From the equality of rights springs identity of our highest interests; you cannot subvert your neighbor's rights without striking a dangerous blow at your own. Carl Schurz

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Troubling questions about CETA 's impact on municipalities

As negotiations between Canada and the EU near their completion we still don't know many of the details as our government only sees fit to brief business interests on them, but what we do know is extremely troubling. CETA in the governments own words is the "most robust" trade and investment agreement we have ever entered into. It's scope reaching for the first time into municipal and provincial jurisdictions.

For those not familiar with the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) here is a primer

The Columbia Institute's  Centre for Civic Governance has taken what we do know,including the leaked text and sought a legal opinion on it's potential impacts on municipalities which pretty much confirms what opponents of CETA have been saying.

Here are some of the highlights from that report titled  Municipalities and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) 101

Prohibit municipalities from restricting tender calls to local or Canadian companies or
requiring that bidders use some proportion of local or Canadian goods, services or
labour. This would essentially end the ability of municipalities to use procurement as
a local economic or social development tool;

Prohibit municipalities from using procurement for strategic purposes, such as creating
or supporting a market for innovative goods and services, including green
technologies if the effect would favour Canadian producers or attract investment to

Prohibit municipalities from using procurement for sustainable development purposes such as promoting food security by adopting “buy local” food practices.

Big European drug corporations may gain extended patent rights, resulting in massive cost increases for Canadian drug plans, including $1.3-billion per year on taxpayer-funded public drug plans and $1.5 billion on private drug plans.

Hydro Quebec researchers warn that CETA‟s procurement chapter could limit the ability of government agencies to use public spending to achieve goals such as economic development and regional employment. If CETA had been in place in 2003, Quebec would likely not have been able to insist on 60 per cent provincial content in wind projects. Local content requirements under Ontario‟s Clean Energy Act could face similar problems under CETA (Note: The EU has already challenged Ontario's Clean Energy Act at the WTO.)

The legal opinion warns that CETA would require municipalities to shoulder administrative costs associated with:

Providing the federal government with information and statistics about their procurement practices and activities:

Publishing detailed notices and announcements of intended procurements;

 Issuing tenders in accordance with CETA procedures and technical specifications;

Accounting to unsuccessful suppliers for their procurement decisions; and

Defending their actions if challenged, before domestic administrative, judicial and appellate bodies

The opinion also found that proposed CETA rules could slow or derail procurement processes by forcing municipalities to

Provide unsuccessful EU bidders with sufficient time to appeal their decisions;

Contend with an order suspending the procurement pending the resolution of such an appeal; or

Pay damages to an unsuccessful bidder or bidders where [municipalities] fail to comply with CETA rules.


  1. Ahh. Don't you just love "small government" "libertarian" "get government off our backs" Conservatives? Municipalities will be tied up with so much red tape that they'll collapse and go bankrupt. Or property taxes will skyrocket.

  2. The small government is only for those they represent, the corporations, for the rest of us not so much

  3. You've probably already seen this one, Kev, but Jim Stanford's CETA lecture on Youtube is very good.

  4. Hi,Alison Yes I have already seen it and highly recommend that everyone views this devastatingly thorough evisceration of the governments case for CETA