Category Archives: Trade

NWT chapter opposes sale of seniors-care facilities to Chinese company, cites FIPPA concerns

December 18, 2016

The Council of Canadians Northwest Territories chapter has written federal Minister of Innovation Navdeep Bains to request an extension of his ministry’s review under the provisions of the Investment Canada Act of the Ambang Insurance Group’s proposed purchase of the Canadian assets of Retirement Concepts.

Retirement Concepts owns twenty-four seniors-care facilities in British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec.

Read the blog  and read the letter.

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Special Presentation in Yellowknife Warns of TPP Trade Deal Dangers

Coming October 12, 2016

photo-by-franBrenda Sayers, the BC First Nation councillor who led the court challenge against the Canada-China investor promotion and protection agreement will speak on the dangers of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal October 12 in Yellowknife.

The Council of Canadians NWT Chapter is hosting the event Wednesday October 12 at 7 PM in the Northern United Place Auditorium.

Ms. Sayers led the court challenge on behalf of Hupacasath First Nation. Since then she has represented the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) in promoting and defending Indigenous rights by combatting the possible adoption of the TPP and other corporate rights deals such as the Canada-European Trade Agreement (CETA).

“TPP and associated processes usurp the ability of public and First Nations governments to legislate progressive environmental, social and economic measures.  They threaten Indigenous title and treaty rights.  They can result in the assignment of damage payments to foreign companies for any action which influences their corporate profits,” Ms. Sayers says.

“They are an outrageous infringement of the democratic authority of Parliament and the  sovereignty of Indigenous nations, and they must be stopped.”

While in Yellowknife, Ms. Sayers will also be leading an afternoon teach-in and meet with representatives of labour and other social justice organizations.

See the poster, media advisory and backgrounder on Brenda Sayers and the TPP, and an infographic and factsheet on Investor State Dispute Settlement arrangements.

CoC NWT Asks for Municipalities’ Support Fighting TPP

April 29, 2016

The Council of Canadians NWT Chapter has asked the City of Yellowknife and the NWT Association of Municipalities to join in opposing the passage of the Trans Pacific Partnership investor-state, or so-called “trade”, agreement.  The Chapter points out TPP’s harmful provisions restricting the ability to support local economies and vulnerability to damages suits and payments as a result of the rulings of non-judicial tribunals, with no right of appeal.  The NWT Teachers Association has joined in circulating this information opposing the passage of TPP.  TPP Factsheet_Page_1

As the letter says, “The TPP is extremely detrimental for the democratic authority and decision making power of municipalities and should not be ratified as written. The NWT Chapter of the Council of Canadians respectfully requests that the City of Yellowknife formally oppose this deal and bring its opposition to the NWT Association of Communities requesting NWTAC to do likewise and make this opposition known to the GNWT and the Federal Government in the form of a motion requesting that the Canadian government not ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership. ”

See the letter to the City of Yellowknife letter, and a fact sheet outlining the consequences of TPP adoption.

NWT Chapter of the Council of Candians Discussion Paper – May 2013

The Council of Canadians works to:

•    Promote economic and social justice
•    Protect and expand the commons
•    Create a living democracy

The foundation of the Council’s work is education and empowerment of Canadians. At its inaugural meeting in April 2013, the NWT Chapter identified priorities and roles that could be the focus of our work. Over time, we hope to get guidance from Council members and other supporters to help us continue our planning. In the meantime, this short paper is intended to give some ‘food for thought.’

Possible Priorities for the NWT Chapter

1. Water

What are our concerns?

•    Federal deregulation through Bills C-38 and C-45, muzzling scientific research, and cuts to the public service enable industrial development to contaminate our waters.
•    Protection of 99% of Canada’s lakes and rivers was eliminated when the Navigable Waters Protection Act was wiped off the books through Bill C-45 – only three NWT water bodies are protected under the new Act.
•    Increased horizontal fracking in the NWT will use and contaminate large amounts of fresh water, which may interact with groundwater and affect our surface environment.
•    Trade and investment agreements such as CETA, TPP, and FIPPA may enable the commodification and privatization of water.
•    Quality drinking water may be compromised in Yellowknife in light of the City’s plans to relocate the source of potable water from the Yellowknife River to Yellowknife Bay.

