauga Calls for Exemption from CETA Procurement Rules

April 11, 2012, 4:00 PM EST

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Mississauga City Council is requesting from the Province of Ontario a permanent exemption from the restrictive procurement rules proposed in a new free trade deal between Canada and the European Union.

Earlier today, councillors voted unanimously in favour of this motion that was introduced following a presentation by the Brampton-Mississauga and District Labour Council.

The proposed EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement is arguably the most ambitious, far-reaching and potentially damaging trade deal in our country's history, said BMDLC Vice President Jim McDowell in his presentation to Council.

"Unlike the terms and conditions of the NAFTA, CETA negotiations specifically include Canadian provinces - and, through them, also aim to bind various Canadian municipalities. This is very concerning," McDowell said.

Proposed rules under the CETA would explicitly restrict the rights of municipal governments to enact procurement policies that promote local economic or social development and other tools to spur local development.

Attaching Canadian-content requirements to the purchase of new bus purchases, for instance, could be challenged under CETA rules. The trade deal could also prevent cities from using not-for-profit agencies exclusively for the provision of services (like child care or drug rehabilitative services). Regulations limiting certain types of service providers, such as corporate big-box stores, could be challenged.    

BMDLC President Motilall Sarjoo said that the effort to improve trading ties with Europe can be a positive one for Canada, but not to the extent that it undercuts local democracy.

"The CETA is taking all of the worst elements of the global trading system and piling them into one agreement that could do more damage than good," Sarjoo said.

A broad cross-section of civil society organizations, farmers, labour unions, industry associations, environmental groups, students, and others have raised concerns over this trade deal with respect to issues like increased generic drug costs, restrictions on the use of environmental protection measures, buy-local food policies and others.

Mississauga is the latest in a growing list of Ontario municipalities to call for an exemption that includes Toronto, Hamilton, Oshawa, Ingersoll, Essex and Thorold

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