By co-signing a letter to Premier Brad Wall, the city’s elected officials reiterated their uncertainty regarding the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.
The letter, prepared by the Saskatchewan Environmental Society, endorses the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ seven Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) principles, advocates that municipalities should have the ability to opt out, and that a public consultation component be included.
“We are not completely against CETA, but we have some concerns,” Saskatchewan Environmental Society board member David Henry told council during this week’s meeting.
The CETA is a trade agreement between Canada and the European Union that carries potential concern for municipalities, in that it may open municipal tendering processes past a certain cost up to European companies.
If the city decides to build a recreational complex, for example, Coun. Ted Zurakowski said; “Here comes Scandinavians to come build it for us, and I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that.”
Last year, the city’s elected officials endorsed the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ seven principles, so signing the letter wasn’t too great a stretch, Coun. Don Cody told council.
“I, too have many, many concerns about the agreement that possibly will be signed one day,” he said.
“It’s very serious, and it’s equally serious to the school boards and the public health system and the whole thing.”
The seven principles express municipalities’ concern regarding their preference to award tenders to local companies, among other things.
If the city wants to give preferential treatment to a local or even provincial company, create a job creation project of some sort or another such effort, they might be stonewalled by CETA, Zurakowski asserted.
“This could take our ability away to make those decisions, and I think there’s a reason why (approximately) 40 … municipalities across Canada have symbolically … opted out of CETA, because they are playing close attention to those concerns,” he said.
With CETA currently in its final stages, the open letter to Brad Wall will be sent some time in March.
“We think that we should make our concerns and our requests knowledgeable to the premier at this time so that he can influence things in these final stages,” Henry said, justifying the letter.
Prince Albert joined the National Farmer’s Union, the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, the Council of Canadians, the Saskatchewan Environmental Society in signing the letter. Henry noted that more municipalities are in the wings.