WTO Complaint Threatens Green Jobs for Canadians, Lewenza says

September 21, 2010, 4:18 PM EST

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An innovative program to promote green power generation and create local jobs in Ontario will be put at risk if Japan is successful with a complaint to the World Trade Organization. Japan is taking steps to file a complaint with the WTO over the Ontario government's subsidy program to help local firms develop renewable generating capacity in the province, including wind and solar.

"If this WTO complaint goes ahead and is successful, it will set a dangerous precedent on innovative programs like this, which are badly needed to create local jobs through the development of a green economy," said CAW President Ken Lewenza. "It's ridiculous that unelected officials at the WTO could shoot down important local job creation initiatives like this."

Under Ontario's Green Energy Act, the province buys electricity produced with solar and wind power equipment that uses mandated levels of locally produced components. Japan believes that is not allowed under WTO rules and amounts to unfair treatment of imported products.

"A WTO ruling against this renewable energy program would be an undemocratic assault on the right of all Canadians to build our own economy through the promotion of a green energy sector," Lewenza said. "Our manufacturing sector has been extremely hard hit with job losses and closures and this program would help create some new jobs and transition towards a greener manufacturing sector."

Lewenza also warned of the dangers in granting multilateral trade tribunals, like the WTO, the right to overturn national economic policies from democratically-elected governments.

In Newfoundland, for example, following Premier Danny Williams' decision to take control of bankrupt forestry company Abitibi-Bowater assets after they ceased operations in the province, the Harper government was forced to payout $130 million to curtail legal actions by the company under Chapter 11 of the NAFTA.

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