Contributing Lawyers


Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

United States

Susan Kohn Ross


Andrew Hudson

Domino Effect: British Columbia Municipalities Concerns About Canada-EU CETA Negotiations May Mean More Trouble for Campbell Government

An interesting article has been posted on Pacific Free Press entitled "Stopping CETA Undermining Canadian Law". No wonder it caught my attention. For a copy, please go to

The article focuses on a communication by the Council of Canadians, Canadian Union of Public Employees and B.C. Federation of Labour to British Columbia municipalities concerning an anti-CETA resolution. The City of Burnaby and the District of Logan Lake have proposed resolutions on the Canada-EU CETA to be considered during this year’s meeting of the Union of BC Municipalities, which takes place September 27 – October 1, 2010. The text of 2010 Resolution C24 "Comprehensive economic Trade Agreement" provides:

WHEREAS the government of Canada and the European Union have been negotiating a trade agreement known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (the “CETA");

AND WHEREAS the European Union and European corporations are insisting on full access to procurement by sub-national governments - including local governments, school boards, universities, hospitals and other provincial agencies - which could significantly reduce or eliminate the right to specify local priorities when public money is invested in goods, services or capital projects;

AND WHEREAS Canadian local governments have expressed growing concerns with trade agreements and their potential impacts on local government programs and services and local autonomy;

AND WHEREAS the BC government and other provincial governments have been actively involved in negotiating CETA with the European Union:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the UBCM request that the provincial government negotiate a clear, permanent exemption for local governments from CETA.

A copy of the Resolution is available at

The Council of Canadians et al. wants all B.C. municipalities to take a close look at this resolution and come prepared to vote in favour of it. Please look at the Council of Canadians web-site

The reason is simple - if the municipalities ask for exclusion from the government procurement chapter, the provinces should listen. If the provinces listen, the process may be slowed or the EU may be discouraged during a critical stage. the next round of Canada-EU CETA negotiations are scheduled to take place in Ottawa in October 2010 (after the B.C. Union of Municipalities vote). In the best case scenario, the EU will accept the request and turn their backs on B.C. municipal procurement (accepting federal and provincial procurement as sufficient). The worst case scenario is that the EU will see cracks in the Canadian commitments and walk away from the negotiations.

What will likely be important is the level of British Columbia commitment to the opening of provincial procurement. However, the Campbell Governments is in a difficult position to offer up all provincial procurement. The harmonized sales tax (HST) has caused a firestorm of anti-government sentiment. It will not be long before MLAs will be targeted for recall and they will not welcome more bad publicity. But, if the voters of British Columbia see that their jobs may be at stake as a result of the government's commitments in the context of the Canada-EU CETA negotiations, when added to the HST, the voters may vote to recall most of the Liberal MLAs.

It is possible that the resolution is a domino and the Council of Canadians et al. have attempted to knock it so that the Canada-EU CETA negotiations are impacted. As a result, it will be important to watch British Columbia very closely.

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