Saskatchewan: standing up to corporate power


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

Thursday, August 02, 2007
Saskatchewan Will NOT Sign Flawed Trade Deal With Alberta And B. C.

The Government of Saskatchewan has announced that it will not sign onto The 
Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) between Alberta and 
British Columbia. That is a VERY good thing.

Only the most ideological right wing free market type defends Tilma. The so 
called 'trade agreement' is more a 'bill of corporate rights' which has numerous
mechanisms for businesses and corporations to challenge provincial or municipal 
government decisions.

Here is an example. In the two provinces where Tilma exists, let's say a school 
board decided that it wanted to remove soft drink vending machines and replace 
them with machines that sell fruit juice. Well, Tilma allows that to occur 
provided the school board pays damages and reparations to the soft drink company
that will now 'lose' business as result of the local government decision.

No thanks! The last thing we need in Saskatchewan - or Canada for that matter, 
is more and more 'rights' for corporations.

Tilma may have some benefits but they smokescreen the essence of the agreement 
which is the ability for corporate entities to gouge us even more then the 
already gouge us!

-Government of Saskatchewan
-Saskatoon Star Phoenix

posted by leftdog at Thursday, August 02, 2007

Original source URL:

Wednesday » August 8 » 2007

Sask. won't sign trade deal
NDP says TILMA could tie the hands of government

James Wood
The StarPhoenix

Thursday, August 02, 2007

REGINA -- The risks to Saskatchewan from joining the controversial Trade, 
Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) between Alberta and British 
Columbia outweigh the potential economic benefits, the NDP government said 
Wednesday as it rejected signing on to the deal.

At a press conference at the legislature, Government Relations Minister Harry 
Van Mulligen said there are too many unanswered questions about how the deal 
aimed at breaking down economic barriers could potentially hamper the ability of
government to act in the public interest.

Instead, Saskatchewan will concentrate on pushing for reforms to the Agreement 
on Internal Trade (AIT) that applies to all provinces.

"I think the best way to make progress is to do that in a methodical, 
well-thought-out fashion that reflects the interests of all the parties. . . . 
It's a little bit slower, it's not shock therapy, but I think at the end of the 
day will serve the interests of not just the people of Saskatchewan but the 
people of Canada better," said Van Mulligen.

The government's decision comes as little surprise. TILMA attracted strong 
opposition from the NDP's traditional allies in the labour movement and 
elsewhere, and Premier Lorne Calvert expressed skepticism about the deal months 

The Opposition Saskatchewan Party, which initially touted the deal, also said in
June that it could not sign TILMA in its present form after a series of hearings
on the agreement held by an all-party legislative committee.

TILMA, which came into effect this April, is intended to eliminate trade and 
investment barriers between Alberta and B.C. while also bringing about the 
harmonization of rules, regulations and professional standards.

A study commissioned by the government from the Conference Board of Canada 
estimated that signing on would increase Saskatchewan's gross domestic product 
by $291 million and increase annual employment by 4,400 person years.

But Van Mulligen said the government is concerned about the "very broad scope" 
of government measures that can be challenged by private interests and the 
strong enforcement measures in place in the deal.

The two major worries are how TILMA could affect Saskatchewan's large Crown 
corporations sector and government investment in the economy, especially in 
specific industries and businesses.

As well, although the deal exempts sectors such as public health, education, 
social services and environmental protection, Van Mulligen believes the 
agreement, could at the least, indirectly impact those areas.

"We think it's a plausible scenario under TILMA that governments at all levels 
could be told by trade dispute panels how they must legislate and regulate so as
to minimize their measure's impact on internal trade. And if they refuse to do 
so, the provincial government could face serial fines of up to $5 million per 
challenge," said Van Mulligen.

Van Mulligen said the B.C. and Alberta governments have indicated that provinces
wishing to join TILMA must accept its basic terms and conditions.

There's no guarantee Saskatchewan could negotiate satisfactory changes before or
after signing on to TILMA, he said.

But the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce expressed disappointment at the 
government's decision Wednesday and said entering discussions around TILMA would
have at least provided the government leverage in difficult AIT negotiations.

Van Mulligen said the government wants to see improvements to the AIT's 
resolution process, full labour mobility of regulated professions and trades, 
the addition of a new energy chapter, the addressing of nuisance differences in 
regulations and standards in priority sectors and the expansion of coverage 

But Saskatchewan chamber president Dave Dutchak said the province faces major 
hurdles because all 13 provinces and territories must be in agreement to make 
changes to the existing agreement.

"The membership of the provincial chamber is concerned that if the AIT 
decision-making process is not reformed to some type of majority rule, the 
government will have little success in its endeavours," he said in a news 

However, Saskatchewan Federation of Labour president Larry Hubich saluted the 
government's decision and said no business would enter an agreement that imposed
the kind of restrictions governments face under TILMA.

"We've engaged in a serious evaluation of this agreement from a legal 
perspective, from an economic perspective and from a democratic perspective and 
it's flawed. So I think it's irresponsible for any government or any opposition 
to suggest this is a good agreement," he told reporters at the legislature.

Both Van Mulligen and Hubich dismissed the political considerations around the 
government's decision. The Saskatchewan Party's decision not to support the deal
likely defused what would have been a major issue in the provincial election 
expected this fall.

The Opposition said it couldn't back TILMA as is because of its potential impact
on the Crowns and on the ability of the province and municipal governments to 
provide targeted "new growth" tax cuts.

Mike Chisholm, the Opposition's critic for Western Economic Diversification, 
said he believes the NDP government has shut the door permanently on the deal.

However, a Saskatchewan Party government could potentially seek to enter an 
agreement with Alberta and B.C. after the end of TILMA's two-year transition 
period, which sees ongoing discussions on areas such as Crowns and 

"On the other hand, we had an opportunity three years ago to be at the table 
when that agreement was drafted, but the government chose not to do that. That 
was the time when we perhaps could have got these things clarified and perhaps 
the government would have been in a position to say yes," Chisholm said.

© The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2007

Copyright © 2007 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks 
Publications, Inc.

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