Thursday, May 10, 2007

TILMA: a Saskatchewan Party government under Brad Wall "would have been just as secretive"

TILMA: poor reviews

The Leader-Post

Thursday, May 10, 2007

In the article, "Calvert wrestles with TILMA" (April 21), Leader-Post financial editor Bruce Johnstone said the agreement is "harmless", but neglected to mention some things.

TILMA includes a hit list of "exceptions" for labour standards and codes, minimum wages, employment insurance, social assistance benefits and assistance for academic research or to nonprofit organizations, and environmental measures relating to hazardous and waste materials. The fine print reveals the threat that these will be reviewed annually "with a view to reducing their scope." The Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association and the City of Yellowknife don't support the trade deal either. According to SUMA, TILMA could have "far-reaching implications" that include challenges to land-use restrictions, controls on pesticide use, rules applying to signage, business subsidies/grants to encourage development and housing standards.

Yellowknife feels TILMA "will function like a municipal North American Free Trade Agreement, by giving extensive new grounds to the private sector to sue local governments for trade "infractions" such as construction regulations, zoning, quality densification standards" and "would accord private individuals and corporations the extraordinary right to challenge local government land-use planning and other public interest decisions they allege offend the agreement's rules, and to seek up to $5 million in damages arising from each alleged TILMA violation." TILMA supporters fail to mention the Conference Board of Canada's impact assessment of the agreement was thoroughly discredited by two independent analyses, including one by Patrick Grady, a former senior official in the federal Finance Department.

British Columbia and Alberta negotiated TILMA behind closed doors, with no consultations with municipalities, the public or legislative debate. Saskatchewan Party Leader Brad Wall condemned Premier Lorne Calvert for not being at the table and dutifully signing on, making it clear that a provincial government under Wall would have been just as secretive.

Joseph Kuchta
Saskatoon

┬ęThe Leader-Post (Regina) 2007

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