City to voice opposition to CETA deal

The City of Grand Forks will send letters to both Boundary-Similkameen MLA John Slater and B.C. Southern Interior MP Alex Atamanenko regarding CETA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union.

The City of Grand Forks will be voicing its opposition regarding the negotiations for the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union.

At a recent city council meeting, councillors voted in favour of sending letters to both Boundary-Similkameen MLA John Slater and B.C. Southern Interior MP Alex Atamanenko, voicing concerns about the agreement.

Much of the negotiations have been done in secret and it was suggested by Atamanenko, in a column last year, that it could mean that provincial and municipal governments will no longer be able to give preference to local businesses when contracting out work or goods or services.

“The first thing that bothers me about CETA is that they’re negotiating our procurement ability, our ability to purchase as a municipality,” explained Coun. Gene Robert, who proposed the letter-writing motion.

“I think these European major corporations are looking at possibly taking over management of our water, our waste and of our recycling – these are big companies. The thing that bothers me the most about CETA is the fact that we’re not at the table,” Robert said.

Robert said that each individual province will make a submission on behalf of local municipalities and said that the letters will tell Slater and Atamanenko that city council doesn’t want the federal government negotiating the city’s procurement rights and ability to manage the aforementioned areas.

“Nobody knows what the province is offering in regards to the feds to take this extension along farther – they’re pushing along at a pretty fast pace too,” the city councillor said.

“They don’t want us to know about it because (the federal government) is going to negotiate this and we’re going to wake up one morning and realize that we’re not in control of these issues anymore.”