Dear Saskatchewan friends and colleagues...
you thought trade deals were done (the GATS is toast and so is the
FTAA) we in
BC and Alberta have another one to deal with
- and you may have it, too, if we don’t expose it.
I am talking about the Trade, investment, and Labour Mobility Agreement,
or TILMA, signed by the two provinces in April and coming into effect
BC and Alberta trade officials are now shopping it around to other
provinces to get them to sign on. Saskatchewan is now set to sign on
with Lorne Calvert apparently well informed and supportive of the deal.
Ontario is also interested.
I am forwarding to you an analysis done by Ellen Gould, who does trade
research for the Council of Canadians and is working on a study of
TILMA for the CCPA. It gives you an idea of how horrific this deal
is - basically representing a surrender of the power to govern.
This deal takes NAFTA principles and applies them to virtually every
regulation in existence (NAFTA at least has some exceptions) - making
democratic governance almost irrelevant. It allows companies from one
province to sue for up $5 million in compensation for lost profits.
Please take half an hour to write a short letter to the premier with
copies to the other ministers below. THERE IS STILL TIME TO STOP IT.
Lorne Calvert - firstname.lastname@example.org
Clay Serby - Minister of Economic and Co-operative Development -
Eric Cline - Minister Responsible for Investment Saskatchewan Inc.
Harry Van Mulligan - Minister of Government Relations -
Yours, extremely alarmed,
Murray Dobbin is a Vancouver journalist who has written extensively
on trade agreements.
ATTENTION: OPINION PAGE EDITOR
Alberta BC investment deal threatens local government
By Murray Dobbin
Last April the provincial government signed the Trade, Investment,
and Labour Mobility Agreement, or TILMA, with the province of Alberta.
It may well be one of the most radical investment deals ever signed
anywhere and local governments may be the most negatively affected.
The agreement - to come into effect next April - will jeopardize many
of the regulatory powers now enjoyed by municipalities and could result
in enormous amount of additional administrative paper work and costs.
TILMA has been promoted primarily as a labour mobility agreement and
has been touted as a way of creating a economic powerhouse of the two
provinces by harmonizing all regulations. The agreement requires BC
and Alberta regulations to be made the same. But by far its most important
provisions have to do with investment - and the power the agreement
gives to investors to challenge existing and future regulations.
But the agreement
goes much further by adopting some of the most controversial aspects
treaties such as NAFTA. Specifically, TILMA
enshrines the right of corporations to sue governments when regulations
negatively impact their profitability. It allows private individuals
(and companies) from one province to sue and get up to $5 million compensation
for regulations, policies, and programs existing in the other province,
that "impair or restrict" investment, trade, or labour mobility.
A three person dispute panel will have the power to make legally binding
decisions that will compel these governments to change their
policies, no matter how popular they might be.
is designed to foster massive deregulation. Article 3 proclaims that
be "No Obstacles" that would
impair or restrict" .. investment.. between the Parties" and
that "Parties shall not establish new standards or regulations
that operate to restrict or impair trade, investment or labour mobility." The
problem, of course, is that virtually every regulation or standard
has some impact on investment. That means that literally all existing
and future regulation could be affected.
TILMA accepts certain
regulatory objectives as legitimate - but even these can be challenged
basis that the stated objective could
be achieved in a "less restrictive" manner. Also, there are
many objectives that are not accepted as legitimate - for example the
preservation of agricultural land, the conservation of heritage sites,
the maintenance of scenic views, or the promotion of neighbourhood
or rural economic development. By-laws restricting billboards could
be one of the first to be challenged. Tax deductions for local businesses
in depressed areas could be next.
There are some limited exceptions allowed for in the agreement, such
as water, but even these are to be reviewed annually to reduce their
There is supposed
to be a transition period for municipalities during which time consultations
will take place. But as of next April, the
agreement will require that no municipal (or school board) regulation
or policy be "amended or renewed in a manner that would decrease
its consistency with this Agreement." This means local governments
actions could be the subject of a TILMA challenge as early as next
The agreement has
the potential to increase exponentially the amount of paper work
have to do regarding new by-laws, procurement
or new infrastructure. Each provincial government, as well as local
governments in each province, will be obliged when they are undertaking
any action that might be covered by TILMA, to "provide the other
Party [BC or Alberta] with an opportunity to comment on the measure,
and take such comments into consideration." In addition, purchasing
decisions costing as little as $10,000 will be open to challenge and
could be overturned if the panel decides the purchase violated the
TILMA is being
sold to the public as an agreement about getting rid of internal
and increasing labour mobility. But a 1998
study for the BC government found that: "efforts to liberalize
interprovincial trade will have almost no effect on trade flows. The
reality is that interprovincial trade barriers are already very low." As
for labour mobility, this question is already being dealt with at the
national level, under an initiative taken by Manitoba.
It would be difficult to imagine a more anti-democratic initiative
by a government. The governments of BC and Alberta have actually created
greater rights for interests outside of their provinces to intervene
in the legislative process, than they have guaranteed for voters in
their own provinces. As of next April, the value of citizens' votes
- provincial and municipal - will drop dramatically as governments
of one province will not restricted from increasing their standards
or regulations. Nor will they be able to undertake most kinds of regional
or industrial development initiatives. Maybe that is why the Liberals
cancelled the fall sitting of the legislature. They are already anticipating
having nothing to do.
