Walk Away From ‘Buy American’ Deal, Urges Maude Barlow in Open Letter to Premiers

For Immediate Release

Council of Canadians
Contact: 

Dylan Penner, Council of Canadians, 613-795-8685, dpenner@canadians.org.

Walk Away From ‘Buy American’ Deal, Urges Maude Barlow in Open Letter to Premiers

OTTAWA - Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow is urging premiers in an
open letter to walk away from the Harper government's procurement deal
with the United States and to hold countrywide consultations on the
impacts of including subnational governments in the WTO. News today
that the European Union wants to go even further with the potential
Canada-EU trade pact than the ‘Buy American' proposal by permanently
including cities, water and electricity utilities makes this appeal for
caution all the more significant.

"Trade is undoubtedly important to the Canadian economy. But signing
the provinces to the WTO procurement agreement is not about trade - it
is about reducing the role of democratic governance in economic
matters," says Barlow in the letter. "The federal government's plan
stimulates economies in Germany, France and the United States at the
expense of local economies."

Including the provinces, territories and their agencies in the WTO
government procurement agreement will ban any future local content
requirements in government purchasing, such as the local content quotas
for new renewable projects that Ontario has included in its Green
Energy Act. While the provinces appear to have excluded utilities for
the most part from their WTO commitments, the European Union has said
it will walk away from any free trade deal that does not include them.

"It is the industrial and manufacturing equivalent of a 2,500-mile-diet
at a time when governments around the world are seeing the benefits of
going local," says Barlow. "We do not advocate for protectionism -
rather we support a smart economic policy that signing onto the WTO
excludes as an option for Canadians."

According to the latest estimates, in the Canada-US deal companies will
only have access to less than $5 billion worth of business, or one half
of one per cent of the total $800-billion Recovery Act budget. Barlow
argues that the Harper government should have taken a page from
President Obama's stimulus book by contributing more infrastructure
money to the provinces and their cities and attaching ‘Buy Canadian'
conditions. Instead, he sold Canada out to ‘open markets' at a cost of
reduced policy space for provincial and local governments.

The full text of the letter is available at www.canadians.org/trade/documents/Letter-premiers-GPA-Feb10.pdf.

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Founded in 1985, the Council of Canadians is Canada's largest citizens' organization, with members and chapters across the country. We work to protect Canadian independence by promoting progressive policies on fair trade, clean water, energy security, public health care, and other issues of social and economic concern to Canadians.

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