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What are the trade barriers that justify the harsh enforcement regime provincial internal trade ministers want for the AIT?

“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.