Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Deep Integration: Alberta And British Columbia

It's called TILMA. It became law on April Fools' Day. And it's giving Murray Dobbin nightmares. To be fair, Murray is not the only one with nightmares about it, but he's the one who was ranting into my ear via a radio talk show as I woke up yesterday.

I am not going to pretend I know everything -- or even a lot -- about this "free trade among provinces" thing yet. What bothers me is that I didn't hear a peep about it before it was too late to do anything, had I wanted to protest it.

Rumor has it that Stephen Harper is very gung-ho about TILMA, and that worries me a little. Where were the press releases? Where was the discussion? If Harper was for it, somebody had to be against it, even if only because Harper was for it...but I heard nothing.

Was I asleep? Did I go deaf and somebody forgot to tell me? Or were we being deliberately kept very much in the dark about a trade agreement that has the potential to affect all our lives in unwanted ways?

What do we know about this agreement, to which our governments bound us, the citizens, without even giving us a chance to say yea or nay? Google it and check the links you get.

From what I've read about it, one thing is for sure -- it's going to destroy the environmental protection laws/efforts as soon as it can find a lawyer to take them to court and whine about the restrictions on business/progress/employment.

Ayn Rand becomes god and concrete becomes the new green. James Watt writes the new anthem in the key of fuck off. Chretien explains the whole thing in both official languages, several semi-official languages, a few unrecognizeable languages, and out of all sides of his mouth simultaneously. Gomery slaps a publication ban on it. Health Canada prints a new food guide in which it recognizes effluent as a vegetable. Environment Canada teams up with PETA, establishing a new zoo, with trees behind the fences instead of animals. Lawyers become the new priests, and courts become the new temples.

Have I left anything out?

Oh, yeah...Alberta and BC are only the starters for this batch of sour dough. Saskatchewan wants in (do the residents know about this?). Then the ROC. Then the Lower Forty-Eight. It's spreading like a disease and money is its vector.

I am reminded of a scene in the movie Independence Day -- several people on top of a skyscraper having a wild party, holding up signs that say, "Welcome! Make Yourselves At Home!"

The only cure was prevention. And it's too late.

23 Comments:

Blogger Tim said...

This was all over the radio here in good ol' Alberta for quite some time. I have not paid a lot of attention to it myself as I really never heard anything that caught my attention or that sounded like this would be a bad thing. Was I duped? I guess I will now have to take a better look and see what I was not told, although it as you say... too late...

Wednesday, April 04, 2007 7:01:00 PM  
Blogger Candace said...

Um, Chimera, your socialism is showing.

All this does is make it possible for plumbers from BC to get jobs in Alberta without having to rewrite the tests. And P.Eng.'s to be recognized in both provinces. And doctors. And lawyers.

IT REMOVES 85,000 LAYERS OF BUREAUCRACY!

This is NOT a bad thing.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007 10:29:00 PM  
Blogger Candace said...

And nurses. And teachers. And carpenters.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007 10:30:00 PM  
Blogger Candace said...

"it's going to destroy the environmental protection laws/efforts as soon as it can find a lawyer to take them to court and whine about the restrictions on business/progress/employment"

See my post for a rebuttal.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007 10:56:00 PM  
Blogger geo said...

TILMA imposes a blanket prohibition on all government measures that “operate to restrict or impair” trade, investment or labour mobility unless such measures are exempt under the scheme.

It is difficult to conceive of a government action, whether legislative, regulatory or programmatic, that would not violate this broad constraint. In this regard, the net cast by TILMA is larger than that of NAFTA and the GATS combined.

Steven Shrybman, a lawyer at Sack Goldblatt Mitchell, offers a short summary of TILMA, drawing from a longer legal opinion in development

Friday, April 06, 2007 12:17:00 AM  
Blogger geo said...

TILMA defines “government” very broadly to include all aspects of provincial government, including its agencies and Crown corporations; but also to include municipalities, school boards and other publicly funded academic, health and social service entities. Therefore, unless exempt, all actions taken by these public bodies must comply with the sweeping restrictions imposed by the regime.

To ensure compliance by government and public entities, TILMA incorporates the most
pernicious features of NAFTA, which accords private parties the right to invoke arbitration to challenge measures that are alleged to offend TILMA constraints, including the right to claim up to $5,000,000 in damages for any such violation.

There is no limit on the number of such claims that may be asserted, and the damage awards made by TILMA tribunals are enforceable as if a judgment of the superior court.


candace, you said: IT REMOVES 85,000 LAYERS OF BUREAUCRACY!

