Trade Agreements Hamper Local Government Efforts to Support Local Economies

July 30, 2013

Mayor and Council,
City of Yellowknife,
Yellowknife , NWT

Re: Award of $30 million contract

It was with dismay that I read about the recent discussion and subsequent decision to award the water treatment plant construction contract to a southern Canadian firm. I understand that the decision was largely influenced by regulations set out in the Agreement on Internal Trade signed in 1995 by the GNWT that disallows municipalities from applying local preference in contracting decisions. It is disturbing and disappointing that the City, the NWT Association of Municipalities, and/or the GNWT continue to accept the surrender of this power of decision. Isn’t it time to revisit the AIT and look at different ways to stimulate the national flow of goods and services in ways that don’t penalize local governments and economies?

It is also worrying that the principles and good intentions of local governments will become even more muted as the federal government willingly seeks to abrogate our right to economic and environmental decision-making through various trade or corporate rights agreements. Although negotiated behind closed doors, the limited information available suggests that the Canada–European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is an example of democratic rights abrogation. CETA will likely bring in new restrictions on public purchasing (procurement) locally and territorially; let European companies sue in cases where any environmental, public health or resource policy limits corporate profits; and encourage, then lock in the privatization of public services, including drinking water. The effects of CETA will be compounded by other corporate agreements including the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).

Concerns about CETA have been eloquently stated by Calgary’s Mayor Nenshi and by coalitions of communities, citizens, and such national organizations as the Council of Canadians (see http://www.canadians.org/blog/%3Fp%3D21527 ). It is past time for the City of Yellowknife and other NWT municipalities to loudly speak out to prevent further erosion of government powers to support local communities and economies. Please follow-up on the May 13, 2012 resolution seeking an exemption for local governments from CETA passed at the annual meeting of the NWT Association of Communities (http://srj.ca/nwt-communities-say-no-to-ceta-p7323-88.htm) to ensure no further erosion of our interests. I also urge the City of Yellowknife to bring forward a new NWTAC resolution calling upon the Government of the Northwest Territories to seek review and revision of the AIT to permit local contracting preference for the development of local economies.

Thank you.

Lois Little,
Co-Chair,
NWT Chapter Council of Canadians

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Posted on August 2, 2013, in Democracy, NWT Chapter Updates, Trade, Uncategorized, Water and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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