Saturday, May 01, 2010

What's in it? 

The Wall government has been so secretive about the New West agreement, it made me wonder what's in it. Larry Hubich and Buckdog conclude its TILMA with a wardrobe makeover.
The Star Phoenix editorializes
...when Mr. Lingenfelter first asked the premier whether he was about to sign a trade deal with Saskatchewan's two western TILMA partners, Mr. Wall denied the ceremony was imminent.
Signing a trade deal with the two westernmost provinces shouldn't be something the premier downplays or slides in through a back door.
Some of the details are dribbling out. The Star Phoenix online story includes these snippets:
Alberta and B.C. built a joint weigh station [for truckers]...workers to have their credentials recognized in other provinces [and] the New West agreement will cover the financial services sector as well...Public bodies such as municipalities and school boards procuring goods and services worth a certain amount will be required to hold transparent processes so that suppliers in all three provinces can have a chance to bid....there are specific areas -- including aboriginal issues, water, taxation, labour standards and support for the cultural sector -- where a jurisdiction's ability to set policy will not be affected.
The Edmonton Journal informs us:
Teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers and members of any other regulated profession will be able to move freely between the provinces.
. . . pooling their purchases for things like machinery and medical supplies . . . Governments will still be able to enforce their own regulations for "legitimate objectives," such as public health and safety, environmental protection and worker safety.
"Legitimate" would seem to be the key word here -- who decides that?
The Council of Canadians reminds us why Saskatchewan didn't like TILMA three years ago:
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.
And the Council reminds Brad Wall he promised to consult before signing anything.
“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.”
So the Sask Party spin is starting already. Why, the province WAS consulted, Wall says, back in 2007 ! He doesn't mention, of course, the negative result. And neither does the Star Phoenix, because that would be just rude.

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