This is NOT a bad thing.

Maybe not so much?

Friday, April 06, 2007 12:21:00 AM  
Blogger geo said...

Because private claims may be unilaterally asserted by countless individuals and corporations, they are likely to proliferate and exert enormous pressure on governments to abandon or weaken a broad and diverse array of public policies, laws, practices, and programs.

I love this one*sarcasm*...and the cons should too. Less Government, but lots more lawyers!

Friday, April 06, 2007 12:24:00 AM  
Blogger geo said...

The overwhelming majority of government measures that are subject to TILMA have little if anything to do with inter-provincial trade, investment or labour mobility, per se. Rather, these measures, which run the gamut from environmental controls to health care insurance plans, were established to serve broad public or societal purposes and apply equally to persons or companies whatever their respective province of origin.

While such measures may impact investment, trade and labour mobility, these effects are indirect or tangential to their essential purpose. Nevertheless, because of these indirect effects, they may be challenged for offending TILMA prohibitions.

And we do not want to Offend now do we??

Friday, April 06, 2007 12:26:00 AM  
Blogger geo said...

ok, last one for now:

TILMA also expands the scope of foreign investor rights that can be asserted under NAFTA.

Moreover, these rights are bestowed on US and Mexican investors without any reciprocal gains for BC or Alberta investors in the US or Mexico. TILMA establishes a new high-water mark of investor entitlement that can now also be claimed by US and Mexican investors in consequence of NAFTA guarantees of National Treatment. (NAU?? anyone)


(Again Candace, this is ok with you? Make your job easier? I didn't see this on the Alberta site.)


Taken together, the likely impacts of TILMA represent a broad assault on the capacity of present and future governments in BC and Alberta to serve the public interest.

Furthermore, there appears to be no plausible rationale for TILMA. For as we know, Canada is a free society in which people may live, work and invest anywhere they choose. There are no customs stations along provincial borders and no tariffs on inter-provincial trade. Moreover, inter-provincial trade is a federal responsibility and provincial measures that interfere even indirectly with such trade have been consistently struck down by the courts.


This and the preceeding posts drawn from Steven Shrybman, a lawyer at Sack Goldblatt Mitchell: a short summary of TILMA, drawing from a longer legal opinion in development. February 2007

Friday, April 06, 2007 12:33:00 AM  
Blogger geo said...

Sorry, I thought I did this one.

Each Party shall ensure that its measures do not operate to restrict or impair trade between or through the territory of the Parties, or investment or labour mobility between the Parties.

Probably the most important line in the entire agreement. Read it carefully. This line sells the farm in both Provinces.

Friday, April 06, 2007 12:37:00 AM  
Blogger Chimera said...

Candace is correct, to a point. It does benefit people in trades who want a larger job market without all the hassle of re-qualifying in another jurisdiction. And it benefits companies who want to hire those tradesmen. That, in turn, will benefit just about everybody, because the red tape and paper walls of bureaucracy are coming down, making progress faster and more cost-efficient.

The scary thing is that Geo is also correct -- it eliminates carefully and expensively fought-and-won protections against environmental rape.

We have laws in BC that prohibit the cutting of trees without good reason. Whole municipalities value not only the trees, but the esthetics of a tree-ful community. Housing must reach certain standards, housing lots are large by current custom, and the mass erection of badly built, crammed-together condo closets are discouraged, if not outright banned. Now, however, if an Alberta development company wants to clear-cut one of those communities to build ticky-tacky, nobody can prevent it! The community standards that were set by the resident owners of that community are now so much used toilet paper.

Friday, April 06, 2007 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger Chimera said...

Let's go one horrible example further, for the benefit of Alberta residents:

Companies in Victoria are unhampered by regulations involving sewage and effluent. There are no laws requiring sewage treatment before it gets dumped into the ocean. Shameful as it is, this is not a high priority with the BC government, because the ocean is a huge dumping ground, "everybody" does it, and who can say at what point the pollution we pour into it becomes untenable and the ocean is permanently damaged?

Now, let's suppose that one of those companies (XYZ) has its eye on building a branch plant in Calgary or Edmonton. Under TILMA, that company will not be bound by any sewage treatment requirements. It can pour raw effluent into the river and there's nothing the city or province can do about it. The XYZ Company is not required to treat sewage in its home province/city, so why should it be required to treat sewage in Edmonton?

