Watson responds to council’s resolution regarding CETA

 

By Karen Fallon

Councilor Carolyn Davies responded to a letter sent by Jeff Watson MP-Essex in response to council’s resolution regarding CETA, during the June 25 council meeting.

The issue was first raised in May by councilor Robert Pillon when he sought council’s support to ask the federal government to have the Canadian-European Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement draft text open to public review and scrutiny.

At that time, Pillon noted that under the covered procurement section of CETA, all governments and government entities including municipalities, schools, hospitals and universities are forbidden from favoring local goods and services, over a certain threshold, including local food, which could significantly reduce or eliminate the right to specify local priorities when public money is invested, notes Pillon in his motion.

“I think there are a lot of things we should be concerned about in there,” said councillor Bart DiPasquale at the May meeting.

In his recent correspondence Waton notes that “a successful CETA would result in a $12-billion increase in Canadian exports to the EU. The creation of 80,000 new jobs and a rise in the average Canadian income.”

Although notes Watson: “I should advise council, trade negotiations by convention are not public and for some important self-evident reasons. In similar fashion when discussing sensitive matters town councils conduct discussions in-camera.

“In the near future negotiations, as well as cabinet decisions will produce an agreement in-principle for a CETA. An AIP will be the subject of public discussion and debate,” he continues.

Davies says after reading the MP’s letter “very carefully” she was “disappointed” with the response to the resolution made May 28 by council as “partners in this journey.”

“Amherstburg’s resolution was a fair and equitable resolution that reflected and represented the interests, lives and livelihoods of the residents of Amherstburg,” said Davies. “This resolution aimed to protect and promote local procurement of goods and services and protection of universal healthcare locally for the present and future including access to homecare and pharmacare which is potentially at risk with the CETA agreement.”

“Municipalities already work under restrictions imposed by provincial and federal imposed initiatives, downloads and other limits that restrict municipal council’s on how to meet constituents needs,” said Davies. “I do hope our federal representative understands that we as municipal councilors on the ground understand and feel the ramifications of the local restrictions and provide the input of this resolution in the spirit of advice and guidance during the CETA negotiations.”

“The Federation of Canadian Municipalities recently lauded our International Trade Minister the Hon Ed Fast, for our government’s unequivocal, explicit commitment to respect FCM’s Seven Principles on International Trade in a CETA – and all future trade agreements,” Watson writes.

Davies says that Watson should be invited to address council regarding CETA to explain “ his position.”

Councillor Diane Pouget agrees and says that she hopes Watson could “come and explain his reasoning to council.”

Watson indicated that “if asked on a proposed motion” he would be “pleased to provide input on the federal government’s jurisdiction.”

Council’s earlier resolution was circulated to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, both federal and provincial governments and their agencies along with the National Farmers Union Ontario.

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