10/05/2011

Canada-European Union talks toward the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) continue to evolve and AMO is committed to updating members with information as available.
Canada-European Union talks toward the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) continue to evolve and AMO is committed to updating members with information as available to ensure that discussions regarding CETA by Ontario’s local governments are as informed as possible. In our Breaking News of August 15, 2011, we provided members with information on the status of negotiations, areas under discussion in a final deal and resources for members to obtain more in-depth details on the talks.

As members may know, CETA negotiations have progressed through eight rounds since they began in 2009 and as many local governments are now aware, access to sub-national (provincial/territorial/municipal) procurement markets for Canadian and European firms is being actively discussed as part of the final deal.

AMO understands that municipal governments and citizens groups across the province continue to be interested in the progress of the CETA discussions and the potential impacts on municipalities. Members have informed us that some citizens groups are seeking to make presentations to councils regarding CETA, including a draft resolution for adoption.

AMO is guided by the multiple interests of municipal governments and local decision making in all matters of policy and administration – interests that consider local autonomy, municipal property taxpayer value and the broader economic well-being of communities and Ontario among the myriad of other interests – so that municipalities are safeguarded in any initiative. We recognize that while some members of our communities may have some concerns about the agreement’s impact on municipalities and some businesses, others are looking to take advantage of the opportunities presented to Ontario businesses by the agreement to grow and diversify trade and operations.

To help to articulate the interests of municipal governments in trade negotiations generally, and for CETA specifically, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities set down some principles to guide the federal government in its discussions. The principles, which were adopted by AMO, require that any deal offer significant opportunities for economic development for our local companies for any limitations that may be accepted.

In September, the federal Minister of International Trade, the Honourable Ed Fast, attended the FCM meeting in Nelson BC along with Canada’s Chief Negotiator for CETA. Minister Fast confirmed to FCM at that meeting and in a letter to FCM’s President, Berry Vrbanovic, that the federal government accepted the principles and that he believed the final CETA deal would conform to them. In his letter Minister Fast stated that CETA would not affect municipalities’ ability to use procurement selection criteria that included relevant experience, social and environmental factors and quality nor would it require privatization of municipal services or affect the ability of municipalities to regulate within their jurisdiction. Minister Fast also confirmed that municipalities would not be subjected to any disputes under CETA as these would be between the signatories of the agreement: the governments of Canada and the European Union.     

AMO considers these statements encouraging and will continue to work with FCM and the next provincial government to ensure the interests of Ontario municipalities are understood and addressed in the final agreement.

In the meantime, recognizing these developments and the concerns shared by citizens, some AMO members have passed resolutions which encourage the Province of Ontario and the federal government to continue to engage with FCM and AMO to address the interests of our members. The resolution is provided below for members to consider and adopt should councils wish to take action on CETA.

Whereas the Government of Canada and the European Union have been negotiating a trade agreement known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA);

And Whereas the Canada-European Union relationship holds great potential for growing Canada’s trade and collective prosperity;

And Whereas the Council has been made award that some members of our community have concern regarding the impact of CETA negotiations currently underway between Canada and the European Union;

And Whereas the (municipality of ____) supports the guiding principles as set out by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and endorsed by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO);

Be it Resolved that the (municipality of ____) requests the Federal Government and the Province of Ontario to continue to ensure that the municipal sectors’ interests are represented in the ongoing negotiations; and

That the federal government’s negotiations ensure that the FCM guiding principles will be fully reflected in any trade agreement reached between Canada and the European Union; and

That the federal and Ontario governments provide FCM and AMO with regular, detailed updates on the status of the European Union trade negotiations to the fullest extent possible.

This resolution be forwarded to the Minister of International Trade; our local MPs, the Premier of Ontario, our local MPPs, the Ontario Minister responsible for Trade and Economic Development, FCM and AMO.