Despite federal government promises to reduce red tape and bureaucracy, municipalities worry the Canada-Europe Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) may have the reverse effect on municipal governments.
The NWT Association of Communities (NWTAC) asked for an exemption from the proposed free trade agreement in a resolution passed at its annual general meeting (AGM) May 10-13.
The Canada-European Union free trade agreement is touted by the federal government as a way for Canada to grow its gross domestic product and create up to 80,000 new jobs. According to Yellowknife Mayor Gordon Van Tighem, president of the NWTAC, the agreement could have a detrimental effect on municipalities’ ability to support their local small businesses.
“Indirectly, you wouldn’t be allowed to show a preference to someone who’s a resident of your own community,” Van Tighem told Northern Journal.
Municipalities across the country have requested exemptions from the trade agreement. CETA could prohibit municipalities from having “buy local” preferences in contracts, opening up any purchases to the rest of Canada and to Europe.
“As a community, you try to support business in your own community. That gets more difficult to do when the municipality has to listen to everybody,” Van Tighem said.
CETA would add an extra layer of bureaucracy, but it could also expose municipal governments to legal issues and costs should they not “toe the line,” Van Tighem said.
Should CETA be signed, governments will have to enter projects into a government of Canada website and consider proposals coming from anywhere in Canada or the European Union, Van Tighem said.
The NWTAC forwarded its resolution to the GNWT following its AGM. Van Tighem said he hopes for a response from Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment David Ramsay by the end of July.
“These things have been quite effective over the years in getting the attention of the GNWT and, in some cases, the federal government,” Van Tighem said.