What could the NWT Chapter do?

•    Hold public forums to discuss critical water preservation issues and provide direction to decision makers.
•    Learn about the NWT-Provincial bilateral water agreements and advocate for open discussions in the interests of northerners.
•    Educate ourselves and others about the impact of trade and investment agreements such as CETA, TPP, and FIPPA.
•    Inform NWT citizens in all regions of the risks to and loss of water associated with increased and horizontal fracking.
•    Work with governments and NGOs (such as Ecology North) to promote public education on the NWT Water Strategy.
•    Work with NGOs (such as Alternatives North) and other groups to advocate on water rights and protection as a component of the GNWT devolution process.

2. Food Security / Social Justice

What are our concerns?

•    Climate change and industrial disturbance and contamination are impacting on healthy food sources (e.g., fish resources and caribou).
•    Already such social determinants of health as food security, homelessness, and safe environment are colliding to undermine northerners’ health and well-being.
•    Governments’ focus on extractive industries is creating huge income disparities throughout the country and in the NWT.
•    Legislative and regulatory changes in Bills C-38 and C-45, massive public service cuts, and cuts to social and health programs — including to the main fibre of Canada’s social safety net, Employment Insurance — mean food security and social equality is even more precarious.

What could the NWT Chapter do?

•    Hold public forums to educate northerners about the 2013 UN Special Rapporteur’s report on the right to food in Canada.
•    Work with Ecology North, Alternatives North, Territorial Farmers’ Association, NWT/NU Public Health Association and others to educate and empower northerners on food security.
•    Facilitate public dialogue and input into the Canadian Medical Health Association’s town-hall discussions on the social determinants of health.
•    Co-sponsor public events targeting youth, on issues of climate security and social justice.

3. Treaty / Aboriginal Rights and Relationships

What are our concerns?

•    The legal rights of indigenous people are enshrined in the Constitution Act (1982), historic treaties (8 and 11), modern land claim and self-government agreements, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
•    Bills C-38 and C-45, eight other federal laws and proposed bills (C-27, S-2, S-6, S-8, C-428, S-207, S-212, and C-47) undermine the legal rights and interests of indigenous Canadians including indigenous northerners.
•    Undermining rights is dishonorable, in some cases illegal, and strikes at the heart of democracy and social justice.
•    All northerners are negatively affected when inherent rights are ignored or undermined

What could the NWT Chapter do?

•    Work with Idle No More, the Dene Nation, and others to open public discussion on the fulfillment of Treaty and Aboriginal rights and obligations.
•    Educate northerners about Treaty and Aboriginal rights and obligations.

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

CETA and the Provinces/Territories – A Basisc Strategy

Prepared by the Trade Justice Network, July 2013

According to the latest rumours, the Harper government would like to announce the conclusion of Canada-European Union free trade negotiations by the end of the summer. This deal has already been delayed many times, and hopefully it will be again. But an announcement could come over the next few weeks, or months.

While the exact timing is out of our hands, we expect that once an agreement-in-principle is announced, the federal government will ask each province/territory to give its formal blessing to the deal, since so much of CETA will permanently constrain their policy flexibility.

There are two points of possible pressure on the provinces at this stage:

1)      It is possible that the trade negotiators for the provinces/territories are operating in a trade deal bubble, without making it clear to other government departments and agencies how their jurisdictions will be affected if the Province/Territory signs on to CETA.

2)      If a Canada-EU deal in principle is announced, it will be crucial that we move strongly and quickly to demand that after years of secret negotiations the public should have the right to change or say NO to CETA before any province/territory ratifies it.

We believe there are very simple things we can do independently and jointly on these two fronts in the coming weeks.

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