New Trade Bulletin Challenges WTO Decision to Gut Local Green Job Policy

March 19, 2013, 9:25 AM EST

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A coalition of labour unions, students and Canadian NGOs have produced the first in a new series of trade-related information bulletins, opposing a recent World Trade Organization (WTO) private tribunal decision to abolish Ontario's innovative green job creation program.

The March issue of the Sustainable Trade Bulletin was co-produced by the CAW, Blue-Green Alliance Canada, Canadian Federation of Students, Ontario Public Service Employees Union and the Council of Canadians. The bulletin was released in the wake of a December, 2012 WTO ruling that found Ontario's local content requirements for wind and solar projects in violation of existing international trade rules.

Under the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT) and the Agreement on Trade Related Investment Measures (TRIM), governments are forbidden from treating imported goods less favourably than domestic goods.

The province's innovative Green Energy Act pays an "above-marked premium rate (or Feed-in-Tariff) to renewable energy producers as long as they meet firm but fair local-content requirements for equipment, machinery, labour and materials," the bulletin states. "The WTO decision. says a lot about the limits that free-trade puts on our attempts to solve today's complex but related climate, economic and social crises."

The CAW has argued that this decision would limit governments, around the world, from adopting similarly inventive policies aimed at local job creation and encouraging sustainable energy development.

The federal government has appealed the WTO ruling and a final decision is expected in the spring of 2013.

The coalition is encouraging members and interested citizens in Ontario to contact their local Members of Provincial Parliament and express their support for the Green Energy Act and its local content provisions.

Download the bulletin here.

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