How TILMA is impacting BC

From the inbox, courtesy Ellen Gould and the Council of Canadians.

This is incredible, a clear example of what happens when a government’s right to try to protect health comes up against the private investors right to profit, the private investors profits win.  This is exactly why we need to be very concerned about the TILMA, and very clear about the ideological roots of it.

Rick Sawa, Council of Canadians

From: Ellen Gould

The BC government has been proposing that junk food be “banned” in 
schools and hospitals as part of the province’s preventatives health
care initiatives.

However, at a meeting on February 14 of the Education Advisory
Committee, a BC committee of school board and teacher representatives 
who meeting periodically with the Minister of Education it was revealed
that because of TILMA, BC will only be seeking voluntary compliance from
companies like Coca Cola.

A CUPE representative asked how the proposed initiative on junk food 
could be done under TILMA. The following are his notes.

The question was:

Given that BC has signed the TILMA agreement with Alberta scheduled to come
into effect in April and that
.    Bans and restrictions on junk food sales would offend provisions 
regarding the limitation of investment, and
.    Even if the promotion of student health were accepted as a
legitimate objective on the part of government, the province would still be
obliged to pursue the least intrusive method of implementing 
this objective, (such as providing junk food info to students and letting
them make their own food purchase choices.)
Has the MOE given any thought to how it would deal with a TILMA challenge
along these lines, and is there any contingency plan for dealing with such 
an eventuality in presumed efforts to salvage this part of the government’s
stated health promotion agenda?

The deputy Minister stated the following.
The Ministry of Education has already held talks with companies like 
Coca-Cola and others who market offending products like soft drinks,
chocolate bars and chips within our public schools and is seeking their
voluntary compliance in reducing the volume of such products sold, so as to 
meet the MOE/MOH food guidelines.

At this point Ken Denike (of the Vancouver School Board but who is at the
EAC representing the BC Public School Employers’ Association) weighed into
the discussion by reporting a conversation he recently had with former 
Education Minister Christy Clark.  Denike said that Clark told him the
provincial cabinet had discussed the broader implications of the trade deal
on provincial policy in a number of areas (including the ban on junk 
food) and had decided that _seeking voluntary corporate compliance_ with likely TILMA
infractions was the way to go, as opposed to passing laws and regulations.

US official lies re: NAFTA corridor?

I wonder if the U.S. government has trained their officials in telling lies. Either that, or they keep their Undersecretaries locked in dungeons.

World Net News reports that a US Department of Transportation official, Jeff Shane, told a US House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure that the North American SuperCorridor, aka the NAFTA Highway, is an “Internet conspiracy” and an urban legend.”

I suppose, then, that the NASCO Corridor website must be part of the conspiracy and that of the Trans-Texas Corridor must also be part of it. And, those I’ve referenced in numerous posts here at P’n’P, the boards of directors as well as numerous government and business officials from Canada, the USA, and Mexico, must be the conspirators.

Plan for superhighway
ripped as ‘urban legend’

Congressman, DOT undersecretary disagree over threat to sovereignty

Posted: January 26, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern
By Jerome R. Corsi
© 2007

Jeffrey N. Shane, undersecretary for DOT

Congressmen and a policy official of the Department of Transportation engaged in a spirited exchange over whether NAFTA Super Highways were a threat to U.S. sovereignty or an imaginary “Internet conspiracy,” such as the “black helicopter myths,” advanced by fringe lunatics. At a meeting Wednesday of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Jeffrey N. Shane, undersecretary of transportation for policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation, testified.

During the questioning by committee members, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, asked Shane about the existence of plans for a “NAFTA superhighway.”

Shane responded he was “not familiar with any plan at all, related to NAFTA or cross-border traffic.”

After further questioning by Poe, Shane stated reports of NAFTA superhighways or corridors were “an urban legend.”

At this, the chairman, Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., questioned aloud whether Shane was just “gaming semantics” when responding to Poe’s question.

“Mr. Shane was either blissfully ignorant or he may have been less than candid with the committee,” Poe told WND in a telephone interview.

TILMA not for SK!

Word has it that the Premiers of BC and Alberta are shopping their Trade, Investment, and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) around to other provinces. Word also suggests that Saskatchewan Premier Lorne Calvert is considering the deal. Ellen Gould does trade research for the Council of Canadians and is currently working on a study of TILMA for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). Her notes will give you an idea of how horrid this deal actually is. Take a moment to let your government know that this is not a deal you want your province to be party to (SK contact info below). For more information on its impact on municipalities see this document (pdf).

The BC/Alberta Trade, Investment, and Labour Mobility Agreement
A Summary of Its Impacts by Ellen Gould
If the Campbell government was going to erase the border with Alberta, shouldn’t it have consulted 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 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, policies, 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 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 of neighbourhoods.

– Makes BC and Alberta regulations the same. Aside from some exceptions, BC and Alberta will have to “mutually recognize or otherwise reconcile their existing standards and regulations”. As well, they are barred, forever, from establishing “new standards or regulations that operate to restrict or impair trade, investment or labour mobility.” These binding obligations lessen the value of the right to vote in each province.

– 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 in a two year transition period, 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 local governments, for example, could have their decisions challenged as of April 2007.

– 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 to non-citizens. 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. And the labour mobility provisions in the agreement will be achieved as part of a cross-Canada effort that will see professional requirements harmonized by 2009.

Premier Calvert

Clay Serby Minister of Economic and Co-operative Development

Eric Cline Minister Responsible for Investment Saskatchewan Inc.

Harry Van Mulligan Minister of Government Relations

UPDATE: See what Relentlessly Progressive Economics has to say about TILMA.