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A recent trade deal signed by British Columbia and Alberta undermines municipal decision-making and increases the push to privatize, according to a new legal analysis done by trade lawyer Steven Shrybman for CUPE.

National President Paul Moist and Alberta Division President D’Arcy Lanovaz joined Shrybman in unveiling the analysis at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ annual conference in Calgary.

Shrybman’s analysis shows that the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) has wide-reaching rules backed by powerful enforcement tools. April 1 was the first day of a two-year transition to TILMA taking full effect in 2009.

“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,” says 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,” he added.

Perhaps not coincidentally, facilitating more P3s was on the agenda at a recent annual meeting of the Alberta and B.C. cabinets. Stretching the financial reality of these schemes, Alberta’s intergovernmental affairs minister told the media the discussion was about “how do we stretch a dollar.”

Read all the TILMA analysis, including a Qs & As document and an overview of the legal opinion, at cupe.ca/tilma

With files from the Edmonton Journal