XYZ will call the sewage treatment laws an unfair practise, and they will take it to court. And they will win.

Friday, April 06, 2007 11:48:00 AM  
Blogger geo said...

Dumping effluent and sewage is disgusting and those who permit it should be...I don't know, made to wallow in it, daily, til it's cleaned up. I'm not sure what the situation is in Victoria. I think it's been cleaned up around Vancouver.

I know I was shocked when I still had a sailboat (I was in Gibsons then) the lack of places with bilge pumps. Just pump over the side, it's ok. We waited til the Cove or back to Gibsons, and that's just one little boat. But I digress...

People hate that sh%t is pumped into the inlet and nearabouts. The soupnazi and co does not.

I'm wrong...I just did some digging, Lots of charges against the GVRD and companies for toxic efflent and sewage and whathave you is still being pressed and I guess they just pay the fines and keep on keeping on. They just don't care. The fines obviously are not enough. TILMA will not make it better.

There is so much crap going on (pun unintended) that it's difficult to know what to focus on. Everything is urgent. Everything is important. But XYZ company will be ok. Their neighbours downstream are going to be very very unhappy tho.

Friday, April 06, 2007 2:43:00 PM  
Blogger Howlin' Hobbit said...

geo sez: "Taken together, the likely impacts of TILMA represent a broad assault on the capacity of present and future governments in BC and Alberta to serve the public interest."

Yowza! You lucky Canadians must do it differently if you have governments that serve the public interest.

Can we Yanks have some, please?

HH

Friday, April 06, 2007 11:42:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

"Let's go one horrible example further, for the benefit of Alberta residents:"

You are way too late with this example...
With the current historical growth in Alberta, some towns have already started dumping raw sewage into rivers such as the Bow. Their current waste plants just can't handle the increased volume. It is sad but true, but this has nothing to do with TILMA.

Saturday, April 07, 2007 8:38:00 AM  
Blogger Chimera said...

HH: We Canucks haven't got the same problems you Yanks have with your governments, but we have just as many. You really, really don't want some...lol.

Tim: I'm really sorry to hear that about the rivers in Alberta. Before TILMA, there was a chance that you could force your government to do something about it. Now, however, the law is gonna specifically prevent you from doing anything about it, because restrictive laws like sewage requirements would probably discourage investment...and that would go directly against TILMA.

Saturday, April 07, 2007 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger geo said...

There are court challanges going forward in an attempt to stop to stop or alter TILMA, but with the cons and god knows who else creating the happy spin behind it (look at Candace, she's happy) there is little that will change.

It is a race to the bottom and all we, the regular people who don't own big companies, or are big investors, can do is watch as our lives and our lifestyles crumble around us faster and faster.

How we used to live will be as fairy stories we tell to our grandchildren. Because in what direction do we aim our anger, in what direction do we shout no, no more!

Saturday, April 07, 2007 4:41:00 PM  
Blogger Candace said...

OK, we've all had a wonderful time doing a Gore on this.

Read the fine print.

WHERE in the world will you find "best practices" and "dumping raw sewage" in the same sentence?

WHERE will you find "clear cut" and "best practices" in the same sentence?

You won't.

Pop a valium.

Sunday, April 08, 2007 3:07:00 AM  
Blogger Chimera said...

Candace: The big problem is not the specifics, but the vagueness of the wording. No, you're not going to see any words that state unequivocally that it's okay to clear cut trees or dump raw sewage. What you do see is that you cannot be allowed to stand in the way of investment.

Now...along comes a young company, just getting started, and it's almost ready to issue its IPO. It wants to build on a vacant piece of land in your city (not only Edmonton, mind you, but any city) near the river. It wants to clear-cut the trees, and it intends to dump untreated effluent from its factory into the river.

Up till now, the municipal, and maybe the provincial, government would say no to that. Cut only the trees that need to be cut to make room for the buildings, and make sure there's a good water treatment system in place.

Unfortunately, water treatment costs money. And clear-cutting is cheaper than selective cutting, then trying to build around the trees that are still standing.

Now your young company goes to court and says that his investors are being discouraged by your laws that say he has to spend money he could be paying to investors as dividends.

TILMA prohibits anything that will restrict or impair investment.

Down go the trees. And don't drink the water.

It's not the specifics that are dangerous. It's the open-to-interpretation wording that will ambush you every time.

This will keep judges off the bread lines and lawyers in gravy for decades.

And the environment -- perhaps even the very neighborhood in which you live -- will suffer for it.