The BC/Alberta Trade, Investment, and Labour Mobility Agreement -
A Summary of Its Impacts by Ellen Gould
“Within the TILMA are the seeds of a true economic union, an
erasing of the provincial boundary for all purposes except voting and
the color of the license plate.” Todd Hirsch, Canada West Foundation,
July 15, 2022
If the Campbell
government was going to erase the border with Alberta, shouldn't
it have had
a consultation with the province's citizens first?
The “Trade, Investment, and Labour Mobility Agreement” (TILMA)
was signed by Alberta and BC in April 2006.
It is posted on the Internet at http://tinyurl.com/krqrb.
With no public consultation process, Campbell and Klein signed this
agreement that (among other things):
- Allows private
individuals to sue and get up to $5 million compensation for regulations,
and programs that “impair or restrict” investment,
trade, or labour mobility. Alberta and BC will also be able to sue
each other for any violation of the agreement. A three person dispute
panel will have the power to make legally binding decisions that will
compel these governments to change their policies, no matter how popular
these policies are.
- Is a major step
towards "deep integration" with the US.
Complaints about differences in provincial regulations are made repeatedly
by the US Trade Representative. At the most recent Pacific Northwest
Economic Region conference, representatives of north western US states
and BC and Alberta committed to explore the possibility of "expanding
the B.C.-Alberta Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA)
/concept/ throughout the PNWER region."
- Goes far beyond
NAFTA in enabling commercial interests to sue for regulations they
don’t like. NAFTA allows private investors to
sue under NAFTA’s Chapter 11, but TILMA allows these suits over “any
matter regarding the interpretation or application of this Agreement.” While
TILMA restricts compensation to $5 million, private interests could
all line up to get compensated once one complaint has been successful.
This will force governments to change their policies. Alberta’s
Minister of International and Intergovernmental Relations, Gary Mar,
Alberta Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, told the Richmond Chamber
of Commerce in June 2006 that the TILMA dispute process is “everything
Canadian business asked for”.
- Massively deregulates.
The agreement says in Article 3 that there shall be “No Obstacles” that would impair or restrict “trade
through the territory of the Parties, or investment or labour mobility
between the Parties” and that “Parties shall not establish
new standards or regulations that operate to restrict or impair trade,
investment or labour mobility.” There are some limited exceptions
allowed for in the agreement, such as water, but these are to be reviewed
annually to reduce their scope.
All government regulation will be affected because any regulation
could be seen as in some way restricting investment. And even if a
regulation fits with one of the objectives TILMA accepts as being legitimate,
it can still be successfully challenged if it is not the least restrictive
way to achieve the objective.
- Recognizes only certain government objectives as legitimate. Among
the objectives not recognized as legitimate are the preservation of
agricultural land, the conservation of heritage sites, the maintenance
of scenic views, or the promotion of small business, neighbourhood
or rural development.
Some examples of
regulations that would be vulnerable to challenge on the grounds
that they are
not based on “legitimate objectives” and
restrict investment are the Agricultural Land Reserve, municipal bans
on billboards, municipal development restrictions to maintain the quality
- Makes BC and
Alberta regulations the same - forever. Aside from some limited exceptions,
BC and Alberta
will have to “mutually
recognize or otherwise reconcile their existing standards and regulations”.
All BC mining regulations, for example, will forever have to be as
minimal as those of Alberta’s, regardless of changes in government.
This binding obligation lessens the value of the right to vote in each
province, as the government of one province would not be permitted
to increase standards and regulations beyond what exists in the other
- Covers all government “entities” - Crown corporations,
local governments, school boards, universities, private agencies on
contract with the government - and subjects their policies to potential
challenges. Although there is supposed to be a consultation process
with these entities in a transition period until 2009, the agreement
already requires that none of their measures is “amended or renewed
in a manner that would decrease its consistency with this Agreement.” This
means all local governments, for example, already cannot initiate anything
that might violate the agreement.
- Eliminates political choice. TILMA commits all future BC and Alberta
governments to automatically support expansion of trade agreements.
It commits all future BC and Alberta governments to promote cross-border
transfers of energy, including to the US.
- Will allow all purchasing decisions by provincial governments, local
governments, Crown Corporations, school boards, and universities to
be challenged and overturned for purchases costing as little as $10,000.
- Bans government
support for rural development, small business, and economically depressed
regions. Targets any agricultural support. Government
assistance that "distorts investment decisions" is a violation
of the agreement.
- Undermines the
democratic process in each province by granting political rights
Each provincial government, as well as local
governments in each province, will be obligated when they are doing
anything that might be covered by TILMA to "provide the other
Party [BC or Alberta] with an opportunity to comment on the measure,
and take such comments into consideration."
In other words, the governments of BC and Alberta have created greater
rights for interests outside of their provinces to intervene in the
legislative process than they have guaranteed for voters in their own
provinces. This is especially ironic given the lack of consultation
British Columbians and Albertans were afforded in the creation of TILMA.
- Is being promoted
on a false basis. Alberta and BC politicians are selling the agreement
on the claim that supposedly show "billions" could
be saved by eliminating so-called inter-provincial trade barriers.
These claims have been repeatedly debunked by economists. Real barriers
to inter-provincial trade are minimal. The claims about inter-provincial
barriers are really an attack on government's right to regulate.