The above clip from Paul Manly's excellent new documentary, "You, Me and the SPP : Trading Democracy for Corporate Rule", uses interviews with Maude Barlow, Peter Julian, Erin Weir, Michael Byers, Gordon Laxer, Dave Cole and others to explain how the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement - TILMA - signed by Premiers Gordon Campbell and Ralph Klein, is really just a confidence trick - an investors' rights agreement that guts the ability of locally elected governments to enact public policy for the environment, consumer protection, health care, education, and other social services.
In it Murray Dobbin explains :
"The way to look at TILMA is as part and parcel of the Security and Prosperity Partnership. One major aspect of the SPP is massive deregulation and the way they put it of course is "harmonizing regulations" between the three SPP countries of Mexico, Canada, and the US. But one of the problems for Canada is that most of the regulations in this country are actually provincial and municipal, so the federal government can't actually deliver. When it sits down at the negotiating table with the US and they say "we want harmonization", Canada says well actually we're having a problem with that because we don't control most of the regulations."
When NAFTA was negotiated, the Canadian provinces refused to open their procurement markets to U. S. bidders.
"Canada's federal procurement market, excluding defence, is valued at up to $5-billion a year, and is covered under international free trade rules that prohibit discrimination against foreign firms. In contrast, the provincial sector, which includes municipalities, universities and hospitals, is far more lucrative at roughly $22-billion annually, and is not covered under World Trade Organization measures."
Murray, again : "So TILMA fills in that gap. TILMA is an essential component of the SPP. You can't complete the SPP without TILMA being signed on by every province."
Until now. Enter the economic crisis :
Ottawa urges officials to open markets to U. S :
"The federal government is looking to cut a deal with Washington that would persuade U. S. legislators to repeal controversial Buy American measures that Canadian firms say are costing them sales ...
The key element of such a pact, however, is getting the provinces and territories to open up their procurement markets to U. S. suppliers. At present, provinces and municipalities are not bound by global trade law and are free to discriminate against U. S. companies in favour of local suppliers.
International Trade Minister Stockwell Day has been in talks with the provinces to determine their willingness.
Trade lawyer Lawrence Herman : "If we are going to do anything to try to resolve the Buy American issue, it is going to take the provinces to sign on to a deal to open up their markets."
Melisa Leclerc, a spokeswoman for Mr. Day, said in an e-mail the Minister would "solicit feedback" on procurement from provincial trade officials when they gather to meet in Yellowknife on Monday."
Well we know Gordo will be onboard, happy for any 'crisis' to deliver the deregulation a country-wide push for TILMA is just taking far too long to achieve. Who else? We should be getting our first bout of pro-deep integration spin on this from the pro-Corp media by later today.
Update : And here it comes, right on cue :
NaPo Editorial Board : "Stockwell Day, the International Trade Minister, is attempting to convince the provinces to lower procurement barriers to enable U.S. suppliers to bid on equal standing with Canadian competitors. Ottawa hopes that eliminating some of Canada’s own barriers will act as a show of good faith to the Americans, encouraging them to follow suit.
CP : " The Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, say the solution is an open market in government procurement, particularly at the municipal and provincial-state levels currently not covered by the North American Free Trade Agreement".
Yes, let's roll over and see if that makes 'em treat us better.
Wednesday Update : Harper and Stockwell Day each try to promote this idea without sounding like utter quislings.