Sunday, April 08, 2007 12:39:00 PM  
Blogger geo said...

candace said:

"it's going to destroy the environmental protection laws/efforts as soon as it can find a lawyer to take them to court and whine about the restrictions on business/progress/employment"

And this would be a good thing? Why is it so many in Alberta are so anti-environment? As Tim posted, they are now dumping into the Bow River. You can't be pleased about that. You do realize the dangers don't you? The EP laws are not just to inconvenience you, they are there for good reason, lots of good reasons. Years of good reasons. Tho this may all be a moot point.

Candace on her site only has links to the dumbed down TILMA info and Chimera, you don't have anything posted here so I figured I'd add a wiki link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TILMA

From there you can dl the .pdf of the actual TILMA agreement and lawyer Steven Shrybman's summary, plus a bunch of other links. None of them very flattering because it is not a good deal.

The Conference Board of Canada cooked the numbers and came up with some outrageous figures of something like $4.8 billion to BC's GDP and creating 78,000 new jobs in 2 or 4 years(?) but was not able to back these figures up nor their methodology. Then backtracked on some of their other claims. That's ok..the soupnazi and Morton? still will use the bad figures. It works for them.

Sunday, April 08, 2007 11:09:00 PM  
Blogger Chimera said...

Geo: That was my quote, not Candace's.

I do have the link to the wiki site...it's one of those links-on-links.

"Why is it so many in Alberta are so anti-environment?"

I think it has been a case of either/or for many Albertans. They have been told by several layers of bureaucrats and politicians that they can either have the environment or they can have jobs that give them a good living, but they have not been told that they can have both. It's going to take awhile for some of them to believe that both are possible, because they've heard exactly the opposite for so long. If you're looking for a source to blame, look to the lobbyists for the oil, lumber, and mining industries. In other words, follow the money.

Monday, April 09, 2007 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

"Why is it so many in Alberta are so anti-environment?"

I have no idea where you get that idea from. It is so off base it is not even funny. Alberta has one of, if not THE best recycling and waste management systems in this country and perhaps the world (Edmonton specifically but not exclusively). Our forestry industry replants more trees than it removes. We have more land set aside as parkland in relation to the size of the province than any other. The amount of effluence currently being released into the Bow River that I mentioned above is no where near anything that BC and some other places dumps into water ways. I made mention of it merely to make a point that TILMA had and will not have any affect in that regard. It is a matter of infrastructure catching up to the enormous growth that we here in Alberta are currently experiencing. Me thinks you listen to those who care to bash the oilfield industry too much. Which by the way, contrary to popular belief, has been lowering its contribution to pollution by substantial amounts.

Monday, April 09, 2007 7:43:00 PM  
Blogger geo said...

Tim,

I'm sorry, I know you have some of the best recycling and waste management. But how you do amazes me as so many I've met put a lie to their existance. So many are like Candace and her "we've all had a wonderful time doing a Gore on this." Oh and Chimera, I'm sorry for the misquote.

Maybe it's because Alberta has been a have prov for only 50 years and still feels as tho everyone wants to take it away from them. Maybe that's it?

Anyway, ran into some very good supporting stuff this morning.

Patrick Grady, a former senior Finance official and leading mainstream economist, has weighed in on the Conference Board’s estimate of TILMA’s economic benefits.

http://tinyurl.com/2362w7

the federal government’s conference on “Internal Trade: Opportunities and Challenges,” which was hosted by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada and by Industry Canada.

http://tinyurl.com/2362w7

From these two links they can take you outside to other links and pdfs across Canada. Everything from newspaper articles to gov reports to blogs to inbetween. Finally there is some discussion.

I'm still immensely pissed off it was hidden from us here in BC. Utterly played down. Even the opposition didn't get wind of it until a few months ago and when they brought it up for discussion in the leg it was refused. Arrogant bastards the Socred errr liberal soupNazi and his crackers are!! Hated him when he was Mayor, hate him still. cold hearted cold blooded nasty peice of work.

He's all proud of himself. Homelessness in BC has been getting worse and worse. Working families are lining up at foodbanks because it's just so bloody expensive in Vancouver to live. Well, he raised welfare rates $50. The first raise (but there has been cuts) since 1993! Now isn't that nice of him? And he thinks poor people don't vote. Next election they sure as hell will be. Unless they are all on the street again because their building are being torn down. /rant off

Tuesday, April 10, 2007 7:44:00 AM  

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