Radical B.C. trade deal was negotiated in secret by Klein and Campbell
Vancouver (3 April 2007) - The Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) between the British Columbia and Alberta governments has come into effect.
The inter-provincial trade deal, which became operative on April 1, is unfortunately not a joke. It's all too real in what it does to undermine the authority of elected provincial governments, both now and in the future. It also overrides the regulatory reach of municipalities, school boards and health bodies.
Signed a year ago by Gordon Campbell, B.C.'s premier, and Ralph Klein, former premier of Alberta, the deal has been promoted as an agreement to eliminate internal trade barriers between provinces by harmonizing all regulations.
Unfortunately for democracy, TILMA accomplishes this by stripping legislators, today and in the future, of many of the powers they previously had to control the activities of business.
The agreement gives enormous power to business to challenge, via a 'disputes panel', all existing and future provincial government regulations.
If you've never heard of TILMA, you are not alone. It was negotiated behind closed doors and both provinces have gone to great lengths to keep voters in the dark about the impact the deal will ultimately have.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has taken a strong stand against the agreement and warned that other provinces could be at similar risk. An assessment of the deal and its contents, Red Alert: It’s time to stop waltzing with TILMA, was issued by NUPGE last year.
"TILMA is a far ranging agreement that will have profound effects on our jobs and our communities," says the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE).
"It allows investors or businesses to challenge legislation, regulations or bylaws enacted by democratically elected provincial, municipal and regional governments," the union says.
"It strips power from municipalities, school boards, publicly-funded academic, health and social service bodies. It transfers power to investors and businesses who decide a regulation hinders their ability to make money.
"There needs to be full public debate and consultation before anything so sweeping is adopted."
The BCGEU has begun a campaign to urge citizens in communities across B.C. to demand that their MLAs call for withdrawal from TILMA.
Activities are planned in: Coquitlam, Sunshine Coast, Powell River, Vancouver (in three different ridings), Courtenay, Comox, Kamloops, Campbell River, Kelowna, New Westminster, Surrey, Cowichan and Victoria. For further information check the links below. NUPGE
• TILMA is not an April Fool's joke - pdf
• NUPGE report: Red Alert - it's time to stop waltzing with TILMA - pdf
• Public forum to examine dangers of Alberta-B.C. trade pact
• Radical B.C. trade deal undermines elected MLAs