Calgary – A legal opinion produced by Sack Goldblatt Mitchell sheds damaging new light on the recent Alberta-BC Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA).
Steven Shrybman, partner with the legal firm Sack Goldblatt Mitchell says that one of the very real impacts of TILMA arises not simply from the breadth of its application, “but particularly from the effectiveness of its enforcement procedures.” According to Shrybman, “TILMA empowers private parties to claim damages where it is alleged that a measure offends TILMA rules. Where a municipality, for example, refuses to remove a measure that is found to violate TILMA rules, monetary awards up to $5 million may be awarded against the province and to the private party.”
The legal opinion, produced by Shrybman for the Canadian Union of Public Employees, calls into question the independence of local governments, according to CUPE national president, Paul Moist, “If there was ever any doubt that TILMA will undermine local government authority this legal opinion should put those doubts to rest.”
“Soon we’ll find TILMA rules being invoked to challenge the regulations, programs and funding arrangements upon which public and social services depend. Citizens will begin to hear that the regulations, programs and funding arrangements put in place to encourage public services now restrict or discriminate against private sector providers,” explained Moist.
“Finally, explained Moist, because TILMA provides unprecedented grounds for asserting the interests of private companies that sell services, it is likely to become the preferred venue for those seeking to privatize public services.”
Moist questions why separate trade agreements are needed in Canada when the country already has interprovincial trade. “TILMA is not necessary. We have interprovincial trade in Canada. As most Canadians will readily recognize, Canada is a society in which people are free to live, work and invest anywhere in the country. We have no customs stations along provincial borders and no tariffs of any kind on interprovincial trade.
The question that remains for municipalities is: In light of TILMA’S dubious rationale, and uncertain but significant costs, does TILMA represent an exercise of provincial executive power that municipalities should question and oppose?” concluded Moist.
For more information: Paul Moist, CUPE national president, 613-558-2873 (cell); Steven Shrybman, partner of the legal firm Sack Goldblatt Mitchell, 613-858-6842 (cell.); Catherine Louli, CUPE communications, 613-851-0547 (cell)