CUPE to Premiers: Barriers, what barriers? - No need for heavy, TILMA-like hammer



    VANCOUVER, June 11 /CNW Telbec/ - Following yesterday's decision by the
Ministers Responsible for Internal Trade to recommend to Premiers a harsh new
enforcement system for the AIT, the National President of the Canadian Union
of Public Employees (CUPE), Paul Moist, is compelled to ask:
    "What real trade barriers justify measures that would so drastically
undermine democracy?"
    Since the AIT was first implemented in the early 1990s, compliance by
provinces has been voluntary. Yesterday, the Ministers decided to institute
court orders and monetary fines of up to $5 million for 'violations' of the
AIT. As with TILMA, decisions on whether or not provinces are in violation
would be rendered by private arbitration panels. The TILMA (Trade, Investment
and Labour Mobility Agreement) model - which CUPE has denounced - formed the
basis for much of today's discussion.
    For municipalities, new court-ordered fines such as what were considered
in Vancouver would severely constrain their ability to pursue public policies
in the interest of local communities. Most municipal leaders have no idea this
direction is even under consideration, let alone how the change will reduce
their ability to act on behalf of the citizens who elect them.
    Moist challenges the Ministers of Internal Trade to "Name the serious
province-to-province disputes that have been so unresolved as to prompt the
heavy hammer discussed today," adding, "And CUPE will show you situations best
resolved through mechanisms that favour transparency, democracy, and fair
labour standards."
    "The Ministers' decision begs the question, are our governments prompted
by real issues on the ground or merely responding to pressure from the latest
big business coalition?"
    Yesterday's Ministerial gathering comes on the heels of last week's
rejection of TILMA by the Yukon government. The Saskatchewan government has
also rebuffed TILMA, and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has committed to
avoiding any inter-provincial trade agreement that undermines labour
standards.




For further information:

For further information: Pam Kapoor, CUPE Communications, (613)
853-8089

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