In his June 7 release “Canada’s New Government Commits to Full Labour Mobility” Industry Minister, Maxime Bernier suggests that free labour mobility is a right of citizenship, yet the freedom expressed in agreements like TILMA or the proposed ATLANTICA suggests that the cost of freedom will be very heavy. In particular Mr Bernier, like Mssrs Campbell Alberta, NB, NS (premiers) does not seem to be concerned by the very real erosion of labour standards that are part of the harmonization suggested by these agreements.
In contrast to the June 7 announcement by the Federal Conservatives, the 1995 Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) is non-binding and mostly voluntary. That is why proponents of unregulated investment and capital mobility have thus sought a more compelling structure. This structure comes in TILMA’s (and soon, ATLANTICA’s) binding dispute resolution mechanism, which allows investors and corporations to sue for compensation from provincial and municipal governments.
Industry Minister Bernier has decided that “TILMA is a model for Canada,” so he is pressuring the provinces that the AIT now include a dispute settlement mechanism like the one in TILMA to enforce a race to the lowest provincial labour standards in the country.
Bernier seems to not want to take note that mobility can be achieved through provinces developing mutually-recognized national labour standards that actually improve conditions for workers.
Further, in his announcement of June 7th 2007, Minister Bernier seeks the deregulation of labour standards as the first step to further deregulation in “goods, services and investments.”
This is heavy pressure on all provinces to implement TILMA or ATLANTICA nationwide. New investor rights in interprovincial trade agreements give corporations the power to force elected governments to remove laws and regulations they don’t like, undermining democracy itself.