ACTION ALERT: Defend B.C. Municipalities from CETA

September 6, 2013 http://www.canadians.org

From September 16 to 20, mayors and councillors from British Columbia will meet for the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver. At each year’s meeting since 2010, the UBCM has passed a motion asking the provincial government to negotiate “a clear, permanent exemption for local governments” from the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

Local governments have to be excluded from CETA or they will lose the ability to put “buy local” or “Buy Canadian” conditions on public spending. Local preferences on big government purchases or major construction and other projects make a lot of sense a lot of the time. “Buy local” food policies, for example, are important food security measures globally. Local content quotas on green energy projects can foster innovation in renewable power technology.

But we know from leaked CETA documents that the B.C. Liberal government is ignoring the municipal request to be excluded from these CETA prohibitions, as are other provinces where local governments, school boards and municipal associations are passing CETA motions. So the City of Cumberland is putting the EU deal back on the UBCM agenda with yet another motion seeking a municipal carve-out (see B40 in the 2013 Resolutions document).

TAKE ACTION – Support the Cumberland motion, demand more of UBCM

With the CETA negotiations nearly concluded, according to the most recent news, we’ve got to make this Cumberland motion count. There are a few things you can do in your community to help:

1. Write or visit your councillors and mayor to ask them to support Cumberland’s CETA motion going to UBCM (B40 in the resolutions document). To find your councillor’s contact information, use the CIVICINFOBC website here: http://www.civicinfo.bc.ca/11.asp.

Sample message (or talking points if you visit in person):

Dear Councillor/Mayor ____________, I am very concerned about the impact that a Canada-European Union trade deal will have on our community if it includes a ban on “buy local” policies as demanded by the EU. I think we should be looking for ways to support local companies, workers and farmers when we spend public money. But CETA would make those policies illegal or else very difficult to put in place. That’s why I hope you will support a motion from the City of Cumberland asking the Union of B.C. Municipalities to request “a clear, permanent exemption for local governments from CETA." Thank you, [Your Name]

2. Write UBCM executive members to ask what they are doing to make sure that the B.C. Liberal government listens to the repeated requests of B.C. municipalities for an exemption from CETA. Last year’s executive committee members can be found here: http://www.ubcm.ca/EN/main/about/executive/executive-members.html. You can use CIVICINFOBC again to easily find their contact information by searching for the city of each member.

Sample message:

Dear Councillor/Mayor _______________, I am very concerned about the impact that a Canada-European Union trade deal will have on B.C. communities if it includes a ban on “buy local” policies as demanded by the EU. That’s why I support the repeated calls of the Union of B.C. Municipalities for a “clear, permanent exemption for local governments from CETA.” As an executive member of the Union of B.C. Municipalities, I believe it is your role to do more to make sure the province listens to this widely held position. The UBCM cannot be satisfied with anything less than proof the B.C. government will exempt local governments from CETA’s overly restrictive rules on public spending. Thank you, [Your Name]

3. Write or visit your provincial MLA asking her/him to listen to UBCM on CETA. You can find your MLA’s contact information on the B.C. government website here: http://www.leg.bc.ca/mla/3-1-1.htm.

Sample message (or talking points if you visit in person):

Dear __________, I’m writing to express my strong concern with ongoing Canada-European Union trade negotiations and their impact on my community. The Union of British Columbia Municipalities has three times now requested “a clear, permanent exemption for local governments from CETA.” That’s because they can see that the EU agreement will ban “buy local” policies on public spending, and put other restrictions on local governments that don’t make sense. Around the world, local governments are trying to increase the amount of money they spend locally – for environmental reasons as much as to create jobs or support local farmers in the case of food purchases. I don’t see why pro-local policies should be made illegal by a trade deal. The B.C. government has a responsibility to listen to the UBCM by excluding local governments from these rules in CETA. I look forward to hearing from you. Sincerely, [Your Name]

4. Draw attention to the UBCM motion on social media. Leading up to and including the dates of the UBCM convention (September 16 – 20), you can let people know about CETA and the UBCM motion by tweeting a link to the motion and saying you support it. Make sure you use the hashtag for the UBCM convention, which is #UBCM2013. If your councillor is on Twitter, you can also direct your message to her/him.

Sample tweets (@MarySjostrom is Mary Sjostrom, the current president of UBCM):

BC communities want to be excluded from Canada-EU deal. Tell your councillor you support @ubcm2013 motion B40 http://www.ubcm.ca/assets/Resolutions~and~Policy/Resolutions/Resolutions%20Book%202013.pdf

@MarySjostrom The @UBCM can do more to make sure communities are excluded from #CETA. Pls make sure @christyclarkbc listens! #ubcm2013

Good luck and please let us know what you hear from your councillors and MLAs. The provincial government has a responsibility to listen to its municipalities on CETA. They are the ones who will be the most impacted by this strange trade deal with Europe that would ban "buy local" policies.

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