NAFTA and Local Purchasing

I often wonder at the banality of the headlines in our local media.  Why does the same story get space day after day? Are there few newsworthy events?  Why doesn’t the press educate us about the implications of new clauses in our trade agreements so that we don’t continually wake up wondering where our local authority actually lies?  Read the latest article from the CUPE National website.

Premiers Must Keep Local Purchasing Rights

CUPE National President Paul Moist joined a group of national organizations in signing a statement urging the premiers to reject an amendment to NAFTA that would eliminate the ability for local governments in Canada to give a special preference to local suppliers. The statement was released today to coincide with the meeting of the Council of the Federation in Regina this week.

“Municipal and provincial governments choose to buy from local suppliers for a lot of reasons. They do it not only to create jobs and support Canadian businesses in their communities, but also because they want to support ethical suppliers, reduce environmental impact, or pursue social goals like minority hiring.” Moist said. “It is wrong for the Harper government and premiers to try to take those choices away from local communities.”

Also read British Columbia Library Trustees Association statement on the effects of TILMA (Trade and Investment Labour Mobility Agreement) and local control.  This has been promoted by some provincial governments as an opportunity to make it easier to have your professional credentials accepted from province to province.

TILMA – Key Implications for BC Libraries by Ellen Gould
On April 1, 2007 the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement came into force in BC And Alberta. As of that date, the agreement governed a wide range of governmental measures1 in the two provinces. In addition, more government bodies and measures affecting specific sectors will be covered after a transition period ending on April 1, 2009.

The most immediate impact of TILMA on BC libraries is that unless they obtain changes to the agreement they are likely to have to tender far more contracts. They also may see TILMA challenges to library service provision in the public sector and to any of their standards, guidelines, regulations or administrative practices that restrict commercial interests.  Read on.

After reading these articles are you worried about the ability of your local library to acquire and maintain the cultural and historical collections of your library?  You should be.  The future for collections that reflect our communities looks bleak if the amendment to NAFTA goes through.  Write your municipal, provincial and federal representatives and let them know that a One Hundred Mile Cultural and Intellectual Diet is both green and sustainable.

City of Vancouver

Province of British Columbia

Government of Canada