Thursday, April 12, 2007

TILMA an exercise in massive deregulation; Saskatchewan Party would sign on, Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants it across Canada

SUMA sticking to principles with motion against TILMA

The StarPhoenix
Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association should be commended for its stand on the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement.

At their quarterly meeting last month in Regina, SUMA directors passed a motion to oppose Saskatchewan's involvement in the agreement. The media did not report the decision.

TILMA could have significant implications for municipalities, with challenges to land use restrictions, controls on pesticide use, referendums, rules that apply to signage, business subsidies/grants to encourage development in certain locations within municipal boundaries, housing standards and purchasing programs that favour local or regional suppliers and contractors.

SUMA policy analyst Sean McEachern says: "TILMA could hinder a municipality's ability to introduce any new bylaws or regulations that may infringe upon the principles of this agreement." The right to local choice would be mostly destroyed.

TILMA's cancerous reach would also extend to school and health boards, Crown corporations and agencies.

The agreement includes "exceptions" for labour standards and codes, minimum wages, employment insurance, social assistance benefits and assistance for academic research or to non-profit organizations, and environmental measures relating to hazardous and waste materials. But its fine print reveals that "the exceptions listed" will be reviewed annually "with a view to reducing their scope."

TILMA is an exercise in massive deregulation. Any province that joins could be subject to multiple lawsuits on a particular measure, resulting in potentially huge damage awards that force governments to abandon or weaken important public policies. The lowest standard will prevail. It's described as a "race to the bottom."

TILMA puts private profits ahead of the public interest. Saskatchewan Party Leader Brad Wall says his party would sign the agreement if elected and Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants TILMA entrenched in every province and territory.

This madness must be stopped.

Joe Kuchta

┬ęThe StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2007


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