Thursday, 22 April 2010

Premier must keep his promise to consult with the public: TILMA 2.0

Premier must keep his promise to consult with the public: TILMA 2.0

Regina – Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall will be breaking his 2007 promise to the people of Saskatchewan not to sign the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) if he puts his signature to a rebranded version of the agreement. It appears that the New West Partnership will be signed with British Columbia (B.C.) and Alberta in the near future, without any public or legislative oversight.

In an open letter sent today to the Premier, over 30 groups and individuals called on the Premier to release the full text of the New West Partnership. These signatories made presentations in 2007 at the legislative hearings on TILMA, arguing that the government should reject the controversial interprovincial trade agreement. Today they called on the Premier to conduct a legislative review and full and transparent public hearings on any proposed New West Partnership.

“In June 2007, when he was leader of the opposition, Brad Wall listened to the overwhelming voices of the people of Saskatchewan and made the right decision in pledging that he wouldn’t sign on to TILMA,” says Larry Hubich, president of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour. “Now less than three years later he appears ready to sign a secret deal that nobody has seen, that appears to be based on TILMA, and he’s hoping the people of Saskatchewan will be fooled by a fresh coat of paint and a new name. I don’t think so.”

In 2007 over 70 organizations and individuals raised concerns about several provisions of TILMA , including those that would lower regulatory standards and that would implement a private tribunal for corporations to challenge provincial rules and standards.

“Saskatchewan was right to reject TILMA then, and it should reject a rebranded TILMA now,” adds Scott Harris, the Prairie Regional Organizer with the Council of Canadians. “Nothing has suddenly changed to make lowest-common-denominator regulations and standards good for Saskatchewan. Nothing has suddenly changed to make giving corporations the right to sue elected governments for millions of dollars for ‘impeding trade’ – decided on by unaccountable dispute panels – suddenly a good idea for Saskatchewan.”
“Handcuffing the ability of the province, municipalities, school boards and public enterprises to make decisions in the best interest of Saskatchewan flies in the face of democratic principles,” concludes Gary Schoenfeldt, chair of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour Trade Committee. “The Premier has an obligation to show the people of Saskatchewan what’s in this new TILMA agreement before he signs anything. Both Brad Wall and Ken Krawetz are on record as saying they would never sign a TILMA agreement without first consulting with Saskatchewan people and we are asking them to keep their promise.”

The groups are asking when the three provinces plan to sign off on the New West Partnership. In his February 9, 2010 Throne Speech, BC Premier Gordon Campbell stated that the “new west partnership with Alberta and Saskatchewan … will build on the success of the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement” and on March 30, 2010 BC Liberal MLA Douglas Horne tabled a Notice of Motion saying, “Be it resolved that this House support the creation of the New West Partnership with Alberta and Saskatchewan.”

For more information:
Larry Hubich, President, Saskatchewan Federation of Labour: (306) 537-7330
Gary Schoenfeldt, Chair, Saskatchewan Federation of Labour Trade Committee: (306) 537-7091 Scott Harris, Prairies Regional Organizer, Council of Canadians: (780) 233-2528

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